∆ Sestertius, 24.60g
Rome mint, 71 AD
RIC 167 (C3). BMC 543.
Obv: IMP CAES VESPASIAN AVG P M TR P P P COS III; Head of Vespasian, laureate, r.
Rev: IVDAEA CAPTA; S C in exergue; Palm tree; to l., Vespasian stg. r. with spear and parazonium, foot on helmet; to r., Judaea std. r. on cuirass
Acquired from Denarius, December 2018.
The Jewish War was an important event for the fledgling Flavian dynasty - in essence it gave them the legitimacy to rule. The ensuing propaganda onslaught after the 'Gotterdammerung' fall of Jerusalem in August of 70 is awe inspiring. We have Josephus' description of the joint triumph of 71 held for Vespasian and Titus in book 7 of his 'Jewish War', the buildings and monuments erected by the regime, and more importantly for our purposes we have the coins. Judaea Capta types were struck in all metals for almost as long as the dynasty ruled. The first flurry of these came in 71, presumably in conjunction with the triumph, amidst a great issue of bronze coinage that same year. One of the most iconic Judaea Capta types is this sestertius' reverse featuring a triumphal Vespasian with a defeated Judaea at his feet, not surprisingly one of the more common types from the issue. Vespasian is seen proudly standing holding a spear and parazonium (a triangular sword) with his foot on an enemy helmet, while Judaea is sitting on a captured cuirass in abject despair - take note of their size discrepancy. The iconography on display here strongly hints at what the spectators of the triumph likely witnessed. The slight of hand the Flavian regime devised which transformed defeated rebel provincials into a foreign menace is truly amazing.
'Ambition sighed: she found it vain to trust
The faithless column and the crumbling bust;
Huge moles, whose shadow stretched from shore to shore,
Their ruins perished, and their place no more!
Convinced, she now contracts her vast design,
And all her triumphs shrink into a coin.
A narrow orb each crowded conquest keeps,
Beneath her palm here sad Judea weeps.' -
Alexander Pope, To Mr. Addison, Occasioned by his Dialogues on Medals II. 19-26
Honest wear with some minor cleaning scratches.