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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Roman Coins ▸ The Late Empire ▸ Theodosius IView Options:  |  |  |   

Theodosius I, 19 January 379 - 17 January 395 A.D.

Theodosius I, also known as Theodosius the Great, was the last emperor to rule over both the eastern and western halves of the Roman Empire. The son of the famed general Count Theodosius, he was made emperor in the east by Gratian after the death of Valens at the disastrous Battle of Hadrianople, at a time when the East was ravaged in every direction by the Goths. He defeated them, but the Goths secured control of Illyricum establishing a homeland south of the Danube within the Empire's borders. Theodosius defeated the usurpers Magnus Maximus and Eugenius. He ending Roman slavery and inaugurated a feudal society, a pivotal transformation in European history. He effectively made Nicene Christianity the official state church and fostered the destruction of some prominent pagan temples including the Temple of Apollo in Delphi, the Serapeum in Alexandria, and the Vestal Virgins in Rome. In 393, he banned the Olympics in Ancient Greece. It was not until the end of the 19th century, in 1896, that the Olympics were held again. After his death, Theodosius' sons Arcadius and Honorius inherited the East and West halves respectively, and the Roman Empire was never again re-united.The Roman Empire 395 AD


Theodosius I, 19 January 379 - 17 January 395 A.D.,

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Theodosius I, son of the famed general Count Theodosius, was made Augustus by Gratian after the disastrous battle of Hadrianople. He repulsed a Gothic invasion and destroyed the forces of Magnus Maximus and Eugenius. He reigned 36 years.
AS65213. Lead bulla (tag seal), Conical, uniface, with three draped facing busts; commonly attributed to Theodosius I and his sons Arcadius and Honorius, VF, weight 9.335 g, maximum diameter 19.4 mm, $60.00 (€53.40)
 


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The labarum, was a type of Roman cavalry standard, a vexillum with a military ensign marked with the Christogram (Greek monogram of Christ). It was an object of religious veneration amongst the soldiers, who paid it divine honors.
RL84200. Bronze centenionalis, RIC IX Siscia 38(b)1, LRBC II 1570, SRCV V 20450, Cohen VIII 23, Choice VF, well centered and struck, light marks and corrosion, weight 2.374 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, die axis 0o, 1st officina, Siscia (Sisak, Croatia) mint, fall 384 - summer 387 A.D.; obverse D N THEODOSIVS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse GLORIA ROMANORVM (glory of the Romans), emperor standing slightly right, head left, right hand on head of captive kneeling right on one knee with hands bound behind his back, labarum (Chi-Rho Christogram standard) in left hand, ASISC in exergue; scarce; $55.00 (€48.95)
 


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Siscia, a chief town and colony of Pannonia, was located at confluence of the Colapis and Savus, and is now called Sisak, Croatia. The Roman imperial mint operated from 260 to c. 390 A.D. The mint master was called procurator monetae Siscianae.
RL84699. Bronze half centenionalis, RIC IX Siscia 39(b)2, LRBC II 1576, SRCV V 20570, Cohen VIII 46, Choice VF, well centered, nice green patina, reverse center a little flat, weight 1.229 g, maximum diameter 13.6 mm, die axis 45o, 2nd officiana, Siscia (Sisak, Croatia) mint, fall 384 - summer 387 A.D.; obverse D N THEODOSIVS P F AVG, pearl diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse VICTORIA AVGGG (victory of the three emperors), Victory walking left, wreath in right hand, palm frond in left hand, BSIS in exergue; $45.00 (€40.05)
 


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Victory or Nike is seen with wings in most statues and paintings, with one of the most famous being the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Most other winged deities in the Greek pantheon had shed their wings by Classical times. Nike is the goddess of strength, speed, and victory. Nike was a very close acquaintance of Athena and is thought to have stood in Athena's outstretched hand in the statue of Athena located in the Parthenon. Victory or Nike is also one of the most commonly portrayed figures on Greek and Roman coins.
RL84230. Bronze half centenionalis, RIC IX Cyzicus 26(b)2, LRBC II 2577, SRCV V 20561, Cohen VIII 30, Choice VF, well centered and struck, dark patina with buff earthen highlighting, edge cracks, weight 1.315 g, maximum diameter 14.8 mm, die axis 0o, 2nd officina, Cyzicus (Kapu Dagh, Turkey) mint, 28 Aug 388 - 15 May 392 A.D.; obverse D N THEODOSIVS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse SALVS REIPVBLICAE (health of the Republic), Victory walking left, head right, carrying trophy in right hand, dragging captive with left hand, staurogram left, SMKB in exergue; $40.00 (€35.60)
 


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In 393, Theodosius I outlawed the Olympic Games, ending a thousand years of festivals, as part of the general Christian policy to establish universal Christian worship in accordance with the doctrines set forth in the Nicene Creed.
BB77671. Bronze maiorina, RIC IX Constantinopolis 88(a)4, LRBC II 2186, SRCV V 20489, Cohen VIII 18, F, well centered, dark patina, edge split, weight 5.367 g, maximum diameter 21.8 mm, die axis 180o, 4th officina, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, 15 May 392 - 17 Jan 395 A.D.; obverse D N THEODOSIVS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse GLORIA ROMANORVM (glory of the Romans), emperor standing facing, head right, wearing military attire, vexillum in right hand, globe in left hand, CONS∆ in exergue; $28.00 (€24.92)
 


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Theodosius was born in Cauca, Gallaecia, Hispania (according to Hydatius and Zosimus) or Italica, Baetica, Hispania (according to Marcellinus Comes, writing later). He was the son of General Theodosius and learned his military lessons by campaigning with his father's staff in Britannia where he had gone to help quell the Great Conspiracy in 368.
RL77945. Bronze maiorina, RIC IX Cyzicus 23.2, LRBC II 2563, SRCV V 20483, Cohen VIII 19, VF, dark green patina, porous, light earthen deposits, weight 5.434 g, maximum diameter 22.7 mm, die axis 180o, 2nd officina, Cyzicus (Kapu Dagh, Turkey) mint, 25 Aug 383 - 386 A.D.; obverse D N THEODOSIVS P F AVG, helmeted, pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right, spear in right hand pointed forward, shield in left hand; reverse GLORIA ROMANORVM (glory of the Romans), Emperor standing facing on galley left, head right, wearing helmet and military garb, paludamentum flying behind, raising right hand in salute, Victory steering at stern, T in upper left field, SMKB in exergue; from the Butte College Foundation, ex Lindgren; $28.00 (€24.92)
 


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On 19 January 379, Emperor Gratian elevated Flavius Theodosius at Sirmium, giving him the title Augustus with power over all the eastern provinces. Theodosius came to terms with the Visigoths and settled them in the Balkans as military allies (foederati).
RL79895. Bronze maiorina, RIC IX Cyzicus 14(c)3, LRBC II 2550, SRCV V 20482, Cohen VIII 19, VF/F, well centered, rough, bumps and scratches, corrosion, edge cracks, weight 4.442 g, maximum diameter 23.2 mm, die axis 0o, 3rd officina, Cyzicus (Kapu Dagh, Turkey) mint, 19 Jan 379 - 25 Aug 383 A.D.; obverse D N THEODOSIVS P F AVG, helmeted, pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right, transverse spear in right hand, shield on left arm; reverse GLORIA ROMANORVM (glory of the Romans), Emperor standing slightly left on galley, head right, wearing helmet and military garb, paludamentum flying behind, raising right hand in salute, Victory seated steering at stern, wreath left, SMKΓ in exergue; $28.00 (€24.92)
 


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In 390, the population of Thessalonica rioted against the presence of a Gothic garrison. The garrison commander was killed. In retaliation, Theodosius ordered the Goths to kill all the spectators in the circus. Theodoret, a witness, reports: "...the anger of the Emperor rose to the highest pitch, and he gratified his vindictive desire for vengeance by unsheathing the sword most unjustly and tyrannically against all, slaying the innocent and guilty alike. It is said seven thousand perished without any forms of law, and without even having judicial sentence passed upon them; but that, like ears of wheat in the time of harvest, they were alike cut down." Theodosius was excommunicated by the bishop of Milan, Saint Ambrose for the massacre. Ambrose told Theodosius to imitate David in his repentance as he had imitated him in guilt. Ambrose readmitted the emperor to the Eucharist only after several months of penance.
BB83835. Bronze half centenionalis, RIC IX Thessalonica 62(b) (S), LRBC II 1859, SRCV V 20553, Cohen VIII 16, VF, nice green patina, weight 1.640 g, maximum diameter 13.1 mm, die axis 105o, Thessalonica (Salonika, Greece) mint, fall 384 - Aug 388 A.D.; obverse D N THEODOSIVS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse GLORIA REIPVLICE, campgate with two towers, TES in exergue; scarce; $25.00 (€22.25)
 


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In the spring of 387, Theodosius I increased the taxes in Antioch. The peasants rioted and set fire to public buildings. Theodosius sent imperial troops to quell the disturbance and closed the public baths and theaters.
RL77766. Bronze centenionalis, RIC IX Antioch 44(a)1, LRBC II 2671, SRCV V 20528, Cohen VIII 6, aVF, well centered, scratches, partially uncleaned, weight 1.973 g, maximum diameter 18.2 mm, die axis 0o, 3rd officina, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 19 Jan 379 - 25 Aug 383 A.D.; obverse D N THEODOSIVS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse CONCORDIA AVGGG• (harmony among the three emperors), Constantinopolis seated facing on throne, turreted head right, scepter in right hand, resting left hand on knee, ANTΓ in exergue; from the Butte College Foundation, ex Lindgren; $24.00 (€21.36)
 


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Treaties with the Goths, signed 3 October 382, permitted large contingents of barbarians, primarily Thervingian Goths, to settle south of the Danube frontier and largely govern themselves. The treaties included military obligations which required the Goths to fight for the Romans as a national contingent, as opposed to being fully integrated into the Roman forces. However, many Goths would serve in Roman legions and others, as foederati, for a single campaign. Bands of Goths switching loyalties became a destabilizing factor in the internal struggles for control of the Empire.
RL77780. Bronze centenionalis, RIC IX Constantinopolis 57(d)3, LRBC II 2128, SRCV V 20531, Cohen VIII 5, VF, dark green patina, tight flan, earthen encrustations, light scratches, weight 1.972 g, maximum diameter 16.5 mm, die axis 0o, 2nd officina, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, 19 Jan 379 - 9 Aug 383 A.D.; obverse D N THEODOSIVS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse CONCORDIA AVGGG• (harmony among the three emperors), Constantinopolis seated facing on throne, helmeted head right, scepter in right hand, globe in left hand, right leg bare, right foot on prow, o left, CONSB in exergue; $24.00 (€21.36)
 




  



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REFERENCES

Carson, R., P. Hill & J. Kent. Late Roman Bronze Coinage. (London, 1960).
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappées sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. 8: Nepotian to Romulus Augustus, plus tesserae & cotorniates. (Paris, 1888).
Depeyrot, G. Les monnaies d'or de Constantin II à Zenon (337-491). Moneta 5. (Wetteren, 1996).
Hahn, Wolfgang. Moneta Imperii Romani-Byzantinii. (Vienna, 1989).
King, C.E. & D.R. Sear. Roman Silver Coins, Volume V, Carausius to Romulus Augustus. (London, 1987).
Paolucci, R. & A. Zub. La monetazione di Aquileia Romana. (Padova, 2000).
Pearce, J.W.E. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Volume IX, Valentinian I - Theodosius I. (London 1933).
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet, University of Glasgow, Vol. V. Diocletian (Reform) to Zeno. (Oxford, 1982).
Sear, D.R. Roman Coins and Their Values, Vol. V: The Christian Empire...Constantine II to Zeno, AD 337 - 491. (London, 2014).
Vagi, D. Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. (Sidney, 1999).

Catalog current as of Friday, February 24, 2017.
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Roman Coins of Theodosius I