AR Denarius of Mark Antony and Octavian
money; coins (money)
Mark Antony and Octavian, two powerful and influential men of Rome, jointly commissioned this coin during the Republican era. The athletic, idealized portraits of both men suggest power and strength, and their faces on the obverse and reverse of the coin reflect their alliance as Triumvirs. However, there is much more going on behind the scenes of this bronze object. Antony was an ally and second-in-command to Julius Caesar, and when Caesar fell in 44 BC, Antony was reluctant to pass the power to Octavian, Caesar’s nephew, and a rivalry quickly formed. Both established military leaders, their armies switched between clashing and alliance for years. Ultimately, it was Antony divorcing Octavian’s sister Octavia and returning to his lover Cleopatra that led to Octavian declaring war on the couple and eventually defeating Antony at the Battle of Actium, making Octavian the first Roman emperor (Augustus). The slim, youthful portrait of Octavian anticipates the youthful, idealized portraits of the emperor Octavian/Augustus.
Mark Antony, Octavian
Syd 1181, Craw
ARTH250 (Professor V. Rousseau, Fall 2019)
VR, C. Roehring, SH
University Art Collection, University of St. Thomas (St. Paul)