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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Roman Coins ▸ The Twelve Caesars ▸ VespasianView Options:  |  |  |   

Vespasian, 1 July 69 - 24 June 79 A.D.

After a successful campaign in Judaea (which he left to his son Titus to finish), Flavius Vespasianus was declared emperor by his troops at Alexandria in 69 A.D. Upon the defeat of Vitellius by the Danubian legions, Vespasian went to Rome and consolidated his power. He built the Colosseum and other important public works. Vespasian was popular, being both down to earth and possessed of great wit. He was responsible for the economic and military recovery of Rome and is justly regarded as one of the greatest Roman emperors.


Vespasian the Younger, Caesar, 94 - 95 A.D., Smyrna, Ionia

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In 94 A.D., because he had no heir, Domitian adopted his two young great-nephews. He renamed them Vespasian and Domitian. The next year he executed the boys' father, his cousin, Titus Flavius Clemens, and exiled the boys' mother, his niece, Flavia Domitilla. They were charged with Atheism, a charge sometimes applied to condemn converts to Judaism or Christianity. The boys then disappeared from history and their fate is unknown.

Smyrna was the only city to strike coins in the name of Vespasian the Younger. No coins were struck for his brother.

Some scholars connect Domitilla with a Roman Matron in the Talmud (Avodah Zarah 10b) and the Deuteronomy Rabbah 2.25. When the emperor had decreed that in 30 days, the Senate would confirm an edict to kill all Jews and Christians in the Roman Empire, the Roman matron convinced her husband to stand up for the Jews. If that identification is correct, her husband Flavius Clemens converted to Judaism, after having contact with the great sage Rabbi Akiva. Flavia Domitilla is a saint in both the Greek Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Church.
SH83453. Bronze AE 16, Klose p. 244, 3, pl. 31 (V1/R1); RPC II 1028; SNG Cop 1360; SNGvA 2208; BMC Ionia p. 276, 320, gF/F, weight 2.790 g, maximum diameter 16.3 mm, die axis 0o, Smyrna mint, as caesar, 94 - 95 A.D.; obverse OYOCΠACIANOC NEΩTEPOC, bare head right; reverse ZMYPNAIΩN, Nike standing right, wreath in extended right hand, palm frond over left shoulder in left hand; ex Solidus Numismatik, auction 7, lot 200; rare; $1300.00 (€1157.00)
 


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In the Roman Republic, and Empire, the curule chair (sella curulis, supposedly from currus, "chariot") was the seat upon which magistrates holding imperium were entitled to sit. This includes dictators, magistri equitum, consuls, praetors, censors, curule aediles, and the promagistrates, temporary or de facto holders of such offices. Additionally, the Flamen of Jupiter (Flamen Dialis) was also allowed to sit on a curule seat, though this position did not hold imperium. Livy writes that the three flamines maiores or high priests of the Archaic Triad of major gods were each granted the honor of the curule chair.
SH70290. Silver denarius, RIC II, part 1, 6 (R); RSC II 541a; BMCRE II p. 8, 46; BnF III -; Hunter I -; SRCV I -, F, toned, tight flan, flan crack, weight 3.296 g, maximum diameter 18.1 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 1st issue, 21 Dec 69 - early 70 A.D.; obverse IMP CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse TITVS ET DOMITIAN CAESARES PRIN IV, Titus and Domitian seated left, side by side on curule chairs, each holding a laurel branch in extended right hand; rare; $175.00 (€155.75)
 


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One 23 June 79 A.D. Vespasian died from fever and diarrhea. Known for his humor, his last words on his deathbed were, "I think I'm turning into a god." Titus succeeded his father as Roman emperor and issued this coin to commemorate his father's consecration.
RS84669. Silver denarius, RIC II T359b, BnF III T99, BMCRE II T127, RSC II V149 (E - X flanking column), SRCV II 2568 (same), VF, excellent portrait, obverse well centered, tight flan, weight 3.076 g, maximum diameter 18.6 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 80 - 81 A.D.; obverse DIVVS AVGVSTVS VESPASIANVS, laureate head right; reverse shield inscribed S C, hung on the side of a cippus, on which stands urn, E - X above flanking urn, upright laurels branches flanking on left and right; scarce; $165.00 (€146.85)
 


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This type may commemorate a victory on the Sea of Galilee during the recapture of Judaea.
RB68879. Copper as, RIC II, part 1, 335; BMCRE II 617; Cohen I 632; Hunter I 119 var. (S - C, low across field); SRCV I -, F, well centered, nice green patina, small areas of corrosion on obv, weight 12.620 g, maximum diameter 27.6 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 71 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES VESPASIAN AVG COS III, radiate head right; reverse VICTORIA NAVALIS (the naval victory), Victory standing right on a prow, wreath in right hand, palm frond over should in left, S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; from the Jyrki Muona Collection; $160.00 (€142.40)
 


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Spes was the Roman personification of Hope. In art Spes is normally depicted carrying flowers or a cornucopia, but on coins she is almost invariably depicted holding a flower in her extended right hand, and raising a fold of her dress with her left hand. She was also named "ultima dea" - for Hope is the last resort of men.
RB84861. Copper as, RIC II, part 1, 894; BMCRE II 725, BnF III 757, Cohen I 457, Hunter I C3852, SRCV I -, VF, reverse rough and smoothed, weight 11.521 g, maximum diameter 27.0 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 76 A.D.; obverse IMP CAESAR VESP AVG COS VII, laureate head right; reverse Spes standing left, flower in right hand, raising skirt with left hand, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking at sides; $150.00 (€133.50)
 


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In 76 A.D., Governor of Britannia Sextus Julius Frontinus subdued the Silures and other hostile tribes of Wales, established a fortress at Caerleon or Isca Augusta for Legio II Augusta and made a network of smaller forts for his auxiliary forces.
SH70285. Silver denarius, RIC II, part 1, 847; BMCRE II 180; BnF III 156; RSC II 121; Hunter I 57; SRCV I 2287, aVF, superb portrait, toned, well centered, tiny edge cracks, weight 3.500 g, maximum diameter 17.6 mm, die axis 135o, Rome mint, 76 A.D.; obverse IMP CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse COS VII, eagle standing facing, head left, on low garlanded cippus; $125.00 (€111.25)
 


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This coin may have been struck to appeal to Pax to deliver peace at the time the First Jewish Revolt was coming to its end. On 14 April 70 A.D. Titus surrounded Jerusalem. He allowed pilgrims to enter to celebrate Passover but this was a trap to put pressure on supplies of food and water; he refused to allow them to leave. On 10 May he began his assault on the walls. The third wall fell on 25 May. The second wall fell on 30 May. On 20 July Titus stormed the Temple Mount. On 4 August 70 A.D. Titus destroyed the Temple. The Jewish fast of Tisha B'Av mourns the Fall of Jerusalem annually on this date.
RS70226. Silver denarius, RIC II, part 1, 29; RSC II 94h; BMCRE II 26; BnF III 17; Hunter I 14; SRCV I 2285, VF, well centered, toned, weak centers, weight 3.410 g, maximum diameter 17.8 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 70 A.D.; obverse IMP CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse COS ITER TR POT, Pax seated left on chair without back, olive branch in right hand, caduceus in left; $125.00 (€111.25)
 


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In 75 A.D., the Temple of Peace was built in Rome to celebrate the conquest of Jerusalem in 70 and house the Menorah and other sacred objects from Herod's Temple. A representation of the menorah is depicted in a frieze on the Arch of Titus. According to the Torah, the menorah was hammered from pure gold following the design God revealed to Moses. The menorah was looted by the Vandals in the sacking of Rome in 455, and taken to their capital, Carthage. According to Procopius, the Byzantine General Belisarius recovered it when he defeated the Vandals in 533 and it was carried through the streets of Constantinople during his triumph. Procopius adds that it was later sent back to Jerusalem, after which there is no further record of it. The menorah might have been destroyed when the Persians pillaged Jerusalem in 614.
RS70278. Silver denarius, RIC II, part 1, 772; RSC II 366; BMCRE II 161; BnF III 139; Hunter I 51; SRCV I 2301, aVF, nice portrait, centered, toned, weight 3.347 g, maximum diameter 19.4 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 75 A.D.; obverse IMP CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG (counterclockwise), laureate head right; reverse PON MAX TR P COS VI (high priest, tribune of the people, consul for the 6th time), Pax seated left, extending olive branch in right hand, left hand at side; $110.00 (€97.90)
 


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This coin may have been struck to appeal to Pax to deliver peace at the time the First Jewish Revolt was coming to its end. On 14 April 70 A.D. Titus surrounded Jerusalem. He allowed pilgrims to enter to celebrate Passover but this was a trap to put pressure on supplies of food and water; he refused to allow them to leave. On 10 May he began his assault on the walls. The third wall fell on 25 May. The second wall fell on 30 May. On 20 July Titus stormed the Temple Mount. On 4 August 70 A.D. Titus destroyed the Temple. The Jewish fast of Tisha B'Av mourns the Fall of Jerusalem annually on this date.
RS70296. Silver denarius, RIC II, part 1, 29; RSC II 94h; BMCRE II 26; BnF III 17; Hunter I 14; SRCV I 2285, F, well centered on a crowded flan, uneven toning, weight 3.220 g, maximum diameter 18.9 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 70 A.D.; obverse IMP CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse COS ITER TR POT, Pax seated left on chair without back, olive branch in right hand, caduceus in left; $104.00 (€92.56)
 


Click for a larger photo
On 14 April 70 A.D. Titus surrounded Jerusalem. He allowed pilgrims to enter to celebrate Passover but this was a trap to put pressure on supplies of food and water; he refused to allow them to leave. On 10 May he began his assault on the walls. The third wall fell on 25 May. The second wall fell on 30 May. On 20 July Titus stormed the Temple Mount. On 4 August 70 A.D. Titus destroyed the Temple. The Jewish fast of Tisha B'Av mourns the Fall of Jerusalem annually on this date.
RS70291. Silver denarius, RIC II, part 1, 21; RSC II 94a; BMCRE II 17; BnF III 10; SRCV I 2284, VF, excellent portrait, toned, well centered on a tight flan, small edge cracks, weight 3.231 g, maximum diameter 19.0 mm, die axis 135o, Rome mint, 70 A.D.; obverse IMP CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse COS ITER TR POT, Aequitas standing left, scales in right hand, scepter transverse in left; $100.00 (€89.00)
 




  



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OBVERSE LEGENDS

CAESARVESPASIANVSAVG
DIVVSAVGVSTVSVESPASIANVS
DIVOAVGVESPSPQR
DIVOVESPASIANO
IMPCAESARAVGVESPASIANVS
IMPCAESARVESPASAVG
IMPCAESARVESPASAVGCOSII
IMPCAESARVESPASAVGCOSIIITRPPP
IMPCAESARVESPASIANVSAVGCOSIIITRPPP
IMPCAESARVESPASAVGCOSVTRPPP
IMPCAESARVESPASIAN
IMPCAESARVESPASIANVS
IMPCAESARVESPASIANVSTRP
IMPCAESARVESPASIANAVG
IMPCAESARVESPASIANAVGCOSIII
IMPCAESARVESPASIANAVGCOSIIII
IMPCAESARVESPAVG
IMPCAESARVESPAVGCOSVCENS
IMPCAESARVESPAVGVST
IMPCAESVESPASAVG
IMPCAESVESPASAVGPMTRPPPCSIII
IMPCAESVESPASAVGTRPCOSIII
IMPCAESVESPASIANAVGCOSIII
IMPCAESVESPASIANAVGCOSIIII
IMPCAESVESPASIANAVGCOSVIII
IMPCAESVESPASIANAVGCOSVIIIPP
IMPCAESVESPASIANAVGPMTRPPPCOSIII
IMPCAESVESPASIANAVGPMTRPPPCOSVCENS
IMPCAESARVESPASCOSIIICENS
IMPCAESARVESPASIANVSAVG
IMPCAESARVESPASIANVSAVGPMTPPPCOSIII
IMPCAESVESPAVGCEN
IMPCAESVESPAVGCENS
IMPCAESVESPAVGPMCOSIIII
IMPCAESVESPAVGPMCOSVCENS
IMPCAESVESPAVGPMCOSIIIICEN
IMPCAESVESPAVGPMCOSVCEN
IMPCAESVESPAVGPMTPCOSIIIICENS
IMPCAESVESPAVGPMTRPPPCOSIII
IMPCAESVESPAVGPMTRPIIIIPPCOSIIII
IMPVESPASAVGPMTRIPPPCOSIIII
IMPVESPASIANAVG
IMPVESPAVG
IMPVESPCAESAVGPONTMAXTRIBPOTCOSIIPP
IMPVESPCAESAVGPONTMAXTRIBPOTCOSIIIIPP
TCAESVESPASIANIMPPTRPCOSII


REFERENCES

American Numismatic Society (ANS) Collections Database Online - http://numismatics.org/search/search
Banti, A. & L. Simonetti. Corpus Nummorum Romanorum. (Florence, 1972-1979).
Burnett, A. & M. Amandry. Roman Provincial Coinage II: From Vespasian to Domitian (AD 69-96). (London, 1999).
Butcher, Kevin. Coinage in Roman Syria: Northern Syria, 64 BC - AD 253. Royal Numismatic Society Special Publication 34. (London, 2004).
Calicó, E. Xavier. The Roman Avrei, Vol. I: From the Republic to Pertinax, 196 BC - 193 AD. (Barcelona, 2003).
Carradice, I.A. & T.V. Buttrey. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol. II, Part 1: From AD 69 to 96. (London, 2007).
Cayón, J. Los Sestercios del Imperio Romano, Vol. I: De Pompeyo Magno a Matidia (Del 81 a.C. al 117 d.C.). (Madrid, 1984).
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappées sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. 1: Pompey to Domitian. (Paris, 1880).
Giard, J-B. Le monnayage de l'atelier de Lyon, De Claude Ier à Vespasien (41-78 après J.-C.), et au temps de Clodius Albinus (196-197 après J.-C.). (Wetteren, 2000).
Giard, Jean-Baptiste. Monnaies de l'Empire romain, III Du soulèvement de 68 après J.-C. a Nerva. Catalogue Bibliothèque nationale de France. (Paris, 1998).
Hendin, D. Guide to Biblical Coins, 5th Edition. (Amphora, 2010).
Mattingly, H. & R.A.G. Carson. Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum, Vol. 2: Vespasian to Domitian. (London, 1930).
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet, University of Glasgow, Vol. I. Augustus to Nerva. (Oxford, 1962).
Seaby, H.A. & R. Loosley. Roman Silver Coins, Vol. II: Tiberius to Commodus. (London, 1979).
Sear, D.R. Roman Coins and Their Values, The Millennium Edition, Volume One, The Republic and the Twelve Caesars 280 BC - AD 86. (London, 2000).
Vagi, D. Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. (Sidney, 1999).

Catalog current as of Thursday, May 25, 2017.
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Roman Coins of Vespasian