Domitian As 88 Rome RIC 623 Secular Games Domitien


SKU: 276321185460


Domitian, As, 88, Rome
RIC II, Part 1 (second edition) Domitian 623.

Obv.: IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM P M TR P VIII CENS PER P P, Head of Domitian, laureate, right.

Rev.: COS XIIII LVD SAEC FEC  S C, Domitian standing left over altar; flute and lyre players left; temple behind.
10.56 g
26.8 mm

The Secular Games (Latin: Ludi saeculares) was a Roman religious celebration (Ludi) involving sacrifices and theatrical performances held in ancient Rome for three days and nights to mark the end of a saeculum and the beginning of the next. A saeculum, supposedly the longest possible length of human life, was considered as either 100 or 110 years in length.

According to Roman mythology, the Secular Games began when a Sabine man called Valesius prayed for a cure for his children’s illness and was supernaturally instructed to sacrifice on the Campus Martius to Dis Pater and Proserpina, deities of the underworld. Some ancient authors traced official celebrations of the Games as far back as 509 BC, but the only clearly attested celebrations under the Roman Republic took place in 249 and in the 140s BC. They involved sacrifices to the underworld gods over three consecutive nights. 

The Games were revived in 17 BC by Rome’s first emperor Augustus, with the nocturnal sacrifices on the Campus Martius now transferred to the Moerae (fates), the Ilythiae (goddesses of childbirth), and Terra Mater (“Mother Earth”). The Games of 17 BC also introduced day-time sacrifices to Roman deities on the Capitoline and Palatine hills. Each sacrifice was followed by theatrical performances. 

Later emperors held celebrations in AD 88 and 204, after intervals of roughly 110 years. However, they were also held by Claudius in AD 47 to celebrate the 800th anniversary of Rome’s foundation, which led to a second cycle of Games in 148 and 248. 

The Games were abandoned under later Christian emperors. (Extracts taken from Wikipedia)