The Divine Augusta

Reverse of a silver coin with the deified Empress Livia. Rome, Year of the Four Emperors (68–69 CE). 8-5634.

The obverse of this Roman silver coin features the Emperor Galba (r. 68–69 CE) and the reverse depicts Livia (59 BCE–29 CE), Empress and Consort of Augustus, the first Roman emperor. Livia is shown standing holding a libation bowl (patera) and a scepter. The legend reads “DIVA AVGVSTA,” the Goddess Augusta. Like her husband, Livia was deified after her death. Her presence on a Galba’s coin may be explained with her divine powers and association with legitimate imperial power. Galba became emperor during a tumultuous period of civil war and had to contend with enemies for power. By flaunting the protection of the Diva Augusta, the revered deified empress, Galba might have hoped to buttress the legitimacy of his rule.

-Emily Wang

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