Author Topic: LICINIUS DAMNATIO?  (Read 634 times)

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Offline Gavin

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LICINIUS DAMNATIO?
« on: December 08, 2016, 06:48:33 PM »
So I posted this query years ago on another forum and didn't get much feedback. I'm curious to see if others would consider this a likely damnatio of Licinius. The scratches on Licinius’s face are made in a back-and-forth manner. It's not the result of a single random shovel strike; the scratches are localized and intentional. The scratches also show the same green patina that affects the entire coin. In other words, the scratches seem to have been made in antiquity. The reverse of this coin is untouched. While it is impossible to know for sure, my contention is that this defaced coin reflects the damnatio memoriae issued by Constantine against Licinius. The other Licinius coin in the photo is just for comparison, even though the bust type is different. Thoughts?

BTW, I'm fairly certain I got this as a "bargain bin" purchase from the late Russ Brochinsky.

Gavin

Offline Victor

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Re: LICINIUS DAMNATIO?
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2016, 07:57:41 PM »
Hello Gavin and welcome aboard.

It could be a damnatio, but it seems half hearted, as most of the scratches are not very deep. Other coins that I have seen that were given what seemed to be the damnatio memoriae treatment had deep scratches, like gouges. After the war, Constantine also demonetized the coins issued by Licinius; so these would not have circulated much after Licinius was defeated. Perhaps it did circulate for a bit though and someone thought they should at least make a token effort at defacing the bust. As you said, it is impossible to know for sure; but it seems like a definite maybe  :)

Offline Gavin

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Re: LICINIUS DAMNATIO?
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2016, 10:26:14 AM »
Well, I will take a "definite maybe." I'm not sure when this coin was struck, but it seems to be that a bar to reading it as a damnatio is the fact that it seems to have circulated a while. Both surfaces seem to have been pretty worn, though perhaps that matter is not as relevant as I think it might be.

Offline Victor

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Re: LICINIUS DAMNATIO?
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2016, 11:56:10 AM »
I'm not sure when this coin was struck

This coin was struck sometime during A.D. 321- 324. "The IOVI coins were issued as part of a coin reform by Licinius in his territories (mints of Heraclea, Nicomedia, Cyzicus, Antioch, and Alexandria) and were reduced in value  from 25 to 12 and a half. The coins were worth less because they had little or no silver. He struck these in the names of all the rulers but these coins had no value outside his territory."

On the reverse in the right field is an X over II and an episemon. "The last sign is clearly an episemon, epigraphically employed for S(emis) also."   (RIC VII p. 12)           Semis literally means half, and the semis coin was valued at half an as.

here is a relevant historical reference to this coin-

DEBASEMENT OF NUMMUS IN EAST BY LICINIUS, 321-324.

"Dionysius to Apion, greeting. The divine Fortune of our masters has ordained that the Italian coinage be reduced to the half of a nummus. Make haste, therefore, to spend all the Italian silver that you have in purchases, on my behalf, of goods of every description at whatever prices you find them. For this purpose I have dispatched an officialis to you. But take notice that should you intend to indulge in any malpractices I shall not allows you to do so. I pray, my brother, that you may long be in health. (Verso) I received the letter from the officials on the eight of the month Pharmouthi."

“Two other fragmentary letters from the same archive (PSI 965 and P. Oslo III. 83) allude to the same reform. In 321 Licinius (308-324) reduced the silver content of his nummus (2.40 gs) and halved its official tariffing to 12.5 d.c. Eastern mints marked the reverses of the nummi with the value mark. The official rate of exchange was probably 1 aureus = 516 nummi sparked off a new wave of price rises until Constantine (306-337) reunited the empire and demonetized the Licinian nummus in 324. See Harl, Coinage in the Roman Economy, pp. 158-166.”

Source: Letter in Archive of official Theophanes, c. 321 (P. Rylands IV. 607). Translation from L. C. West and A. C. Johnson, Currency in Roman Byzantine Egypt (Princeton, 1944), pp. 184-185, no. 7. See M. Hendy, SBME, pp. 463-64 and R. Bagnall, Inflation in Fourth Century Egypt, pp. 12-15, who redate the papyrus from earlier dates as argued by C. H. Robert and J. G. Milne in Trans. of Inter. Num. Congress, 1936 (London, 1938), pp. 246-249 and C. H. V. Sutherland, JRS 51 (1961), 94-97.


That is why I mentioned that this coin likely did not circulate long after the defeat of Licinius. Even in the territory of Licinius these coins seemed to have not been well received because of the reduction in value; which may have been reason enough for someone to scratch the obverse. I imagine after his defeat, all Licinius coinage was quickly removed from circulation, though sometimes you find these IOVI types overstruck with Constantinian types, like campgates. This was done unofficially, and probably as a stopgap until sufficient good money could make it into Constantine's newly acquired territories.

 

Offline Gavin

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Re: LICINIUS DAMNATIO?
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2016, 12:57:12 PM »
That's very interesting. Given the tensions between these two, I wonder that Constantine waited so long to eliminate Licinius. I find this fourth-century history as compelling as anything from the first, though it gets less attention.

Offline Victor

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Re: LICINIUS DAMNATIO?
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2016, 01:17:06 PM »
I wonder that Constantine waited so long to eliminate Licinius.

Constantine's half-sister Constantia was married to Licinius, and she must have wielded considerable influence with her half-brother, or else Licinius would surely have been executed after the first civil war. Following the second civil war and after the execution of Licinius, Constantine issued coins (which are very rare) in honor of his sister Constantia, with the title nobilissima femina...of course, he did just execute her husband (who probably had it coming for revolting a second time) and son.

Offline Victor

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Re: LICINIUS DAMNATIO?
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2017, 04:30:45 PM »
there is a fairly new book out on the topic of damnatio, by Dario Calomino  Defacing the Past -- Damnation and Desecration in Imperial Rome

He says that he has never seen a fourth century damnatio and explains that by the fourth century the practice of damnatio had become increasingly inconsistent.