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Julia Titi Ceres Dupondius

David Atherton

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I'm still clearing out a backlog of coins from earlier in the summer (the HJB sale has recently been the priority!). This Julia Titi dupondius was purchased the first week of July. It's much better in hand than the photo indicates!



Julia Titi [Titus]
Æ Dupondius, 11.62g
Rome mint, 80-81 AD
Obv: IVLIA IMP T AVG F AVGVSTA; Bust of Julia Titi, draped, r., hair piled high in front and coiled in small bun at back
Rev: CERES AVGVST; S C in field; Ceres stg. l., holding corn-ears and torch
RIC 392 (R). BMC 215. BNC 265.
Acquired from Prafectus Coins, July 2023.

Titus' daughter Julia Titi was granted the title Augusta during his reign sometime in 80 or 81. A small issue of denarii and dupondii were struck to commemorate the occasion, most of which are fairly scarce today. This dupondius featuring Ceres on the reverse is a most appropriate type for the new Augusta. RIC speculates the Ceres dupondius variety could possibly have been produced at the 'Thracian' mint, due to similar styles (p. 191).

After Titus's death she lived with her uncle Domitian at the imperial residence. In 90 or 91 AD she died and was deified by Domitian, this was commemorated on the coinage as well. The ancient sources are quick to malign her reputation in the name of smearing Domitian. It is said she had an ongoing affair with Domitian and became pregnant. She then was forced by Domitian to abort the baby and died during the attempted abortion sometime in 90 or 91. The Flavian historian Brian Jones has called the supposed affair between Domitian and his niece Julia (some ten or eleven years his junior) and the subsequent forced abortion which killed her as "implausible" and "nonsense". Further he wrote "Scholars seem not to have stressed one of the most significant factors in assessing the rumour's accuracy - Martial's epigram 6.3, written not long after Julia's death and deification. In it, he expresses the hope that Domitian will produce a son, implies that the baby's name will be Julius (6.3.1) and states that (the now deified) Julia will be able to watch over him (6.3.5). Martial was neither a hero or a fool. Had there been the slightest hint of an affair between emperor and niece, he would hardly have written those lines; had Julia's recent death been caused by an abortion forced on her by Domitian, would Martial have so far neglected the bounds of 'safe criticism' and common sense as to humiliate Domitia publicly, urging her to become pregnant, to give the child a name reminiscent of her husband's mistress and finally to remember that same mistress, now dead and deified (thanks to her husband), would be able to protect the child?" No doubt, Domitian felt great affection towards his niece, however, there is no evidence that they had an illicit love affair. The incestuous rumour was spread after Domitian's death.

It is quite tragic that this young lady was used as fodder to defame Domitian by ancient writers. Even in David Vagi's magisterial work Coinage and History of the Roman Empire the unfounded rumours about Julia and Domitian's incestuous relationship are uncritically repeated. I wanted to set the record straight.

Here's the coin in hand.



Thank you for looking!

Edited by David Atherton
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  • David Atherton changed the title to Julia Titi Ceres Dupondius

Here is my Julia Titi, featuring the Vesta reverse (it is for sale on German eBay including Sear certificate if you are interested)


IVLIA IMP T AVG F AVGVSTA - Draped bust right with hair bundled high in front and coiled in chignon high in back /

VESTA S C - Vesta seated left, holding palladium in right hand and scepter in left arm

Dupondius, Rome 80-81 AD

28,10 mm / 14,58 gr / 6 h

RIC 398, BMCRE (Titus) 257, Cohen 18, Sear 2617


Edited by Julius Germanicus
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3 hours ago, seth77 said:

I'd wonder how did it come to the theory of a Thracian mint for these Flavian base metal coins.

The attribution of an issue of bronze coinage under Titus and later under to Domitian to a mint in Thrace is based on find spots, style, and fabric - all of which are distinct from Rome. The possible attribution of the Julia Titi Ceres dupondius to Thrace is based on a similar style and shared reverse type with the Thracian mint.

Edited by David Atherton
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