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The Opening of the Colosseum


Titus. AD 79-81. AR Denarius (17mm, 3.31 g, 6h). Rome mint. Struck 1 January-30 June AD 80. IMP TITVS CAES VESPASIAN AVG P M, laureate head right / TR P IX IMP XV COS VIII P P, elephant, wearing armor, walking left on exergual line. RIC II.1 115; RSC 303. Lightly toned, a few light scratches. EF.

The elephant on this issue represents one of the numerous species displayed in the newly constructed Flavian Amphitheater, better known today as the Colosseum, built by prisoners of the First Jewish War on the site of the Domus Aurea of Nero. Opened to the public during Titus’ rule, in AD 80, and commemorated by Martial in de Spectaculis, the Colosseum was welcomed with great fanfare and games. During the opening ceremonies a great number of animals, including elephants, were both exhibited and slaughtered.