The Roman Empire
Julius Caesar, Reign as Dictator

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Coin Details

Origin/Country: ANCIENT - ROMAN IMPERATORIAL (1st CENT BC) ROMAN IMPERATORIAL Julius Caesar, d.44 BC
Design Description: Julius Caesar Denarius
Item Description: AR Denarius ROMAN IMPERATORIAL rv Aeneas w/Anchises c.47-46 BC. obv Venus.
Full Grade: NGC MS Strike: 3/5 Surface: 5/5
Owner: Kohaku

Set Details

Custom Sets: The Roman Empire
Competitive Sets: This coin is not competing in any sets.
Research: NGC Coin Price Guide

Owner Comments:

Julius Caesar (July 13, 100 BC – March 15, 44 BC) is one of the most important figures in history, as famous for his love affairs as for his military prowess. He is remembered not only for his life’s achievements, but also for his death’s betrayal. Claiming to be descended of the gods, he used his charisma and gift for oratory to help forge critical political alliances, such as the Triumvirate with the influential Pompey and the enormously wealthy Crassus. In 60 BC, Caesar was elected Consul, Rome’s highest political office. Caesar used strong-arm tactics to achieve his ends, including granting himself a five-year term as Gaul proconsul, which was later renewed.

Over that decade, Caesar extended Rome’s territories over most of central Europe, and campaigned even further, including forays into Britannia and Germanic lands. Meanwhile, the Triumvirate dissolved: Crassus died in battle, and Pompey and other Senators tried revoking Caesar’s command.

In 49 BC, Caesar famously crossed the Rubicon, marking his return to Italy and start of the next Roman civil war. He arrived in Rome, prompting Pompey and many Senators to flee. Subsequently, Caesar was appointed Dictator, a title he soon resigned in favor of Consul for a second time. Leaving Rome under Marc Antony’s leadership, Caesar pursued Pompey to Egypt. When he arrived, his adversary was already killed, and Caesar helped Cleopatra prevail in an Egyptian civil war (and, of course, also had a famous love affair with her).

Caesar continued eliminating his opposition in North Africa, Spain, and Greece. In 48 BC, he was again appointed a one-year term as Dictator. Caesar minted coins with the intent of promoting himself. This denarius, produced by a travelling military mint sometime in 47 to 46 BC, is a clear example of such political propaganda. On the obverse is the wreathed Venus Genetrix, the goddess that Caesar claimed afforded him protection and military assistance. Moreover, Caesar’s clan maintained they were the goddess’ descendants. The verso depicts the Trojan hero Aeneas, son of Venus, as he escaped from his falling city. Aeneas valiantly carries his father Anchises on his left shoulder and holds in his right hand the Palladium, the wooden statue of Pallus Athena (Minerva), which strongly resembles a figure of Nike (Victory). According to legend, Aeneas’ offspring and the Palladium would make Rome their new home. Thus, the coin’s design is a powerful allusion not only to Caesar's claimed decent from Venus and Aeneas, but also to the aid in battle bestowed by the goddess.

Shortly after this coin was minted, Caesar was appointed Dictator for ten years, and in 44 BC, the term was extended for life (not to mention he was making a habit of being elected Consul every year). Caesar used his powers to embark on improvement projects, for example establishing the first public library, granting Roman citizenship to the provinces, and formalizing a new calendar, wherein Quintilis was renamed July in his own tribute. He bestowed many other titles and honors upon himself. He consolidated his power by making himself non-impeachable, and giving himself censorial control and veto power over the Senate.

By this time, Caesar’s growing power fostered many enemies in Rome, leading to his famous murder on the ides of March in 44 BC. The conspiracy involved dozens, mostly aristocrats. Notable among them were Gaius Cassius Longinus and Marcus Junius Brutus. Brutus was Caesar’s former opponent, then converted ally, then finally, betrayer. Moreover, Brutus’ mother, Servilia, had been Caesar’s lover; some historians speculate that Brutus was Caesar’s illegitimate son.

Caesar did have an official, adoptive heir, namely Octavian (later known as Augustus), who, along with Mark Anthony, struggled in civil wars for several years with Brutus and Cassius. Ironically, Caesar’s murder did not liberate the Republic, but instead triggered events that resulted in Rome’s transformation into an Empire.

Coin Details: ROMAN IMPERATORIAL, Julius Caesar, d. 44 BC, AR Denarius (3.76 g), Struck 47-46 BC, Military mint traveling with Julius Caesar in North Africa, NGC Grade: MS, Strike: 3/5, Surface: 5/5, Obverse: Diademed bust of Venus right, Reverse: Aeneas advancing left, carrying palladium in right hand and Anchises on left shoulder, CAESAR to right, References: Julia 10; Crawford 458/1; Sydenham 1013; Sear 55.

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