(85) Domitian - AV aureus, A.D. 85, 7.73 g. (inv. 91.152).
Obverse: Laureate head of Domitian r.; IMP(ERATOR) CAES(AR) DOMITIANVS AVG(VSTVS) GERMANIC(VS): Imperator Caesar Domitianus Augustus Germanicus.
Reverse: Minerva advancing r., with spear raised in r. and shield in l.; P(ONTIFEX) M(AXIMVS) TR(IBVNICIA) POT(ESTATE) IIII IMP(ERATOR) VIII CO(N)S(VL) XI P(ATER) P(ATRIAE): Pontifex maximus, with tribunician power for the fourth time, imperator for the eighth time, consul for the eleventh time, father of the country.
Provenance: L.S. Werner, 1959.
Bibliography: H. Mattingly and E.A. Sydenham, The Roman Imperial Coinage II: Vespasian to Hadrian (London 1926) 52.

Domitian (T. Flavius Domitianus), the second son of the emperor Vespasian, succeeded his brother Titus in A.D. 81. Although he was a successful military leader and a prolific builder, he depleted the treasury with his extravagances, and he was an autocratic megalomaniac not unlike Nero, inspiring numerous conspiracies before the successful plot to murder him in A.D. 96. The unusual accumulation of titles on his coins is characteristic of his insistence upon extraordinary honors and prerogatives.

Domitian regarded Minerva as his patron goddess, and she appears very frequently on the reverses of his coins (see also no. 86). He built a temple dedicated to her, she was featured on a number of monuments of his reign, and he was even said to have kept a shrine to her in his bedroom. On the reverse of this aureus she appears in her role as war goddess, wearing her aegis and helmet and advancing on her invisible foe with spear and shield raised.

Domitian's portraits continue in the same realistic vein as those of his father and brother. He shares their characteristic hooked nose, but he is distinguished from them by his relative youth and leanness and by his protruding upper lip.


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