The Roman Republic
Estimate: 150'000 CHF
Starting price: 120'000 CHF
Price realized: 160'000 CHF
Octavianus. Aureus, Gallia Transalpina and Cisalpina43, AV 7.85g.
Description: C·CAESAR·COS·PONT·AVG Bare and bearded head of Octavian r. Rev. C·CAESAR· DICT·PERP·PONT·MAX Laureate head of Julius Caesar r. References: Newman "A Dialogue of Power in the Coinage of Antony and Octavian," ANS AJN 2 (1990), 43.9
Babelon Julia 64
Sear Imperators 132
Kent-Hirmer pl. 30, 115
Calicó 52 (this reverse die) Condition:Very rare and in exceptional condition for the issue. Two magnificent portraits of fine style unusually well struck, absolutely unobtrusive areas of weakness, otherwise extremely fine Provenance: Dorotheum sale 13-16 June 1956, Apostolo Zeno part II, 2941
Gorny & Mosch sale 203, 2012, 312
Privately purchased from Münzhandel Ludwig Grabow in 1956 Note: This aureus is a declaration of triumph by Octavian over military opponents and factions in the senate that wished to renew the independence of that body. Octavian had achieved much since he arrived in Rome in the summer of 44 B.C., but each accomplishment was backed with threats or the use of arms. For the meantime, though, Octavian had triumphed in Italy: Marc Antony was in Gaul, Brutus and Cassius were in the East, and Sextus Pompey was in command of a fleet.
Gold from this issue was probably used to pay the eight legions Octavian brought to invade and take control of Rome in May, 43 B.C. after he did not receive satisfaction from the senate. Once in the capital with his army he was able to extort from the senate the consulship for himself and his uncle Q. Pedius, as the original consuls for the year, Hirtius and Pansa, had died while relieving Antony’s siege of Decimus Brutus.
With this in mind, hardly a more useful design could have been selected for this aureus, as most of Octavian’s soldiers had served under Caesar. It was also good propaganda against Antony, for it reinforced the claim that Octavian – not Antony – was the rightful heir of Caesar.
The inscriptions are of some interest, for Octavian cites his membership to the colleges of the augurs and pontifices and advertises his newly extorted consulship; that of Caesar bears his titles dictator perpetuus (‘dictator for life’) and pontifex maximus (‘chief priest’). The first of these titles had expired upon Caesar’s death and the second had been assumed by Lepidus, the man who was destined to join the second triumvirate that would be formed not long after this aureus was struck.