Silver denarius of Augustus

Roman, 2 BC-AD 4
Minted in Lugdunum (modern Lyons, France)

A coin showing the heirs of Augustus

Augustus, the first emperor of Rome (31 BC-AD 14), had no son and heir. He adopted a succession of promising young relations, but they all died before him. This coin shows a splendid bust of the emperor on the front, at the height of his power. Though he looks young in the portrait, he was in fact about 62 years old when it was made. Augustus' public image was not allowed to grow old with him.

Augustus adopted his two grandsons, Gaius and Lucius Caesar, as his heirs. They are depicted on the back of this coin. The legend calls them 'Leaders of the Youth' (principes iuventutis). Unfortunately, they both met untimely deaths and Augustus was forced to adopt Tiberius, his wife Livia's son by a previous marriage. Tiberius and Augustus did not like one another. But unlike Gaius and Lucius, Tiberius survived to succeed Augustus on his death at the age of 77.

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More information


T. Cornell and J. Matthews, Atlas of the Roman world (Phaidon, 1987)

B. Levick, Tiberius the politician (Routledge, London, 1999)

P. Zanker, The power of images in the age (Michigan University Press, Ann Arbor, 1988)


Diameter: 18.000 mm
Weight: 3.740 g

Museum number

CM BMC Augustus 533


Gift of C.M. Cracherode


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