Featured Trajan: the Best Emperor and the Mystery of the River God

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Curtisimo, Jun 26, 2018.

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What do you think the DANVVIVS reverse type is referencing? See post 2 for my top theories.

  1. Trajan’s famous bridge over the Danube.

  2. The pontoon bridges Trajan used to cross the Danube in the First Dacian War.

  3. The canal Trajan had built along the Danube in preparation for the wars.

  4. Something else? Bacon? Please comment below.

Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    Trajan_Denarius_Danvvivs_107-8_CSH.jpg
    Roman Empire
    Trajan (AD 98 – 117)
    AR Denarius, Rome mint, struck ca. AD 107 – 108
    Dia.: 19.1 mm
    Wt.: 2.94 g
    Obv.: IMP TRAIANO AVG GER DAC PM TR P; Trajan laureate bust right, left shoulder draped.
    Rev.: COS V PP SPQR OPTIMO PRINC; Danube, velificatio, reclining on rocks, right hand holding the prow of a ship. Left arm resting on overflowing container of water. DANVVIVS in exergue.
    Ref.: RIC II 100


    The Best!

    When I refer to Trajan as “the best” my intention is not to clickbait everyone into an argument about who should be considered the best Roman emperor (even though that kinda sounds like fun…). OPTIMVS PRINCEPS (the best first citizen, I.E. the best emperor) was an actual title given to Trajan by the senate due to his ability to hold power while keeping the people appeased and the senate feeling important. While modern observers can rightly debate the merits of this emperor or that and what it means to be the best, for the majority of ancient Romans in the 2nd or 3rd century who had an opinion on the subject the choice was clear: Trajan was the man. So much so that at the inauguration of many subsequent emperors by the senate the Latin phrase Felicior Augusto, melior Traiano (Trans.: “be more fortunate that Augustus [and] better than Trajan”) was wished upon the new emperor [2].

    Even more fascinating is that Trajan’s reputation as the greatest and most just of emperors echoed deep into the middle ages where stories of his justice were commonplace. In one such story the emperor decreed that all murderers should be subject to the same fate as their victims. When Trajan’s young (non-existent) son accidently drowned his playmate in a river the heartbroken emperor had him thrown into the Tiber. God was so approving of this dedication to the law that he sent an angel to deliver both children back to the emperor unharmed (see Figure 1).
    Fig-1-Trajan-1500.JPG
    Figure 1 – The Just Verdict of Trajan (ca. AD 1500). Photo courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts Boston (https://www.mfa.org/collections/object/the-just-verdict-of-trajan-66708)

    These types of legends were so pervasive that the poet Dante felt compelled to place Trajan in Heaven when he wrote his Divine Comedy in the early 14th century [3]. That’s right, it was okay for the likes of Aristotle, Homer, Virgil, Julius Caesar and Saladin to be in Limbo but it was unbearable to the medieval sense of justice that Trajan be anywhere other than paradise. A legend claimed that pope Gregory the Great (AD 540 – 604) was so moved by stories of Trajan’s virtue that he prayed for him to be resurrected so he could accept Christ. Perhaps it was his lasting reputation with early and medieval Christians that allowed Trajan’s column to stand relatively undamaged and in its original position for over 1,900 years.

    As you can see I am quite excited about the reverse inscription on my newest example: SPQR OPTIMO PRINC (The senate and the people of Rome to the best first citizen) even though I recognize that it is used rather often on Trajan’s coins after AD 105. However, the fascinating story of the inscription is actually just a bonus to the real reason I purchased this example. In case you haven’t figured it out yet… LONG POST AHEAD!

    RIC II 100 – The Meaning of the Type

    RIC II mentions this type, inscribed DANVVIVS, as a reference to the crossing of the Danube and seems to insinuate that it refers specifically to the famous bridge built by Trajan in AD 105. However, the author of RIC II later reconsidered his opinion and consented that the bridge shown on RIC II 569 is actually meant to show Trajan’s Danube Bridge [5][8]. This begs the question of why Trajan’s mint officials would reference the same subject with two vastly different iconographies. This is just one of the reasons that I believe the reverse on RIC II 100 is actually referencing one of Trajan’s other achievements during the Dacian Wars and I have a few theories I think present plausible explanations for what the reverse is referencing. In order to explain my theories, and allow you to formulate your own, it will help to cover the events and logistics of the Dacian Wars in detail.

    The First Dacian War

    On hearing news of the death of Nerva in AD 98 Trajan did not immediately proceed to Rome to secure his political position. Instead, he chose to travel from the Rhine frontier where he was stationed at the time to the area of the Danube frontier where he spent the winter of AD 98-99 overseeing military construction projects and organizing the legions [6]. It seems clear from this fact that one of Trajan’s first priorities was to deal with the Dacian threat. When Trajan did travel to Rome he stayed only long enough to set his affairs in order with the senate and prepare for his coming invasion of Dacia. By the summer of AD 101 Trajan was prepared to move into Dacian territory.

    Dacia was a particularly difficult place to invade for a number of reasons. First, it was protected by an imposing chain of mountains known as the “Carpathian Ring” that channeled any invasion from the south through a handful of narrow mountain passes (see Figure 2). Second, supply lines along the Danube were made difficult by the terrain and the fact that the Danube was not navigable in several key places. Next, Dacia’s neighbors, the Sarmatian Roxolani and Iazyges tribes were often enemies of Rome and in the case of the Roxolani were actively allied with Dacia by AD 101. Finally, Dacia was at the height of its wealth and power under their charismatic leader, Decebalus, and brimming with confidence after their victories over the Romans in the last decades of the first century.

    Fig-2-First-Dacian-War-Map.jpg
    Figure 2 – Map of the First Dacian War. Author’s Map (Sources [6][7][10][11])

    Trajan first sought to meet the challenge of logistics along the Danube by engaging in some truly remarkable construction projects prior to the invasion (more on that below). He based the greater part of his army in Viminacium in the lead up to the invasion and it was from here that he made his first move. Just northeast of Viminacium Trajan crossed the Danube into a part of Dacian territory known as the Banat. At around the same time he sent a second column of Roman troops under Lucius Quietus to cross the river 15 miles northwest of Dobreta and advance on the Teregova Keys Pass and then to the Dacian city of Tibiscum [6]. There is also some evidence that the two legions (Legio I and V) under the governor of Lower Moesia, Laberius Maximus, crossed the Danube and laid siege to the Dacian stronghold of Buridava in AD 101 [7]. However, it seems clear that the primary thrust of the advance was under Trajan through the Banat. It is in this theatre that the scenes that dominate the lower part of Trajan’s Column refer to.

    Fig-3.JPG
    Figure 3 – Trajan’s Column (Author’s photo)

    Once Trajan had crossed the river he began construction of an impressive fort at Apus Fluvius about a day’s march north of the Danube (Scene XI and XII on Trajan’s column). He then marched northeast with the intent to lay siege to the Dacian hill fort of Arcidava but seems to have found it completely abandoned (Scene XIV)(see Figure 4). He then had the legions cut a road through the dense forest and established another fort at Centum Putea (Scenes XVI and XVII). Trajan’s next steps are the only segment of his campaign that we get to hear about directly from him. In the only surviving sentence of his commentaries on the war Trajan writes “inde Berzobim, deinde Aizi processimus” (Eng: We then advanced to Berzobim, next to Aizis) [9]. Roman forts were built at these locations (Scenes XVIII through XXI) and another at Caput Bubali (Scene XXII?) with the army then pushing forward to meet up with the second Roman column at the town of Tibiscum.

    Fig-4.jpg
    Figure 4 – Right: Abandoned Dacian fort at Arcidava with Romans building a bridge over the river in the foreground. Left: Hilltop location as it appears today with river in foreground [11].

    Through this point in the war the Dacians seem to have been content to fall back from their towns and forts and regroup behind the Iron Gate Pass to challenge Trajan’s approach to the capital. Trajan, however, moved cautiously and slowly and sought to consolidate his positions by constructing defensive fortifications along his supply route, usually to guard river crossings. This system of forts also helped to discourage the Iazyges from reconsidering their neutrality and seeking to join the other Sarmatian tribes in resisting the Roman invasion. With the western approach secured Trajan was now free to march into the Iron Gates Pass and confront the Dacian forces encamped near Tapae. The battle was apparently a hard fought engagement with many casualties on both sides. A storm broke out during the battle which struck the Dacians as a bad omen but gave heart to the Romans who were convinced that Jupiter had come to their aid.

    Fig-5 - Battle of Tapae.jpg
    Figure 5 – Scene XXIV Battle of Tapae (AD 101). Jupiter looks over the battlefield as the Romans turn the tide [11].

    With his army bruised from the hard won battle and the winter approaching Trajan decided to winter his army at Drobeta on the Danube [6]. Decebalus took advantage of this and gathered his eastern allies (including the Roxolani), swam the Danube, and invaded Moesia, burning many Roman towns. Trajan was forced to move his men and supplies along the Danube by boat from Dobreta (Scenes XXXIII through XXXVI) to engage the enemy at the Battle of Nicopolis and the Battle of Adamclisi, where he completely defeated them. Perhaps it was this counterattack and the logistics involved with reacting to it that convinced Trajan of the need for a permanent bridge crossing of the Danube that would be usable year round.

    At the start of the campaign season of AD 102 Trajan was once again forced to cross the Danube. This time he proceeded north along the Olt River to the Red Tower Pass. The Dacians chose to change their strategy after Tapae and it appears that they allowed Trajan to cross the pass relatively uncontested [6]. Perhaps their strategy was to allow Trajan to press ahead too quickly into the valley where they could use their hill fort locations to flank his army, cut off his supply routes and surround him. If that was the case it didn’t work. Once Trajan cleared the pass he split his forces into three [6]. The main portion of the army proceeded along the foothills to the west of the pass in an effort to capture each of the Dacian hill forts that stood between them and Sarmezigetusa. The second proceeded along the valley capturing Dacian settlements and the third moved along the northern foothills to neutralize any threat from that direction (see Figure 2).

    Fig-6 Capalna.jpg
    Figure 6 – Ruins of the Dacian Fortress of Capalna. A typical Dacian hill fort and one of Trajan’s first objectives in the advance of AD 102. Photos by Saturnian

    The Second Dacian War

    I will not go into as many details of this campaign as the first but it will be instructive to highlight a few of the major developments. During the years after the first war Decebalus hastily rebuilt his hill forts and retook all of the Roman forts and towns that Trajan had constructed or conquered in the Banat at the beginning of the first war. In response to this, Trajan seems to have decided that Dacia would have to be totally subdued if he was to secure the Danube frontier and so as early as AD 103 he ordered the construction of a permanent bridge over the river in accordance with the design of Apollodorus of Damascus. The Dacians no doubt recognized the danger in allowing a permanent bridge crossing into their territory and at some point before the second war began made a desperate attack on the Roman fort guarding the bridge. Nevertheless, the Romans repelled their offensive and completed work on the bridge by the start of the campaign in AD 105. The completed bridge was a marvel of Roman engineering and stood as the longest bridge in the world both by total length and span length for over 1,000 years.

    Fig-7-Bridge7.gif
    Figure 7 – Reconstructed View of the Roman Bridge and fort at Dobreta. Animation shown in the museum at Trajan’s Market

    Fig-8.JPG
    Figure 8 – Model of Trajan’s Bridge (Author’s photo)

    During the campaign Decebalus is said to have made a failed attempt to have Trajan assassinated and to have captured and tried to ransom a high ranking Roman official (Pompeius Longinus) who committed suicide in order to prevent this [12]. Undeterred, the Roman army moved in for a siege of the Dacian Capital, Sarmizegetusa, and cut all the pipes providing water to the city. Decebalus escaped into the mountains but was run down by the Roman cavalry under the leadership of Tiberius Claudius Maximus. Decebalus, not wanting to be humiliated in a Roman triumph, committed suicide as Tiberius’s moved in to capture him. Tiberius’s involvement in this is known to us because he left us an account on his tombstone that was rediscovered in the 1960s.

    In the aftermath of his victory Trajan went to great lengths to highlight the Roman achievements during the war and we can see evidence of that in the types he chose for his coinage.

    Fig-9 ALL.jpg
    Figure 9 – Select Scenes from the Dacian War on Trajan’s Coins [11] Coin photos courtesy of CNG

    Now that we have surveyed the general sequence of events that made up the Dacian Wars we can turn our attention to interpreting the meaning behind the DANVVIVS type. In the next post I will lay out two theories that I believe provide a possible explanation... stay tuned!
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
    seth77, Chris B, ancientone and 35 others like this.
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  3. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    Theory #1
    The coin celebrates the pontoon bridge(s) that were used to cross the Danube at the start of the first war.

    Mattingly may have meant to incorporate this theory into his explanation when he wrote “The principle engineering feat of the campaign, namely the crossing of the Danube, is referred to on Denarii with the legend DANVVIVS” [1]. However he then immediately spends time discussing Trajan’s stone and timber bridge and does not mention the pontoon bridges at all. It would surprise me if the pontoon bridge theory hadn’t already been published somewhere but I was unable to find any reference to it in my research. For a contemporary connection between the river Danube and the pontoon bridges that were used by the Roman army one need look no further than the first few scenes of Trajan’s column (see Figure 10).

    Fig-10.jpg
    Figure 10 – Left: the personification of the Danube watches the Romans cross a pontoon bridge at the start of the war. Right: The Danube reclines while holding the prow of a ship [11].

    There are several instances of pontoon bridges shown on Trajan’s column (Scene IV, XLVIII etc.) and several lesser bridges shown during construction of the forts but the personification of the Danube appears only once: at the start of the first campaign of the first war. In this scene the personified Danube looks up and to the right while watching the Roman army cross over his waters into Dacian territory. If you look closely you can even see the Danube’s thumb under one of the ships as he reaches out to steady the bridge as the Romans cross. There are many interpretations to what this might signify but a plausible explanation is that the Danube is an enemy of the Dacians and supports the Romans by allowing them safe passage. Therefore, to the Romans the Danube is not a barbarian frontier but a proper Roman river supporting Roman objectives.

    In order to make the case that the image on the coin and the image on the column were both meant to glorify the initial crossing of the Danube on pontoon bridges let’s take a look at some of the similarities between the two.

    • On the coin the Danube is shown velificatio to represent its notoriously powerful current. The Danube on the column is shown surrounded by water that is carved to invoke vigorous motion. This is done to make the Roman crossing seem that much more impressive to Roman audiences.
    • The figure of the Danube is rendered very similarly in both representation (distinctive wild hair and beard) and even the direction of his gaze is the same (somewhat usual for a river diety on a coin). The artistic similarities between the Danube on the column and coin are so striking that it seems reasonable to assume that one influenced the other or that they were both influenced by the same source (the coin was struck in AD 107 and the column built from AD 107 – 113).
    • On the coin we see the Danube reaching out to rest his hand on the prow of a ship, perhaps to steady it. On the column we have clear evidence that the Danube is reaching out to steady the ships as the Romans cross above.
    Even if one does not consider the similarities between column and coin very compelling it still seems reasonable that Trajan would want to play up the symbolic start of the war. After all, it was Trajan who was determined to press ahead with the war in order to avenge the humiliation the Romans suffered under Domitian and the fact that he placed the bridges and the Danube in the first full size panel of his column is compelling evidence for the importance of the moment. Also, as shown in Figure 9 Trajan’s mint officials chose types that may have corresponded with important symbolic moments in the campaign; A Dacian presenting his shield to Trajan to end the first war, Victory and Trophies to separate the campaigns, the great bridge to open the second war and, controversially, the death of Decebalus to end the wars for good. It seems reasonable that the beginning act of the first war would qualify for inclusion in such a list.

    As a fun bonus to the discussion it is interesting to note that the iconography of the Danube from the coins and column was so influential that even 1,538 years after they were made a sculpture of the Danube in Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers is easily recognizable as a descendent of these ancient Roman prototypes.

    Fig-11.jpg
    Figure 11 – The Danube personified in the Fountain of the Four Rivers (AD 1651) by Bernini. The wild-haired Danube reaches up to steady the coat of arms of Pope Innocent X. He is shown as the most noble of the rivers. (Author’s photos)

    Theory #2
    The coin celebrates the completion of a canal built by Trajan that made the Danube navigable along its entire length.

    This is another theory that I have not seen published in any of my research but that, I believe, has a lot of interesting evidence to support it. As shown in the above write up of the war it is clear that one of the primary difficulties faced by Trajan during his campaigns was the hard terrain of this area of the Danube region, and more particularly, the Iron Gate (not to be confused with the pass of the same name). In this area the Danube is flanked on both sides by shear mountain cliffs that make roads difficult to build and the river runs through many cataracts that made it all but impossible to send supplies with any confidence by river. This made it difficult for the major Roman centers on the Danube such as Viminacium, Oescus and Durostorum (see Figure 2) to support one another if needed. This became abundantly clear to Trajan when he was forced to respond to the Dacian counterattack in the winter of AD 101-102. In fact, if Trajan hadn’t foreseen this difficulty and pressed ahead with some ambitious construction projects from AD 98-101 the Roman army’s ability to counter this threat might have been greatly limited.

    Fig-12 Iron Gate 1904.jpg
    Figure 12 – The Iron Gate of the Danube in 1904. Part of Trajan’s road, as seen on the left, was still in use when this photo was taken.

    As I alluded to in my write up Trajan travelled to the Dacian frontier before he even went to Rome in order to oversee construction projects. The first of these worth mentioning is the famous road that ran the entire 83 mile length of the Iron Gates on the Roman side of the river (Serbian side). This piece of the construction program is fairly well known thanks to the discovery of the Tabula Traiana in whose inscription Trajan boasts that by “excavating mountain rocks and using wood logs [Trajan] has made this road” [13]. His boast here is well founded as the road that he finished (construction had likely been sporadically taking place for decades) ran through places in the Iron Gate where the cliffs were steepest and the only way to build a road was to carve it out of the solid rock. He also built a cantilevered section out of wood that hung over the river in order to make the road wider and until recently the holes carved in the rock for the timber were still visible (see Figure 13). The name of a nearby Roman fort, Caput Bovis, gives some indication that the cantilever was constructed so that oxen could be used to haul Roman ships upriver. You can see how this would be a benefit to the supply of a Roman army operating in Dacia and along the frontier. Unfortunately both the road and the original location of the Tabula were flooded in 1972 with the construction of the Iron Gate I Dam.

    Fig-13.jpg
    Figure 13 – The Tabula Traiana as it appeared in its original location before it was flooded in 1972. Notice the holes for the wooden posts.

    A lesser known piece of Trajan’s pre-invasion construction projects, but perhaps a more important one, was his building of one or several canals on the Danube. In ancient times the Danube looked a lot different than it does today. Before the building of the Dam flooded the whole gorge the river along the Iron Gates was known for its imposing rapids, rock formations, and a steep decent in level that made it unpredictable and dangerous to navigate while travelling downstream and impossible to navigate travelling upstream. There were a few scattered remains that were theorized to be part of an old Roman canal system but that theory was not provable until 1969 when a marble slab was found that could be dated to AD 101 [13].

    Fig-14 Canal_Insc.jpg
    Figure 14 – Marble Inscription Commemorating Trajan’s Canal

    The inscription reads:
    IMP(ERATOR) CAESAR DIVI NERVAE F(ILIVS)
    NERVA TRAIANVS AVG(VSTVS) GERM(ANICVS)
    PONT(IFEX) MAX(IMVS) TRIB(VNICIA) POT(ESTATE) V P(ATER) P(ATRIAE) CO(N)S(VL) IIII
    OB PERICVLVM CATARACTARVM
    DERIVATO FLVMINE TVTAM DANVVI
    NAVIGATIONEM FECIT.


    The Emperor Caesar, Son of the Deified Nerva
    Nerva Trajan Augustus Germanicus
    High Priest, Holder of Tribunician Power for the 5th time, Father of his Country, Consul for the 4th time
    Because of the dangerous cataracts
    Diverted the river and made the whole Danube
    Navigable


    In this amazing inscription we learn the secret of how Trajan was able to move his legions and supplies up and down the Danube as shown on his column. He quite literally dug a new river next to the old one! The main part of the canal ran from the Kasajna tributary at least to the modern village of Sip and may have extended to Caput Bovin where the inscription was found [13]. Even though the remains of the canal have been flooded by the modern dam we can still get a sense of what the canal might have looked like by looking at historic photographs of the Sip Canal. The Sip Canal was built along the same route as Trajan’s Canal and was meant to serve the exact same purpose. It was completed in 1896.

    Fig-15.jpg
    Figure 15 – Left: The Danube cataracts before 1896. Right: The construction of the Sip Canal ca. 1896. The old level of the Danube is shown on the left. The empty canal is shown on the right.

    Fig-16-all.JPG
    Figure 16 – Map of Trajan’s Canal

    So what evidence is there that RIC II 100 is referencing the canal? I shall point to two separate pieces of evidence that I think show that the theory is plausible.

    1. Trajan’s column shows supply ships on the Danube even before it shows the personified Danube and the pontoon bridge.

    In theory #1 we looked at the personification of the Danube as he helped see the Romans across the river. One thing to note though is that this actually takes place in scenes III and IV. In the awkward and narrow space taken up by the first few scenes we see watchtowers and, more importantly, ships unloading supplies at a Roman town. In fact, just to the left of the personified Danube we see a loaded ship ready to supply the troops. If anything I think this represents an acknowledgement of how logistics and planning were just as important to the success of the Legion as was its virtus.

    Fig-17.jpg
    Figure 17 – Left: Watchtowers and Soldiers. Right: Ships unloading supplies on the Danube (Scene II & III) [11].

    2. Trajan’s mint officials used a remarkably similar iconography to refer to the completion of another of Trajan’s transportation projects.

    In AD 109 the emperor paid for the construction of an extension of the Via Appia from Beneventum to Brundisium at his own expense [1]. He was proud enough of this achievement that he issued coins with the reverse inscription VIA TRAIANA. These coins show the personification of the road reclining, head turned up and to the right, holding a multi-spoked wheel and branch. Take a look at RIC II 100 in comparison and the resemblance is unmistakable.

    Fig-18.jpg
    Figure 18 – Comparison of the VIA TRAIANA and DANVVIVS types. VIA TRIANA photo courtesy of CNG

    Both figures are reclining in the same pose with heads turned up to the right. Both figures are holding symbols of the type of travel they facilitate; for VIA TRAIANA: the wheel of a wagon, for DANVVIVS: the prow of a ship. Both are shown with symbols that define them; for VIA TRAIANA: a branch from the countryside she travels through, for DANVVIVS: velificatio showing the power of his current. When taken together and in light of what we know about the magnitude of Trajan’s construction along the Danube these factors are remarkably convincing.

    By showing the Danube as a corridor for travel and trade Trajan could be making the case that it is no longer a barbarian frontier to be feared. With Dacia firmly established as a province of the empire the Danube had transformed from the edge of the world into the site of just another of Trajan’s engineering marvels built by the Romans for the benefit of the Romans. To my mind this theory represents the most likely explanation of the coin type.

    For some additional thoughts on the Danube and ancient trade see Post #47

    References

    [1] Mattingly, H. & Sydenham, E.; The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol. II, Vespasian to Hadrian; London, 1926

    [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felicior_Augusto,_melior_Traiano

    [3] https://digitaldante.columbia.edu/dante/divine-comedy/paradiso/paradiso-20/

    [4] https://www.nationalgeographic.com/trajan-column/

    [5] https://www.cngcoins.com/Coin.aspx?CoinID=162639

    [6] Fischer, J.; Marius and Trajan: Two Great Roman Strategists; Air Command and Staff College, Sept. 5, 1984

    [7] The Topography of the First Dacian War of Trajan (a.d. 101-102) a new ApproachCoriolan Opreanu

    [8] Mattingly, H. & Carson, R.; Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum, Vol. 3, Nerva to Hadrian; London, 1936

    [9] http://www.forumromanum.org/literature/trajane.html

    [10] Davies, G.A.T.; Trajan’s First Dacian War; The Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 7 (1917), pp 74-97

    [11] http://www.trajans-column.org

    [12] http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/e/roman/texts/cassius_dio/68*.html

    [13] Sasel, J; Trajan’s Canal at the Iron Gate; The Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 63 (1973), pp. 80-85


    Okay, if you are still with me after all of that I hope you will do me the honor of voting in the poll and posting your thoughts. What do YOU think the meaning of this type could be in reference to?

    Also while you are at it please post your:
    Coins of Trajan!
    Coins of a river god (Istros… man faced bull?)
    Coins related to the Dacians
    Coins from Viminacium
    Coins showing a remarkable feat of engineering!
    Did I forget anything? Post those too!


    Oh and… ummm… who do you think was the BEST emperor? :eek::troll::troll:
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2018
    seth77, serafino, Chris B and 40 others like this.
  4. TheRed

    TheRed Supporter! Supporter

    That is a beautiful coin @Curtisimo and an even more impressive write-up. As always, you combine a wonderful amount of historical information and great numismatic research into posts that are a pleasure to read.

    I have two coins of Trajan, one being the VIA TRAIANA reverse you mention.
    20170722_200349.png
    Trajan AR Denarius, Rome mint, 112-117 A.D., 19.1mm, 3.035g.
    Obv: IMP TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P COS VI P P; laureate bust right, drapery on far shoulder.
    Rev: VIA TRAIANA S P Q R OPTIMO PRINCIPI; female personification of the Via Traiana reclining left, wheel on right knee balanced with right hand, branch cradled in left arm, left elbow resting on rocks.
    RIC II 266
     
  5. TheRed

    TheRed Supporter! Supporter

    Wait a minute! Shouldn't you be spending quality evening time with your new wife instead of paying on the CT forum? ;)
     
  6. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    Love that Trajan denarius @TheRed !
    She's been studying for work stuff so I've been playing with coins :) she thinks it's cute when I nerd out with my coins so it's a win win!
     
  7. Ryro

    Ryro Life is like a box of ancient coins. Supporter

    LOVED the wonderful write up! Thanks @Curtisimo !!!
    I'm partial to Augustus, M Arelius and Aurelian. Ya know, the triple A club. (I'm just being lazy. But those 3 are def in my top 10)
    Here's my best Traj-man
    CollageMaker Plus_201846141941870.png

    Trajan
    RIC 52 Traianus (98-117
    AD). AR Denarius (19 mm,
    2.94 g), Roma (Rome), 101-
    102 AD.
    Obv. IMP CAES NERVA
    TRAIAN AVG GERM,
    laureate bust right, drapery
    on left shoulder.
    Rev. P M TR P COS IIII P P,
    Mars walking right, carrying
    spear and trophy.
     
  8. Ajax

    Ajax Supporter! Supporter

    Great write up and coin @Curtisimo! My favourites would probably be Augustus and Sep Sev. Constantine and family are up there too.
    Here's a Trajan I don't think I've posted before.
    wz5H2bNjzLL9Eb7dy3T9RPk8tX6M4q.jpg
    Trajan A.D. 103- 111
    AR Denarius 19mm 3.1gm
    IMP TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TRP; laureate bust right, slight drapery on left shoulder / COS V P P SPQR OPTIMO PRINC; Felicitas standing left, holding caduceus and cornucopiae.
    RIC II Rome 121
     
  9. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    WOW Curtisimo, what a comprehensive insight to the emperor I feel I know everything about him now except what his favorite meal was...or was that the bacon you referred to in your poll :D. To be truthful until I read your 15 page essay I thought the Trajan Danuvius coinage was
    just honouring the river god of the Danube, like Tiberis river god of Tiber river and so on, but your theory really stacks up that it has some other meaning my guess the pontoon bridge seems most plausible. Thank you for putting so much effort into your write up it really is very educational. 3w2YrDR8P5ez4QtDpLL72eBRmx9ZF6.jpg 179.jpg 2015-01-07 01.07.48-9.jpg Three of Trajan's Engineering feats, top The Dupondius Danube bridge, Dupondius of the temple of Honos, and a Sestertius of Trajan's column.
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2018
  10. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    @Curtisimo , that is a wonderful writeup. Coins illuminate history and that coin is more inspiring than most. Types like DANVVIVS that are connected to historical events (as opposed to stock types) are especially enjoyable. Your thoughtful exposition shows you have studied the coin's connection to history more than most of us study our coins. I appreciate that you wrote it up so well for the rest of us.

    TrajanDANVVIVS.jpg
    Trajan, 98-117
    Denarius. 19-18 mm. 3.09 grams.
    COS V PP SPQR OPTIMO PRINC
    DANVVIVS below
    RIC 199. Hill 472 "AD 107" Foss 22 (event of 106).

    Trajan had many types that reference his Dacian wars. They would make a good mini-theme collection.

    TrajanDACCAP96305.jpg

    Trajan. Denarius. 18 mm.
    DAC CAP below Dacian captive seated on a pile of arms
    COS V PP SPQR OPTIMO PRINC
    RIC 96 "103-111". Hill 486 "108, Victory in the second Dacian War"
     
  11. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    SOMEBODY MAKE THIS A FEATURED ARTICLE!
     
  12. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    What's a war without a god of war?

    Trajan Mars Denarius.jpg
    Trajan, AD 98-117.
    Roman AR denarius, 2.92 gm, 20.1 mm, 7 h.
    Rome, AD 114-117.
    Obv: IMP CAES NER TRAIANO OPTIMO AVG GER DAC, laureate and draped bust, right.
    Rev: P M TR P COS VI P P S P Q R, Mars walking right with spear and trophy.
    Refs: RIC 337; BMCRE 536; Cohen 270; RCV --; Woytek 520v; Strack 230; BN 819.
     
  13. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    What a brilliant article, Curtis; well-researched, well-argued and above all, readable!
    You have me convinced - I voted for the canal :).

    I'm awaiting the arrival of a Trajan coin celebrating another one of his (re)construction projects and will post it when it gets here safe and sound. For now, here are two of his denarii referencing the Dacian wars.

    Trajan - Denarius Dacia Sword.jpg TRAJAN
    AR Denarius. 2.76g, 18.9mm. Rome mint, AD 103-107. RIC 218; Cohen 529. O: IMP TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P COS V P P, laureate bust right, slight drapery on shoulder. R: S P Q R OPTIMO PRINCIPI, mourning Dacian seated right on shield, leaning on right arm and resting head in left hand; curved sword below.
    Ex E.E. Clain-Stefanelli Collection

    Trajan - Denarius Trophy Captive 1055.jpg TRAJAN
    AR Denarius. 3.23g, 18.3mm, Rome mint, AD 104-107. RIC 221; RSC 538a; BMCRE 185. O: IMP TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P COS V P P, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right. R: S P Q R OPTIMO PRINCIPI, Dacian captive seated right; trophy behind.
     
  14. Smojo

    Smojo dreamliner

    Wow @Curtisimo I had to break reading this thread up in several parts, it's just been that busy of a day. I was totally blown away you put a lot of effort into this.
    Trajan being one of, if not my favorite. I'll add my favorite Trajan coin, was a gift from my mother last Christmas (yeah, I picked it out). And it goes with this thread.


    Lh9QDppN-199260397.jpg
    Trajan AR Denarius. Rome, AD 107-108. IMP TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P, laureate bust right, slight drapery on left shoulder / COS V P P S P Q R OPTIMO PRINC, Dacian trophy of arms, at base of which shields, spears and sword. Woytek 268b; RIC 147; RSC 98. 3.23g, 20mm, 7h.
     
  15. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

  16. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Just kidding!! :D I promise I'll read it tomorrow, it's past my bedtime. :shy:
     
    TypeCoin971793, TIF and Curtisimo like this.
  17. arashpour

    arashpour Well-Known Member

    @Curtisimo Amazing write up on these historical events and coins! I did not know most of the facts! I actually just got a Trajan coin mint of bostra.

    Trajan_Bosra.jpg
     
  18. Deacon Ray

    Deacon Ray Biblical Kingdoms Supporter

    Superb historical essay, @Curtisimo ! I'll bet that you can create a research paper such as that relatively quickly (compared to the length of time it would take me :confused:) If you ever decide to go into the coffee table book business—I'd like to work for you :artist: ;)
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2018
  19. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Looks fabulous! Like Sevvy, I'll read it later (when this horrible headache goes away). At a glance though it looks like a standout even among Curtisimo writeups, and that's really saying something! :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2018
  20. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    Great write up with awsome pics , thanks Curtisimo

    Victory over Dacia (budget)as:

    Trajanus Victoria 2bb.jpg
     
    RAGNAROK, TIF, dlhill132 and 13 others like this.
  21. Alegandron

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

    Oh, man, @Curtisimo ! Love the write-up and the coin!

    Well... hmmmm... LOL

    TRAJAN: (here's a couple)
    RI Trajan AR Denarius 98-117 Riding Horse.jpg
    RI Trajan AR Denarius 98-117 Riding Horse

    RI Trajan CE 98-117 AR drachm Struck CE 114-116 Arabia Petraea Bostra - Camel SNG ANS 1158.JPG
    RI Trajan CE 98-117 AR drachm Struck CE 114-116 Arabia Petraea Bostra - Camel SNG ANS 1158

    RIVER-GOD:
    GELA AR Didrachm 490-480 BCE Horseman with spear r - Forepart of man-headed bull r.jpg
    GELA AR Didrachm 490-480 BCE Horseman with spear r - Forepart of man-headed bull r

    DACIA: (idolized Trajan)
    RI Trajan Decius 249-251 CE AR Ant Dacia draco standard.jpg
    RI Trajan Decius 249-251 CE AR Ant Dacia draco standard

    VIMINACIUM:
    RI Aemilianus 253 CE AE24 Viminacium mint Moesia Bull-Lion - Damnatio Memoriae.jpg
    RI Aemilianus 253 CE AE24 Viminacium mint Moesia Bull-Lion - Damnatio Memoriae

    ENGINEERING FEAT:
    I understand that this was the first SILVER coin minted by Rome, AND it was to pay for the building of the VIA APPIA (first major road by Rome)... a hallmark achievement that put Rome on the road to greatness.

    RR Anon AR Heavy Denarius - Didrachm 310-300 BCE 20mm 7.28g Mars-Horse Romano FIRST minted.JPG
    RR Anon AR Heavy Denarius - Didrachm 310-300 BCE 20mm 7.28g Mars-Horse Romano FIRST minted

    Did I forget anything? Post those too!
    You forgot GOLD. Gold is always good:

    Carthage - Zeugitana AV 1-10th Stater-Shekel 350-320 BCE 0.94g 7.5mm Palm- Horse Head.JPG
    Carthage - Zeugitana AV 1-10th Stater-Shekel 350-320 BCE 0.94g 7.5mm Palm- Horse Head

    Oh and… ummm… who do you think was the BEST emperor?

    Trajan and Vespasian.
    And Sulla and Marius were pretty cool for the Republic too (not "Emperors", but were all but name.)
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2018
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