Late Roman Bronze Coins

Assorted topics => History => Topic started by: Victor on July 03, 2012, 05:01:54 PM

Title: Ancient sources referencing specific coins
Post by: Victor on July 03, 2012, 05:01:54 PM
Perhaps most famous is the reference from Eusebius about Constantine's "eyes to the heavens" bust type.

    "How deeply his soul was impressed by the power of divine faith may be understood from the circumstance that he directed his likeness to be stamped on the golden coin of the empire with eyes uplifted as in the posture of prayer to God: and this money became current throughout the Roman world." Eusebius (IV.15)

Constantine I
circa 327 A.D.
20mm    2.4gm
Obv. Anepigraphic: head with rosette diademed, looking up to heavens
Rev. CONSTANTINIANA DAFNE [Constantinian Dafne] Victory seated l. on cippus, palm branch in left hand and laurel branch in right hand, looking r.; trophy at front, at the foot is a kneeling captive with head turned being spurned by Victory; E in left field.
in ex. CONS
RIC VII Constantinople   
Title: Re: Ancient sources referencing coins
Post by: Victor on July 03, 2012, 05:03:32 PM
Julian II tried to revive paganism and the reverse of this coin symbolizes his pagan beliefs. This upset some of his Christian subjects and the people of Antioch even demonstrated against him “shouting…that his coinage had a bull and that the world was overturned.” (Socrates, Hist. Eccl. 3.17)

Julian II
A.D. 360-363
28mm  8.1gm
DN FL C IVLIANVS P F AVG. pearl-diademed, draped, & cuirassed bust r. SECVRITAS REIPVB Bull, head facing, standing right; above, two stars.
RIC VIII Lyons 236

The exergue on this coin reads “LVGDunum OFFicina Prima” (first workshop of Lugdunum)

Lugdunum (now called Lyons) was named after the Celtic sun-god, Lug or Lugh.
Title: Re: Ancient sources referencing coins
Post by: Victor on July 03, 2012, 05:07:09 PM
Tacitus (who wrote Germania in the first century A.D.) said that the Germanic tribes, “value gold and silver for their use in commerce, and are wont to distinguish and prefer certain of our coins. They like old-fashioned coins because they have been long familiar with them-- especially those which have notched edges and are stamped with representations of two-horse chariots.” (Tacitus Germania Book 5)  Tacitus also said that Germans only used coins as currency on the frontiers, while in the interior coins were treated as bullion. (Tacitus Annals 12:30)

Title: Re: Ancient sources referencing coins
Post by: Victor on July 03, 2012, 05:11:29 PM
John of Ephesus, who lived lived circa A.D. 507- 588 and spent many years in Constantinople, wrote that the general public believed that the figure of Constantinopolis on gold coins of Justin II was actually Venus.

Title: Re: Ancient sources referencing coins
Post by: Victor on July 10, 2012, 12:35:01 PM
After Constantine died in 337, his sons issued posthumous coins in honor of their father. Constantine was the last Emperor to be consecrated and deified on coins. Eusebius also wrote about one of these posthumous coins:

    "At the same time coins were struck portraying the Blessed One on the obverse in the form of one with head veiled, on the reverse like a charioteer on a quadriga, being taken up by a right hand stretched out to him from above."    Life of Constantine  IV 73

Title: Re: Ancient sources referencing specific coins
Post by: Victor on June 12, 2013, 04:18:54 PM
Palladas, a fourth-century pagan poet, wrote mockingly about the city of Constantinople and coins with Victories on the prow.

"Here we are, the Victories, the laughing maidens, bearing victories to the Christ-loving city. Those who loved the city fashioned us, stamping figures appropriate to the victories."

Anth. Plan. 282
Title: Re: Ancient sources referencing specific coins
Post by: Victor on June 13, 2013, 09:56:08 AM
In the right field of the coin pictured below (RIC VII Nicomedia 43) there 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.

The quote below references these coins with the field marks which reduced them to "half of a nummus"


"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."

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.

“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.”
Title: Re: Ancient sources referencing specific coins
Post by: Victor on October 09, 2017, 11:14:19 AM
"Licinius did not accept the gold coinage on which Constantine emblazoned his victory against the Sarmatians, but melted it down and converted it to other uses, giving no answer to those who faulted him with regard to this than that he did not wish foreign affairs to have a place in domestic business."

Petrus Patricius (circa A.D. 500- 565) The Lost History of Peter the Patrician  F 208