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Tiberius AV Aureus. Auctioned at Roma Numismatics

Description

Tiberius AV Aureus. Lugdunum, circa AD 14-37. TI CAESAR DIVI AVG F AVGVSTVS, laureate head to right / PONTIF MAXIM, Livia, as Pax, seated to right on throne with ornamented legs, holding sceptre and olive branch; single exergual line below. RIC I 29; BMCRE 46; Lyon 147; Calicó 305c. 7.72g, 19mm, 4h.

Fleur De Coin; a truly spectacular example.

Acquired from Christophe Joron-Derem;
Ex private French collection, old collector’s ticket included;
Purchased from Jules Florange, 18 April 1946 (22,000 Francs).

Auction Estimate was: £27,500 Hammer Price: £32,000

Acquired from Christophe Joron-Derem;
Ex private French collection, old collector’s ticket included;
Purchased from Jules Florange, 18 April 1946 (22,000 Francs).

Following a series of early issues honouring Divus Augustus and Tiberius’ military triumphs, the mint at Lugdunum settled upon striking one single type: ‘Pontif Maxim’. Numismatists identify the seated figure depicted on this ubiquitous reverse type as Livia, the wife of Augustus and mother of Tiberius, in the guise of Pax, the Roman personification of peace. The type was struck continuously for twenty three years and throughout that time, only minor changes were made to the portrait of Tiberius and the ornamentation of the throne.

Despite the vast output of the ‘Pontif Maxim’ coinage, the significance of the type is not immediately clear – the depiction of Livia as Pax may represent a universal matronly ideal; Livia may be intended as the personification of what Seneca the Younger described in AD 55 as the ‘Pax Romana’ (‘Roman Peace’), the period of peace and stability marked by Octavian’s victory over Mark Antony at the battle of Actium in 31 BC, which brought to an end to the prolonged period of civil war.

Certainly, during the last decade of the 1st century BC Livia began to appear more frequently in the preserved sources, and L. Brännstedt (Femina princeps: Livia’s position in the Roman state) suggests that “her role as mater and uxor at this time was becoming an integral part of Augustus’ political program, and being made publicly manifest on a large scale.

” Brännstedt furthermore asserts that “the appointment on March 6, 12 BC of Augustus as pontifex maximus was crucial for the development of Livia’s mater-role… Augustus’ religious role was identified as that of a father to his family. Strengthening the paternal connotations of Augustus’ leadership, the appointment of him as pontifex maximus would also have favoured Livia’s impact as mater”. The identification of Livia with Pax therefore strongly associated the imperial family with the continued prosperity of the empire, and hence should be seen as primarily a propagandistic instrument for the reinforcement of the imperial cult.

Tacitus moreover suggests that Livia convinced Augustus to banish his then only surviving grandson, Agrippa Postumus, on this basis that his character was not in keeping with Augustan ideals (1.1.3). Dio recounts that following years of banishment, a visit undertaken by Augustus to reconcile with his grandson drove Livia to poison her husband in order to secure the succession for Tiberius (56.30.2). These accusations are however mainly dismissed as malicious fabrications spread by political enemies of the dynasty.

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