What does it mean to be laureate?

We all know emperors on Roman coins are laureate. Why? What does it mean?

I’m trying to consider the republican evidence

These are all the individual types counted. A bad graph. It makes no difference of change over time and does not take into account differences between silver and the much more conservative bronze. Also Crawford’s numerous sub types can inflate representation.

In this next Graph I removed all bronze and planned to restrict coin types to those at 146 BCE, but there are no silver or gold issues with laureate heads between 170 BCE and 119 BCE.

But I still want better data visualization. This doesn’t say anything very meaningful.

This next graph below is hard to read at this scale. But it does a better job of showing change over time. Traditional senior male gods are laureate through out the period and going back to the very start of the republic. Neptune gets to be laureate when he appears, unsurprising giving his divine status. Things only get interesting with the introduction of the laureate Venus in the mid 50s to represent Pompey’s Venus Victrix. After this minor gods or divine personification are made laureate on specific issues for reasons we may not fully understand. Caesar is only laureate after death and we should probably take it as a Roman symbol of his divine status. None of the many other living Romans who put their own portraits on the coins are depicted laureate, nor are their ancestors.

Anyway. Not earth shattering but there it is. Post Actium the future Augustus shows up on the coins laureate… I sure someone has written about that. Just wanted to see how the run up shook out.

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