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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Roman Coins| ▸ |The Twelve Caesars| ▸ |Domitian||View Options:  |  |  |   

Domitian, 13 September 81 - 18 September 96 A.D.

Flavius Domitianus was an effective emperor who spent much of his time in the provinces preserving order. Despite his effectiveness, he was extremely unpopular with the senatorial class at Rome. He appointed persons from the lower classes to positions of authority. Domitian's reign was marred by paranoia and cruelty in his latter years and he executed many Senators. When asked to prohibit execution of senators without a trial by peers he declined, thus dispelling the old illusions of republican government and exposing the true autocracy of his rule. In 96 A.D., he was stabbed to death in a plot, allegedly involving his own wife.

|Domitian|, |Domitian,| |13| |September| |81| |-| |18| |September| |96| |A.D.|, |aureus|
Minerva was the Roman virgin goddess of wisdom, trade, medicine, arts, and magic. From the 2nd century B.C., the Romans equated her with the Greek goddess Athena and often depicted her with her sacred owl. Minerva was born from the head of Jupiter. After impregnating the Titaness Metis, Jupiter recalled a prophecy that his own child would overthrow him. Fearing their child would rule the Heavens in his place, Jupiter swallowed Metis whole. The Titaness forged weapons and armor for her child while within the father-god, and the constant pounding and ringing gave him a headache. To relieve the pain, Vulcan used a hammer to split Jupiter's head. From the cleft, Minerva emerged, whole, adult, and bearing her mother's weapons and armor.
SH33105. Gold aureus, RIC II-1 508; Calic 884; BMCRE II -; BnF III -; Hunter I -; Cohen I -, VF, weight 7.392 g, maximum diameter 20.3 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 87 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM P M TRP VI, laureate head right; reverse IMPXIIII COS XIIICENS PPP, Minerva standing left, helmeted and draped, thunderbolt in right hand, spear vertical behind in left hand, grounded shield at feet behind; ex Numismatik Lanz auction 144 lot 457; very rare; SOLD

|Domitian|, |Domitian,| |13| |September| |81| |-| |18| |September| |96| |A.D.|, |aureus|
SH37561. Gold aureus, RIC II-1 Vesp. 918; BMCRE II 196; BnF III 171; SRCV I 2619, gF, light scratches, weight 7.165 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, as caesar, 76 - 77 A.D.; obverse CAESAR AVG F DOMITIANVS, laureate head right; reverse COS IIII, cornucopia with grain and fruits; SOLD

|Domitian|, |Domitian,| |13| |September| |81| |-| |18| |September| |96| |A.D.|, |aureus|
Certificate of Authenticity issued by David R. Sear.

The reverse depicts Domitian participating in the Judaea Capta triumph of 71 A.D. He is, as Josephus described him, riding alongside in magnificent apparel and mounted on a horse that was itself a site worth seeing.
SH43075. Gold aureus, RIC II-1 Vesp. 679; BnF III 100; SRCV I 2627, VF, weight 7.019 g, maximum diameter 20.0 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, as caesar, 73 - 75 A.D.; obverse CAES AVG F DOMIT COS II, laureate head right; reverse Domitian on horseback prancing left, wearing military dress, raising right, scepter in left topped with a helmet; SOLD

Vespasian, 1 July 69 - 24 June 79 A.D., Titus & Domitian Reverse

|Vespasian|, |Vespasian,| |1| |July| |69| |-| |24| |June| |79| |A.D.,| |Titus| |&| |Domitian| |Reverse|, |denarius|
On 14 April 70 A.D. Titus surrounded Jerusalem. He allowed pilgrims to enter to celebrate Passover but this was a trap to put pressure on supplies of food and water; he refused to allow them to leave. On 10 May he began his assault on the walls. The third wall fell on 25 May. The second wall fell on 30 May. On 20 July Titus stormed the Temple Mount. On 4 August 70 A.D. Titus destroyed the Temple. The Jewish fast of Tisha B'Av mourns the Fall of Jerusalem annually on this date.
SH77005. Silver denarius, RIC II-1 16 (R), BnF III 1, RSC II 5, BMCRE II 2, Hunter I 2, SRCV I 2399, EF/aEF, light toning, tight flan, some light bumps and marks, among the finest examples of the type, weight 3.414 g, maximum diameter 17.5 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, Jan - Jun (or later) 70 A.D.; obverse IMP CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse CAESAR AVG F COS CAESAR AVG F PR, confronted bare heads of Titus right (on left) and Domitian left (on right); from the Jyrki Muona Collection; ex Helios Numismatik auction 4 (14 Oct 2009), lot 302; ex A. Lynn Collection; rare; SOLD

|Domitian|, |Domitian,| |13| |September| |81| |-| |18| |September| |96| |A.D.|, |denarius|
Only the second specimen known to Forum. The other specimen is RIC II 183 (= CNG 51 (1999), lot 1272 = Gemini IX (2012), lot 393). RIC notes that dies were shared between aurei and denarii within this 84 A.D. issue. This type appears to have been struck with an obverse die of a fine style normally reserved for aurei.
SH69603. Silver denarius, RIC II-1 183 (R3, same dies), Cohen -, BMCRE II -, BnF III -, RIC II -, SRCV I -, VF, fine style portrait, weight 2.909 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 84 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES DOMITI ANVS AVG GERMANIC, laureate and draped bust left; reverse P M TR POT III IMP V COS X P P, Minerva advancing right, brandishing spear in right hand, shield in left, owl at feet right, all atop capital of rostral column; extremely rare, 2nd known; SOLD

|Domitian|, |Domitian,| |13| |September| |81| |-| |18| |September| |96| |A.D.|, |denarius|
In 93 A.D., Domitian persecuted Christians.
SH53587. Silver denarius, RIC II-1 742; BMCRE II 207; BnF III 186; RSC II 278; Hunter I 82; SRCV I 2736, Superb EF, weight 3.664 g, maximum diameter 17.7 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 14 Sep 92 - 13 Sep 93 A.D; obverse IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM P M TR P XII, laureate head right; reverse IMP XXII COS XVI CENS P P P, Minerva standing left, helmeted and draped, inverted spear vertical before her in her right hand, her left hand on hip; ex H. S. Perlin Co., 1989; exceptional detail - very rare with the sideburns so well struck, fabulous toning; SOLD

Vespasian the Younger, Caesar, 94 - 95 A.D., Smyrna, Ionia

|Smyrna|, |Vespasian| |the| |Younger,| |Caesar,| |94| |-| |95| |A.D.,| |Smyrna,| |Ionia|, |AE| |16|
In 94 A.D., because he had no heir, Domitian adopted his two young great-nephews. He renamed them Vespasian and Domitian. The next year he executed the boys' father, his cousin, Titus Flavius Clemens, and exiled the boys' mother, his niece, Flavia Domitilla. They were charged with Atheism, a charge sometimes applied to condemn converts to Judaism or Christianity. The boys then disappeared from history and their fate is unknown. Smyrna was the only city to strike coins in the name of Vespasian the Younger. No coins were struck for his brother.

Some scholars connect Domitilla with a Roman Matron in the Talmud (Avodah Zarah 10b) and the Deuteronomy Rabbah 2.25. When the emperor had decreed that in 30 days, the Senate would confirm an edict to kill all Jews and Christians in the Roman Empire, the Roman matron convinced her husband to stand up for the Jews. If that identification is correct, her husband Flavius Clemens converted to Judaism, after having contact with the great sage Rabbi Akiva. Flavia Domitilla is a saint in both the Greek Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Church.
SH83453. Bronze AE 16, Klose p. 244, 3, pl. 31 (V1/R1); RPC II 1028; SNG Cop 1360; SNGvA 2208; BMC Ionia p. 276, 320, gF/F, weight 2.790 g, maximum diameter 16.3 mm, die axis 0o, Smyrna (Izmir, Turkey) mint, as caesar, 94 - 95 A.D.; obverse OYOCΠACIANOC NEΩTEPOC, bare head right; reverse ZMYPNAIΩN, Nike standing right, wreath in extended right hand, palm frond over left shoulder in left hand; ex Solidus Numismatik, auction 7, lot 200; rare; SOLD

|Domitian|, |Domitian,| |13| |September| |81| |-| |18| |September| |96| |A.D.|, |denarius|
In 86, Dacia attacked the Roman province of Moesia. After the attack, Domitian personally went to Moesia and reorganized the province into Moesia Inferior and Moesia Superior. In the summer of 87, five or six legions crossed the Danube to attack Dacia. At Tapae they were ambushed. Almost all of the soldiers from Legio V Alaudae were killed, the Dacians captured their flags and war machines, and general Cornelius Fuscus himself was killed in battle. After this victory, the Dacian king Diurpaneus received the name of Decebalus, meaning as strong (or brave) as ten men.
SH60336. Silver denarius, RIC II-1 427 (R); BnF III 89; Carradice 86.1; RSC II 196; Hunter I 30; BMCRE II p. 318 note, Superb EF, weight 3.426 g, maximum diameter 20.7 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, Jan - spring 86 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM P M TR P V, laureate head right; reverse IMP XI COS XII CENS P P P, Minerva standing right on Columna Rostrata, wearing helmet and aegis, brandishing javelin in right hand, shield in left hand, owl at feet on right; rare; SOLD

|Domitian|, |Domitian,| |13| |September| |81| |-| |18| |September| |96| |A.D.|, |sestertius|
An early issue for Domitian, issued under Titus. The portrait style of Domitian resembles that of his brother. Later portraits of Domitian tend to be "Augusticized," more similar to the deified emperor Augustus than to known portraits of other male members of Domitians family.
SH57743. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC II-1 (Titus) 297, gVF, weight 24.777 g, maximum diameter 34.0 mm, die axis 225o, Rome mint, as caesar, 80 A.D.; obverse CAES DIVI AVG VESP F DOMITIAN COS VII, laureate head left; reverse Minerva standing right, brandishing spear in right hand, shield in left, S - C; rare (R2); SOLD

|Domitian|, |Domitian,| |13| |September| |81| |-| |18| |September| |96| |A.D.|, |denarius|
The issue "IMP XVII" is a short one, with rare coins, same as IMP XV, XVI and XVIII. These four victories came in a quick row in late summer and fall of 88 A.D. most important of them likely being that of Tettius Julianus over the Dacians. One interesting subissue of this group consists of coins with a special, longer obverse legend: the name of the emperor is spelled in full DOMITIANVS instead of the usual DOMIT. We may speculate that these special coins were minted in parallel (perhaps for ceremonial, games related purpose) with the varieties of the LVD SAEC FEC (Secular Games) issue, which can have a long obverse legend too (and sometimes a left facing portrait or outward legend).

When the new RIC II was written this specimen was the only one known to the authors and received the highest R3 rating.

SH34577. Silver denarius, RIC II-1 660, VF, weight 3.342 g, maximum diameter 19.0 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, late 88 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES DOMITIANVS AVG GERM P M TR P VIII, laureate head right; reverse IMP XVII COS XIIII CENS P P P, Minerva standing left, helmeted and draped, thunderbolt in right hand, spear vertical behind in left hand, grounded shield at feet behind; extremely rare (RIC R3); SOLD


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American Numismatic Society (ANS) Collections Database Online -
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Hendin, D. Guide to Biblical Coins, 5th Edition. (Amphora, 2010).
Mattingly, H. & R. Carson. Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum, Vol. 2: Vespasian to Domitian. (London, 1930).
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet, University of Glasgow, Vol. I. Augustus to Nerva. (Oxford, 1962).
Seaby, H. & R. Loosley. Roman Silver Coins, Vol. II: Tiberius to Commodus. (London, 1979).
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