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Julia Titi. Augusta, AD 79-90/1. AR Cistophorus (26mm, 10.53 g, 6h). Ephesus mint (or Rome for circulation in Asia). Struck under Domitian, AD 82. Draped bust right, hair in plaits gathered into bun at back / Vesta seated left, holding palladium and scepter; VESTA in exergue. RIC II.1 848 (Domitian); RPC II 871; RSC 15. Lightly toned, slightly weak strike on reverse. VF. Rare.

This rare cistophorus, a silver coin worth three denarii, was struck early in the reign of Domitian and names Julia as “daughter of the divine Titus.” After Julia’s uncle Domitian succeeded to the throne, he at first shared the consulship with Julia’s husband, Flavius Sabinus, then abruptly had him executed on trumped-up charges. Julia’s terror can only be imagined, but Domitian retained a deep affection for his young niece. Indeed, in AD 83 he banished his wife, Domitia Longina, from the palace, then had Julia moved in and lived openly with her as his mistress. Whether she did so willingly cannot be assessed, as Domitian was not a man to whom many said “no” and survived. But Julia’s uncle had supposedly been her first love, and maybe this endured. Even under this most positive view, Julia’s end was destined to be tragic: In AD 89 she suddenly died at the tender age of 24. The wags of Rome said she perished while trying to abort the emperor's child. Domitian mourned Julia deeply (guiltily?) and ordered her deification. And there is this curious postscript: After Domitian was himself assassinated in AD 96, his old nurse took his ashes to the family crypt and mixed them with those of Julia Titi.