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LVD SAEC FEC COS XIIII
Ludos saeculares fecit Consul XIIII. The Emperor (Domitian) caused to be celebrated - or rather under the reign of Domitian, and during his 14th Consulate, the secular games were celebrated, about the year of Rome 841; 104 years after those of Augustus, and 41 after those of Claudius. The coin above, in second brass, commemorates this event.
Of all the medals struck under different Emperors in commemoration of the secular games, none are more curious, none are more replete with antiquarian interest, than those of Domitian, representing the solemn ceremonies of these games. On one of these (a denarius) we see a man habited in the toga, standing near a cippis inscribed as above, and wearing on his head a helmet, whence spring two wings; in his right hand he holds a small staff, and in his left a round buckler.
This figure, it is conjectured, is that of the herald whose duty it was to announce the celebration of the games; or perhaps one of the quindecemvirs who presided at them. The same figure (says Millin) is found on coins of the Sanguinia family, of which the type recalls the memory of those secular games which Augustus reestablished (VC 737), and when one of the members of the above named family was monetary triumvir.
On a first brass of the same emperor, bearing the same legend, we see his figure standing, clothed in the toga, holding a patera in his right hand, and performing a sacrifice before an altar.
Near the emperor, a woman holding a cornucopiae is seated on the ground; whilst on the other side we see a harper, a flute player. and a popa (or priest that slew the victims) with a sow. The woman we see on the ground, says Eckhel, is Tellus, or Mother Earth: the fertile nurse of all living creatures, characterised as such by the horn of planty. The sow which we see brought to the altar is destined to be sacrificed to her, as the verses of the Sibylls, quoted in Zosimus, indicate, by mentioning the hog and the black sow as fit immolations to the Goddess of the Fertile Earth. Hence also Horace, amongst other deities, to whom vows were accustomed to be made, invokes Tellus, in the Carman Saeculare:
Fertilis frugum, precorisque Tellus
Spocea donet Cererem corona.
On another first brass of Domitian, bearing the same legend of LVD SAEC FEC COS XIIII S C, the emperor stands in front of a temple, holding a patera over a lighted altar; opposite him is a man seated on the ground with a harp in his hand; behind are two flute players.
On a second brass of Domitian, the emperor is seen in the act of sacrificing at a lighted altar, whilst one popa holds down an ox, the second popa strikes him with an axe.
This type refers to the custom which prevailed at the secular games of offering up white bulls to Jupiter and Juno, and black ones to Pluto and Poserpine, as Horace says: Quaeque vos bobus veneratur albis.
Sheep and goats were also sacrificed on these occasions, as may be remarked on other second brass coins of Domitian, which bear equally specific reference to the secular games.
On a first brass of the same emperor, we see a river personified in a recumbent posture, and holding a cornucopiae.
This river, says Eckhel, is the Tiber; for, according to the laws of these games, as Zosimus instructs us, the victims were immolated on the bank of the Tibar, near the Campus Martius, at the spot called Terentum.
On a first brass of Domitian the emperor appears clothed in the toga, and holding a volumen, or roll of papyrus, in his left hand; behind him is another togated man; whilst near himis a procession of three young persons, whose hands are raised, and who hold palm branches.
This type has relation to the 27 boys and the 27 girls, who (ambos parentes adhuc superstites habent) had both parents still surviving, and who chanted hymns in Latin and Greek.
Horace illustrates this custom thus in his Carm. Sac.:
Condiito mitis, placidusque telo
Supplices audi pueros, Apollo;
Siderum regina bicornis audi
And Catullus still more pointedly:
On a first brass also of Domitian, which on its obverse bears his laureated head, with the newly assumed title of CEN PER, and which on the reverse is notified as having been struck in the 14th Consulate (COS XIIII).