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Newp: Titus aureus/elephant


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So here's the latest addition to my new Twelve Caesars pursuit (eight down, four to go- and now two of the twelve in gold!)

Who can tell me how this issue related to the opening of the Colosseum?  I found that note on the slab label of interest.  Truth be told, they had me at "elephant".


Titus aureus.jpg

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Congratulations on an excellent addition! 

Yes, it seems the elephant on your coin is related to the opening of the Colosseum. 

Here is a description of a similar coin, along with a write-up about elephants, but what is directly interesting in regards to your aureus:

"The elephant depicted here has also a specific and immediate reference. The elephant represents one of the numerous species displayed in the newly constructed Flavian Amphitheater, or Colosseum, built by prisoners of the First Jewish War on the site of the Domus Aurea of Nero. Opened to the public under Titus in AD 80 and commemorated by Martial in de Spectaculis, the Colosseum was welcomed with great fanfare and games. During the opening ceremonies a great number of animals, including elephants, were both exhibited and slaughtered."

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Superb coin! You can't beat gold!

Here's what I wrote about the reverse in my Forvm Gallery: 'A reverse type that commemorates the opening games of the Flavian Amphitheatre. Elephants were featured in those first games and Martial in his book On the Spectacles actually mentions an elephant, who after dispatching a bull in the arena, knelt before the emperor! Perhaps a neat trick the trainer had taught the beast.'

Edited by David Atherton
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