Roman Empire

Claudius, Emperor AD 41-54

RIC 120; RPC 2221; BN 304; BMC 228; RSC 3, Nearly Mint State

Ephesus, AD 41/2. TI CLAVD CAESAR AVG, bare head of Claudius left. Reverse: COM ASI acrosss field, emperor, on left, standing facing, holding globe and scepter, being crowned by female holding wreath and cornucopiae, both within distyle temple; ROM ET AVG inscribed on entablature.

In the first and second centuries AD it was still considered improper to worship living emperors as gods in Rome although their sweeping powers made them the virtual equivalents of gods among men. This taboo, however, did not prevail in the Greek East where the cities had a long tradition of relating to powerful rulers in divine terms extending back to the Hellenistic age. Under the Roman Emperors cities vied with one another for the right to maintain a temple dedicated to the imperial cult and claim the coveted honorific title of neokoros (“Temple Warden”). This cistophoric tetradrachm celebrates the temple of Rome and Augustus erected at Pergamon in 29 BC with the permission of Augustus. However, the detailed statues within the temple columns make it clear that Claudius has been added to the imperial pantheon begun by his great-uncle.