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Creation Date



Nicomedia (İzmit, Turkey)


Roman, Byzantine





0.18 oz. (5.1 g)

Credit Line

Gift of Brad Hostetler, 2022

Accession Number



Purchased by Brad Hostetler from Duane Moore (Powell, Tenn.) on February 29, 2020.


The back side of the coin is practically worn away, although the letters on the bottom are quite preserved. The outer rim is brighter than the inside of the coin. The inscription is left incomplete, eaten away by the fissure on the side. The edges are worn down and spiked like teeth, and the internal corners are slightly tarnished by patina. Dark spots are littered on both sides of the coin. One side is darker than the other, the obverse’s left and reverse’s right. - Ruthie Wilson (’26), December 2022

Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings



Our Lord, Theodosius, pious, fortunate Augustus



Glory of the Romans




Pearce, J.W.E. 1951. The Roman Imperial Coinage, vol. 9, Valentinian I – Theodosius I. London: Spink, no. 40b, p. 260.


This coin features a profile bust of Theodosius I on the obverse, and the emperor in full standing on top of a boat with Victoria at the helm on the reverse. On the obverse, the visual components include Theodosius in military uniform, a conventional type of depiction of the royal class in the Empire. He is haloed by the inscription “DNTHEODO SIVSPFAVG”, which translates as “Our Lord, Theodosius, pious, fortunate Augustus.” The reverse incorporates the common iconographic symbol of Victoria seated at the helm. Theodosius and Victory are encircled with the inscription “GLORIARO MANORVM, ” or “Glory of the Romans.” The coin was used in common circulation.

The coin does not hold much value; eighty of these coins could buy only one unit of wine. (Morrisson and Cheynet 2001, p. 833). It is a cheap and typical material, thus this type of coin is likely not very rare, being an AE2 denomination in copper (Mattingly 1946, pp. 117–118). Minted in Nicomedia, it is difficult to determine how far a coin like this would travel — either forgotten in a merchant’s bag or stuck under a Roman’s pillow.

The coin is an excellent representation of popular iconography with the inclusion of Victoria. On the visual scale, though hardly visible due to its condition, she is merely seen in position. Iconographically, she is the physical embodiment of victory, and her inclusion as aid to Theodosius elevates not only him, but the Empire. They work hand in hand. Iconologically, or through the intrinsic meaning of the imagery according to Erwin Panofsky, it shows the influence of traditional Roman iconography being incorporated into a new visual language of Christian victory (Panofsky 1955). But the iconography of this coin is on a much smaller scale than, for example, the “Silver missorium of Theodosius I and his sons,” which is a much more influential work, based on its materiality and advancement of style. The missorium is far more defined and contains more iconography, such as an image of Tellus, the Earth goddess, lying below the emperor. It is meant to be seen and admired rather than to be practically used like the coin. However, both forms of media hold Theodosius as a central figure, and the focus of the work in a position of dignity and power over those around him.


Doyle, Christopher. 2015. “Declaring Victory, Concealing Defeat? Continuity and Change in Imperial Coinage of the Roman West, c.383–c.408.” In Shifting Genres in Late Antiquity, eds. Geoffrey Greatrex et al, 157–171. Farnham: Ashgate.

Gregory, Timothy E., and Anthony Cutler. 1991. “Theodosius I.” In The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, ed. Alexander P. Kazhdan. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Grierson, Philip. 1999. Byzantine Coinage. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection.

Mattingly, Harold. 1946. “The Monetary Systems of the Roman Empire from Diocletian to Theodosius I.” The Numismatic Chronicle and Journal of the Royal Numismatic Society 6, no. 3/4: 111–120.

Morrisson, Cécile. 2001. “Byzantine Money: Its Production and Circulation.” In The Economic History of Byzantium: From the Seventh Through the Fifteenth Century, ed. Angeliki E. Laiou, 909–966. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection.

Morrisson, Cécile, and Jean-Claude Cheynet. 2001. “Prices and Wages in the Byzantine World.” In The Economic History of Byzantium: From the Seventh Through the Fifteenth Century, ed. Angeliki E. Laiou, 815–878. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection.

Panofsky, Erwin. 1955. “Iconography and Iconology: An Introduction to the Study of Renaissance Art.” In Meaning in the Visual Arts: Papers in and on Art History, 26–54. Woodstock, NY: The Overlook Press.

Ruthie Wilson (’26) for ARHS 110 (Fall 2022)

2022.17-obverse.jpg (947 kB)

2022.17-reverse.jpg (846 kB)