27 BC - AD 14
AR Denarius. 3.51g, 19.3mm
MINTED: Lugdunum (Lyon) mint, 15 BC
REF: RIC I 167a; Lyon 19; RSC 137
OBVERSE: AVGVSTVS DIVI F, bare head right.
REVERSE: Bull butting right, left forefoot raised, lashing his tail; IMP • X in exergue.
Almost Very Fine. Well-centered, with a pleasant, light tone. Unobtrusive banker's mark to the left of portrait.
The image of the charging bull is a classic Augustan type, probably a reference to a military victory won by his biological father, Gaius Octavius, over the rebels of Thurium, a city whose badge was the bull. Augustus was in fact given the name Gaius Octavius Thurinus when he was born in commemoration of this event. The bull was, of course, also a symbol of strength and vigour in ancient times in many cultures, including that of the Romans.
Augustus, known earlier in his life as Octavian, was the founder of the Roman Empire. He was 19 years old when he was named the heir of Julius Caesar, his grand uncle, when the latter was assassinated in March 44 BC by a group of senators. The inexperienced youth had to walk a perilous path during that tumultuous period, but with the loyalty of Caesar's veteran soldiers, he and his ally Mark Antony were able to inflict total political and military defeat upon Caesar's assassins. In the ten years that followed their victory, Octavian consolidated his power base in Rome and surrounded himself with able generals and faithful followers, while Antony was left to rule the Roman provinces in the east.
Full scale civil war erupted between the former allies in 31 BC, and Octavian had the Roman Senate denounce Antony as a traitor and declare war on him and his lover, Queen Cleopatra of Egypt. Antony and Cleopatra were defeated at the naval battle in 31 BC, and fleeing back to Egypt, they both committed suicide, leaving Octavian the sole ruler of the Roman world.
As Princeps Civitatis, or First Citizen of the State, Augustus, as he now called himself, carefully maintained the illusion of the old Republic, though he was in fact emperor in all but name. He spent the next decades overhauling the Roman bureaucracy, military, and economy, constructing public roads and buildings on an unprecedented scale. He expanded the borders and sphere of influence of his new Empire while establishing a long-lasting peace within. At the end of his life, he is said to have proclaimed, "I found Rome built of bricks; I leave her clothed in marble". He died in AD 14, at the age of 75, having ruled for 40 years.
AUGUSTUS . 27 BC - AD 14 . AR Denarius . Victory of Augustus's biological father
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