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Gold multiples are extremely rare. There are only three known examples from the reign of Augustus, each presenting different typologies, meaning that this quaternion — or four aurei – is unique artefact. These multiples were not used as coins, even though they circulated in the monetary system. They were created to be given as gifts to people close to the emperor. The obverse depicts a young and fresh-faced Octavius accompanied by a small Capricorn, referring to his astrological sign. The legend cites his seventh consulate, allowing us to date its production to 27 BC, precisely when he received the title of Augustus. The style of the portrait suggests that it could have been minted in a Greek workshop in Asia Minor, perhaps Pergamon. The last message of the quaternion is revealed on the reverse: the Egyptian inscription with the words ‘conquered Egypt’ and an hippopotamus, a typical animal from the Nile, commemorate the conquest of Egypt three years before. The annexation of the final kingdom that emerged from Alexander the Great’s legacy was a crucial moment in the rise of Octavius.

Details

  • Title: Quaternion of Augustus
  • Date Created: 27 BC
  • Provenance: Bergama (Turkey)
  • Type: Numismatics - Coinage
  • Rights: Museo Arqueológico Nacional
  • External Link: CERES
  • Medium: Gold
  • Cultural Context: Roman Empire

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