OCTAVIAN / AUGUSTUS SILVER DENARIUS – SPECTACULAR TYPE OF OCTAVIAN AS JUPITER TERMINUS – CHOICE VF NGC GRADED ROMAN IMPERATORIAL COIN OF THE TWELVE CAESARS (Inv. 15415)
ROMAN IMPERATORIAL. OCTAVIAN / AUGUSTUS, 27 BC-14 AD.
Silver Denarius, 3.73 g, 21 mm, struck at an Italian mint, ca. 30-29 BC.
Obv. Laureate head of Octavian right, on bust of Jupiter Terminus, thunderbolt in left field.
Rev. IMP – CAESAR, Octavian, draped, seated left on curule chair, holding Victory.
RIC 270; BMC 637
NGC graded CHOICE VF, Strike 4/5, Surface 3/5, “banker’s mark”, an exceptional type from the early series of Octavian’s coinage about which the eminent art historian Paul Zanker wrote the following:
“Never before had coins of such beauty been minted in Rome. But it was a case of aesthetics in the service of political end. In comparison with the crowded and barely legible coins of the Late Republican period these were models of clarity and simplicity. The legend could be dispensed with, save for the name of the individual being commemorated. The images needed no explanatory words and were in fact more effective against a plain background. The minting of related series of coins may have inspired people to form collections and that would also have drawn attention to their message.
One pair of coins in this series is particularly interesting for the question of the equating of man and god. One of these had a herm and thumberbolt…[with the] features of Octavian. This must surely represent some public monument in Rome and suggests that Octavian had now reached the stage of blending his own image with that of a god….”
Paul Zanker, The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus (Univ. of Michigan Press, 1988), pp. 54-55.