Octavian is the winner, after 13 years of civil war. He understood that, in order to maintain his dominance, he must be respected as a demi-god or even more. Before the decisive battle of Actium, he promised to open a temple. His choice was to honor the most beautiful of the gods, Apollo.
Three years after Actium, Octavian inaugurates the temple of Apollo Palatinus on a place marked by lightning. This political act is extremely important because it includes the transfer of the Sibylline Books from the Capitoline temple of Jupiter. Military winner, Octavian also perfectly knew how to use the traditional Roman superstitions.
In the following year, 726 from the founding of Rome, he becomes Augustus Caesar, which means the sacred emperor entitled to make oracles and the absolute master of political power.
In the sale of 22 and 23 September in London, Dix Noonan Webb offers an aureus of Augustus Caesar, whose figures tend to show that it was made in the very first years of the Roman Empire.
It is inscribed 'Caesar' on one side with the portrait of the leader that lost the realistic hardness of the Republican era to provide an idealization inspired by Apollo. His beauty remains plausible for a man who was not yet 40 years old.
It is inscribed 'Augustus' on the reverse side with a heifer lowering the spine, which is not a symbol of virginity but of sacrifice. This image is directly inspired by four statues from the old Greek sculptor Myron of Eleutherae that were adorning the altar of Apollo Palatinus. Both sides thus show a tight link between the two imperial arts, sculpture and coinage.
Several variants of this aureus exist, with laureate or bare head, head to the left or to the right, beast going left or right. This series of variants that were probably struck together is certainly designed for some interpretation of auspices. Three combinations have never been seen. The coin for sale is unique, with the laureate head to the right and the heifer to the left.
In very fine condition, it is estimated in excess of £ 300K. Both sides are shown in the post shared by Numismatic News.