She Is Such a Diva!

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by David Atherton, Jan 17, 2020.

  1. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic Supporter

    Thanks to Ken Dorney, I recently was able to acquire another iconic Flavian type - a Diva Julia Titi sestertius. This type has been uppermost on my want list for quite sometime, however, finding one with decent enough eye appeal that doesn't break the bank is terrifyingly difficult!

    Diva Julia Titi
    Æ Sestertius, 24.33g
    Rome mint, 90-91 AD (Domitian)
    Obv: DIVAE IVLIAE AVG DIVI TITI F; S P Q R in exergue; Carpentum drawn r. by two mules
    Rev: IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM COS XV CENS PER P P; S C, large, in centre
    RIC 717 (C). BMC 458. BNC 490.
    Acquired from Ken Dorney, January 2020. Ex Agora Auctions Sale 84, 4 September 2019, lot 187. Ex CNG E314, 6 November 2013, lot 364.

    Titus' daughter Julia Titi was granted the title Augusta sometime in 80 or 81 during his reign. After Titus' death she lived with her uncle Domitian at the imperial residence. In 90 or 91 AD she died and was deified by Domitian, this was commemorated on the coinage. The ancient sources are quick to malign her reputation in the name of smearing Domitian. It is said she had an ongoing affair with Domitian and became pregnant. She then was forced by Domitian to abort the baby and died during the attempted abortion. The Flavian historian Brian Jones has called the supposed affair between Domitian and his niece Julia (some ten or eleven years his junior) and the subsequent forced abortion which killed her as "implausible" and "nonsense". Further he wrote "Scholars seem not to have stressed one of the most significant factors in assessing the rumour's accuracy - Martial's epigram 6.3, written not long after Julia's death and deification. In it, he expresses the hope that Domitian will produce a son, implies that the baby's name will be Julius (6.3.1) and states that (the now deified) Julia will be able to watch over him (6.3.5). Martial was neither a hero or a fool. Had there been the slightest hint of an affair between emperor and niece, he would hardly have written those lines; had Julia's recent death been caused by an abortion forced on her by Domitian, would Martial have so far neglected the bounds of 'safe criticism' and common sense as to humiliate Domitia publicly, urging her to become pregnant, to give the child a name reminiscent of her husband's mistress and finally to remember that same mistress, now dead and deified (thanks to her husband), would be able to protect the child?" No doubt, the Diva coins testify that Domitian felt great affection towards his niece, however, there is no evidence that they had an illicit love affair. The incestuous rumour was spread after Domitian's death.

    This sestertius struck for Diva Julia Titi in 90 or 91 copies an early carpentum and mules type struck under Tiberius for Diva Livia and another under Titus struck for her grandmother Domitilla. Under the early empire the carpentum was granted to ladies of the imperial house by the Senate as an imperial honour. It was frequently used to convey an image of the deceased Divae and to symbolise the event on the coinage. The style of the Diva Julia Titi sestertii are so similar to those of the earlier Memoriae Domitilla sestertii that the RIC authors speculate a few of the older Domitilla dies were recut for Julia's issue (p. 317, note). It's astonishing to think that the mint still had access to dies that were nearly a decade old and were able to re-use them for a new issue!

    Feel free to post your Diva coins!
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2020
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  3. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Wow, David, I thought I recognised that coin. Here's a great pedigree you can add to it:

    My Julia Titi is no diva, but it's the only one I have.

    4240468 Julia Titi dupondius.jpg
    AE Dupondius. 12.35g, 26.9mm. Rome mint, AD 80-81. RIC II 397 (Titus). O: IVLIA IMP T AVG F AVGVSTA, draped bust right; hair bundled high in front and knotted in back. R: VESTA, Vesta seated left, holding palladium and scepter; S-C in fields.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2020
  4. Paul M.

    Paul M. Well-Known Member

    I must say, @zumbly, your coin really shows up the family resemblance!
  5. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Indeed! I think the Flavians were a family of lookers on the order of the Ptolemies. :D
  6. Ryro

    Ryro You'll never be lovelier than you are now... Supporter

    Great acquisition! I have been on the look out for a carpetum Titi for a while. Well done.
    Here's my portrait of Titus with a wig (poor Titi if she really looked like the coin portraits)
    Julia Titi
    (Daughter of Titus)AE DupondiusEmpress. 10.76 grams 27mm
    Rome AD 279-80
    Draped bust of Julia right hair in bun
    Ceres standing left holding corn ears and long torch
    Sear 2615 RIC Titus 177
    Former: fvrisus.rvfvs

    And here is Livia's carpetum
    Livia as Julia Augusta
    Æ Sestertius. Rome, AD 22.
    Decorated carpentum drawn
    r. by two mules / Legend
    around large S •, RIC
    Tiberius 51. 23.1g, 36mm,
    9h. Brass-brown tone
  7. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Wow! That's a rare one, @David Atherton ! I'm glad Ken gave you a good deal.

    Here's my only coin of Juli Titi, purchased from Stephen Huston nearly 20 years ago:

    Julia Titi, c. AD 79-90/91.
    Roman AR denarius, 3.2 gm, 20.0 mm, 7 h.
    Rome, AD 79-81.
    Obv: IVLIA AVGVSTA TITI AVGVSTI F, bust of Julia, draped and diademed, right, hair in long plait.
    Rev: VENVS AVGVST, Venus standing right, leaning on column holding helmet in right hand and transverse spear in left hand.
    Refs: RIC2 388; BMCRE 141-143; Cohen/RSC 14; RCV 2612.

    And as for coins of a DIVA Augusta, I could show a hundred of Faustina I, but I'll just post one:

    Faustina I, AD 138-141.
    Roman AR denarius, 2.72 g, 18 mm, 7 h.
    Rome, AD 141.
    Obv: DIVA AVG FAVSTINA, veiled and draped bust, right.
    Rev: Pietas, veiled and draped, standing left, dropping incense on lighted altar with right hand and holding box in left hand.
    Refs: RIC 394b var. (denarius); BMCRE 311-314 var. (bust); RSC 234a; RCV --; CRE 120.
  8. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter


    RI Julia Flavia Titi Diva 90-91 CE d-Titus uncle Domitian AE Sestertius 33mm 20.4g - Carpentum mules SPQR - SC r
  9. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic Supporter

  10. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic Supporter

    I hadn't realised until now how overly saturated the colour is in the OP photo.

    This is closer to what it's like in hand.

  11. Parthicus Maximus

    Parthicus Maximus Well-Known Member

    Very nice coin! Also an interesting write-up. I appreciate you always doing so much research to the coins and their background information.
    David Atherton likes this.
  12. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic Supporter

    Thank you! Personally, that's part of the fun! However, normally what I put online is a condensed version. For instance, while researching this type I did a lot of homework on the use of mules in the Roman world. Toynbee's Animals in Roman Life and Art was of immense help. In the end I left all of it out because much of it did not directly pertain to the type.
    Parthicus Maximus likes this.
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