Dutiful Domitian

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by David Atherton, Feb 13, 2023.

  1. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    This lovely Domitianic sestertius from 85 AD is quite a treat in hand. I simply love the bronzes the Rome mint was turning out that year. The sestertii bordered on the medallic with their idealised portraits and wide canvas reverses. This was an emperor who knew how to use numismatic propaganda to its fullest.

    Æ Sestertius, 23.67g
    Rome mint, 85 AD
    Obv: IMP CAES DOMITIAN AVG GERM COS XI; Bust of Domitian, laureate, bearded, r., with aegis
    Rev: S C in field; Domitian stg. l., sacrificing with patera over altar in front of shrine containing cult statue of Minerva
    RIC 277 (C2). BMC 296. BNC 316.
    Acquired from CGB.fr, January 2023.

    85 AD saw the mint at Rome introduce many new types on Domitian's aes coinage, many of which are monumental in nature. This sestertius from the first issue of the year shows Domitian sacrificing in front of a small shrine. Mattingly in BMCRE (p. xciii) had this to say concerning the type - 'Minerva is not represented here by her own types, as on the gold and silver, but by a type that recurs year after year of Domitian sacrificing before the goddess in a shrine. While recording his achievements, Domitian does not omit to acknowledge the goddess to whom they are due.' The nod here to Minerva is quite pious. The shrine in question is a mystery and may perhaps just be a generic design to frame the cult image.

    In hand.

    Thanks for looking!
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  3. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    Handsome coin, great portrait, David.
    David Atherton likes this.
  4. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    Very nice @David Atherton. I just finished reading a book about Domitian. Even being as paranoid as he may have been, his administration on fiscal matters was quite outstanding, not only funding many projects and the military but with surplus in the treasury. Nerva squandered much of that surplus during is short reign.
    David Atherton likes this.
  5. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    What book is it?
  6. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

  7. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    Hey David. I read a ton of books, but I must admit the genre I enjoy most is historical fiction. The book I mentioned is just that, however it is thoroughly researched and well written. It's the fourth book in a series named The Artorian Dynasty and the book's title is Soldier of Rome: The Last Flavian. You can read just this last book, but I recommend the entire series.
    David Atherton likes this.
  8. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    BTW, if you decide to read the series or the single book, let me know what you think.
    David Atherton likes this.
  9. Eduard

    Eduard Supporter**

    That is a very attractive sestertius of Domitian sacrificing to the goddess Minerva.
    This is my example of the same type. Domitian sestertius - Minerva Temple - OBV:REV - GP - 2023.png
  10. GinoLR

    GinoLR Well-Known Member

    Domitien As.jpg
    On this as the portrait is unfortunately corroded, but there is music on the reverse!

    But what kind of music? Today, music performed at Roman religious celebrations is generally played with an organ. Ancient Romans had organs but played them at shows in theatres and amphitheatres, not in temples. Sacred music was played as we can see on this coin, with a lyre and a double flute. No drums: I think the rhythm was given by the lyre.

    But no melodies, no tunes have survived... How frustrating for us!
  11. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    Nothing wrong with that! Some of my favourite books about the Flavian era are historical fiction.

    Thanks for the recommendation!
  12. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    Who is the author?
  13. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    James Mace
  14. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    I found it, in my own library. I bought and read it in 2019. One good thing about aging is that one's short term memory loss makes it possible to reread books without knowing you've already it until the very end.
  15. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    Evaluating the reign of almost any ancient ruler is almost a fool's errand but with Roman emperors it's close to impossible to do it accurately. Either the sources are lacking, or worse, so sensational as to defy credulity, especially if the historians writing about them have very sharp axes to grind. Imagine a history of American presidents put together from nothing but late evening comics and cable news commentators. As for Domitian himself, he may not have been wielder than most emperors (and a lot less than some) but Tacitus, a contemporary historian who could write well, took him apart with an ax, though he could make it look like he was using a fine scalpel. Certainly the army liked and respected Domitian, and probably much of the business community for restoring the proper specie content of the coinage (but they weren't writing the histories). e was also pretty smart and witty. I believe he was the emperor who quipped that no one ever gave credence to death threats against an emperor until they were murdered. As for the coinage of Domitian, his coins were usually struck in high relief, which makes for good images, though some mints were starting to add lead to the base metals amalgam leading to some very dark later toning, which is OK if one like dark coinage. Here are four coins of Domitian's reign , two denarii and two asses.The denarii have his favorite deity on the reverse, Minerva, and both weigh exactly 3.18 grams of good silver, probably a bit over 90% pure. They are Sear 2736.The two bronzes are again the same coin, with the same reverse, Moneta, but they may be from different mints as the lighter, more coppery appearing coin at 11.5 grams is noticeably lighter in weight than the much darker one at 12. 2 grams. They are Sear 2807. IMG_2518Domitian obv..jpg IMG_2518Domitian obv..jpg IMG_2519domitian rev..jpg
    Edessa, David Atherton and Bing like this.
  16. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    Here is my only Domitian coin, a denarius.

    Domitian All.jpg

    Denarius of Domitian Obverse: IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM PM TR P XII “Emperor caesar Domitian augustus German pontifex maximus, tribunicia potestate 12”, Reverse: Minerva advancing with spear and shield IMP XXII COS XVI CENS PPP Emperor 22, Consul 16 (year 92 AD) censor (lifetime appointment to set the number of senators) pater patriae.) Numisma dates 93-94 AD

    Sear variety 2736, Rome 92-3 AD

    Imperator Secundum Vicesimum, Consul Sextum Decimum, Censor Perpetuus, Pater Patriae.
    Supreme commander (Imperator) for the 22nd time, consul for the 16th time, censor for life, father of the nation.

    Here are the historical bullets from my notebook:

    · Titus Flavius Vespasianus was the younger son of Vespasian and Flavia Domitilla.

    * He is remembered today as the worst of the Roman tyrants because of his treatment of his enemies. There were executions of at least 12 ex-consuls during his reign. This accounted for often poor relations with the senate and ultimately his downfall.

    · These executions affected perceptions of him as a leader, and, in a way, might be over emphasized. The aristocracy reviled him, and they were able to record much of the history after his rule. Other facts contradict the assertions that he was totally evil. Given the many plots that were drawn up against the sitting emperors of the time, Domitian may have been simply trying to survive.

    · In his favor, Domitian was an effective military leader. His campaigns on the Rhine and the Danube were conducted well, and the arrangements he made with the territories between to two rivers were improved.

    · He was the first emperor since Claudius in 43 to campaign with his troops in person.

    · He demonstrated a respect for religion. As a builder, he restored the temple to Jupiter and the imperial palace on the Palatine.

    · He improved the quality of the precious metal coinage and raised military pay by one-third which established his popularity with the army and the praetorian guard.

    · The people were entertained with frequent public spectacles and banquets.

    · In October 88, the Secular Games were celebrated in Rome with great pomp and ceremony.

    · Domitian’s relations with the senate remained strained and hostile.

    · In the late summer, a palace cabal that involved the court chamberlain and possibly even the Empress Domitian Longina. On September 18, 96, an assassin stabbed the emperor to death in his private apartments. That ended the Flavian Dynasty which lasted for 27 years.
  17. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    All the coins in your post are undoubtedly from Rome. The mint did not produce leaded bronzes at this time. As for the silver, both your denarii were struck after Domitian's second coinage reform (85 AD) and indeed have a fineness of @ 90%, a level which was maintained until the end of the reign.
    kevin McGonigal likes this.
  18. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    I can't really argue with many of those 'bullet points'!
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2023
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