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Denarius of Trajan 102 AD.


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Trajan, 98-117 A.D. AR (silver) Denarius 18mm, Mint of Rome, 102 A.D. Obv: IMP CAES NERVA TRAIAN AVG GERM. Laureate bust right, slight drapery on left shoulder. Rev: P M TR P COS IIII P P. Victoria, standing right on prow ending in serpent, holding wreath and palm. RIC II 59, RSC 241.


Victoria (latin for victory) was the Roman equivalent of the Greek Goddess Nike (she of running shoe fame!). She is winged, as she flies down from heaven to crown the victor with a Wreath of laurel leaves and to present him with a Palm of Victory.


Her temple was built in 294 BC. by L. Postumius Megillus following the Battle of Sentium (Third Samnite War) where the Romans inflicted a decisive on the Samnite and their allies in 295 BC. Which lead to the unification of central Italy under Roman rule.


The battle itself is worthy of study, as the Roman army of 40,000 was initially confronted by a combined Samnite, Etruscan, Senones Gaul & Umbrian army of 80,000. The Romans sent a small force to raid Etruria & Umbria, which had the intended effect of the Etruscans & Umbrians returning to protect their home lands, thus reducing the remaing force to 50,000. The battle opened with a ferocious attack by the Gauls on the Romans under Decius Mus. Decius responded with a cavalry charge which, although initially effective, was defeated by the Gallic chariots. With his army collapsing it is said that, like his father at the Battle of Veseris, Decius rode into the Gallic horde and died committing the Act of Devotio. This was enough to rally his men, and with Rullianus having driven off the Samnites on his half of the battlefield, Rullianus was able to commit his Triari, Campanian Knights and part of the III Legion, under the Tribune Lucius Cornelius Scipio, into the Flank of the Gauls. This was too much for the Gauls and they joined the Samnites in headlong retreat. Only 12,000 Samnites and Gauls escaped the slaughter in which 8,000 Romans and 25,000 Gauls and Samnites were killed & 13,000 prisoners taken.


Some of those prisoners might well have laboured quarrying stone for, or building, the Temple of Victory in Rome.

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