A CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series by Mike Markowitz looks at the coins of "great and wise rulers who fathered heirs who were monsters or idiots." Interesting topic! Here's an excerpt - see the complete article online for more.
HISTORY IS LITTERED with great and wise rulers who fathered heirs who were monsters or idiots: sons who just plain turned out wrong. The coins of these rulers illustrate these stories, perhaps offering us some insight into how such good fathers raised such bad sons.
Germanicus and Caligula
Germanicus (father of Caligula) ? As. Image: Roma Numismatics, Ltd.
Born into the Roman elite on May 24, 15 BCE, Germanicus was destined for a brilliant career. His father, Drusus the Elder, was the son of the empress, Livia Drusilla, and the stepson of the emperor Augustus. Germanicus' mother, Antonia the Younger, was the daughter of Mark Antony.
In a series of brilliant campaigns (14 – 16 CE), Germanicus led eight legions to regain two of the three sacred legionary standards captured by German tribes in the disastrous Battle of Teutoburg Forest in 9 CE. He became a national hero, beloved by the Roman people. Posted to the Syrian city of Antioch to deal with the restless eastern provinces, Germanicus died suddenly in 19 CE at the age of 34. It was suspected that he was poisoned on the orders of his uncle, the jealous and suspicious Emperor Tiberius. Many years after his death Germanicus was honored on coins issued by his son, Caligula, and his brother Claudius.
Gaius (Caligula), with Germanicus. 37-41 CE. AR Denarius. Image: CNG.
Caligula became emperor at the age of 25. His personal name was Gaius;
Of all the emperors of Rome, Caligula is the best known for his personal depravity and abuse of power (Vagi, 143).
Caligula was a nickname meaning
little boots that was given to him as a child by his father's troops, amused by his miniature legionary uniform. Collectors seeking evidence of madness, decadence and depravity in the coinage of Caligula will be disappointed. Coinage is conservative, and these coins present an idealized portrait of a rather dorky young man, along with a series of stock images reflecting conventions of Classical art that the Romans adopted from the Greeks.
To read the complete article, see:
Good Dad, Bad Son: Disappointing Heirs of Great Rulers
Wayne Homren, Editor
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