(84) Titus - AE sestertius, A.D. 80, 21.83 g. (inv. 93.023).
Obverse: Titus seated l. amid arms, holding branch in r.; S(ENATVS)- C(ONSVLTO): by decree of the Senate; IMP(ERATOR) T(ITVS) CAES(AR) VESP(ASIANVS) AVG(VSTVS) P(ONTIFEX) M(AXIMVS) TR(IBVNICIA) P(OTESTATE) P(ATER) P(ATRIAE) CO(N)S(VL) VIII: Imperator Titus Caesar Vespasianus Augustus, pontifex maximus, with tribunician power, father of the country, consul for the eighth time.
Reverse: The Flavian Amphitheater.
Provenance: Harlan Berk, 1993.
Bibliography: H. Mattingly and E.A. Sydenham, The Roman Imperial Coinage II: Vespasian to Hadrian (London 1926) 110; P.V. Hill, The Monuments of Ancient Rome as Coin Types (London 1989).
The most well-known landmark in Rome, the Flavian Amphitheater, better known by its medieval name, the Colosseum, was begun by Vespasian in A.D. 71 on land reclaimed for the people from an artificial lake in the gardens of Nero's Golden House. Work on it was continued by Titus, who dedicated it in A.D. 80 with opening games lasting 100 days. The largest amphitheater in antiquity, it could hold 50,000 spectators and was used for the most popular types of entertainment at the time, beast fights and gladiatorial contests. The bird's-eye view of the Colosseum on the reverse of this sestertius of Titus, issued to celebrate the opening, shows the amphitheater packed with people. To the left is the tall, conical fountain known as the Meta Sudans, which stood in the vicinity.
Titus seated amid captured arms, a general reference to his successful military campaigns, replaces the usual portrait head or bust on the obverse.
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