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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Roman Coins (Moderator: Severus_Alexander)  |  Topic: Rare Domitian Denarius 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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David Atherton
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« on: April 24, 2012, 03:24:25 pm »

An extremely rare and early denarius of Domitian. This coin was minted before Domitian became Pontifex Maximus, as shown by the obverse legend which only shows him as PONT. Presumably the official ceremonies for this elevation had not been completed when the coin was struck. Domitian, always a stickler for the correct procedures, probably insisted the correct form of his titles be struck. This coin also indicates how quickly new coins were minted for Domitian after he became emperor. Also, notice the nice mention of Vespasian in the obverse legend - DIVI VESP F, "Son of the Divine Vespasian".

The style is very typical of the early denarii of Domitian before his coinage reform the following year. Notice the veristic style with the hook nose. Later his portraits became more idealized.

Not listed in the BM nor Cohen. The new RIC cites examples at the Ashmolean and a private sale.

N.B. Last week I added a denarius with the same altar reverse with a different obverse legend which shows Domitian as Pontifex Maximus. It too is not very common.

RIC 44 (R2)
Rome mint, 81 AD
Obv - IMP CAES DIVI VESP F DOMIT AVG PONT; Head of Domitian, laureate, bearded, r.
Rev - TR P COS VII DES VIII P P; Altar, garlanded and lighted
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curtislclay
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« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2012, 04:28:40 pm »

Very neat!

ALL denarii of Domitian as merely PONT at the beginning of his reign are very rare; there are two standard legend forms,

IMP CAES DOMITIANVS AVG PONT

and the same with just DOMITIAN.

After Domitian became P M, his standard legend was

IMP CAES DOMITIANVS AVG P M,

but a rare variant legend added his father:

IMP CAES DIVI VESP F DOMITIAN AVG P M.

Your new coin combines the two rare titles, PONT and DIVI VESP F:

IMP CAES DIVI VESP F DOMIT AVG PONT!

This legend form was unknown to Cohen and BMC, but the new RIC records it with three rev. types:

P P COS VII DES VIII, Wreath on curule chair, RIC 11 and pl. 117, citing and illustrating a spec. from Lanz 94, 1999, 377; rarity R2 indicates that the authors knew of at least one more specimen.

TR P COS VII DES VIII P P, Altar, RIC 44 and pl. 118, citing and illustrating a spec. in Oxford, and citing a second spec. in Cederlind 126, 2002, 110. This is your coin, apparently the third known (prob. not identical with Cederlind's), from the same obv. die as the illustrated Oxford coin, but a different rev. die.

TR P COS VII DES VIII P P, Wreath on curule chair, RIC 49, citing a single spec. in Vienna's Numismatic Institute. About five years ago I bought a second spec. of this denarius, from a Cederlind catalogue.

As to the reason for PONT only, Domitian presumably waited until he was elected Pontifex Maximus by the appropriate popular assembly, which will have met only a month or so after his accession. The Acts of the Arval Brethren record that such assemblies to elect the emperor Pontifex Maximus were still meeting in the later first cent. AD.
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Curtis Clay
David Atherton
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« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2012, 06:31:20 pm »

Thank you Curtis for the wonderful insights!

When it rains it pours! I've been offered or seen for sale more "PONT" denarii in the last several months than at any other time. It makes me wonder if some rare Domitian collection is not being dispersed. lol
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« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2012, 03:29:34 am »

Great find, indeed!

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