(86) Domitian - AE sestertius, A.D. 85, 28.20 g. (inv. 91.154).
Obverse: Laureate bust of Domitian with aegis r.; IMP(ERTAOR) CAES(AR) DOMIT(IANVS) AVG(VSTVS) GERM(ANICVS) CO(N)S(VL) XI CENS(ORIA) POT(ESTATE) P(ATER) P(ATRIAE): Imperator Caesar Domitianus Augustus Germanicus, consul for the eleventh time, with the power of the censorship, father of the country.
Reverse: Domitian, draped and veiled, standing l. with patera in r., sacrificing over altar; behind, shrine with statue of Minerva; S(ENATVS)-C(ONSVLTO): by decree of the Senate.
Provenance: Coin Galleries, 1959.
Bibliography: H. Mattingly and E.A. Sydenham, The Roman Imperial Coinage II: Vespasian to Hadrian (London 1926) 283.

Domitian's devotion to the goddess Minerva is expressed at its fullest on the reverse of this sestertius of A.D. 85 (see also no. 85). Domitian himself, veiled in the manner of a priest, pours from a patera or offering bowl onto a lighted altar. In the background is a small open shrine and in it a statue of the goddess holding her spear and one of her attributes, an owl. The name Germanicus, acquired as a result of his defeat of the Chatti in Germany in the previous year, suggests that the offering is in gratitude for his military success.

In the portrait on the obverse, Domitian wears an aegis, a shawl-like garment that is a regular attribute of Minerva. It is sometimes also worn by emperors, especially those like Domitian who are particularly associated with the goddess.


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