Description

    Domitian Aureus, Ex Huntingon Collection

    Domitian (AD 81-96). AV aureus (20mm, 7.54 gm, 6h). Rome, AD 90-91. DOMITIANVS AVGVSTVS,  laureate head of Domitian right / GERMANICVS COS XV, Germania, nude to the waist, seated right on hexagonal shield, in attitude of mourning; below, broken spear. RIC 699. Calic√≥ 846. Cohen 156. BMCRE 174. Rare. With an attractive portrait in high relief. Nearly Extremely Fine / Good Very Fine.

    Ex Archer M. Huntington / American Hispanic Society Collection (Sotheby's New York, 8 March 2012, part of). 

    Domitian's campaigns against the German tribes, chiefly the Chatti, are often derided by ancient sources as ham-fisted glory-hounding that produced no lasting benefit to the Roman Empire. However Roman historians were uniformly hostile to Domitian and a fair assessment confirms that Roman control over the border region known as the Agri Decumates, now in Southwest Germany, was solidified during Domitian's reign, partially as a consequence of his exploits. Needing some military credentials, the newly crowned Domitian launched a surprise attack on the Chatti in AD 82-83; a new legion, I Minervia, was raised for the purpose and Domitian ordered roads built in Chattian territory to speed military movements through the occupied lands. Domitian celebrated a Triumph and took the title Germanicus at the end of AD 83. The Chatti were not subdued, however, and six years later they joined in the revolt of Lucius Antonius Saturninus, governor of Upper Germany, in January of AD 89. A fortuitous early thaw of the Rhine river prevented the Chatti from crossing to aid Saturninus, and the rebellion was quickly quelled by loyal legions by the end of January. This gold aureus, issued the following year, depicting Germania as a mourning woman seated atop a German shield and broken spear, portrays the crushing of Saturninus as a victory against a bellicose foreign power. As usual with Domitian, the truth is rather more complicated than his regime's public face. 


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    April, 2013
    18th-23rd Thursday-Tuesday
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