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NEPOTIANUS (Constantinus Flavius Popilius) was the son of a senator of that name, and of Eutropia, sister to Constantine the Great. He was consul in A.D. 336.
In imitation of Magnentius, he aspired to the empire, assumed the purple in June, A.D. 350; took the title of Augustus, which his gladiatorial mercenaries pretended to confirm to him; and after repulsing Anicetus, prefect of the Praetorian at Rome, obtained easy possession of the capital of the West. But this usurper had not the genius to preserve to himself what his good fortune had acquired. Instead of conciliating the Romans who, from hatred to Magnentius, had received him with pleasure, he struck terror through the city with his proscriptions, and irritated the inhabitants by his murderous cruelties. Within a month the tyrant was killed, desperately defending himself, in a battle with Marcellianus, one of the generals of Magnentius, who punished Rome for her revolt by the most ferocious execution of military vengeance on the wretched people. - The only coins of Nepotianus probably struck at Rome are in second brass, and of the highest rarity. He is styled FL. POP. NEPOTIANVS P.R. AVG. and FL. NEP. CONSTANTINVS AVG. - The example given above is taken from a coin in the British Museum.
NEP. S. OR SACR. Neptuno Sacrum. NEPT. RED. Neptuno Reduci, as if Rome was about to render thanks to Neptune, who had been propitious to the Emperor's invocation, and guarded him safely over the sea.
NEPT. Neptunus. - Neptune, son of Saturn and Rhea, was one of the twelve greater divinities of Greek and Roman worship. In the partition of the world with his brothers Jupiter and Pluto, the empire of the waters fell to his share. Statues, medals, and engraved stones, present to us the peculiar incidents of his fabled history. His image differs but little from that of Jupiter; there is a great conformity in the arrangement of the hair of the head, and in the form of the beard, but the expression of power and majesty is comparatively feeble in the figure of the Sea-King. He is usually portrayed naked, or with a very light chlamys. - On some medals, coins of Corinth and of Berytus, he is seen drawn by sea-horses, which have the upper portion of that animal, whilst the lower extremities terminate in a fish's tail. This imaginative creature is the hippocampus. Neptune carries a scepter with three points or teeth, called the trident.- Mythologists give many reasons for this attribute, among others to mark the triple authority of the God over the sea, which he was supposed to have the power of troubling and of calming, and which he also preserves. - Millin suggests whether it may not be regarded "as an instrument for catching fish," and he instances the Greek fishermen, who, to this day, make use of a similar instrument for that purpose. - See Berytus - Hippocampus.
The poets have ascribed a prodigious number of amatory adventures to Neptune, and made him the father of various enterprising heroes and warriors, the founders of cities. In Greece and in Italy, especially in maritime places, a great many temples were raised to his worship. The Romans held him in such veneration that festivals and games of the circus, at Rome, were celebrated in his honor on the first of July, and which were marked for that day in their calendar by the words D. Neptuni Ludi. What is most singular, as they believed that Neptune formed the first horse, so all horses and mules remained without working during the feasts of this deity, and enjoyed a repose which no one dared interrupt. - Neptune crowned by Victory signifies the gratitude of him who ascribed to that divinity the means of his gaining a naval victory. - The great number of children assigned to this god arose from the circumstance of those being generally called the sons of Neptune who had distinguished themselves in the sea fights, or by their skill in navigation. Sextus Pompey, puffed up with his naval successes, chose to be so denominated; and we find this title on his medals. - The temple of Neptune is seen represented on a coin of the Domitia Family. The god himself placing his foot on a globe, in a medal of Augustus (inscribed CAESAR DIVI. F.), and in another of Titus, indicates that the Emperors assumed equally to be masters of land and sea. Besides the trident, the dolphin, the rudder, and the acrostolium were attributes of Neptune, and bear reference on medals to maritime power. - Neptune was held to be the author of earthquakes, which he produced by pressing the earth with his feet; hence we often see him on coins with sometimes the right, sometimes the left foot on a globe. - See Trident - Dolphin - Acrostolium.
Neptune, lying down, is seen on a coin of Nero, representing the port of Ostia. He is figured in sitting posture, with a dolphin in the right hand and trident in the left, on colonial coins of Corinth, struck during the reigns of Domitian, Antonius Pius, M. Aurelius, and Commodus. He stands naked on colonial coins of Augustus, Trajan, Antonine, and Commodus. - See PORT. OST. - and CORINTHVS.
Neptune standing, with dolphin and trident, appears on a second brass medal of Agrippa, with the epigraph of M. AGRIPPA. L.F. COS. III., his head bearing the rostral crown. - See Agrippa.
Neptune standing, to the right, his left hand grasping a trident; behind him the Tiber; NEPTVNO CIRCENS. REST. OR CONSTIT. - On a rare second brass of Nerva. - See Mr. R. Smith's " Catalogue of London Antiquities;" and "Num. Dhrou." vol iv. p. 150.
Neptune appears, on a brass medallion of Commodus, standing, with the trident in his right hand, a dolphin in his left, and his right foot on the prow of a vessel; the Emperor, full-faced and in the toga, sacrificing before him. The accompanying epigraph is PIO. IMP. OMNIA FELICIA, etc. (see words), which shows that Neptune was a type of Felicity and of Congratulation.
Neptune's head, with long beard, and crowned with laurel, appears on a coin of the Proculeia family. Medals of other Roman families exhibit similar busts of this deity.