Please add updates or make corrections to the NumisWiki text version as appropriate.
Thensa, a sacred car in which the images of the gods and godesses were carried to the games of the circus. Vehicles of thsi kind served with the Romans to symbolize that solemn consecration, or apotheosis, of defunct personages, which, confined to the imperial rank, was decreed by the senate alone.—The thensa was usually made of the wood of such tree as was consecrated to the deity whose statue was thus publicly displayed in procession, and which appeared with all his or her attributes.—This peculiar sort of carriage was also used to convey either the image of some emperor of empress already placed amongst the divinities, to some public scene of pompous celebration, or the dead body of a prince or princess round the campus martius, where the corpse was afterwards burnt on a funeral pile amidst very imposing rites and ceremonies.—One some of these occasions, elephants were employed to draw the thensa, those vast animals, on account of their longevity, being selected as the symbol of eternity.—Accordingly we find a first brass coin, struck under Tiberius, which exhibits the statue of Augustus, with radiated head and other marks of deification, seated on a thensa, drawn by four elephants, on the neck of each of which sits a driver,—See DIVO AVGVSTO.—There is also a large bronze medal, struck under Titus, with similar types fo the thensa.—See DIVO AVG. VESPASiano.
From the above and several other numismatic monuments, the form of the thensa appears to have been that of a platform, richly ornamented, and mounted upon four wheels, by which mode of construction the idols or statues placed upon it were rendered conspicuously visible. In this respect it differed, as well from the carpentum which was covered with an arched roof, its front alone being open, as from the triumphal chariot which was open vehicle sometimes of cylindrical, at others of semi-circular shape and entered at the back, both of them being two-wheeled vehicles.—See Carpentum and Currus.