Alexander the Alabarch header
Kass Evans, M.A., M.A., M.Ln.

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Coins from the World of Alexander the Alabarch
Part I: The Roman Republic and Empire

Alexander the Alabarch, a Jew from Alexandria, lived circa 8BC to 55AD. Besides being a wealthy and prominent person in Egypt, Alexander also had close ties to many members of the Roman Imperial family (Claudius, Antonia) and was related by marriage to the royal family of Judea (Agrippa I).

This author has written separately about the literary evidence for Alexander the Alabarch, and is now investigating the material culture of his world beginning with the coinage. This investigation will begin with Julius Caesar (who probably gave Alexander's family their grant of Rome citizenship) and extend through the time of Emperor Titus, close friend of Alexander's son, Tiberius Julius Alexander, and destroyer of the Jerusalem Temple. Geographically Alexander's world covered Egypt, Rome, and Judea.

Who are these people to Alexander? There is only direct evidence of a long-time friendship with Claudius, a business? relationship with Antonia Minor, and a disagreement with Emperor Gaius (Caligula). However, 1) given these acquaintances, 2) Alexander's probable long stay in Rome where he became friends with Claudius, and 3) the grant of Roman citizenship that probably came to Alexander (or his family) through Julius Caesar or Augustus, it is possible that Alexander had some acquaintance with many of the persons depicted below.

? ? Marcus Antonius and Octavian Following the death of Julius Caesar, Marc Antony and Octavian (postumously adopted by Caesar) and Lepidus formed the second Triumvirate to rule Rome. Octavian went on to defeat M. Antony and Cleopatra to become Augustus, undisputed ruler of Rome. SR 1504
Marcus Antonius Lucius Antonius Marcus Antonius and Lucius Antonius The obverse shows Marc Antony during the second triumvirate (with Octavian and Lepidus). The reverse shows his brother Lucius who was a Consul of the Senate during this time. M. Antonius was the grandfather of Claudius (old friend of Alexander the Alabarch). SR 1509 *SS
Gaius Julius Caesar Claudius? Octavian and Gaius Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus was adopted by Julius Caesar postumously. He later became known as Augustus. SR 1569 *SS
Augustus [Marcus Antonius] and wife Octavia Marc Antony and his second wife Octavia, the sister of Augustus (Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus). Their daughter Antonia Minor was the mother of Emperor Claudius and grandmother of Emperor Gaius (a.k.a. Caligula). SR 1512 *SS
? Octavian SR 1550 *SS
Augustus Augustus Augustus two portrait coins of Augustus SR 1633 and SG 13106 *SS
Augustus Augustus Another portrait coin of Augustus SR 1597 *SS
? Augustus SR 5396 *SS
Livia Livia Draped bust of Livia as Pietas. Livia was the powerful second wife of Augustus. By her first marriage, Livia is the mother of Tiberius (Emperor) and Drusus (husband of Antonia) and grandmother of Claudius (old friend of Alexander the Alabarch). SR 1731 *SS
? Augustus (right) and Agrippa (left) Augustus shown with his long-time friend and adopted son Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa. Augustus had planned for Agrippa to succeed him, but Agrippa died first. SR 1731 *SS
Agrippa Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa Long-time friend of Augustus who married Julia, Augustus' daughter by his first marriage and they had three children: Gaius, Lucius, and Agrippina. Agrippina married Germanicus and their son Gaius (Caligula) became Emperor. Agrippa is probably the namesake for M. Julius Agrippa (grandson of Herod the Great and King of Judea). SR 1812 *SS
? ? Gaius Caesar First born son of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa (friend and adopted son of Augustus) and Julia (daughter of Augustus). Augustus adopted him and groomed him to become his successor but Gaius met a premature death. His sister Agrippina Senior married Germanicus. SGIC 222 *SS
Antonia Antonia Antonia Minor was the second daughter from the marriage of Octavia (Augustus' sister) and Marcus Antonius and was born prior to his affair with Queen Cleopatra of Egypt. She was married to Livia's second son Drusus and had three children in order: Germanicus, Livilla, Claudius. Grandmother of Gaius (Emperor, a.k.a. Caligula). Alexander the Alabarch was her "trustee," probably of her estates in Egypt. Coin minted postumously by Claudius. SR 1902 *SS
? ? Germanicus and Drusus (not sure if this is the Drusus who was the son of Livia, husband of Antonia Minor, and father of Germanicus and Claudius -OR- Drusus the son of Tiberius the second emperor who died prematurely.) RPC 3205 *SS
Germanicus Germanicus (Claudius' older brother)
Julius Caesar Germanicus - Germanicus' first name is unknown. Augustus and Livia forced Tiberius (her natural son and his adopted son) to adopt his nephew Germanicus in 4AD after the death of Gaius Caesar (son of Marcus Vispsanius Agrippa and Augustus' daughter Julia). This probably moved Germanicus ahead of Tiberius' natural son, Drusus, as a potential successor to Augustus. SR 1821 *SS
Claudius Claudius Youngest child of Antonia Minor and fourth Roman Emperor. Long-time friend to Alexander the Alabarch. SR 1859 *SS
? Claudius SR 1869 *SS
? Agrippina Junior Oldest daughter of Germanicus and Agrippina Senior (sister of Emperor Gaius/Caligula). Had child, Nero (future emperor), by her first marriage. Married her uncle Claudius and is rumored to have poisoned him after he adopted her son, Nero. SGIC 530/RPC 3042 *SS
? Emperor Gaius (a.k.a. Caligula) Gaius was the youngest son of Germanicus and Agrippina making him Claudius' nephew. Gaius threw Alexander the Alabarch in prison in 39AD for unknown reasons. SGIC 406, RPC 465 *SS
? ? Nero and Poppaea Nero was the adopted son of Claudius who followed him as the 5th emperor of Rome. Poppaea Sabina was his second wife. SR 2002 *SS

SR = number from David Sear, Roman Coins.
*SS Image courtesy of Susi Seiler