Claudius, 41-54. Denomination: as. 30-28 mm. 8.33 grams.
TI CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG PM TRP IMP PP (in beautiful lettering)
Note: Claudius did not attach numbers to his TRP designation on AE types (although he did on silver and gold), so we cannot use his TRP title for regnal dating. Claudius did not assume the title PP (Pater Patriae, father of his country) until 50, so this coin was struck 50-54. The same type was issued earlier without PP.
CONSTANTIAE AVGVSTI, S C across field.
Constantia standing left in military dress, left hand holding vertical reversed spear and right hand held up with finger pointing up and inward (which has been, unfortunately, smoothed away on this example, as has much of the terminal E of the CONSTANTIAE and the point of the reversed spear).
Michael Grant in Roman Imperial Money devotes ten pages to the meaning of Constantia and this type [p.166-175, figure 59, p. 172 and plate XXXII]. Ten pages! I'll only mention some of it here.
AVGVSTI is not plural, rather genitive singular masculine, making Constantia a personal attribute of the emperor, a virtue. We might think of it as "constancy"-- because it means "sticking to a position or course" regardless of the vagaries of life. This is a stoic virtue.
The military dress appeals to the military. Even though Claudius came to the throne with no military background, in his first year he received three salutations as Imperator for victories of his generals in Germany and North Africa. Also, in 43 he conquered Britain. So there was constant military success.
The gesture of Constantia holding up a finger pointing to her mouth (not clear here, but clear on other examples) is a well-known gesture meaning silence. Grant says "It was part of the discipline and self-control which were so dear to the Romans" and Augustus quoted a verse 'in silence there's a gift that brings no risk.' (It is a gesture associated with Pudictia types on coins of wives of emperors. See the coin of Herennia Etruscilla, wife of Trajan Decicus (249-251) to the right.) Grant suggests that gesture on the coin of Claudius relates to "One of Claudius's first actions after his accession was the declaration of perpetual amnesty" so that those who had treated him badly before he became emperor could rest more easily.
It is fair to say the not all scholars accept all the subtleties of Grant's interpretation.
Go to this reverse on the pages on reverse types unique to a particular emperor.
Go to the Table of Contents of this educational site.