(date) across field, S C in exergue. A peculiar issue imitating Roman ases but with legends in Latin and Greek. 307 notes: Some theories suggest that these coins were minted in Rome, others suggest that the dies were made there or locally by Roman artisans and struck at Caesarea Maritima. Domitian (Latin: Titus Flavius Caesar Domitianus Augustus ; 24 October 51 - 18 September 96) was Roman Emperor from 81 to 96. Domitian was the third and last emperor of the Flavian dynasty.
Domitian's youth and early career were largely spent in the shadow of his brother Titus, who gained military renown during the First Jewish-Roman War. This situation continued under the rule of his father Vespasian, who became emperor in 69 following the civil war known as the Year of the Four Emperors. While Titus held a great many offices under the rule of his father, Domitian was left with honours but no responsibilities.Vespasian died in 79 and was succeeded by Titus, whose own reign came to an unexpected end when he was struck by a fatal illness in 81. The following day Domitian was declared Emperor by the Praetorian Guard, commencing a reign which lasted fifteen years - longer than any man who had ruled since Tiberius. As Emperor, Domitian strengthened the economy by revaluing the Roman coinage, expanded the border defenses of the Empire, and initiated a massive building program to restore the damaged city of Rome. Significant wars were fought in Britain, where his general Agricola attempted to conquer Caledonia (Scotland), and in Dacia, where Domitian was unable to procure a decisive victory against king Decebalus.
Domitian's government exhibited totalitarian characteristics; he saw himself as the new Augustus, an enlightened despot destined to guide the Roman Empire into a new era of brilliance. Religious, military, and cultural propaganda fostered a cult of personality, and by nominating himself perpetual censor, he sought to control public and private morals. As a consequence, Domitian was popular with the people and army but considered a tyrant by members of the Roman Senate.According to Suetonius, he was the first Roman Emperor who had demanded to be addressed as dominus et deus (master and god). Domitian's reign came to an end in 96 when he was assassinated by court officials.
The same day he was succeeded by his advisor Nerva. After his death, Domitian's memory was condemned to oblivion by the Roman Senate, while senatorial authors such as Tacitus, Pliny the Younger and Suetonius published histories propagating the view of Domitian as a cruel and paranoid tyrant. Modern history has rejected these views, instead characterising Domitian as a ruthless but efficient autocrat, whose cultural, economic and political program provided the foundation of the peaceful 2nd century.
On 9 June 68, amidst growing opposition of the Senate and the army, Nero committed suicide, and with him the Julio-Claudian dynasty came to an end. Chaos ensued, leading to a year of brutal civil war known as the Year of the Four Emperors, during which the four most influential generals in the Roman Empire-Galba, Otho, Vitellius and Vespasian-successively vied for imperial power. News of Nero's death reached Vespasian as he was preparing to besiege the city of Jerusalem. Almost simultaneously the Senate had declared Galba, then governor of Hispania Tarraconensis (modern Spain), as Emperor of Rome.
Rather than continue his campaign, Vespasian decided to await further orders and send Titus to greet the new Emperor. Before reaching Italy, Titus learnt that Galba had been murdered and replaced by Otho, the governor of Lusitania (modern Portugal). At the same time Vitellius and his armies in Germania had risen in revolt, and prepared to march on Rome, intent on overthrowing Otho. Not wanting to risk being taken hostage by one side or the other, Titus abandoned the journey to Rome and rejoined his father in Judaea.Otho and Vitellius realised the potential threat posed by the Flavian faction. With four legions at his disposal, Vespasian commanded a strength of nearly 80,000 soldiers. His position in Judaea further granted him the advantage of being nearest to the vital province of Egypt, which controlled the grain supply to Rome. His brother Titus Flavius Sabinus II, as city prefect, commanded the entire city garrison of Rome. Tensions among the Flavian troops ran high, but so long as either Galba or Otho remained in power, Vespasian refused to take action. When Otho was defeated by Vitellius at the First Battle of Bedriacum, the armies in Judaea and Egypt took matters into their own hands and declared Vespasian emperor on 1 July 69. Vespasian accepted, and entered an alliance with Gaius Licinius Mucianus, the governor of Syria, against Vitellius.
A strong force drawn from the Judaean and Syrian legions marched on Rome under the command of Mucianus, while Vespasian himself travelled to Alexandria, leaving Titus in charge of ending the Jewish rebellion. In Rome meanwhile, Domitian was placed under house arrest by Vitellius, as a safeguard against future Flavian aggression.Support for the old emperor was waning however, as more legions throughout the empire pledged their allegiance to Vespasian. On 24 October 69 the forces of Vitellius and Vespasian clashed at the Second Battle of Bedriacum, which ended in a crushing defeat for the armies of Vitellius. In despair, he attempted to negotiate a surrender. Terms of peace, including a voluntary abdication, were agreed upon with Titus Flavius Sabinus II, but the soldiers of the Praetorian Guard-the imperial bodyguard-considered such a resignation disgraceful, and prevented Vitellius from carrying out the treaty. On the morning of 18 December, the emperor appeared to deposit the imperial insignia at the Temple of Concord, but at the last minute retraced his steps to the Imperial palace.
In the confusion, the leading men of the state gathered at Sabinus' house, proclaiming Vespasian as Emperor, but the multitude dispersed when Vitellian cohorts clashed with the armed escort of Sabinus, who was forced to retreat to the Capitoline Hill. During the night, he was joined by his relatives, including Domitian. The armies of Mucianus were nearing Rome, but the besieged Flavian party did not hold out for longer than a day.
On 19 December, Vitellianists burst onto the Capitol, and in the resulting skirmish, Sabinus was captured and executed. Domitian himself managed to escape by disguising himself as a worshipper of Isis, and spent the night in safety with one of his father's supporters. By the afternoon of 20 December Vitellius was dead, his armies having been defeated by the Flavian legions.With nothing more to be feared from the enemy, Domitian came forward to meet the invading forces; he was universally saluted by the title of Caesar, and the mass of troops conducted him to his father's house. The following day, 21 December, the Senate proclaimed Vespasian emperor of the Roman Empire. Although the war had officially ended, a state of anarchy and lawlessness pervaded in the first days following the demise of Vitellius.
Order was properly restored by Mucianus in early 70 but Vespasian did not enter Rome until September of that year. In the meantime, Domitian acted as the representative of the Flavian family in the Roman Senate. He received the title of Caesar and was appointed praetor with consular power.The ancient historian Tacitus describes Domitian's first speech in the Senate as brief and measured, at the same time noting his ability to elude awkward questions. Domitian's authority was merely nominal, however, foreshadowing what was to be his role for at least ten more years. By all accounts, Mucianus held the real power in Vespasian's absence and he was careful to ensure that Domitian, still only eighteen years old, did not overstep the boundaries of his function. Strict control was also maintained over the young Caesar's entourage, promoting away Flavian generals such as Arrius Varus and Antonius Primus and replacing them by more reliable men such as Arrecinus Clemens. Equally curtailed by Mucianus were Domitian's military ambitions. The civil war of 69 had severely destabilized the provinces, leading to several local uprisings such as the Batavian revolt in Gaul. Batavian auxiliaries of the Rhine legions, led by Gaius Julius Civilis, had rebelled with the aid of a faction of Treveri under the command of Julius Classicus. Seven legions were sent from Rome, led by Vespasian's brother-in-law Quintus Petillius Cerialis. Although the revolt was quickly suppressed, exaggerated reports of disaster prompted Mucianus to depart the capital with reinforcements of his own. Domitian eagerly sought the opportunity to attain military glory and joined the other officers with the intention of commanding a legion of his own.
According to Tacitus, Mucianus was not keen on this prospect but since he considered Domitian a liability in any capacity that was entrusted to him, he preferred to keep him close at hand rather than in Rome. When news arrived of Cerialis' victory over Civilis, Mucianus tactfully dissuaded Domitian from pursuing further military endeavours.Domitian then wrote to Cerialis personally, suggesting he hand over command of his army but, once again, he was snubbed. With the return of Vespasian in late September, his political role was rendered all but obsolete and Domitian withdrew from government devoting his time to arts and literature. Roman imperial dynasties Flavian dynasty Chronology Vespasian 69 AD - 79 AD Titus 79 AD - 81 AD Domitian 81 AD - 96 AD Family Gens Flavia Flavian tree Category:Flavian dynasty Succession Preceded by Year of the Four Emperors Followed by Nerva-Antonine dynasty. As Emperor, Domitian quickly dispensed with the republican facade his father and brother had maintained during their reign. By moving the centre of government (more or less formally) to the imperial court, Domitian openly rendered the Senate's powers obsolete. In his view, the Roman Empire was to be governed as a divine monarchy with himself as the benevolent despot at its head. In addition to exercising absolute political power, Domitian believed the Emperor's role encompassed every aspect of daily life, guiding the Roman people as a cultural and moral authority.
To usher in the new era, he embarked on ambitious economic, military and cultural programs with the intention of restoring the Empire to the splendour it had seen under the Emperor Augustus. Despite these grand designs Domitian was determined to govern the Empire conscientiously and scrupulously. He became personally involved in all branches of the administration: edicts were issued governing the smallest details of everyday life and law, while taxation and public morals were rigidly enforced. According to Suetonius, the imperial bureaucracy never ran more efficiently than under Domitian, whose exacting standards and suspicious nature maintained historically low corruption among provincial governors and elected officials.
Although he made no pretence regarding the significance of the Senate under his absolute rule, those senators he deemed unworthy were expelled from the Senate, and in the distribution of public offices he rarely favoured family members; a policy which stood in contrast to the nepotism practiced by Vespasian and Titus. Above all, however, Domitian valued loyalty and malleability in those he assigned to strategic posts, qualities he found more often in men of the equestrian order than in members of the Senate or his own family, whom he regarded with suspicion, and promptly removed from office if they disagreed with imperial policy. The reality of Domitian's autocracy was further highlighted by the fact that, more than any emperor since Tiberius, he spent significant periods of time away from the capital. Although the Senate's power had been in decline since the fall of the Republic, under Domitian the seat of power was no longer even in Rome, but rather wherever the Emperor was. Until the completion of the Flavian Palace on the Palatine Hill, the imperial court was situated at Alba or Circeo, and sometimes even farther afield.
Domitian toured the European provinces extensively, and spent at least three years of his reign in Germania and Illyricum, conducting military campaigns on the frontiers of the Empire. One of the most detailed reports of military activity under the Flavian dynasty was written by Tacitus, whose biography of his father-in-law Gnaeus Julius Agricola largely concerns the conquest of Britain between 77 and 84.
77 as governor of Roman Britain, immediately launching campaigns into Caledonia (modern day Scotland). In 82 Agricola crossed an unidentified body of water and defeated peoples unknown to the Romans until then. He fortified the coast facing Ireland, and Tacitus recalls that his father-in-law often claimed the island could be conquered with a single legion and a few auxiliaries. He had given refuge to an exiled Irish king whom he hoped he might use as the excuse for conquest. This conquest never happened, but some historians believe that the crossing referred to was in fact a small-scale exploratory or punitive expedition to Ireland.
Turning his attention from Ireland, the following year Agricola raised a fleet and pushed beyond the Forth into Caledonia. To aid the advance, a large legionary fortress was constructed at Inchtuthil. In the summer of 84, Agricola faced the armies of the Caledonians, led by Calgacus, at the Battle of Mons Graupius. Although the Romans inflicted heavy losses on the enemy, two-thirds of the Caledonian army escaped and hid in the Scottish marshes and Highlands, ultimately preventing Agricola from bringing the entire British island under his control.
In 85, Agricola was recalled to Rome by Domitian, having served for more than six years as governor, longer than normal for consular legates during the Flavian era. Tacitus claims that Domitian ordered his recall because Agricola's successes outshone the Emperor's own modest victories in Germania. The relationship between Agricola and the Emperor is unclear: on the one hand, Agricola was awarded triumphal decorations and a statue, on the other, Agricola never again held a civil or military post in spite of his experience and renown. He was offered the governorship of the province of Africa, but declined it, either due to ill health or, as Tacitus claims, the machinations of Domitian.
Not long after Agricola's recall from Britain, the Roman Empire entered into war with the Kingdom of Dacia in the East. Reinforcements were needed, and in 87 or 88, Domitian ordered a large-scale strategic withdrawal of troops in the British province. The fortress at Inchtuthil was dismantled and the Caledonian forts and watchtowers abandoned, moving the Roman frontier some 120 kilometres (75 mi) further south. The army command may have resented Domitian's decision to retreat, but to him the Caledonian territories never represented anything more than a loss to the Roman treasury. The most significant threat the Roman Empire faced during the reign of Domitian arose from the northern provinces of Illyricum, where the Suebi, the Sarmatians and the Dacians continuously harassed Roman settlements along the Danube river.
Of these, the Sarmatians and the Dacians posed the most formidable threat. In approximately 84 or 85 the Dacians, led by King Decebalus, crossed the Danube into the province of Moesia, wreaking havoc and killing the Moesian governor Oppius Sabinus.Domitian quickly launched a counteroffensive, personally travelling to the region accompanied by a large force commanded by his praetorian prefect Cornelius Fuscus. Fuscus successfully drove the Dacians back across the border in mid-85, prompting Domitian to return to Rome and celebrate his second triumph. The victory proved short-lived, however: as early in 86 Fuscus embarked on an ill-fated expedition into Dacia which resulted in the complete destruction of the fifth legion, Legio V Alaudae, in the First Battle of Tapae.
Fuscus was killed, and the battle standard of the Praetorian Guard was lost. The loss of the battle standard, or aquila, was indicative of a crushing defeat and a serious affront to Roman national pride. He divided the province into Lower Moesia and Upper Moesia, and transferred three additional legions to the Danube. In 87, the Romans invaded Dacia once more, this time under the command of Tettius Julianus, and finally defeated Decebalus in late 88 at the same site where Fuscus had previously perished.An attack on the Dacian capital Sarmizegetusa was forestalled when new troubles arose on the German frontier in 89. In order to avert having to conduct a war on two fronts, Domitian agreed to terms of peace with Decebalus, negotiating free access of Roman troops through the Dacian region while granting Decebalus an annual subsidy of 8 million sesterces.
Contemporary authors severely criticised this treaty, which was considered shameful to the Romans and left the deaths of Sabinus and Fuscus unavenged. Domitian probably wanted a new war against the Dacians, and reinforced Upper Moesia with two more cavalry units brought from Syria and with at least five cohorts brought from Pannonia. Trajan continued Domitian's policy and added two more units to the auxiliary forces of Upper Moesia, and then he used the build up of troops for his Dacian wars.Eventually the Romans achieved a decisive victory against Decebalus in 106. Again, the Roman army sustained heavy losses, but Trajan succeeded in capturing Sarmizegetusa and, importantly, annexed the Dacian gold and silver mines. In order to justify the divine nature of the Flavian rule, Domitian emphasized connections with the chief deity Jupiter, perhaps most significantly through the impressive restoration of the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill. A small chapel dedicated to Jupiter Conservator was also constructed near the house where Domitian had fled to safety on 20 December, 69. Later in his reign, he replaced it with a more expansive building, dedicated to Jupiter Custos. The goddess he worshipped the most zealously however was Minerva. Not only did he keep a personal shrine dedicated to her in his bedroom, she regularly appeared on his coinage-in four different attested reverse types-and he founded a legion, Legio I Minervia, in her name. Domitian also revived the practice of the imperial cult, which had fallen somewhat out of use under Vespasian.
Significantly, his first act as an Emperor was the deification of his brother Titus. Upon their deaths, his infant son, and niece, Julia Flavia, were likewise enrolled among the gods. With regards to the emperor himself as a religious figure, both Suetonius and Cassius Dio allege that Domitian officially gave himself the title of Dominus et Deus.
However, not only did he reject the title of Dominus during his reign, but since he issued no official documentation or coinage to this effect, historians such as Brian Jones contend that such phrases were addressed to Domitian by flatterers who wished to earn favors from the emperor. To foster the worship of the imperial family, he erected a dynastic mausoleum on the site of Vespasian's former house on the Quirinal, and completed the Temple of Vespasian and Titus, a shrine dedicated to the worship of his deified father and brother. To memorialize the military triumphs of the Flavian family, he ordered the construction of the Templum Divorum and the Templum Fortuna Redux, and completed the Arch of Titus.Construction projects such as these constituted only the most visible part of Domitian's religious policy, which also concerned itself with the fulfilment of religious law and public morals. In 85, he nominated himself perpetual censor, the office which held the task of supervising Roman morals and conduct. Once again, Domitian acquitted himself of this task dutifully, and with care. He renewed the Lex Iulia de Adulteriis Coercendis, under which adultery was punishable by exile. From the list of jurors he struck an equestrian who had divorced his wife and taken her back, while an ex-quaestor was expelled from the Senate for acting and dancing. Domitian also heavily prosecuted corruption among public officials, removing jurors if they accepted bribes and rescinding legislation when a conflict of interest was suspected. He ensured that libellous writings, especially those directed against himself, were punishable by exile or death.
Actors were likewise regarded with suspicion, as their performances provided an opportunity for satire at the expense of the government. Consequently, he forbade mimes from appearing on stage in public. In 87, Vestal Virgins were found to have broken their sacred vows of lifelong public chastity.As the Vestals were regarded as daughters of the community, this offence essentially constituted incest. Accordingly, those found guilty of any such transgression were condemned to death, either by a manner of their choosing, or according to the ancient fashion, which dictated that Vestals should be buried alive.
Foreign religions were tolerated insofar as they did not interfere with public order, or could be assimilated with the traditional Roman religion. The worship of Egyptian deities in particular flourished under the Flavian dynasty, to an extent not seen again until the reign of Commodus.
Veneration of Serapis and Isis, who were identified with Jupiter and Minerva respectively, was especially prominent. 4th century writings by Eusebius of Caesarea maintains that Jews and Christians were heavily persecuted toward the end of Domitian's reign. The Book of Revelation is thought by some to have been written during this period. Although Jews were heavily taxed, no contemporary authors mention trials or executions based on religious offenses other than those within the Roman religion. Domitian was murdered on 18 September 96, in a palace conspiracy organized by court officials.
A highly detailed account of the plot and the assassination is provided by Suetonius, who alleges that Domitian's chamberlain Parthenius was the chief instigator behind the conspiracy, citing the recent execution of Domitian's secretary Epaphroditus as the primary motive. The murder itself was carried out by a freedman of Parthenius named Maximus, and a steward of Domitian's niece Flavia Domitilla, named Stephanus. The precise involvement of the Praetorian Guard is less clear.
At the time the Guard was commanded by Titus Flavius Norbanus and Titus Petronius Secundus and the latter was almost certainly aware of the plot. Cassius Dio, writing nearly a hundred years after the assassination, includes Domitia Longina among the conspirators, but in light of her attested devotion to Domitian-even years after her husband had died-her involvement in the plot seems highly unlikely. Dio further suggests that the assassination was improvised, while Suetonius implies a well organised conspiracy. For some days before the attack took place, Stephanus feigned an injury so as to be able to conceal a dagger beneath his bandages.On the day of the assassination the doors to the servants' quarters were locked while Domitian's personal weapon of last resort, a sword he concealed beneath his pillow, had been removed in advance. In accordance with an astrological prediction the Emperor believed that he would die around noon, and was therefore restless during this time of the day. On his last day, Domitian was feeling disturbed and asked a servant several times what time it was.
The boy, included in the plot, lied, saying that it was much later than noon. More at ease, the Emperor went to his desk to sign some decrees, where he was suddenly approached by Stephanus. Then pretending to betray a conspiracy and for that reason being given an audience, [Stephanus] stabbed the emperor in the groin as he was reading a paper which the assassin handed him, and stood in a state of amazement.
As the wounded prince attempted to resist, he was slain with seven wounds by Clodianus, a subaltern, Maximus, a freedman of Parthenius, Satur, decurion of the chamberlains, and a gladiator from the imperial school. Suetonius, De Vita Caesarum, "Life of Domitian". Domitian and Stephanus wrestled on the ground for some time, until the Emperor was finally overpowered and fatally stabbed by the conspirators. Around noon Domitian, just one month short of his 45th birthday, was dead.His body was carried away on a common bier, and unceremoniously cremated by his nurse Phyllis, who later mingled the ashes with those of his niece Julia, at the Flavian temple. According to Suetonius, a number of omens had foretold Domitian's death. Several days prior to the assassination, Minerva had appeared to him in a dream, announcing she had been disarmed by Jupiter, and would no longer be able to protect him. World-renowned expert numismatist, enthusiast, author and dealer in authentic ancient Greek, ancient Roman, ancient Byzantine, world coins & more. Ilya Zlobin is an independent individual who has a passion for coin collecting, research and understanding the importance of the historical context and significance all coins and objects represent. Send me a message about this and I can update your invoice should you want this method. Getting your order to you, quickly and securely is a top priority and is taken seriously here. Great care is taken in packaging and mailing every item securely and quickly.
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