Ancient Rome (Imperial) 95 AD Domitian Silver Denarius Minerva RIC II 771 Extremely Fine
Obverse: Laureate bust of Domitian to right, legend around. Legend: IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM P M TR P VII
Reverse: Minerva standing right on top of rostral column, holding spear and shield; owl aside. Legend: IMP XXII COS XVII CENS P P P
Reference Numbers: RIC II 771
Diameter: 19.15mm Weight:3.33g Metal: Silver
Condition: Extremely Fine
Fantastic fine detail evident.
“Domitian had this worst quality of all, that he desired to be flattered, and was equally displeased with both sorts of men, those who paid court to him and those who did not - with the former because they seemed to be flattering him and the latter because they seemed to despise him.” Cassius Dio, LXVII.4
Titus Flavius Domitianus was born at Rome on October 24th, 51 AD. His father Vespasian was emperor of Rome between 69AD and 79AD - when his father assumed control of Rome, Domitian was loaded with honours, but enjoyed little real power. Domitian's brother Titus became emperor following the death of Vespasian, however despite that accession, Domitian remained effectively excluded from the centre of Rome's power. Domitian himself became emperor after his brother Titus died from a fever in 81AD.
Domitian quickly consolidated power once he became emperor, which set himself at odds with the Senate. He became personally involved in all branches of the administration, senators he deemed unworthy were expelled from the Senate, and he is said to have micro-managed the Roman economy. Although he endeavoured to act with moderation and justice in the early years of his reign, his deepening suspicion and insecurity eventually drove him to extreme cruelty - executing and exiling senators, knights and imperial officials.
It was in this atmosphere of terror that a conspiracy against him was hatched - his own personal attendants felt driven to murder him out of fear for their own safety, and they soon hacked him to death. Mourned only by the army, his death was met with indifference from the people, and joy from the senate.
The Goddess Minerva
This coin was struck in 88AD, the year in which Domitian chose Minerva as a primary reverse type on his coinage, Minerva being the goddess that Domitian most revered. Minerva was the Roman goddess of wisdom, arts, trade, and strategy. Not only did Domitian had a shrine to Minerva in his bedroom, his reverence of this deity can be seen in the frequency with which she featured on the reverse of his coins - of the 322 denarii listed for Domitian in Roman Imperial Coinage, 318 of those feature Minerva on the reverse.95 AD was far towards the end of Domitian's controversial reign, a time when his paranoia was in full voice. This was the year in which Domitian had his cousin killed and his niece banished - Suetonius that twelve former consuls were executed, in addition to a number of senators and imperial officials who opposed his policies.
This particular example is sharply struck both sides, well centred, and has an attractive patina.
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