81-AD DOMITIAN AUREUS 12 CAESAR GOLD
NGC XF 5/4Domitian has gone down in history as a depraved tyrant, but he was certainly not a madman like Caligula, nor was he an incompetent dilettante like Nero. As a young man, Domitian was largely overshadowed by his older brother Titus, a situation that probably shaped his dour, resentful character.
Domitian was the last of the Flavian Emperors. He wasted no time in seizing power as the third emperor of the Flavian dynasty. He soon proved a conscientious, detail-oriented administrator who kept a firm hand on all facets of government. He restored the economy by revaluing Roman coinage, rebuilding the city of Rome, and fortifying the border defenses of the Empire. He felt immense envy towards his older brother, Titus, and had a great desire to conquer Germany in an effort to achieve military fame, as in the end Titus had received all the glory for the successes in Judea.
Domitian became deeply paranoid after learning of an astrological prediction about his death at "approximately noon," and would become extremely reclusive around this time each day. Even Domitian's wife came to fear for her life, and she encouraged the emperor's personal attendants to plot against him, leading to his murder in AD 96. He is said to have had a dream just days before his assassination in which the goddess Minerva came to him and told him she could no longer protect him.
Of all the "Twelve Caesars" coinage, those of Domitian are the most readily available, however, nice examples of his gold coins are surprisingly hard to find. This stunning gold aureus, struck while he was Caesar under Vespasian, sports a robust portrait in high Flavian style (during his sole reign, he revised coin portraits to show himself in a slimmed-down, more flattering light). The reverse type is copied from the coinage of Augustus (RIC 288). It reflects the dynasty's policy of promoting the cult of the first emperor and also subtly alludes to Vespasian's victories in the East. This historic gold coin of the 12 Caesars is graded NGC XF Strike; 5/5, Surface 4/5.