Numismatica Ars Classica > Auction 131Auction date: 30 May 2022
Lot number: 149

Price realized: 4,500 CHF   (Approx. 4,703 USD / 4,391 EUR)   Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
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Lot description:

Constantine I augustus, 307 – 337
Miliarense, Nicomedia circa 324-325, AR 3.95 g. CONSTANTINVS MAX AVG Diademed and cuirassed bust r. Rev. FELICITAS ROMANORVM The emperor, draped, standing l. under arch between his sons, each holding sceptre and globe. In exergue, SMN. C 149. Gnecchi p. 58, 14 var. (laureate). RIC 88 var. (laureate).
Extremely rare and in unusually fine condition for the issue. A hairline flan-crack
at five o'clock on obverse, otherwise extremely fine

This extremely rare silver medallion was struck to celebrate the final defeat of Constantine's imperial rival Licinius I and the firm establishment of his dynasty as the sole source of power in the Roman world. Although he had agreed to divide the Roman Empire between them in AD 313, Constantine I was not really content with this settlement. After years of an uneasy truce, in 321-322 Constantine provoked Licinius I to go to war after repeatedly crossing into his territory without permission to do so. Constantine defeated the army of Licinius at the Battle of Adrianople (3 July 324) and his eldest son Crispus besieged him in Byzantium. Licinius I, however, managed to escape across the Hellespont into Bithynia where he raised a new army. This too was defeated at the battle of Chrysopolis (11 September 324) and Licinius was taken prisoner. He was executed in 325 after being accused of plotting to return to power with the help of Gothic mercenaries. With Licinius I completely out of the way, Constantine I became the ruler of a united Roman Empire for the first time since Diocletian split it into Eastern and Western Empires in 285. He had truly become Maximus Augustus, just as the obverse titulature describes him on the medallion. While the obverse portrait and legend celebrate Constantine as the single unifying and ruling force in the Empire, the reverse type celebrates the Constantinian dynasty as a source of stability for the future. Constantine is shown standing between his two sons, Crispus, who was the architect of victory against Licinius' superior fleet in the Hellespont, and Constantine II, who was only about ten-years-old when the medallion was struck. Like his elder half-brother, Constantine II had the status of Caesar and had some small involvement in the war against Licinius I. Unfortunately, the image of the solid ruling dynasty presented by this medallion proved to be largely illusory. In 326, only a year after it was struck, Crispus was executed for uncertain reasons, possibly to ensure that the succession passed only to the sons of Constantine and Fausta. These included Constantine II and his younger brothers, Constantius II and Constans. Crispus, however, was a son of Constantine and his first wife, Minervina. After the death of their father and a purge of their relatives in 337, Constantine II and his brothers divided the Empire among themselves, but again dynastic stability was not in evidence. Constantine II was killed in 340 as part of a territorial dispute with Constans.

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Estimate: 5000 CHF