You are not currently logged in. Please create an account or log in to view the full course.

Classics & Ancient History   >   Imperial Image: Coinage

Coins as History

  • About
  • Transcript
  • Cite

Imperial Image: Coinage

In this course, Professor Kevin Butcher (University of Warwick) looks at the reign of Augustus through the evidence of coins. The first part of course provides a general introduction to numismatics—what do coins tell us about the past?—as well as the Roman monetary system—who produced coins in Ancient Rome? what were they made of? what denominations were there?

In the second half of the course, we focus on the Emperor Augustus, thinking in particular about how he uses coinage to present a certain image of himself to the Roman people—the rightful son and heir of Julius Caesar, the man who saved the Republic, the recipient of several civic honours, the man who rebuilt Rome, and so on. We also think about other people that appear Augustus’ coins—his colleague and later son-in-law, Marcus Agrippa, and his potential successors, Gaius and Lucius Caesar, and Tiberius.

Coins as History

In this module, we introduce the idea of coins as historical source—what can coins actually tell us about the past? can we trust their evidence? In particular, we introduce some of the basic terminology of numismatics—the concept of the obverse and reverse—as well as thinking about the trustworthiness of numismatic evidence—was Augustus really as youthful as he looked on all his coins? Did Vitellius really command the ‘loyalty of the Praetorians’?

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Butcher, K. (2018, August 15). Imperial Image: Coinage - Coins as History [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Butcher, K. "Imperial Image: Coinage – Coins as History." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,


Prof. Kevin Butcher

Prof. Kevin Butcher

Warwick University