Victory under Vespasian

The image of Victory appeared prominently on Vespasian’s coinage to signify his military strength in conquering Judaea, the greatest military accomplishment of the Flavian period. Victory could also be a symbol for his victory over Vitellius in which he claimed the throne.

Vespasian Aureus, IMP CAESAR VESP AVG P M COS IIII / VIC-AUG
Vespasian Aureus, 72-73 AD, IMP CAESAR VESP AVG P M COS IIII / VIC-AUG

In his fourth year of consulship, Vespasian minted this coin depicting his typical portrait, laureate right, on the obverse and Victory on the globe on the reverse. The reverse includes the inscription ‘VIC-AUG’ meaning the ‘Victory of Augustus’. This symbol most likely refers to Vespasian’s and Titus’ defeat of Judaea, but it represents the Victory of Vespasian and the Roman Empire over the entire world.

Vespasian Aureus, 77-78 AD, IMP CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG / COS VIII
Vespasian Aureus, 77-78 AD, IMP CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG / COS VIII

While the obverse of this coin is almost the exact same as the previous coin, the reverse depicts Victory again, but instead of standing on top of the globe, Victory is crowing Vespasian himself as he holds both a spear and a parazonium (long triangular dagger). This coin would have been used to promote both military success and authority over the empire. While this image of victory could again refer to the triumph over Judaea, the inscription ‘COS VIII’ on the reverse leads me to believe that Vespasian minted this coin to commemorate his 8th year of reign. This was an impressive feat considering the last 3 emperors before him, Galba, Otho, and Vitellius, lasted only a combined year. Not only did this show his power and authority, but it solidified his legitimacy as emperor through military success and brought value to his coinage.

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