Roman Empire

Titus, Emperor AD 79-81

RIC 184; Hendin 1594; BN 189; BMC 190, Choice Very Fine

Rome, AD 80/1. Oblique overhead view of the Colosseum (Flavian Amphitheater); the exterior displaying four tiers of arches, the top three containing statuary, and the interior showing spectators arrayed in sectioned seating; to the left, fountain on base (Meta Sudans); on right, porticoed building (Baths of Titus?) Reverse: IMP T CAES VESP AVG P M TR P P P COS VIII, S C across field, emperor seated left on curule chair, holding branch and scroll; below, on either side, various arms.

Construction of the great Flavian Amphitheater of Rome began under Vespasian in AD 72 but was not completed until the sole reign of his son Titus in AD 80. Additional modifications to the edifice were made under Titus’ brother, Domitian. The amphitheater was built on the site of an artificial lake that had been part of Nero’s palace complex and located near a colossal statue representing the vilified emperor as Sol. For this reason the building was popularly known as the Colosseum, the name by which it is most commonly known today. By erecting the amphitheater on land formerly associated with Nero, Vespasian and his heirs symbolically advertised a break with the emperor whose mismanagement had resulted in the bloodshed of the Year of the Four Emperors. The Flavian Amphitheater was also an immense monument to the victories of Vespasian and Titus against the rebels of the Jewish Revolt. A restored dedictatory inscription indicates that the costs of building were covered by Vespasian’s share of the spoils from Judaea. At the inaugural games held in the Flavian Amphitheater some 9,000 wild animals were killed in staged hunts.