Carrying on the Family Tradition

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by David Atherton, Oct 19, 2019.

  1. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    I'm very happy to have recently acquired this Domitian 'Capta' dupondius.

    Æ Dupondius, 13.50g
    Rome mint, 85 AD
    Obv: IMP CAES DOMITIAN AVG GERM COS XI; Head of Domitian, radiate, bearded, r., with aegis
    Rev: S C in field; Trophy; to l., German captive std. l.; to r., Germania std. r.
    RIC 295 (C). BMC 310. BNC 332.
    Acquired from Forvm Ancient Coins, October 2019. Ex Edgar L. Owen.

    A 'Germania Capta' dupondius struck during Domitian's first issue of 85, the first bronze issue that fully celebrated the German victory. The war with the German tribe the Chatti likely took place in either 82 or 83. Domitian acquired the title 'Germanicus' in 83, the year of his German triumph. Why it took so long for these achievements to be commemorated on the bronze coinage is a mystery. Perhaps the bronze mint was not in full operation until 85? The motif of the reverse design closely follows the 'Judaea Capta' types of Vespasian (who in turn copied it from well known republican types). The trunk of the trophy even resembles a palm. The 'Germania Capta' types would be struck for only a few short years between 85-88.

    It's interesting that many of Domitian's 'Capta' types are closely modelled on his father's Judean ones, it's as if he is carrying on the family business.

    Feel free to post anything you feel is relevant.
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  3. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter

    I love that reverse type. Nice catch David!
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  4. Parthicus Maximus

    Parthicus Maximus Well-Known Member

    Nice coin! A theory for the appearance of Germania Capta on coins in 85 could be that Domitian did receive the Germanicus title in 83 and that he was then also back in Rome, but that the campaign continued under the leadership of a few generals. After all, we hardly have any sources about the provinces. Personally, I do not believe it was a total fake victory, "bad" emperors such as Caligula, Lucius Verus and Commodus were also accused of their victories representing nothing. In my opinion, it is typically slander to a less senate-loving emperor. Although there may be some truth in it.
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  5. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

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  6. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    IMHO, the Chattian War was a minor campaign blown out of proportion by an emperor eager for military glory. The senatorial class may have been overly harsh in their criticisms, but they probably weren't far off the mark. Lacking a military victory à la Mons Graupius or Tapae, it has been a war forgotten by history.
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  7. Numisnewbiest

    Numisnewbiest Well-Known Member

    I agree with this. Domitian was following a father and brother who enjoyed great celebration for military victories, and I think his eagerness to be included is shown by his issuing a "capta" of any kind as soon as he could claim one, however minor the victory. He had to know he was never going to be seen as the military equivalent of Titus, and certainly not his father, either, and I wonder how much that weighed on him.
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  8. Parthicus Maximus

    Parthicus Maximus Well-Known Member

    A very respectable position. I am currently reading The Emperor Domitian by Brian Jones. He sketches a realistic picture of the life of Emperor Domitian, it is very interesting.

    As for the Battle of Mons Graupius, the size of it is highly debated. the question is precisely whether Tacitus is exaggerating a little to bring a high point to his book Agricola.

    However, it is also just what classical author you read about the Germanic campaigns. Frontinus is remarkably positive. The question is which author is more reliable? the one who writes during the reign of an authoritarian ruler Or the one who writes afterwards? It is a difficult question to answer.
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