Germanicus Julius Caesar
Bronze As 29mm (9.86 grams) Rome mint: 37-38 A.D.
Reference: RIC I 106 (Claudius); BMCRE 218
GERMANICVS CAESAR TI AVG N - Bare head of Germanicus right.
TI CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG GERMANI IMP P P around large SC.
An interesting theory recently advanced
holds that this coin was struck by Claudius to replace a similar issue made by
Caligula, which was being withdrawn from circulation due to the "Damnatio"
passed by the Senate against Caligula's memory. Coins which depicted Caligula
were to be recalled and melted down, or
otherwise defaced. Germanicus, however, was still widely admired, and he was
Claudius' brother in addition to being Caligula's father. To differentiate
Claudius' issue from that of his hated
predecessor, Germanicus is depicted head right instead of head left.
You are bidding on the exact item pictured,
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Germanicus Julius Caesar (24 May 16 B.C.
or 15 B.C. – 10 October A.D. 19), commonly known as Germanicus, was a
member of the
Julio-Claudian dynasty and a prominent general
of the early
Roman Empire. He was born in
Gaul, and was named either Nero Claudius Drusus after his
father or Tiberius Claudius Nero after his uncle. He received the
agnomen Germanicus in 9 BC, when it was
posthumously awarded to his father in honour of his victories in
Germanicus was the grandson-in-law and great-nephew of the
Augustus, nephew and adoptive son of the
Tiberius, father of the Emperor
Caligula, brother of the Emperor
Claudius, and the maternal grandfather of the
Family and early life
Germanicus was raised and educated in
Rome. His parents were the general
Nero Claudius Drusus (son of Empress
Livia Drusilla, third wife of Emperor
Antonia Minor (the younger daughter of the
Mark Antony and
Octavia Minor, sister of Augustus).
Livilla was his sister and the future Emperor
Claudius was his younger brother.
Germanicus married his maternal second cousin
Agrippina the Elder, a granddaughter of
Augustus, between 5 and 1 BC. The couple had nine children. Two died very young;
another, Gaius Julius Caesar, died in early childhood. The remaining six were:
Drusus Caesar, the Emperor
Caligula, the Empress
Agrippina the Younger,
Julia Drusilla, and
Julia Livilla. Through Agrippina the Younger,
Germanicus was the Emperor
Nero's maternal grandfather.
Germanicus became immensely popular among the citizens of
Rome, who enthusiastically celebrated his military victories. He was
also a favourite with
Augustus, his great-uncle, who for some time
considered him heir to the Empire. In AD 4, persuaded by
Livia, his wife, Augustus decided in favour of
Tiberius, his stepson from Livia's first
Tiberius Nero. However, Augustus compelled
Tiberius to adopt Germanicus as a son and to name him as his heir (see
Tacitus, Annals IV.57). Upon this adoption,
Germanicus's name was changed to Germanicus Julius Caesar. He also became
the adoptive brother of Tiberius's natural son
Drusus the Younger.
Germanicus held several military commands, leading the army
in the campaigns in
Dalmatia. He is recorded to have been an
excellent soldier and an inspired leader, loved by the
legions. In the year 12 he was appointed
consul after five mandates as
Commander of Germania
The death of Germanicus, by
Nicholas Poussin, laments the
passing of Rome's last Republican.
After the death of Augustus in 14, the
Senate appointed Germanicus commander of the
Germania. A short time after, the legions
rioted on the news that their recruitments would not be marked back down to 16
years from the now standard 20. Refusing to accept this, the rebel soldiers
cried for Germanicus as emperor. Germanicus put down this rebellion himself, to
honour Augustus' choice and stamp out the mutiny, preferring to continue only as
a general. In a bid to secure the loyalty of his troops and his own popularity
with them and with the Roman people, he led them on a spectacular but brutal
raid against the
Marsi, a German tribe on the upper Ruhr river,
in which he massacred much of the tribe.
During each of the next two years, he led his 8-legion army
into Germany against the coalition of tribes led by
Arminius, which had successfully overthrown
Roman rule in a rebellion in 9. His major success was the capture of Arminius'
Thusnelda in May 15. He let Arminius' wife
sleep in his quarters during the whole of the time she was a prisoner. He said,
"They are women and they must be respected, for they will be citizens of Rome
needed]. He was able to devastate large areas and eliminate
any form of active resistance, but the majority of the Germans fled at the sight
of the Roman army into remote forests. The raids were considered a success since
the major goal of destroying any rebel alliance networks was completed.
After visiting the site of the disastrous
Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, where 20,000
Romans had been killed in 9 CE, and burying their remains, he launched a massive
assault on the heartland of Arminius' tribe, the Cheruscans. Arminius initially
lured Germanicus' cavalry into a trap and inflicted minor casualties, until
successful fighting by the Roman infantry caused the Germans to break and flee
into the forest. This victory, combined with the fact that winter was fast
approaching, meant Germanicus's next step was to lead his army back to its
winter quarters on the Rhine.
In spite of doubts on the part of his uncle, Emperor
Tiberius, Germanicus managed to raise another huge army and invaded Germany
again the next year, in 16. He forced a crossing of the Weser near modern
Minden, suffering heavy losses, and then met
Arminius' army at Idistoviso, further up the Weser, near modern
Rinteln, in an engagement often called the
Battle of the Weser River. Germanicus's
leadership and command qualities were shown in full at the battle as his
superior tactics and better trained and equipped legions inflicted huge
casualties on the German army with only minor losses. One final battle was
fought at the Angivarian Wall west of modern
Hanover, repeating the pattern of high German
fatalities forcing them to flee. With his main objectives reached and with
winter approaching Germanicus ordered his army back to their winter camps, with
the fleet occasioning some damage by a storm in the North Sea. Although only a
small number of soldiers died it was still a bad ending for a brilliantly fought
campaign. After a few more raids across the Rhine, which resulted in the
recovery of two of the three
legion's eagles lost in 9, Germanicus was
recalled to Rome and informed by Tiberius that he would be given a
triumph and reassigned to a different command.
Despite the successes enjoyed by his troops, Germanicus'
German campaign was in reaction to the mutinous intentions of his troops, and
lacked any strategic value. In addition he engaged the very German leader (Arminius)
who had destroyed three Roman legions in 9, and exposed his troops to the
remains of those dead Romans. Furthermore, in leading his troops across the
Rhine, without recourse to Tiberius, he contradicted the advice of Augustus to
keep that river as the boundary of the empire, and opened himself to doubts
about his motives in such independent action. These errors in strategic and
political judgement gave Tiberius reason enough to recall his nephew.
Command in Asia and death
Benjamin West, Agrippina landing
at Brundisium with the Ashes of Germanicus, Oil on canvas, c.
Germanicus was then sent to
Asia, where in 18 he defeated the kingdoms of
Commagene, turning them into
Roman provinces. During a sightseeing trip to
Egypt (not a regular province, but the personal property of the Emperor) he
seems to have unwittingly usurped several imperial prerogatives.
The following year he found that the governor of
Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso, had canceled the
provincial arrangements that he had made. Germanicus in turn ordered Piso's
recall to Rome, although this action was probably beyond his authority.
In the midst of this feud Germanicus died suddenly in
Antioch. His death aroused much speculation,
with several sources blaming Piso, under orders from Emperor Tiberius. This was
never proven, and Piso later died while facing trial (ostensibly by suicide, but
Tacitus supposes Tiberius may have had him murdered before he could implicate
the emperor in Germanicus' death), because he feared the people of Rome knew of
the conspiracy against Germanicus, but Tiberius' jealousy and fear of his
nephew's popularity and increasing power was the true motive.
The death of Germanicus in what can only be described as
dubious circumstances greatly affected Tiberius' popularity in Rome, leading to
the creation of a climate of fear in Rome itself. Also suspected of connivance
in his death was Tiberius' chief advisor,
Sejanus, who would, in the 20s, turn the empire
into a frightful tyranny.
Germanicus’ death brought much public grief in
Rome and throughout the
Roman Empire. His death was announced in Rome
during December of 19. There was public mourning during the festive days in
December. The historians
Suetonius record the funeral and posthumous
honors of Germanicus. At his funeral, there were no procession statues of
Germanicus. There were abundant eulogies and reminders of his fine character.
His posthumous honors included his name was placed into the
Carmen Saliare; the
Curule chairs; placed as an honorary seat of
the Brotherhood of Augustus and his coffin was crowned by oak-wreaths. Other
honors include his ivory statue as head of procession of the Circus Games; his
posts of priest of Augustus and
Augur were to be filled by members of the
imperial family; knights of Rome gave his name to a block of seats to a theatre
Arches were raised to him throughout the Roman Empire in
particularly, arches that recorded his deeds and death at Rome,
Rhine River and
Nur Mountains. In
Antioch, where he was cremated had a sepulchre
and funeral monument dedicated to him.
On the day of Germanicus’ death his sister
Livilla gave birth to twins. The second, named
Germanicus, died young. In 37, when Germanicus’ only remaining son,
Caligula, became emperor, he renamed September
Germanicus in honor of his father. Many Romans considered him as their
equivalent to King
Alexander the Great. Germanicus grandson was
Nero Caesar-died 68 AD-the last of the Julio-Claudian