Domitian, 81-96. Aureus (Gold, 21 mm, 7.81 g, 5 h), Rome, 84. IMP CAES DOMITIANVS AVG GERMANIC Laureate head of Domitian to right, with aegis on his left shoulder. Rev. P M TR POT III IMP V COS X P P Minerva standing front, head to left, holding long scepter in her right hand and placing her left on her hip. BMC p. 308, * note (this coin cited). Calicó 904. Cohen -. RIC 190 (this coin cited). Very rare. A beautiful piece with a spectacular portrait struck in high relief and an excellent pedigree. Extremely fine.
From the Adda Collection, Numismatica Ars Classica 119 (with Jesús Vico), 6 October 2020, 39, from the collection of Virgil M. Brand, Part 3, Sotheby's, 9 June 1983, 294 and from the collection of Dr. F. Imhoof-Blumer, Hirsch XVIII, 27 May 1907, 729.
Contemporary and modern historians have long cast doubts on the proclaimed successes of Domitian in Germany, which Tacitus commented on with the dismissive statement 'in recent times we have celebrated triumphs rather than won conquests over them [the Germans]' (Tac. Germ. 37.5, a passage from which also his famous saying tam diu Germania vincitur = 'so long have we been conquering Germania' originates). It is certainly true that Domitian's campaigns of 83-85 against the Chatti led to a massive output of triumphal coins, such as this wonderful aureus with the Germanicus epithet, clearly following the example set by Vespasian's Iudaea Capta-issues and obviously pursuing propagandistic goals.
On the other hand, we also have to take into account the notorious hostility of the senatorial historiography towards the last Flavian emperor, causing them to downplay many of his achievements. The fact that the upper Rhine region and the agri decumates saw no serious barbarian invasions in the century after his reign indicates that Domitian's campaigns and measures must have been quite successful, and they actually permitted his successors to relocate considerable forces to the frontier regions of the Danube and Syria.