Obverse: Bare head of Caligula facing left, C
CAESAR AVG GERMANICVS PON M TR POT.
Reverse: VESTA, seated left holding a patera
and sceptre, S-C in field.
Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus was the youngest son of
Germanicus and Agrippina Sr. He spent much of his
childhood accompanying his father on military campaigns.
It is here that he received his nickname, “Caligula,” or
“Little Army Boots,” from the soldiers. Although his family
underwent much persecution, the young Caligula was
spared the same fate of his relatives and was instead
named as successor to Emperor Tiberius. As Emperor,
Caligula spend large sums of money honoring his
deceased family, as much to restore his good name as to
please the army, among whom Germanicus was still
remembered fondly. A few years into his reign, however, it
became clear that Caligula had intentions to reshape the
principate into a full-fledged monarchy. Most of the
scandalous events conservative historian detailed must be
seen in this light. Caligula followed in the footsteps of
Hellenistic and Egyptian rulers by posturing himself as a
god, much to the horror of the Roman historians. In the
end, Caligula would be overcome by those around him
who plotted against him and, when threatened, eliminated
the Emperor to save their own lives.
How many hands have touched a coin in your pocket or
purse? What eras and lands have the coin traversed on its
journey into our possession? As we reach into our pockets
to pull out some change, we rarely hesitate to think of who
might have touched the coin before us, or where the coin
will venture to after it leaves our hands. More than money,
coins are a symbol of the state that struck them, of a
specific time and location, whether contemporary
currencies or artifacts of a long forgotten empire. This
stunning hand-struck coin reveals an expertise of
craftsmanship and intricate sculptural detail that is often
lacking in contemporary machine-made currencies. This
ancient coin is a memorial to an emperor’s reign passed
down from the hands of civilization to civilization, from
generation to generation, which still appears as vibrant
today as the day it was struck.