85 A.D. Roman Empire Silver Denarius, Emperor Domitian

85 A.D. Roman Empire Silver Denarius, Emperor Domitian. Light wear and a strong strike, though slightly off-center. Multicolored rim toning. 18mm diameter, 3.3g weight, silver.

One of a small number of emperors whose memories were officially condemned by the Senate through the process of damnatio memoriae, Domitian’s reign was marked by controversy.

The second son of the Emperor Vespasian, Domitian succeeded his brother Titus as emperor following Titus' death by illness. Domitian disdained the Senate during his time in office, choosing to disregard even their traditional honorary role in governmental decision-making. This did not endear him to the Senatorial upper class, who wrote scathing accounts of his deeds and personal character. As theirs are the only historical accounts that survived to the present day, modern historians have found it difficult to form a complete picture of Domitian’s reign.

What is known is that he strengthened the economy, raising the purity of denarii from 90% silver to 94% silver, resisted further expansion and strengthened the Empire’s borders, and constructed numerous public works in the city of Rome. He was apparently popular with the people of Rome, as well as the soldiers, whose pay he raised by 1/3rd. Domitian was assassinated in the 15th year of his reign by a small conspiracy of court officials. Within hours of his death, the Senate reasserted their rights and appointed the old and childless politician Nerva to succeed him, whom they hoped to exert a greater degree of control over.


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