In 13 BC, Augustus returned to Rome from a lengthy tour of the western provinces, just as Agrippa returned from the East. All conditions had been readied to present to the Roman people the establishment of Agrippa as the new partner of Augustus’ labours after a multi-year build up, culminating in the Ara Pacis ceremony at which Agrippa co-presided. However, to those watching the political slogans and headlines of the Roman mint, the Ara Pacis ceremony and Agrippa’s prominent role therein did not bring news, for the coinage of 13 boldly proclaims Agrippa as if he were second princeps by advertizing his enhanced status and by highlighting his accomplishments beyond the level ever provided for any of Augustus’ other colleagues, including his eventual successor, Tiberius (whose own enhancement of powers after AD 4 was modeled upon the precedent of Agrippa).
The coinage of 13 BC represents a break from the recent general pattern in that it broke up Augustus’ quasi-regal domination of the mint, and it sent out two simultaneous and compatible messages. Firstly, and more specifically, the imagery informed the Roman public as do newspaper headlines today of the elevation of Agrippa as Augustus’ legal equal, showing that Rome was no monarchy. The Roman mint alternated between standard issues for certain messages and new images for others, including escalation of the status of Agrippa.
The year 13 provided several occasions to raise the status of Agrippa, a novus homo. Agrippa was offered a third triumph, which he again refused. He received a new priesthood(s). His tribunician power was renewed for five years, as was that of Augustus. And at the Ara Pacis ceremony, Agrippa shared equal credit for pacifying the Empire in a ceremony that may have included closing the Gates of Janus. Much of this information comes to us not just from textual evidence, but also the archeological record. The coinage of 13 informs us of the regime’s official statements and the Ara Pacis itself shows the veiled Augustus at the head of the Pontifical College and the veiled Agrippa completing the Pontifical College and starting the imperial family as a demonstration of his integral role in the state, although tragically his life would end before the Ara Pacis was completed, leaving it to be a monument of a vision of the future Augustus was never able to achieve.