Fire of Rome 80 AD

Fire of Rome 80 AD

The civil wars from 68-69 AD and a devastating fire in 80 AD left Rome extensively damaged and destroyed. During his rule Domitian took it upon himself to improve and fix Rome and erected, restored, or completed some fifty structures. One of the most notable is the image on the reverse of the coin, the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus. This temple is the most important one in Rome and is located on the Capitoline hill. This temple also honors Juno and Minerva, but Jupiter is the main focus. In the temple itself Juno is on the left, Minerva on the right, and Jupiter in the middle. This is also scene in the coin’s reverse were there is one central seated figure, Jupiter, and then two other figures of standing women to the immediate left and right, in this case Juno and Minerva. Domitian minted his coin with this image to claim responsibility for fixing the temple. As it was the most important temple in Rome the public would have been very happy to have it restored. Domitian put many other buildings on coins to celebrate his role. It is interesting to note that at this point the coins were highly debased and the silver taken out of these coins, even this one specifically, were being used to fund the restorations.

The fourth and present temple was both built and dedicated by Domitian [in AD 89].… Even the gilding alone of this temple’s roof, costing more than 12,000 talents, is beyond the means of the richest private citizen in Rome today. Its columns were cut from Pentelic marble and were originally of beautiful proportions, as I saw for myself in Athens. When they were shaped and polished in Rome, however, they didn’t gain as much in smoothness as they lost in symmetry and beauty, and now appear too thin and meager.

Plutarch, Publicola, 15.1-4

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