Octavian, as Imperator and Triumvir (43-33 BC), with Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, as Quaestor Designatus. AR denarius (19mm, 3.64 gm, 6h). NGC Choice XF 4/5 - 3/5. Rome, 40 BC. DIVI-IVLI•F•, bare head of Octavian right, with short beard / •Q•DESIG•-TI•SEMPRON / GRACCVS / IIII•VIR•, signum, aquila right, aratrum, and decempeda. Crawford 525/2. Sydenham 1127. Julia 125 and Sempronia 10.
This remarkable denarius depicts Octavian, youngest member of the Triumvirate ruling Rome, with a short beard, much against the Roman conventions of the day, which called for upper-class males to be clean-shaven. It could represent a beard of mourning, traditionally grown in the months following the loss of a loved one. In this case the mourning would be for Julius Caesar, Octavian's grand-uncle and adoptive father; however his death was four years previous to the striking of this coin and the mourning period would surely have passed. It was also traditional for Roman men to sport a beard when setting off for battle. In 40 BC, Octavian was engaged in a bitter "little war" against Fulvia and Lucius Antony, the wife and sister of his Triumviral partner Marc Antony, which saw the rebels besieged and defeated at Perusia in central Italy. This may be the occasion for Octavian's beard, and the presence of a legionary eagle, standards, a measuring rod and a plow on the reverse may make reference to the siege of Perugia and its resettlement by retired soldiers of the Triumviral armies.
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Estimate: 1600-2400 USD