by Marco Did˛, Stefania Tommasone

The issue of Roman gold coins was resumed in the age of Sulla, when a new coin called denarius aureus, or just aureus, was struck outside Rome at 1/30th of the Roman libra (=10,8 grams), thus abandoning any reference to the as. Under Pompey the weight of the aureus was lowered already to 1/36th of a libra (9 grams), and under Caesar it reached 1/38th. The weight was stabilized then at 1/40th of a libra (8,1 grams) and stayed the same until Augustus' Principate. The fineness of Republican aurei is always very high, except for the earliest issues. Besides the unit, a fractional denomination was also issued - the quinarius aureus - but it was minted rarely.
Although issues of gold were still considered exceptional, they become more frequent during the time of Julius Caesar, thanks to the large amount of gold that he acquired in his campaigns in Gaul. Coin types and inscriptions now celebrate the great protagonists of this period of Roman history and their exploits. It was Caesar who obtained the right from the Senate - not long before he was murdered - to have his portrait on coins, thus breaking a very strong prejudice in Roman tradition. However, his portraits did not appear on the gold coins while he was alive, but only on the silver.

Click on the images of the coins to enlarge them

Aureo di Silla

Aureo di Cesare

Aureo di Cesare
e L. Planco

ę 2008 UCSC Milano