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Roman Empire, Domitian, Quadrans

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Roman Empire, Domitian, Quadrans (obverse) Roman Empire, Domitian, Quadrans (reverse)

Ravens were very rarely depicted on Roman coins. This is peculiar, as these birds were closely connected to Apollo, to whom the obverse of this coin is dedicated. Ravens were thought to be prophetic birds, which was the reason for their connection to the god of prophecy. The Romans believed that their croaks predicted the future. Trained ravens foretelling what powerful politicians wanted to hear therefore often occurred in anecdotes.

Domitian's (81-96) biography was connected to a black bird too, although he did not know it at the time this coin was struck. In Domitian's case the bird was a crow that, only a few months before the emperor's assassination, was sitting on the Capitol, croaking 'Everything will be well!' This was an ambiguous prophecy, which could be interpreted in favor of either the emperor or his assassins.

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