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Were coins used in the Roman Empire more for propaganda purposes or as a monetary means? Examples of how coins were used during Neros reign and how some literary sources link to them.

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Introduction

Were coins used in the Roman Empire more for propaganda purposes or as a monetary means? Examples of how coins were used during Nero's reign and how some literary sources link to them. Coins have been around since about 4000 BC and have been used for many purposes. Generally we think of coins as a monetary means of paying for goods or services, but this has not always been their use. Coins have been used in the past for propaganda uses and as a sign of status. Their use for propaganda was very widespread and important throughout the era of the Roman Republic and the Empire. One main reason for this widespread use of coins for propaganda was the extensive land that the Romans came to dominate in their growing empire. This meant that Roman rulers could not visit or be directly known to all of the subject inhabitants. With this problem the emperors had to find another way of promoting and advertising all of the great successes that they had. One method of doing this was through coins, where the reverse side was minted with a sign of the emperor's achievements. These achievements included famous victories in battle or personal events such as marriages within the imperial family. ...read more.

Middle

Depicting the lyre on a coin shows that he must be comfortable with the level of his musical talents, 'finally encouraged by his progress'10. This shows a part of Nero's personal life. This expression of an emperor's personal life can make or break an emperor; it can be either taken as a weakness or strength. In this case Nero saw it as a strength, as it was used as a propaganda tool after Nero sang and played the lyre at 'his d´┐Żbut at Naples, where he did not cease singing until he had finished the number which he had begun'11. He minted himself playing the lyre on a coin, to express his love for the musical arts and to show that he had musical talent. There is one problem however, since we will never know if he actually had real musical talent, as writers of his time were reluctant to criticise and wouldn't portray him in a bad light. Nero also liked to become a poet, as he thought that is was eloquent. 'He is always writing poetry... now Nero has become fond of it'12. Tacitus explains that people disliked his fondness of the arts as he was not very good at them, and that they 'make fun of his singing'. ...read more.

Conclusion

It can be perceived now that these emperors needed to use coins for propaganda as they never felt that everyone liked them as an emperor. In Nero's reign there were many revolts. This made Nero very aware that he had a lack of support from his citizens and that this made him worry about what people thought about him. I think this was a key reason why Nero used coins to such a extent to show himself off. Bibliography 1. Suetonius- The Twelve Caesars - Nero 2. http://dougsmith.ancients.info/abb.html - used for information on coins abbreviations 3. http://www.usask.ca/antiquities/coins/nero.html - coin reference 4. http://members.verizon.net/vze3xycv/RulersCoins/romanpic.htm - coin reference 5. Roman Coins and their values, written by R.Sear and published by Seaby's Numismatic publications - coin reference 6. http://www.deadromans.com/coins/default.htm#Sestertius - values of coins, reference 7. http://www.usask.ca/antiquities/coins/nero.html - coin reference 8. http://www.franic.info/coins/mycoins.html 9. http://hobbyblog.blogspot.com/2004_11_28_archive.html 10. Tacitus - Nero and his helpers Proof reading OK Page numbers OK Word count 2,041 excluding Bibliography. About 1,000 more words needed, all of which should mention the literary sources. You need at least 2 more coins that show aspects of Nero's reign with comparative comments on what Suetonius or Tacitus say about him. The stuff about coins and base metals etc on p.5 is irrelevant to the title. Also it is of the wrong period. Very little deep analysis or thoughtful personal comment for AO2. ...read more.

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