Obverse: IMP TITVS CAES VESPASIANVS AVG PM; Laureate Bust of the Emperor Facing Right
Reverse: TR P IX IMP XV COS VIII PP; Grain Laid on a Throne with a Semicircular Back, Referring to the Goddess Ceres
Many unfortunate disasters occurred in the Roman Empire during the reign of Titus. An epidemic of plague swept the empire, fire burned in Rome for three days, and Mount Vesuvius erupted on the Bay of Naples, burying Pompeii and Herculaneum and killing thousands of people. Much of Titus’ reign is marked with his acts of kindness in trying to ease the suffering of his unfortunate people. Titus succeeded his father as emperor after his death. He had been Caesar under his father Vespasian during the last few years of his reign and helped Vespasian to govern wisely. Titus fell very much in love with Berenice, the Jewish queen and sister of King Agrippa II. Together, Agrippa and Berenice ruled parts of Palestine and Syria as client king and queen of Rome. Though they cooperated with the Romans, some of their subjects did not, starting a bloody rebellion that ultimately led to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. Most of the Roman citizens sharply disapproved of the affair between an heir to the throne and a foreign queen, much as they had when Julius Caesar and Marc Antony had tried to make Cleopatra their queen. Sadly, Titus sent his one true love back to Jerusalem in order that he might not offend Roman society. The Colosseum, or Flavian Amphitheater, was completed during the reign of Titus. Titus died from a short illness after having reigned two years and two months. There was a rumor that his brother Domitian poisoned him, but there is no real evidence to support the accusation.
How many hands have touched a coin in your pocket or purse? What eras and lands have the coin traversed on its journey into our possession? As we reach into our pockets to pull out some change, we rarely hesitate to think of who might have touched the coin before us, or where the coin will venture to after it leaves our hands. More than money, coins are a symbol of the state that struck them, of a specific time and location, whether contemporary currencies or artifacts of a long forgotten empire. This stunning hand-struck coin reveals an expertise of craftsmanship and intricate sculptural detail that is often lacking in contemporary machine-made currencies. This coin more than commemorates an individual leader, instead it is a glorious memorial to an entire ancient empire passed from the hands of civilization to civilization, from generation to generation.