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Aureus of Domitian

  • Object:

    Coin

  • Place of origin:

    Roman Empire (made)

  • Date:

    81 AD (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gold

  • Museum number:

    A.679-1910

  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 8, The William and Eileen Ruddock Gallery, case 13

This is an ancient Roman coin, an aureus of Domitian. On one side is the Emperor Flavius Domitianus, also known as Domitian. Domitian seems to have been a sound and respected ruler whose main interest was preserving order in the Empire. However, he had many enemies amongst Rome's senatorial class, possibly because he appointed persons from the lower classes to positions of authority. In 96 A.D. he was stabbed to death in a plot, allegedly involving his wife Domitia. On the other side of the coin is Domitia. Domitia Longina was the daughter of the famous general Cnaeus Domitius Corbulo and was taken from her husband and married to Domitian in 70 A.D. In 83 A.D. She was exiled for her affair with the actor Paris. But Domitian apparently then forgave her, as ancient sources indicate her as a part of the plot that ended the emperor's life. She died in the reign of Trajan or Antoninus Pius.
The aureus was an ancient Roman gold coin, issued from around the 1st century BC up to the 4th century AD. One aureus was worth 25 silver deinarii. The denarius was a small silver coin and the principal silver coin issued in the ancient Roman currency system from the late 3rd century BC until the early 3rd century AD.
The coins bequeathed to the V&A by George Salting include examples of silver coins from Syracuse of the 4th century BC, a set of gold imperial coins of Rome, and some fine specimens of bronze denarii of the Roman Empire.

Physical description

Obverse: Inscription. Head of Domitian laureate. Border of dots.
Reverse: Inscription. Head of Domitian to right, border of dots.

Place of Origin

Roman Empire (made)

Date

81 AD (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Gold

Marks and inscriptions

'IMP CAES DOMITIANVS AVG P M'
obverse

'DOMITIA AVGVSTA IMP . DOMIT'
reverse

Dimensions

Diameter: 1.90 cm, Weight: 7.71 g

Object history note

From the Salting bequest.

Historical context note

On one side of this Roman coin is the Emperor Flavius Domitianus, also known as Domitian. Domitian seems to have been a sound and respected ruler whose main interest was preserving order in the Empire. However, he had many enemies amongst Rome's senatorial class, possibly because he appointed persons from the lower classes to positions of authority. In 96 A.D. he was stabbed to death in a plot, allegedly involving his wife Domitia.

On the other side of the coin is Domitia. Domitia Longina was the daughter of the famous general Cnaeus Domitius Corbulo and was taken from her husband and married to Domitian in 70 A.D. In 83 A.D. She was exiled for her affair with the actor Paris. But Domitian apparently then forgave her, as ancient sources indicate her as a part of the plot that ended the emperor's life. She died in the reign of Trajan or Antoninus Pius

Descriptive line

Coin, aureus of Domitian, gold, Emperor Domitian and his wife Domitia, Roman, 81 AD

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

'Salting Bequest (A. 70 to A. 1029-1910) / Murray Bequest (A. 1030 to A. 1096-1910)'. In: List of Works of Art Acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum (Department of Architecture and Sculpture). London: Printed under the Authority of his Majesty's Stationery Office, by Eyre and Spottiswoode, Limited, East Harding Street, EC, p. 111

Materials

Gold

Techniques

Striking (metal-working)

Subjects depicted

Emperors

Categories

Coins & Medals; Portraits; Sculpture

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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