Roman Empire

Augustus, with Agrippa, Emperor 27 BC-AD 14

RIC 408; BN 533-5; BMC 112-4; RSC 3, Extremely Fine

Rome, 13 BC. C. Sulpicius Platorinus, moneyer. CAESAR AVGVSTVS, bare head of Augustus right. Reverse: M · AGRIPPA PLATORINVS · III · VIR, bare head of Agrippa right.

In 27 BC Octavian took up the name of Augustus and sweeping constitutional and military powers, thereby becoming the first Roman Emperor and establishing the line of tyrants on the Tiber that would rule the Mediterranean world for centuries. However, the aging and often ill Emperor had one glaring problem: he and his wife Livia had no male children who could succeed him when he died. His solution was to establish M. Vipsanius Agrippa, his loyal lieutenant during the war against Antony and Cleopatra, as his designated heir. Already in 23 BC, Augustus began to share powers like his proconsular imperium with Agrippa as a sign of favor. Agrippa’s status as intended successor was clarified further in 20 BC when he married Augustus’ daughter, Julia the Elder, and made explicit in 18 BC when his constitutional powers were made almost equal to those of the Emperor. Unfortunately, Augustus was thwarted in his plans when Agrippa suddenly died in 12 BC, thereby compelling him to begin a new search for an heir.