Augustus. Silver Denarius (3.85 g), 27 BC-14 AD.
Obverse: laureate head of Augustus right CAESAR AVGVSTVS.
Reverse: comet with eight rays and tail DIVVS IVLIVS.
RIC 102 (Colonia Patricia?); BN p. 196 *, pl. LIV, c; BMC 357; RSC
The reverse type features the Sidus Iulium (“Julian Star”), a comet that became visible four months after the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC.
It was claimed by Octavian that the comet was Caesar’s soul ascending the heavens and proved that the murdered dictator had in fact become a god.
Octavian subsequently styled himself as the “(adopted) son of the god” and used his relation to divinity as a propaganda tool in his conflicts with Caesar’s killers and with Mark Antony.
This particular coin was struck after the end of the Civil Wars and after Octavian had become Augustus. The reverse therefore must refer to the Temple of the Divus Iulius dedicated by Octavian in 28 BC, which included a colossal statue of Caesar surmounted by a representation of the comet.