OCTAVIAN / AUGUSTUS SILVER DENARIUS – SCARCE EARLY ISSUE DEPICTING VENUS AND SHIELD WITH COMET – VF NGC GRADED ROMAN IMPERATORIAL COIN (Inv. 19031)
ROMAN EMPIRE. OCTAVIAN (AUGUSTUS), 27 BC-14 AD.
Silver Denarius, 3.52 g, 19 mm. Issue of an Italian mint, ca. 32-31 BC.
Obv. Head of Augustus right.
Rev. CAESAR DIVI F, Venus to right, seen from the back, holding helmet and scepter and leaning on column to her left; shield with comet (or star) at lower left, propped against column.
RIC I rev, 250a.
NGC graded VF, Strike 5/5, Surface 4/5, a scarce denarius variety, where Octavian proclaims to be the “SON OF THE DIVINE JULIUS,” illustrating Venus, the goddess mother of the Julian clan on the reverse of the coin. The goddess gazes at the arms of her lover Mars, Octavian’s divine help at the battle of Philippi, and his shield bears a stellar symbol, almost certainly the comet (“sidus Iulium”) seen soon after Caesar’s death that Octavian promoted as being the symbol of his father’s deification.
Paul Zanker, in his book, The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus, illustrates this type of denarius twice (figs. 27c and 41b) and comments on this important coin as follows “His protectress is Venus Genetrix…who regards the arms of Mars, with the sidus Iulium blazing on the shield” (p. 53).