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Sestertius with image of Caligula
AD 37–41

3/16 x 1 3/8 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gift of Isabel B. Wilson


Roman literature has established that Emperor Caligula proclaimed himself a god and erected a golden statue of himself in a temple in the Capitolium in Rome. According to his personal correspondence, he also intended to place his golden image in the great temple of Jerusalem. Ancient inscriptions provide evidence that cults worshipped Caligula as a god in eastern parts of the Roman Empire.

This bronze sestertius, an ancient Roman coin, combines the classic good looks of portraits of this ruler's dynasty with his own well-known features. In this way, Caligula distinguished himself as a descendent of gods and rulers as well as a god/ruler in his own right.