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Home > Members' Coin Collection Galleries > David Atherton > Imperial Coinage of Domitian
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Domitian RIC-623b
As, 10.13g
Rome mint, 88 AD
Obv: IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM P M TR P VIII CENS PER P P; Head of Domitian, laureate, bearded, r.
Rev: COS XIIII LVD SAEC FEC; S C in exergue; Domitian stg. l., sacrificing over altar; to l., flute player and lyre player stg. r.; in background, temple, wreath in pediment
RIC 623b (C2). BMC 434. BNC 471.
Acquired from Knker, January 2019. Ex Heinrich Pilartz Mnzhandlung.

In October 88 AD Domitian held the Secular Games, a festival featuring theatrical performances and circus games accompanied by six various daytime and nighttime religious ceremonies. The games marked the transition from one era (saeculum) to another and were supposedly held once every 110 years, or the maximum span of a human lifetime, making them a 'once in a lifetime' event. Domitian conducted his games on the Augustan calculation, rejecting the formula for the Claudian games held in 47 AD. The festival was important enough to interrupt the normal striking of reverse types on the coinage and for the mint to produce a new unique issue commemorating the event both in precious metal and bronze. The precious metal designs tended to be symbolic while the bronze were more narrative in nature, focusing on the various religious sacrifices that were at the heart of the games.

The reverse on this as features a daytime victimless sacrifice of cakes to Apollo and Diana on the sixth and last day of the celebrations, held in front of an unidentified hexastyle temple somewhere on the Palatine. The stylised nature of the reverse's design makes it difficult to pinpoint the temple in question. The generic decorative wreath in the pediment offers no clues. Another variant of the type (RIC 623a) has an eagle in the pediment, perhaps an indication the engravers were not intending to depict a specific temple at all. The scene could stand alone and be an excellent representation for all the religious ceremonies of the games. The main message of the design is to show the Roman people that Domitian provided and responsibly held the Secular Games. The fact this type was struck in fairly large quantities hints it was an important piece of Domitianic propaganda.

Struck on a large flan in fine style.
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Date added:
Feb 05, 2019
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shanxi  [Feb 05, 2019 at 10:16 AM]
wonderful coin
quadrans  [Feb 05, 2019 at 10:23 AM]
Great piece ..I like it..
Jay GT4  [Feb 05, 2019 at 11:43 AM]
Amazing coin. Congrats David! Love the reverse and patina
FlaviusDomitianus  [Feb 05, 2019 at 02:01 PM]
Good example of the type.
Mat  [Feb 05, 2019 at 04:30 PM]
Love the patina and all around sweet addition.
Ancient Aussie  [Mar 31, 2019 at 05:10 AM]
Fantastic coin David.
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