Silver Denarius. 3.11g, 17.9mm
MINTED: Rome mint, January - June AD 70
REF: RIC II 29
OBVERSE: IMP CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG, laureate head right.
REVERSE: COS ITER TR POT, Pax seated left, holding branch in extended right hand and winged caduceus in left.
Fine. An early portrait showing Vespasian with a considerably fuller head of hair than later issues. Struck perhaps before the new emperor even arrived at Rome in mid AD 70.
Vespasian was a military commander whose reputation was built on his successes leading legions in Britain and Judaea. Yet, despite many portents that supposedly predicted a great destiny for him, the man who was to become Rome's 9th emperor did not always seem the most likely to succeed. While serving as the official responsible for the cleanliness of Rome's streets, the emperor Caligula was so frustrated with his performance that he had handfuls of muck stuffed down Vespasian's toga. Some time later, when he was part of Nero's court, his inability to keep awake during the emperor's singing performances caused enough royal offense that Vespasian had to retire from public life in fear for his life.
Still, when he became emperor, Vespasian did much to restore the glory of Rome. He undertook the repair of roads, rebuilding of the Capitol, and begun construction of a magnificent amphitheatre in the heart of Rome, the famous monument known today as the Colosseum. Even when he donned the purple robes of the emperor, Vespasian remained without airs of pretenses, a man who, in the words of the historian Suetonius, "bore the frank language of his friends, the quips of pleaders, and the impudence of the philosophers with the greatest patience." He also retained his sense of humour right to the end, remarking drolly on his death bed, "Oh dear, I think I am becoming a god..."
VESPASIAN . AD 69-79 . Denarius . "Pax" . Early portrait
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