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Livia- Wife

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LiviaLiva 2

wife of Augustus
mother of Tiberius & the nation
born 57 BC – died 29 AD at the age of 86

Livia Bust

Livia Drusilla was a woman of renowned beauty in her day. Livia was the daughter of a nobleman named Marcus Livius Drusus Claudius and his wife Alfidia. Livia Drusilla was born on January 30th, 59 BC. Her name, Drusilla, suggests she was not her father’s first daughter.

Her father was a Republican who opposed Julius Caesar. She was first married around 43BC to a Republican, Tiberius Claudius Nero (c. 82 – 33 BC), who supported the assassins of Julius Caesar.

Her father committed suicide in the Battle of Philippi, along with Gaius Cassius Longinus and Marcus Junius Brutus. Her husband fled and took refuge with Sextus Pompey, who was in Sicily. After an amnesty from Octavian, they returned to Rome when their son Tiberius was three years old.

House of Livia

Palace of Augustus and Livia

livia 1Livia divorced her husband, and she was immediately married to Octavian/Augustus in January of 38 BC while she was pregnant with her second son, Drusus. She never bore any children with Augustus.

According to Tacitus, Livia won a reputation for generosity and encouraged Augustus to show clemency towards his opponents. She was also quite tolerant of his numerous infidelities. Livia appears to have been loyal to Augustus, seeking the pleasures of power rather than those of the flesh.

Livia, however, comes to us through history with a reputation as a secretive and cunning woman. Livia was suspected of murder and intrigue in pursuit of her obsession with establishing a “Claudian” dynasty. She was accused by historians of procuring the deaths of Marcus Claudius Marcellus (42–23BC) who was the son of Augustus’ sister Octavia, Gaius, and Lucius (sons of Agrippa & Julia) in order to secure the position of her own son, Tiberius, as heir to the newly found throne.

The most shocking accusation against Livia focuses upon the death of Augustus himself. In the last few months before he died, Augustus is believed to have suspected Livia’s invisible hand in securing the path to the throne. Augustus made a secret visit to Planasia where his last surviving grandson, Agrippa Postumus had been sent into exile by Augustus years before. Livia may have suspected that Augustus was about to be reinstated Agrippa Postumus as a rival to Tiberius or perhaps the preferred heir to the empire. To prevent any such occurrence, Livia is said to have . . .

“smeared with poison some figs that were still on trees from which Augustus was wont to gather the fruit with his own hands; then she ate those that had not been smeared, offering the poisoned ones to him.”

Livia_Louvre Black | Armstrong Economics

Livia survived her husband Augustus by some 15 years. Her political influence increased considerably under her son’s rule, and her bust was set up in the Temple of Alexandria. She was given the title of Julia Augusta and possessed equal authority with that of Tiberius. Livia was likely instrumental in ordering the death of Agrippa Postumus, and she clearly engaged in a fierce feud with the wife of GermanicusAgrippina. Perhaps to counter her growing reputation for ruthlessness, Livia strongly protected Caligula, the last surviving son of Germanicus, who surely would have been murdered by the ambitious Prefect of the Praetorian Guard – Sejanus. She also saved many senators during this same reign of terror organized by Sejanus under the name of Tiberius. Furthermore, she did much to benefit the children of Rome and helped Roman women with the dowries.

Augustus Livia Mausoleum

Mausoleum of Augustus & Livia

Livia died in 29 AD. Upon her death, the Senate of Rome bestowed upon her all possible honors, including ordering the construction of an arch. Tiberius vetoed that order claiming that he himself wanted to construct such a monument but never did. Tiberius, still very resentful of his mother, also refused to deify her. It was not until Claudius became Emperor that Livia was finally defied in 42 AD. She was, of course, buried in Augustus’ mausoleum.

Monetary System

Livia AE Dupondius as Salvs r

Livia as Salvs on AE Dupondius

When Livia served as Empress of Rome, tradition had not yet developed where the portrait of a woman would appear on the coinage. Consequently, the coinage with Latin legends displays the portrait of Livia as a god, similar in fashion to Pompey’s likeness, which was applied to the portrait of the Roman god Janus on the bronze As issued during the Civil War. Portrait coinage of Livia during her lifetime was minted within the provinces, typically with legends in Greek.

Lifetime Issues

Livia Corinth

Mints: Bithynia, Bosporus, Caria, Corinth, Cilicia, Crete, Egypt, Ionia, Lydia, Macedonia, Mysia, Phrygia, Sicily, Spain, Syritica, Thrace, Zeugitana

Posthumous Issues

Livia AE Dupondius - R



livia 3

Postumus Issues by Tiberius following Livia’s death

Æ Sesterius Carpentum drawn by two mules
Æ Dupondius portrayed as Pietas
Æ Dupondius portrayed as Justitia
Æ Dupondius portrayed as Salvs



Posthumous Issues by Titus following Livia’s death

Æ Dupondius portrayed as Pietas
Æ Dupondius portrayed as Justitia


Livia (Alone)

                AE20 BOSPORUS, A. Caesarea (Veiled hd rt/prow left) RPC198
                AE27 CARIA, Aphrodisias (Dr bust rt/temple) RPC199
                AE17 CARIA, Apollonia (Dr bust rt/Dionysos stg lf) RPC200
                AE17 CILICIA, Augusta (Dr bust rt/Capricorn holding globe rt) RPC207
                AE19 CILICIA AUGUSTA Draped bust of Livia to right. Rev.  Bust of Athena to right, RPC3318.3
                AE16 CILICIA AUGUSTA Livia bare hd rt, CAPPRICORN RPC4007
                AE16 CILICIA AUGUSTA Livia bare hd rt, CAPPRICORN RPC4007
                AE20 CILICIA AUGUSTA, Kilikion (bare hd rt) RPC4013
                AE18 CILICIA AUGUSTA, Kilikion (bare hd rt) RPC4014
                AE21 CORINTH Struck Under Tiberius (Livia left / Hexastyle temple)  RPC1159
               AE19 (Bare hd of Claudius left / Diademed bust of Livia right) RPC 1030
                AE26 EGYPT, Alexandria (80 drachmai)(hd rt/cornucopiae) RPC208
                AE24 EGYPT, Alexandria (diobol) (Hd rt/LM in wreath) RPC209
                AE15 EGYPT, Alexandria (dichalkon) (Hd rt/ears corn) RPC210
                AE17 LYDIEN TRIPOLIS (Livia bust left Rs: [I]ERATIKO / Club RPC 3053
                AE18 LYDIA, Magnesia (Dr bust rt/Young male bust) RPC201
                AE22 MACEDON, Amphipolis (Veiled hd r/bull rt) RPC194
                AE25 MACEDON, Dium (dr bust rt/6 lines legend) RPC195
                AE15 MACEDON, Thessalonica (Diad hd r/Horse) RPC196
                AE14 MACEDON, Thessalonica (Diad hd r/Horse) RPC1563
                AE20 MACEDON,  Amphipolis (Veiled hd r / Artemis Tauropolus r)  RPC 1634
Phrygia Cotiaeum Livia rt RPC 3219A
                Æ14 PHRYGIA, Eumenia ( Hd rt/Legend Female magistrate Kastoris)  RPC 3143
                Æ 13mm PHRYGIA, Eucarpia (Hd rt/EYKAPΠITIKOY AΠΦIA IEPHA)  RPC 3160
                Æ18 PHRYGIA (Cotiaeum) Assarion bust r/Kybele seated left, holding patera with lion RPC3219A
                AE18 PHRYGIA, Aezanis (Dr bust rt/Kybele enthroned) RPC202
                AE15 PHRYGIA, Apameia (Dr bust rt/Club) RPC203
                AE18 PHRYGIA, Cibyra (Dr bust rt/Zeus enthroned lf) RPC204
                AE18 PHRYGIA, Eucarpeia (Dr bust rt/4 lines legend) RPC205
                AE18 PHRYGIA, Eumeneia (Sr bust left/5 lines legend) RPC206
                Æ As SPAIN, Caesaraugusta (Livia veiled rt/Temple) RPC191
                Æ 29 SPAIN, Emerita (hd rt & palm-branch/2 oxen plowing) RPC192
                Æ 28 SPAIN, Italica (Dr bust rt/Livia enthroned r) RPC193
Syritica Livia RPC 835
                Æ 24  SYRITICA, Oea (Dr bust rt/Minerva left)  RPC835
                Æ 13 ZEUGITANA, Utica (Veiled bust rt/legend) RPC212

With Augustus


Æ 28 BITHYNIA, Apameia (Conjoined busts left/female enthroned)

Livia with Augustus CARIA RPC 2808


Æ 19 CARIA, Aphrodisias (Conjoined hds rt/Statue facing)
Æ 24 CARIA, Euomus (Hds facing/Zeus facing eagle foot)

Lydia Augustus Livia PRC 2450 2662


Æ 15 LYDIA, Magnesia ad Sipylum (Bare Aug r/Livia r)
Æ 17 LYDIA. Nysa (Bare hd rt/Livia rt)
Æ 20 LYDIA, Tralles (Bare Aug r/Livia stg facing)

Ionia Augustus Livia RPC 2587


Æ 18 IONIA, ClazomenÆ (Laur Aug /Dr bust Livia r) (RPC 2587)
Æ 22 IONIA, Ephesus (Conjoined hds r/Stag stg r) (RPC 2466)
Æ 20 IONIA, Smyrana (Conjoined hds rt/Aphrodite stg facing)

Spain Augustus Livia AE Dupondius RPC 73


Æ 30 (Dupondius) SPAIN, Romula w/Augustus (RPC 73)
Æ 20 SPAIN, Turiaso (Laur Aug rt/Dia hd Livia rt)
Æ 34 SPAIN, Hispalis (Divvs Rad Aug rt/hd Livia Lf)
Æ 20 SICILY, Panormus (BÆ Aug rt/Hd Livia rt)


Æ 31 SYRTICA, Leptis Magna (Laur Aug rt/Livia enthroned lf)

Livia Augustus THRACE RPC 1708


AR Didrachm THRACE, Byzantium (Rad lf/Liva rt)
Æ 23 THRACE Augustus & Liva Judgate/Rhoemetalkes I & Queen Pythodoris)

With Tiberius


Æ 14 Cilicia w/Tiberius Livia rt/ Bull butting to the right)

Tiberius Livia Macedonia RPC 1570Tiberius Livia


Æ 19 PERGAMON (Tiberius/Livia confronted busts/Temple)
Æ 19 MYSIA, Pergamum (Tiberius & Julia facing)
Æ 20 MYSIA, Pergamum (Tiberius & Julia facing)
Æ21 MACEDON, Thessalonica w/Tiberius
Æ21 MACEDON, Thessalonica w/Tiberius
Æ As MACEDON, Thessalonica w/Tiberius
Æ As MACEDON, Thessalonica w/Tiberius

Tiberius AE As Spain with Livia Druses Facing RPC 233


Æ As SPAIN, Tarraco (Laur hd rt/Livia & Drusus Facing) RPC233

Liviua with Claudius CRETE RPC 1030
With Claudius

Æ 19 GORTYNA (Bare hd lf/Diademed Livia rt)
Æ 28 CRETE (Bare hd Claudius lf/Dr bust Livia rt)

LIVIA AE Justita Dupondus NCAPR Countermarket


Æ Sestertius (Countermark NCAPR (Nummus Caesare Augusto PRobatus?) Pangerl 60
Æ Dupondius (IVSTITA) “NCAPR”
Æ Dupondius (Pietas) “NCAPR”

Livia AE Counterstamps

The “NCAPR” counterstamps appear to be the most common of the era that was most likely struck upon the base metal coinage predating Nero’s reign when only gold and silver were minted in his name from the mint of Rome. Most agree that Nero applied them since they do not appear on his coins. The general conclusion has been that the translation means one of two things:


  1. Nero Claudius Augustus Probavit. Roughly, “with the approval of Nero Claudius, the Augustus.”
  2. Nero Claudius Augustus Populo Romano. Roughly, “from Nero Claudius, the Augustus, to the people of Rome.”

Nerva AE Ses Modus Poor

In the first instance, such a counter-stamp would mean the revalidation of the coins of Nero’s predecessors. The second translation would imply that it is a “congiarium” meaning it may have been a public dole given by Nero. This dole was normally welfare involving typically grain.  We often see coins of later emperors celebrating this form of welfare, which is customary, so I would not subscribe to this interpretation. Moreover, most of the coins found with this counterstamp are highly worn, so it would suggest they are being reaffirmed as still valid.

Claudius AE Sesterius Barbarous Imitation Devalued to Dupondius

Here we have a sestertius of Claudius who preceded Nero. Here, it is a barbarous imitation, which counterstamps “DV,” meaning it was devalued to a dupondius. Therefore, I subscribe to the first interpretation that the NCAPR confirmed that they were still valid and had nothing to do with the dole.

Monetary History of the World
© Martin A. Armstrong