Rome 17 BCE
TYPE: Bust of Augustus, laureate, with sidus Iulium above
LEGEND: (identification of moneyer)
LEGEND: AVGVSTVS DIVI F(ilius) LUDOS SAE(culares)
THE SECULAR GAMES AND INAUGURATION OF A GOLDEN AGE
A comet was expected in 17 BCE, ten peaceful and prosperous years after Augustus' first constitutional settlement in 27 BCE. It seemed an auspicious time to express the mood of optimism in traditional Roman manner and celebrate a saeculum (an age, century); indeed, by a manipulation a saeculum was fixed at 110 years (to correspond to the inauguration of the saeculum in 17 BCE).
OBVERSE TYPE: Note the youthful appearance of Augustus. The comet (sidus Iulium, which had appeared at games in honor of Caesar) above his head alludes to the comet expected in 17 AND to Augustus' association with the deified Julius.
REVERSE TYPE: Months in advance of the festival, heralds in old-fashioned dress began to announce a "festival such as no one has seen before and no one shall see again" (Suetonius, Claudius 21).