Denarius (Coin) Portraying Octavian

A work made of silver.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of silver.

Date:

32/29 BC

Artist:

Roman

About this artwork

The purpose of the first portrait coins was to identify the ruler. The front side became a mirror of the sovereign’s self-image. The back was often used to communicate the ruler’s accomplishments or intentions. The profile portrait was used because it suited the very shallow depth and limited surface of the coin. The tiny images were carved by engravers into bronze dies, one for the front and another for the back. The coins were then struck, one by one, in a process similar to how modern coins are created today.

These three coins portay the three warlords whose rivalry changed the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. Caesar, Mark Antony, and Octavian all sought to rule Rome; Caesar was assassinated, and Antony was forced to suicide, but Octavian succeeded and became Rome’s first Emperor.

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Ancient and Byzantine Art

Artist

Ancient Roman

Title

Denarius (Coin) Portraying Octavian

Origin

Italy

Date

32 BC–29 BC

Medium

Silver

Dimensions

Diam. 1.8 cm; 3.92 g

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. William Nelson Pelouze

Reference Number

1923.1251

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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