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The first appearance of Minerva?

Domitian as Caesar AR Denarius (76-77 CE)

Obv: CAESAR AVG F DOMITIANVS;

Head Laureate right;

Rev: Minerva standing right on prow with

spear and shield, to right owl; COS IIII

RIC 920 (Vespasian) (R)


Where do I start with this unusual coin? After searching RIC, I think this coin shows the first appearance of Minerva on a coin of Domitian. Minerva would come to dominate the reverses of Domitian's denarii after his ascension to the purple. Though the reverse of this coin is interesting because of the appearance of Minerva, I really like the portrait of Domitian on the obverse. I find that Domitian here resembles his brother Titus. Also, one should note the nose. The nose was a feature sanitized on the denarii of Domitian as Augustus. However, early in his reign, one can still see examples of this prominent proboscis on the coinage.


Another interesting feature of the coin concerns its rarity. This is not an easy coin to find. I consider myself very lucky to have found one for sale. Also interesting is the fact the reverse features not just Minerva, but also an owl at her feet. The owl symbolizes Minerva. Minerva and the owl feature later on the reverses of Domitian's denarii. Of the 4 Minerva types the type with the owl is designated by RIC as M2, or the second Minerva type for Domitian's denarii.


Struck under Vespasian, this coin features Domitian as Caesar. It's interesting that so much of this coin is repeated in Domitian's denarii later when he is Augustus. I find this coin fascinating and definitely an important addition to my collection.

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