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Regardless of whether or not this actually occurred, it demonstrates the importance and meaning that was attached to the imagery on a coin. Unlike the obverse, which during the imperial period almost always featured a portrait, the reverse was far more varied in its depiction.

The philosopher Epictetus jokingly wrote: "Whose image does this sestertius carry? During the late Republic there were often political messages to the imagery, especially during the periods of civil war.

The populace often learned of a new Roman Emperor when coins appeared with the new Emperor's portrait.

Some of the emperors who ruled only for a short time made sure that a coin bore their image; Quietus, for example, ruled only part of the Roman Empire from 260 to 261 AD, and yet he issued two coins bearing his image.

Although similar metal currency bars had been produced in Italy and northern Etruscan areas, these had been made of In 27 BC, the Roman Republic came to an end as Augustus (63 BC – 14 AD) ascended to the throne as the first emperor.