Thank God Jupiter Was There!
During Trajan's easterm campaign, he was wintering in Antioch
when a violent earthquake occurred. According to Cassius
Dio in the Epitome of Bookk LXVIII:
"There had been many great storms and portentous winds, but
no one expected so many evils to result from them. First there came a
sudden and loud bellowing roar, and this was followed by a tremendous
quaking. The whole earth upheaved, and buildings leaped into the air;
some were carried aloft only to collapse and be broken in pieces, while
others were tossed this way and that as if on the tide of the sea. The
wreckage spread out over a great area even into the open country. The
crash of grinding and breaking timbers, tiles and stones was most
frightful; and an inconceivable amount of dust arose, so that it was
impossible for one to see anything or to speak or hear a word. As for
the people, many even those who were outside the houses were hurt, being
snatched up and tossed violently about and then dashed to the earth as
if falling from a cliff; some were maimed and others were killed. Even
trees in some cases leaped into the air, roots and all. The number of
those who were trapped in the houses and perished was uncountable; for
multitudes were killed by the very force of the falling debris, and
great numbers were suffocated in the ruins. Those who lay with part of
their body buried under the stones or timbers suffered terribly, being
able neither to live any longer nor to find an immediate death... Trajan
made his way out through a window of the room in which he was staying.
Some being, of greater than human stature, had come and led him forth,
so that he escaped with only a few slight injuries; and as the shocks
extended over several days, he lived out of doors in the hippodrome"
The "being, of greater than human stature" was obviously interpreted as
Jupiter. Thus Jupiter wreaked havoc on Antioch while at the same time
protecting Trajan. The Roman spin doctors turned what could have been an
ill omen into a positive event. This coin commemorates this event. Jupiter
holds his hand out over Trajan shielding him from the falling debris.
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