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Julius Caesar (d. 44 B.C.)
Gold aureus struck at a military mint, c.43 B.C. It bears the portraits of Octavian (later known as Augustus) and his adoptive father, the slain dictator Julius Caesar.
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 Twelve Caesars

Julius Caesar, d. 44 B.C. Julius Caesar,
d. 44 B.C.

NGC Ancients Choice VF. Strike 5/5. Surface 3/5. Light marks.

Even among the great figures of the ancient world, Julius Caesar has few equals. Curiously, two of them, Cleopatra VII and Augustus, were related: the former as a wife and the latter as an heir. Driven by an intense desire for personal glory, Caesar conquered Gaul and defeated a host of enemies — both foreign and Roman — throughout the Mediterranean world. He assumed the title "dictator for life" and was ready to pursue other ambitions when he was murdered by conspirators in Rome on the Ides (15th) of March, 44 B.C. For more biographical information, visit


Augustus, 27 B.C. – A.D. 14 Augustus (27 B.C.–A.D. 14)
Gold aureus struck at Lugdunum, c.15–12 B.C. A fictionally youthful portrait of Augustus is paired with a butting bull.
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 Twelve Caesars

Augustus, 27 B.C. – A.D. 14 Augustus,
27 B.C.–A.D. 14

NGC Ancients Choice XF. Fine Style. Strike 5/5. Surface 4/5.

Rome's first emperor, Augustus, was one of the most successful rulers of the ancient world. He exercised great power from 44 B.C. to A.D. 14, and did much to expand Rome's empire and reform its society. His most remarkable achievement, perhaps, was to emerge victorious in a civil war that had raged for decades. After consolidating power, he artfully transformed the Roman government from a fallen republic into a monarchy. For more biographical information, visit


Tiberius, A.D. 14 – 37 Tiberius (A.D. 14–37)
Gold aureus struck at Lugdunum early in his reign. It depicts the portrait of Tiberius and the seated figure of his mother, Livia, who had been the wife of Augustus.
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 Twelve Caesars

Tiberius, A.D. 14 – 37 Tiberius,
A.D. 14–37

NGC Ancients AU*. Strike 5/5. Surface 4/5.

An extraordinary general, Tiberius' service to Rome was second only to that of Augustus. However, upon becoming emperor he was beset with troubles that stemmed primarily from dynastic infighting and an unhealthy reliance on his praetorian prefect Sejanus. His reign became so difficult that he abandoned the capital and spent his last decade ruling in relative isolation on the island of Capri. In faraway Judaea, meanwhile, the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate crucified Jesus Christ. For more biographical information, visit


Caligula, A.D. 37 – 41 Caligula (A.D. 37–41)
Gold aureus struck at Rome, A.D. 37–38. Caligula's portrait appears with that of his deceased mother, Agrippina Senior, a political martyr of the reign of Tiberius.
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 Twelve Caesars

Caligula, A.D. 37 – 41 Caligula,
A.D. 37–41

NGC Ancients Choice XF. Strike 4/5. Surface 5/5.

Few emperors are as infamous as Caligula, whose sordid reputation still precedes him nearly 2,000 years after his reign. Not long after he succeeded his great-uncle Tiberius, the optimism of Caligula's fellow citizens was replaced by grave disappointment. He most likely suffered from a form of insanity and seems to have become increasingly irrational with the passage of time. Caligula, his wife and child were all murdered in a palace coup. For more biographical information, visit


Claudius, A.D. 41 – 54 Claudius (A.D. 41–54)
Gold aureus struck at Rome, A.D. 46–47. A fine portrait of Claudius is paired with the seated figure of Constantia, who personifies courage and perseverance.
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 Twelve Caesars

Claudius, A.D. 41 – 54 Claudius,
A.D. 41–54

NGC Ancients AU*. Fine Style. Strike 5/5. Surface 5/5.

The early members of the Julio-Claudian family might never have imagined that Claudius, who had been held back from a meaningful public life on account of his physical problems, would become emperor. However, after the coup against Caligula, the praetorian guards chose Claudius and forced the senate to accept him as their candidate. Despite a ruinous personal life, Claudius ruled for 13 years — seemingly with care, attention and a good deal of skill. For more biographical information, visit


Nero, A.D. 54 – 68 Nero (A.D. 54–68)
Gold aureus struck at Rome, A.D. 62–63. A youthful portrait of Nero appears opposite the standing figure of Virtus, who personifies valor and bravery.
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 Twelve Caesars

Nero, A.D. 54 – 68 Nero,
A.D. 54–68

NGC Ancients XF*. Strike 5/5. Surface 4/5.

The last of the Julio–Claudians to reign, Nero came to power in A.D. 54 as the adopted son and successor of Claudius. He quickly shed the influence of his mother by ordering her murder, and then reigned, it seems, with little tolerance for (or attention to) the annoying details of running an empire. He is said to have indulged in art, theater and music. After a reign of nearly 14 years, rebellions in the provinces rapidly brought down his regime, and Nero chose suicide over execution. For more biographical information, visit


Galba, A.D. 68 – 69Galba (A.D. 68–69)
Gold aureus struck at Rome, A.D. 68–69. A realistic portrait of Galba is shown with a reverse symbolic of an award for having saved the lives of fellow Romans.
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 Twelve Caesars

Galba, A.D. 68 – 69 Galba,
A.D. 68–69

NGC Ancients Choice VF. Fine Style. Strike 5/5. Surface 3/5.

As the political fortunes of Nero waned, governors in some of Rome's provinces began to resist his demands. Vindex in Gaul, Clodius Macer in North Africa and Galba in Spain all revolted — though only the latter survived to become emperor after Nero's suicide. Once in Rome, Galba's rule was never secure, for he refused to bribe the soldiers and did not condone corruption. His murder was arranged by Otho, an embittered compatriot who was willing to lavish bribes in his desire to succeed Galba. For more biographical information, visit


Otho, A.D. 69Otho (A.D. 69)
Gold aureus struck at Rome, A.D. 69. Otho, fitted with his famous wig, is shown opposite the standing figure of Pax (Peace) — a type well suited for a time of civil war.
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 Twelve Caesars

Otho, A.D. 69 Otho,
A.D. 69

NGC Ancients AU*. Strike 5/5. Surface 5/5.

One of Rome's least impressive emperors, Otho had lived among the ruling class before he was made governor of faraway Lusitania (mod. Portugal) so the emperor Nero could have his wife, Poppaea, to himself. When Galba's revolt broke in neighboring Spain, Otho joined him, hoping to be named successor. But Galba had no such plan, so Otho had Galba murdered in public view. Otho was not up to the job, however, and he reigned only three months before committing suicide after his legions were defeated by those of Vitellius. For more biographical information, visit


Vitellius, A.D. 69Vitellius (A.D. 69)
Gold aureus struck at Rome, A.D. 69. The well-sculpted portrait of Vitellius is paired with a symbolic type that had been employed months earlier by Galba.
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 Twelve Caesars

Vitellius, A.D. 69 Vitellius,
A.D. 69

NGC Ancients XF. Fine Style. Strike 5/5. Surface 2/5. Smoothing.

A similarly disappointing character was Rome's next emperor, Vitellius, whom Galba had sent to govern Germany in order to remove him far from Rome. Vitellius was present when Roman legions in Germany mutinied and marched on Rome to collect a bonus they had been promised for crushing the uprising of Vindex. Vitellius rose quickly, and events moved so rapidly that he had little chance to enjoy his new office. After eight months as emperor, he was overthrown and murdered when legions loyal to his successor, Vespasian, entered Rome. For more biographical information, visit


Vespasian, A.D. 69 – 79Vespasian (A.D. 69–79)
Gold aureus struck at Rome, A.D. 76. Vespasian's robust portrait appears opposite a heifer, perhaps representing a work of the Greek sculptor Myron.
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 Twelve Caesars

Vespasian, A.D. 69 – 79 Vespasian,
A.D. 69–79

NGC Ancients Choice XF. Fine Style. Strike 5/5. Surface 5/5.

Known for his frugality and lively sense of humor, Vespasian was one of Rome's most competent generals and dutiful emperors. He came to power at the end of the civil war after leading Rome's great struggle in Judaea. During his decade as emperor, he restored Rome's fortunes to a very large degree. There was a tremendous amount of work to do and Vespasian was often criticized for being stingy, despite a distinct lack of luxury funds for the frequent and extravagant entertainments that the public had come to expect. For more biographical information, visit


Titus, A.D. 79 – 81Titus (A.D. 79–81)
Gold aureus struck at Rome, A.D. 75. This coin was struck while Titus was Caesar under his father; the reverse shows Victory on cista mystica flanked by snakes.
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 Twelve Caesars

Titus, A.D. 79 – 81 Titus,
A.D. 79–81

NGC Ancients AU. Fine Style. Strike 5/5. Surface 3/5. Edge marks.

Since childhood, Titus had been a part of the highest echelon of Roman society. He was at his father's side in Judaea, and when Vespasian went to Alexandria to pursue his bid to be emperor, Titus took command, conducting the siege of Jerusalem late in A.D. 70. He then returned to Rome to aid his father in government until 79, when he became emperor; Titus reigned merely two years before his own death. Two major events of his reign include the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius and the inauguration of the colosseum in Rome. For more biographical information, visit


Domitian, A.D. 81 – 96Domitian (A.D. 81–96)
Gold aureus struck at Rome, A.D. 76. This aureus was struck when Domitian was Caesar under Vespasian; the reverse depicts a cornucopia, a symbol of bounty.
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 Twelve Caesars

Domitian, A.D. 81 – 96 Domitian,
A.D. 81–96

NGC Ancients Choice XF. Fine Style. Strike 5/5. Surface 2/5. Smoothing.

From the tainted pages of history, Domitian is portrayed as an unsympathetic emperor whose life was framed by the envy he felt toward his older brother, Titus. He was aggressive militarily and led daring campaigns in Germany to win the kind of glory that his father and brother had earned in Judaea. Accounts of his personal life are shocking — including an incestuous relationship with his niece. On September 18, A.D. 96, Domitian was murdered in a palace coup, bringing an end to the period of the "Twelve Caesars." For more biographical information, visit