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Domitian RIC-281
∆ Sestertius, 26.14g
Rome mint, 85 AD
Obv: IMP CAES DOMITIAN AVG GERM COS XI; Bust of Domitian, laureate, bearded, r., with aegis
Rev: S C in exergue; Domitian stg. r., clasping hands over altar with officer stg. l.; behind officer, one soldier with standard and one soldier at r. with spear and shield
RIC 281 (R). BMC 301. BNC 321.
Acquired from Olding, MA Shops, June 2019 = Olding, List 96, March 2019, Sammlung Fritz Reusing, no. 182. From the collection of Fritz Reusing (1874-1956), acquired from the Heynen Collection; inherited and continued by Reusing's nephew Paul SchŁrer (1890-1976).

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 greatest military victory over the Germanic tribe the Chatti. The Germanic triumph 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. This rare sestertius depicts a rather ambiguous scene showing Domitian, the much larger figure on the left, clasping hands with a legate over an altar while two legionaries stand by. What exactly is going on here is a mystery. Mattingly in BMCRE II believed it to be 'the taking of the sacramentum, the military oath'. Others have postulated the scene shows Domitian greeting Agricola upon his return from Britannia. The Agricola connection is highly unlikely. The type is struck for several more years, so it cannot be referring to one single 'event'. It's an intriguing scene in the context of the Germania Capta series, perhaps depicting a post victory ceremony. Whatever the meaning, the reverse strongly underscores Domitian's bond with the military.

This wonderful old cabinet toned piece is from the collection of the German portrait painter Fritz Reusing.

File information
Album name:David Atherton / Imperial Coinage of Domitian
Rating (2 votes): (Details)
File Size:70 KB
Date added:Jun 27, 2019
Dimensions:880 x 446 pixels
Displayed:80 times
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Jay GT4  [Jun 28, 2019 at 01:59 AM]
Fantastic addition and intriguing
Steve P  [Jun 28, 2019 at 03:26 PM]
Sweet centering ... I always love the looks of these sweet Sestertii, eh?
quadrans  [Jun 29, 2019 at 06:26 AM]
Great coin