1st Century Rome (12th Caesar): Domitian gold Aureus, c.81-96 AD, NGC XF



Domitian (AD 81-96). AV aureus (7.65 gm). Struck at the Rome mint, circa AD 81-82. The obverse features IMP CAES DOMITIANVS AVG GERMANIC, with the laureated head of Domitian facing right /PM TR POT III IMP  VCOS *P P, with Minerva advancing right in a fighting stance, holding a spear and shield. Quite similar to RIC 97 (R2). Calicó Unlisted. This is an extremely rare type, with only one other example recorded in RIC, ex. Naville 2, 1922, lot 572. NGC XF with a 5/5 Strike and a 4/5 Surface quality.

Domitian (Titus Flavius Caesar Domitianus Augustus), 24 October 51–18 September 96, was emperor from 81 to 96. The younger brother of Titus and son of Vespasian, who both preceded him on the throne, Domitian was the last member of the Flavian dynasty. While his father served as emperor, Domitian was given titles and honors, but never wanted any responsibility and was therefore given little by either his father or brother, which was poor preparation for a future emperor. He was declared emperor by the praetorian guard after the death of his brother Titus. His 15-year reign was the longest since that of Tiberius. Domitian was an able administrator and provided for the welfare of the people. Much of Rome needed rebuilding. Domitian restored the gutted ruins of many public buildings. He built a new temple to Jupiter the Guardian, a new stadium, and a concert hall for both poets and musicians. He attempted to raise standards of public morality despite his own lack of morals. He forbid male castration, admonishing senators who were gay, and censored the Vestal Virgins for incest, among other indiscretions. He enjoyed games, especially chariot races. His favorite public entertainment included those that featured dwarves and women. There were also wild beast hunts and gladiatorial battles, as well as fights to the death between infantry and cavalry.

Greed and fear of assassination made him cruel. He was secretive and treacherous, and felt no affection for anyone except women. Domitian was both bold and quick to be angered, and was extremely vain and quite self-conscience of his being bald. The longer he was in power, and the more pressures of ruling grew, the more paranoid he became. He was paranoid about his wife, Domitia Longina, and accused her of adultery. He had planned to have her executed, but let her live with his niece. Eventually he calmed down and went back to her. Domitian perceived himself as an absolute ruler and enjoyed being called master or god: “dominus et deus.” He renamed two month after himself: Germanicus (September) and Domitianus (October). He stripped the senate of most of its power, and his paranoia led to the execution of senators and imperial officers for the slightest of offences. A plot developed to kill Domitian. He was hacked to death in his bedroom. He was only 44 years old.