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Home > Members' Coin Collection Galleries > David Atherton > Imperial Coinage of Domitian

Domitian RIC-397
Sestertius, 26.19g
Rome mint, 85 AD
Obv: IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM COS XI CENS PER P P; Head of Domitian, laureate, r., with aegis
Rev: GERMANIA CAPTA; S C in exergue; Trophy; to r., German captive stg. r., hands bound, head l.; to l., Germania std. l.; around arms
RIC 397 (R2). BMC 361. BNC -.
Acquired from Incitatus Coins, August 2019.

In 85 Domitian struck a fairly impressive issue of sestertii, M. Grant hyperbolically called it the most 'ambitious' of any one reign or year. The series is the first major aes issue of Domitian's reign and is dominated by panoramic types commemorating his military victory over the Germanic tribe the Chatti. The details of the war are unclear, but the overall impression is that the conflict was a minor affair blown out of proportion by an emperor eager for military glory. Consequently, Domitian's Germanic triumph of 83 received a certain amount of ridicule from ancient writers who thought the whole thing was a sham (Dio goes so far as to say Domitian raided the palace's furniture stores for his fake spoils!), no doubt the numismatic propaganda for the victory was likely viewed in the same manner by contemporary senatorial elites. Germania Capta types were first struck in silver in 84 and in bronze in 85. This iconic Germania Capta sestertius strongly echoes Vespasian's Judaea Capta types - but instead of a palm tree we see a trophy and a bound captive replaces the triumphal emperor. H. Mattingly writes in BMCRE 'the type is closely modelled on the Judaea Capta of Vespasian, but the German element is indicated by the heavy angular cloak worn by the man and by the oblong shields.' Comparing the two triumphs, the Josephian scholar Steve Mason remarked - 'The same people who produced Flavian Triumph I: Judaea were on hand for Flavian Triumph II: Germania, and sequels are rarely as good as the originals.'

The Germania Capta sestertii were produced for only a few short years between 85-88. The present example from the third issue of 85 is a rare variant with an obverse legend struck just after Domitian had become censor for life (CENS PER).
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FlaviusDomitianus  [Aug 25, 2019 at 09:34 AM]
Glad you got one of these.
Nemonater  [Aug 25, 2019 at 10:43 AM]
Awesome addition!
Jay GT4  [Aug 25, 2019 at 12:21 PM]
I love these huge 1st century sestertii
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