Coins of the Second Triumvirate
Lex Titia, passed by the senate on November, 27 43 BCE, formed the "2nd Triumvirate", and granted broad authority to Mark Antony, Lepidus and Octavian for five years as "trivmviri rei pvblicae constitvendae" - three men to restore the republic. This triumvirate was renewed a bit late from the 5 year anniversary in 37 BCE for an additional 5 years January 37 - December 33 BCE.
This coin (first shared in a post a couple of years ago) was issued by Mark Antony and Lepidus as allies. It was issued just as they met with Octavian to agree to rule Rome as a triumvirate. It is an exceedingly rare coin from a pivotal moment in the history of the Roman Republic, before the formation of the Second Triumvirate.
Mark Antony and M Aemelius Lepidus, 43 BCE, AR Denarius (3.71g, 18mm)
Mint: Military mint traveling with Antony and Lepidus in Cisalpine Gaul Date: Crawford dates this issue between 30-May-43 and early 42 Obv: M ANTON [IMP], lituus, capis, and raven
Rev: M LEPID IMP, simpulum, aspergillum, securis, apex
Ref: Crawford 489/2; Sydenham 1156; RSC 2
This bronze coin, a contemporary imitation of an issue from Octavian, declaring his authority as the son of Caesar. This coin minted the year before Antony and Octavian made an agreement and renewed their triumvirate.
Roman Republic, Triumvirs, Octavian and Divus Julius Caesar, South Italy, 38 BCE, Æ (28mm, 8.84g, 3h)
Obv: CAESAR (right) DIVI F (left), bare head of Octavian right
Rev: DIVOS IVLIVS, wreathed head of Divus Julius Caesar right
Ref: Crawford 535/1; RPC I 620
Note: Contemporary imitation
My latest addition is from the period between Republic and Empire shortly after Octavian, Mark Antony, and Lepidus renewed their tense alliance in 37 BCE at Tarentum (Taranto), and in the year that Octavian ended the Pompeian resistance and Sicilian revolt at the Battle of Naulochus (3 September 36) and stripped Lepidus of power (22 September 36). The victory of Marcus Vispanius Agrippa as naval commander was fought near Naulochus, Sicily.
The second triumvirate between Mark Antony, Octavian, and Lepidus was an uneasy alliance and the three men used their coins to demonstrate their legitimacy and stake their authority as leaders of the republic. Robert Newman (1990) cited below, has a useful catalog of coins from this period arranged chronologically. He reviews the political rivalry that is can be seen in the coins.
Roman Republican, the Triumvirs, Octavian, 36 BCE, AR denarius (17.5mm, 3.25 g, 5h), Southern or central Italian mint
Obv: IMP CAESAR DIVI F III VIR ITER R P C, bareheaded and bearded head right
Rev: COS ITER ET TER DESIG, tetrastyle temple of Divus Julius: statue of Julius Caesar as augur standing within temple; DIVO • IVL on architrave, star within pediment, figures along roof line; lit altar to left
Ref: Crawford 540/2; Sydenham 1338; RBW 1829
Note: two banker's marks to the right of Octavian's ear
This issue showing Octavian bearded could have several interpretations:
a “beard of mourning” for Julius Caesar
“campaign beard” for the battle with Sextus Pompey
an attempt by the young Octavian to look more mature
Given the focus on this coin of Divus Julius Caesar, I prefer the beard of mourning explanation even if it was about 8 years after his death.
The obverse shows a portrait of Octavian, with title "Imperator" which was accorded to successful military commanders in the Republic. He emphasizes on this coin his relationship with Julius Caesar: "Caesar Divi Filius", son of the deified Julius Caesar, and "triumvir iter respublicae constituendae", twice triumvir (three men with Mark Antony and Lepidus) for the restoration of the republic.
The reverse of the coin similarly emphasizes his authority of title and as the son of divine Julius Caesar. "consul iterum et tertio designatus": consul twice and a third time designated. The temple on the reverse was not yet built, but was a project to replace on the site where Caesar was cremated and where a column and alter were erected and torn down by factions against Caesar. The temple on the coin would be completed and inaugurated by Octavian on August 18th 29 BCE for the divine Julius Caesar. The star on the pediment is "sidum Iulium", the comet from July 44 BCE, that after the death of Julius Caesar on the Ides of March (15th) was considered a sign of his divinity. Little remains of the temple today.
"He [Julius Caesar] died in the fifty-sixth year of his age, and was ranked amongst the Gods, not only by a formal decree, but in the belief of the vulgar. For during the first games which Augustus, his heir, consecrated to his memory, a comet blazed for seven days together, rising always about eleven o'clock; and it was supposed to be the soul of Caesar, now received into heaven: for which reason, likewise, he is represented on his statue with a star on his brow."
-Seutonius, Divus Julius, 88
The coin is attributed in the Buerger coin collection to Statilius Taurus, who may have been issued to pay the legions encamped in Sicily.
Roman Historical Coins (London 1990) 37, no. 83.
M.H. Crawford, Roman Republican Coinage (London 1974) 537-538;
Newman, Robert. "A DIALOGUE OF POWER IN THE COINAGE OF ANTONY AND OCTAVIAN (44-30 B.C.)." American Journal of Numismatics (1989-) 2 (1990): 37-63.
RICH, J. W., and J. H. C. WILLIAMS. "Leges Et Ivra P. R. Restitvit: A New Aureus of Octavian and the Settlement of 28-27 BCE." The Numismatic Chronicle (1966-) 159 (1999): 169-213.
Digital Forum Romanum, Humboldt University, Berlin