Roman Empire

Tiberius, Emperor AD 14-37

RIC 29; Lyon 153; ; BN 22; BMC 47; Calicó 305b, Mint State

‘Tribute Penny’ type. Lugdunum, AD 36/7. TI CAESAR DIVI AVG F AVGVSTVS, laureate head of Tiberius right. Reverse: PONTIF MAXIM, Livia, as Pax, seated right, holding scepter and olive branch, resting feet on footstool; ornate chair legs, single line below.

The types used for this aureus were the standard ones employed throughout the reign of Tiberius for both gold and silver issues. Indeed, these are the very types that have been connected to the New Testament story of Jesus and the Tribute Penny. The coin features the portrait of Tiberius on the obverse and a seated deity thought to represent Tiberius’ overbearing mother Livia in the guise of Pax on the reverse. Although she seems to be given divine honors on this coin, Tiberius refused to deify her when she died in AD 29. By this time he was long past tolerating her attempts to interfere in his reign. Indeed by AD 27 he was so exasperated with the Augusta that he withdrew from Rome to live on the isle of Capri. When Livia fell ill and died, Tiberius claimed that the work of administering the empire prevented him from attending the funeral. It is a thankless job to be the mother of a tyrant.