Tiberius Claudius Nero And His Coins
First published April 19, 2010
Tiberius Claudius Nero was born November 16, 42 BC. His father was
also named Tiberius Claudius Nero. His mother was Livia Drusilla.
As the second emperor of the Roman Empire, Tiberius was the first emperor
to place a personality upon Rome that was different to that which Augustus
Caesar had made his own.
During the reign of Augustus, the city of Rome was prosperous and calm
while provinces were contentious and unhappy; the senate did what Augustus
asked, and he asked all the right things. During the reign of Tiberius,
the city of Rome was tumultuous and retrograde while provinces were stable
and calm; the senate did what Tiberius asked, but he asked little to start,
and less as time passed.
This very broad consideration of Tiberius as compared to Augustus is interesting,
but the great story about Tiberius Caesar is in how his mind and moods
transmogrified through his life and reign.
Tiberius was born into a blessed environment with all aspects of life working
in his favor. He was a Claudian on his father’s and mother’s
side, and his mother’s family was also connected to influential and historically
significant families like the Aemilii Lepidi, Servilii Caepiones, and Livii
When Tiberius was 3 years old, his mother, Livia Drusilla, divorced his
father and married Octavian (Augustus Caesar). Women, even those
born to the most powerful families, had little power, but by marrying Octavian,
Livia placed herself in a position of influence that paid off for her son
As Tiberius grew to adulthood, he performed very well at all his undertakings.
He managed to retrieve the legionary standards lost at the Battle of Carrhae
by Crassus, Saxa, and Mark Antony, located the source of the Danube, excelled
as a military leader, skilled legal advocate, and effective public servant.
He had it all, and was doing quiet well until... In 12 BC, his marriage
to Vipsania Agrippina (The daughter of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa - close
friend of Augustus and the general who won the Battle of Actium in 31 BC
which secured power for Augustus.) came to an end. Augustus ordered
him to divorce Vipsania and marry his daughter Julia the widow of Marcus
Agrippa. Tiberius’s marriage with Vipsania seemed to have been
one of love. Tiberius did not take the order to divorce Vipsania
very well. He did what was demanded of him, but I believe that this
act soured Tiberius toward his mother’s plans to make him emperor.
Tiberius was a very interesting emperor. His 23 years of rule involved
many ups and downs, positives and negatives, costs and benefits.
He was a highly intelligent, dark, moody, and eccentric individual.
As his interest in participating in government matters lessened, power
hungry individuals around him moved in to claim power over those matters.
More than any other person, Lucius Aelius Sejanus (LUCIUS AELIO SEIANO)
filled the voids left as Tiberius disconnected from his role as emperor.
Sejanus was commander and prefect of the Praetorian Guard from 14 AD until
his death in 31. He maneuvered right to the edge of taking Rome from
Tiberius. All the while, Tiberius was indulging in more and more
bazaar hedonistic extremes.
Tiberius AR denarius. 14-37 AD. Lyons mint. TI CAESAR
DIVI AVG F AVGVSTVS, laureate head right / PONTIF MAXIM, Livia, as Pax,
holding branch and sceptre, seated right; plain legs to chair with double
line below. RIC 26; BMCRE 34; RSC 16; Sear 1763
Tiberius’s reign began in great times, and ended in sad times.
His accomplishments occurred during the earlier chapters of his reign;
his tragedies during the closing chapters.
The most well-known coin minted during the reign of Tiberius is often called
the ‘Tribute Penny’. It is fairly common in silver (Shown here
in gold), but gains significance by way of its connection to Christianity
and the gospels of Christ. In Matthew 22:21 “Render unto Caesar
the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”.
Although is it unlikely that this coin was used, it has been chosen by
popular demand to symbolize “...the things which are Caesar’s...”
Of all the people involved in Tiberius’s coming to power, and use of
power, Livia, his mother, has to be the most significant. Livia’s
role in the BBC production of ‘I Claudius’ was interesting to say the
least; they have her killing her husband and Emperor Augustus, mouth kissed
and breast fondled by Caligula, and killing other members of her family.
She plotted, schemed, and killed as was needed, and according to Tacitus
and Cassius Dio (Roman historians) she was the worst
By: Anthony Ballatore
Roman Emperors & their Coins
Ancient Roman Coins On Ebay
When, where & why were coins first made?
The Story of Romulus and Remus & The Birth of Rome
The Roman Republic
Julius Caesar and the Death of the Republic
Augustus Caesar: The First Roman Emperor
Tiberius Caesar: The First Julio-Claudian Heir
Caligula: The first really crazy Caesar
8) Claudius: A level headed Caesar?
9) Nero: The Last Julio-Claudian Heir
Websites worth knowing:
By far the single best location for identifying, evaluating, and touring
ancient coins. This link will direct you to their seach engines. Enjoy.
Along with WildWinds, this is a site of the highest regard, accurate
information, and ethical policies; 'AUTHENTICITY GUARANTEED FOR ETERNITY'
says it all.
Frank S. Robinson is a unique individual. I have more respect for Mr.
Robinson than any other coin dealer. His book 'The Case for Rational
Optimism' (2009) will most likely leave you with this same perspective.
If his book doesn't, dealing with him will. He is often mistaken for Neil
J. Berk, Ltd.
Located in Chicago, Harlan J. Berk, Ltd. is an excellent location for
both common and rare coins; often of
Reid Goldsborough's web pages are well written, educational, the first
site to read regarding counterfiet coins. This site is hosted for free
A commercial coin and information site established December 3, 1998.
Their code of ethics and years of operation speaks loudly.
Another commercial coin and information site.
One of our sites dedicated to pens, ink, quills, books, writing, reading,
history, and anything else that envolves language, art, and ideas.
that a dowager could be. This view belies the
truth in these male historian’s opinions of Livia. A dowager’s
wealth is acquired from her husband. Livia brought wealth and influence
to Augustus. An arguable case can me made that a major part of Augustus’s
success was the result of marrying Livia. If Livia was not at the
helm of the Roman ship of state during the reign of Augustus and Tiberius,
she definitely influenced its navigation.
Livia’s story is worthy of its own BBC production, if not for her actions
then for how history has viewed and recorded her actions. Actions
that label men as heroes, labeled Livia as a crone or witch. Livia
can easily be seen as a two thousand year old example of a male dominant
world’s double standard regarding men and women. In a time when
women had value only if their family name could give their husband influence,
or their money could advance the men in their family, Livia rose to a height
above that of the common roman aristocratic male. Livia set the stage
and standard for powerful roman woman, and might well be the benchmark
for all the powerful and influential women throughout the history of the
There is a long list of women who ruled Rome through their relation to
the emperor, and Livia is at the top of that list.
If you enjoy intrigue and plotting, drama and suspense, I strongly suggest
you read Robert Graves's ‘I, Claudius’ and ‘Claudius the God’.
I also highly recommend the BBC production of ‘I Claudius’ in which
both of Robert Grave’s books were combined to create an exceptionally
entertaining, and relatively accurate account of the Roman emperors Augustus
through Claudius, their families, friends and enemies. You might
also want to read ‘Livia Drusilla - The First Empress of the Roman Empire’
which lays out her life, deeds, myths, and the coins reputed to carry her
image through history; you will also find links to some of the other famous
and infamous Roman Empresses, wives, mothers, sisters, and lovers that
helped mold and shape Roman History.