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Coin Collecting Theme Galleries Galleries for various coin collecting themes, including best of type, masterpiece portraits, unpublished coins, plate coins, historic women, architectural, animals, and many more. These galleries are free for all to post coins. No cost registration is required. Suggestions for new gallery themes are welcome.
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The Best of Type!


Add your superb coins to the BOT Gallery. Only the very best example of each type (RIC number for example) with above a four star rating after 10 votes will stay in BOT. A challenge begins when two coins of the same type are listed. The highest rated coin after both have 10 or more votes wins. Challenge defeats and coins with a four star rating or below will be removed from the gallery. If your coin is posted here, you get bragging rights and perhaps even a higher price if you sell (list it as "Best of the Type in FORVM's Gallery!").

1989 files, last one added on Jan 20, 2019

Superb and Masterpiece Portraits Gallery


A superb portrait appears that it could come to life. Many or most coin portraits actually lack this trait. A masterpiece portrait not only appears that it could come to life, but also makes an impression of what the subject was like, what they were thinking or how they felt. It's not about the grade; it's about the art.

224 files, last one added on Aug 28, 2018

Unlisted and Unpublished Coins


Post unpublished coins to identify them to collectors, scholars, authors, and publishers. Also post coins unlisted in major references but perhaps included in a scarce publication. Before uploading here, we recommend posting your coin on the discussion board for possible identification of a published example. Please identify the references checked.

207 files, last one added on Dec 14, 2018

Plate Coins


Please post your coins illustrated in popular references, and scholarly books or articles here. Also, please post your coin if it is the exact coin (not the same type, the exact same coin) described by a reference, even if the coin is not illustrated. In addition to the usual attribution, description, weight, and diameter of the coin, please identify the book, its author, the page and/or plate number, and the item number.

104 files, last one added on Jan 23, 2019

Monumental Coins - Campgates and Other Architecture


Campgates, city gates, temples, etc., post your monumental coins here.

162 files, last one added on Sep 29, 2018

Ancient Women


Women of the ancient world depicted on ancient coins.

163 files, last one added on Dec 11, 2017

Coin Zoo - Animals


Express your wild side and help populate the greatest classical numismatic zoo on earth with every possible variety of real and mythical animals.

190 files, last one added on Nov 12, 2017

The Pantheon - Gods, Goddesses and Personifications


A gallery of mythology. Please include information about the deity and their attributes.

173 files, last one added on Jan 21, 2017

Historical Coins


Share your historically significant coins. Along with posting photos of the coin, please describe the historic event related to the coin.

79 files, last one added on Aug 19, 2018

Ancient Counterfeits and Barbarous Imitations


Ancient but not official.

216 files, last one added on Jan 28, 2018

Roman Mint Style Examples


Each Roman mint had its own style. Learning about these styles will help with attribution and authentication. Discussion board members please share your knowledge here. Along with posting photos of the coin, please explain the features that distinguish the mint.

22 files, last one added on May 08, 2017



We hope this gallery will become a great reference for countermarks. Please add your countermarked coins to this gallery with as much reference information as possible.

367 files, last one added on Nov 21, 2017

Viminacium and Dacia - Lion and Bull


48 files, last one added on Feb 22, 2018

Lead Seals


The vast array of ancient lead seal types makes their attribution and study complex. It also means there is still tremendous opportunity for new discovery. While there are some published collections, most references are rare and expensive. Most online references for seals are not in English. This gallery is intended to be a useful resource for the attribution and better understanding of ancient seals.

65 files, last one added on Aug 18, 2015

Coins from Members' Personal Ancient Coin Galleries


If you want to remove coin photos from your gallery, please don't delete them - move them here. Forum staff will move photos here from the galleries of members that unregister.

3564 files, last one added on Oct 07, 2018

Places and Things Depicted on Coins


Statues, temples, mountains and other things that were depicted on ancient coins.

110 files, last one added on Jan 02, 2019

Ancient Sites Photo Gallery


Did you go on a vacation to an ancient site or do you live near one? Upload your pictures here to share views of ancient cities, buildings, ruins, etc. Please state where the pictures were taken and give a brief description of the site.

759 files, last one added on Jan 16, 2019


17 albums on 1 page(s)

Members' Coin Collection GalleriesClassical Numismatic Discussion Board Members may create their own free Personal Ancient Coin Gallery. No limit to the number of coins added. More is better!
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102930 files in 4005 albums and 2 categories with 46464 comments viewed 4341394 times

Last additions
064 - Septimius Severus denarius - RIC 486 var.1 viewsObv:- L SEPT SEVER PERT AVG IMP VIII, Laureate head right
Rev:- VICTOR AVG, Victoria standing right, left foot on globe?, holding shield with left hand, resting on knee, inscribing with right hand
Minted in Laodicea-ad-Mare.
Reference:– RIC 486 var. BMCRE pg. 113 var. Cohen 704 var
maridvnvmJan 24, 2019
064 - Septimius Severus denarius - RIC 484(a)1 viewsObv:–L SEPT SEV PE-RT AVG IMP VIII, Laureate head right
Rev:– M-ONET AVG, Moneta standing left, holding scales and cornucopiae
Minted in Laodicea-ad-Mare. A.D. 196 - 197
Reference:– RIC 484(a) (Scarce)
maridvnvmJan 24, 2019
064 - Septimius Severus denarius - RIC 4811 viewsObv:– L SEPT SEV PERT AVG IMP VIII, laureate head right
Rev:– LIBER AVG, Liberalitas standing left, holding abacus in right hand, cornucopiae in left
Minted in Laodicea-ad-Mare. A.D. 196-197
Reference:– BMCRE 445 (Same dies?). RIC 481. RSC 288.

Weight 2.71g. 18.69mm
maridvnvmJan 24, 2019
064 - Septimius Severus denarius - RIC 480a corr.1 viewsObv:– L SEPT SEV PERT AVG IMP VII-I, Laureate head right
Rev:– IOVI IN-VICT, Jupiter seated left, holding Victory and sceptre
Minted in Laodicea ad Mare. A.D. 196-197
Reference:– Cohen 239. RIC 480a corr. (Rare) RIC is likely in error in recording INVICTO in the Vienna collection.

A rare issue and one of its rarer reverse types.
maridvnvmJan 24, 2019
064 - Septimius Severus denarius - RIC 479B1 viewsObv:– L SEPT SEV PERT AVG IMP VIII, Laureate head right
Rev:– FORT R-EDVC, Fortuna (Pietas) standing left holding patera and cornucopia, sacrificing over altar
Minted in Laodicea-ad-Mare, A.D. 196-197
References:– BMC W444, RIC 479B (R2), RSC 168c
maridvnvmJan 24, 2019
064 - Septimius Severus denarius - RIC 479A (b)1 viewsObv:– L SEPT SEV PER-T AVG IMP VIII, laureate head right
Rev:– FORT REDVC, Fortuna (Hilaritas) standing front, head left, holding long palm and cornucopiae
Minted in Laodicea-ad-Mare. A.D. 196
Ref:– BMCRE 443a. RIC IV 479A (b) (R2)

Unusual obverse legend break PER-T as opposed to the more usual PE-RT.
maridvnvmJan 24, 2019
Moesia inferior, Nikopolis ad Istrum, 14. Septimius Severus, HrHJ (2018) (rev. only)0 viewsSeptimius Severus, AD 193-211
AE 27, 11.95g, 26.65mm, 180°
struck under governor Aurelius Gallus
Laureate head r.
River god, bearded (?), nude to hips, leaning l., head turned r., holding in r. hand water
plant and resting with l. elbow on vase from which water is flowing l.
ref. a) AMNG I/1, 1311 (1 ex., London)
b) not in Varbanov
c) nicht in Hristova/Hoeft/Jekov (2018):
rev. No. (same die)
obv. e.g. No. (same die)
rare, S, corroded, stripped
JochenJan 24, 2019
064 - Septimius Severus denarius - RIC 477a (R2)2 viewsObv:– L SEP SEV PERET AVG IMP VIII, Laureate head right
Rev:– FORT REDVC, Fortuna standing left holding cornucopiae in each hand
Minted in Laodicea-ad-Mare. A.D. 194
Reference:– RIC 477a (R2 citing Reyka Denvia). BMCRE page 112 also citing RD.
maridvnvmJan 24, 2019
064 - Septimius Severus denarius - RIC 4771 viewsObv:– L S[EP S]EV PERT AVG IMP VI-[II], Laureate head right
Rev:– FORT R-EDVC, Fortuna standing left holding rudder and cornucopiae
Minted in Laodicea-ad-Mare. A.D. 194
Reference:– RIC 477 (Scarce, citing Cohen 164 (Paris)). BMCRE page 111 also citing C. 164.
maridvnvmJan 24, 2019
064 - Septimius Severus denarius - RIC - (466 corr?)1 viewsObv:– L SEPT SEV PERT AVG IMP VII-I, Laureate head right
Rev:– ARAB ADIABENIC, Victory advancing left holding wreath and palm
Minted in Laodicea-ad-Mare. A.D. 196-197
Ref:– Cohen -, BMCRE -, RIC -.

The reverse refers to victory over Niger. To hide the fact that this was a civil war, it is phrased as victory over Arabs and Adiabenians, who aided Niger's cause.

RIC IV 466 has the same reverse legend, listed as IMP VII but as Curtis points out this legend is probably a mis-reading of IMP VIII probably cause by the last I being after the bust as on this example. RIC 466 however is Victory with wreath and trophy whereas this type is Victory with wreath and palm. RIC and BMCRE cite Cohen 52 (5 Francs) for this coin.
maridvnvmJan 24, 2019
1 Constans2 viewsConstans AE2, Antioch mint, 348-350 AD.

DN CONSTA-NS PF AVG, pearl diademed, draped, cuirassed bust right / FEL TEMP REPARATIO, Constans on galley holding phoenix & labarum,
Victory at helm, to right, star in the field.
AN Delta in ex.

RIC VIII Antioch 124
1 commentsRandygeki(h2)Jan 24, 2019
Moesia inferior, Nikopolis ad Istrum, 23. Macrinus, HrHJ (2018) 8.23.35.- 0 viewsMacrinus, AD 217-218
AE 27, 13,62mm
struck under governor Statius Longinus
Laureate head r.
in l. and r. field C - IC
in ex. TRW
Aequitas in long garment, StG. frontal, holding cornucopiae in l. arm and in extended r.
hand scales
ref. a) cf. AMNG I/1, [1771], (1 ex., Neapel) (has PROC ICTRW without break)
b) not in Varbanov
c) not in HrHJ (2018):
rev. no Aequitas listed for Longinus under Macrinus
obv. e.g. No. (same die)
rare, F+, dark green patina

JochenJan 23, 2019
The collection of coins formed M.P.Vlasto 1344 this coin circa 325-280 BC 13mm 1.16g 2h3 viewsHelmeted head of Athena left,with wreath on bowl/Herakles holding club,stranging the Nemean lion.2 commentsGrant HJan 23, 2019
064 - Septimius Severus denarius - RIC 4721 viewsObv:– L SEPT SEV PERT AVG IMP VIII, Laureate head right
Rev:– BONA SPES, Spes standing left, holding flower in right hand, raising hem of skirt with left
Minted in Laodicea-ad-Mare, A.D. 196-197
References:– RIC 472, BMCRE pg 111, RSC 59
maridvnvmJan 23, 2019
064 - Septimius Severus denarius - RIC 4745 viewsObv:– L SEPT SEV PERT AVG IMP VIII, Laureate head right
Rev:– BONI EVENTVS, Fides standing left holding basket of fruits in right hand, grain ears in left
Minted in Laodicea-ad-Mare, A.D. 196-197
References:– RIC 474 (scarce). RSC 67b.
1 commentsmaridvnvmJan 23, 2019
064 - Septimius Severus denarius - RIC -1 viewsObv:– L SEP SEV PERT AVG IMP VIII, Laureate head right
Rev:– FORT R-E-DVC, Fortuna standing left holding cornucopiae in each hand
Minted in Laodicea-ad-Mare. A.D. 194
Reference:– RIC -. RSC/Cohen -. No examples in the Reka-Devnia hoard
maridvnvmJan 23, 2019

Random files
[1663a] Byzantine Empire: Manuel I Comnenus Megas (1143-1180)---NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH---[1685a] Empire of Trebizond: Manuel I Komnenos Megas (1218-1263 AD)125 viewsMANUEL I COMNENUS AE tetarteron. 1143-1180 AD. 19mm, 2.8g. Obverse: Bust of St. George facing, beardless, wearing nimbus, tunic, cuirass and sagion, and holding spear. Reverse: MANVHL-DECPOT, bust of Manuel facing, wearing crown and loros, holding labarum & globe-cross. Simply wonderful style, very sharp for the issue. A gorgeous late Byzantine coin! Ex Incitatus.

De Imperatoribus Romanis: An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Rulers and their Families

MANUEL I COMNENUS (A.D. 1143-1180)

Andrew Stone
University of Western Australia

Introduction: Sources
The reign of the emperor Manuel I Comnenus (5 April 1143- 24 September 1180) could well be regarded as a high-water mark of Byzantine civilization. It was the apogee of the so-called "Comnenian Restoration". Politically, the emperor undertook an ambitious foreign policy which has been seen by some, particularly in the light of many ultimate failures, as "misguided imperialism", recent scholarship has come to question this traditional judgment and suggests instead that the the Comnenian foreign policy was rather an energetic seizing of the different opportunities that presented themselves in the rapidly changing constellations of powers of the time. Such measures were made possible by the internal security of the empire under this, its third, Comnenian incumbent, although there were a few other aspirants to the throne, not least among them the emperor's cousin Andronicus. Manuel and other key members of the "Comnenian system", as it has been called, were patrons of rhetoric and other forms of learning and literature, and Manuel himself became keenly interested in ecclesiastical affairs, even if here his imperialistic agenda was a factor as he tried to bring Constantinopolitan theology in line with that of the west in a bid to unite the Church under his crown.

In terms of volume of contemporary material, Manuel is the most eulogised of all Byzantine emperors, and the panegyric addressed to him supplements the two major Byzantine historians of the reign, the more critical Nicetas Choniates and the laudatory John Cinnamus, as primary sources for the student of the period to study. The Crusader historian William of Tyre met Manuel personally, and such was the scope of Manuel's diplomacy that he is mentioned incidentally in western sources, such as Romuald of Salerno. Among authors of the encomia (panegyrics) we have mentioned are Theodore Prodromus and the so-called "Manganeios" Prodromus, who wrote in verse, and the prose encomiasts Michael the Rhetor, Eustathius of Thessalonica and Euthymius Malaces, to name the most important. Manuel, with his penchant for the Latins and their ways, left a legacy of Byzantine resentment against these outsiders, which was to be ruthlessly exploited by Andronicus in the end.

Manuel as sebastokrator
Manuel was born in the imperial porphyry birthchamber on 28 November 1118. He was the fourth of John II's sons, so it seemed very unlikely that he would succeed. As a youth, Manuel evidently accompanied John on campaign, for in the Anatolian expedition of 1139-41 we find Manuel rashly charging a small group of the Turkish enemy, an action for which he was castigated by his father, even though John, we are told, was inwardly impressed (mention of the incident is made in John's deathbed speech in both John Cinnamus and Nicetas Choniates). John negotiated a marriage contract for Manuel with Conrad III of Germany; he was to marry Bertha of Sulzbach. It seems to have been John's plan to carve out a client principality for Manuel from Cilicia, Cyprus and Coele Syria. In the event, it was Manuel who succeeded him.

The Securing of the Succession 1143
In the article on John II it is related how the dying John chose his youngest son Manuel to succeed him in preference to his other surviving son Isaac. Manuel was acclaimed emperor by the armies on 5 April 1143. Manuel stayed in Cilicia, where the army was stationed, for thirty days, to complete the funeral rites for his father. He sent his father's right-hand man John Axuch, however, to Constantinople to confine Isaac to the Pantokrator Monastery and to effect a donation of two hundredweight of silver coin to the clergy of the Great Church. The surviving encomium of Michael Italicus, Teacher of the Gospel, for the new emperor can be regarded as a return gift for this largesse. In the meantime the Caesar John Roger, husband of Manuel's eldest sister Maria, had been plotting to seize the throne; the plot was, however, given away by his wife before it could take effect. Manuel marched home to enter Constantinople c. July 1143. He secured the good-will of the people by commanding that every household should be granted two gold coins. Isaac the younger (Manuel's brother) and Isaac the elder (Manuel's paternal uncle), were both released from captivity and reconciled with him. Manuel chose Michael Oxeites as the new patriarch and was crowned either in August or November 1143.

Manuel confirmed John Axuch in the office of Grand Domestic, that is, commander of the army, appointed John of Poutze as procurator of public taxes, grand commissioner and inspector of accounts and John Hagiotheodorites as chancellor. John of Poutze proved to be an oppressive tax collector, but was also unsusceptible to bribery. However, this John diverted monies levied for the navy into the treasury, which would, as we shall see, further Byzantine dependence on the maritime Italian city-states of Venice, Genoa and Pisa.

Early Campaigns: 1144-1146
Manuel's first concern was to consolidate the work of his father in securing the eastern frontier. He sent a force under the brothers Andronicus and John Contostephanus against the recalcitrant Crusader prince Raymond of Antioch, which consisted of both an army and a navy, the latter commanded by Demetrius Branas. Raymond's army was routed, and the naval force inflicted no small damage on the coastal regions of the principality. In the meantime the Crusader city of Edessa fell to the Turkish atabeg Zengi. Raymond therefore travelled to Constantinople as a suppliant to Manuel. It was subsequently decided, in the light of Manuel's imperial status, that the terms under which he would marry Bertha of Sulzbach should be improved. Manuel asked for 500 knights, and Conrad happily granted them, being prepared to supply 2000 or 3000 if need be all for the sake of this alliance. Bertha took the Greek name Irene.

The Seljuk sultanate of Rum under Masud had become the ascendant Turkish power in Anatolia. Manuel himself supervised the rebuilding of the fortress of Melangeia on the Sangarius river in Bithynia (1145 or 1146). In the most daring campaign of these early years, after building the new fort of Pithecas in Bithynia, Manuel advanced as far into Turkish territory as Konya (Iconium), the Seljuk capital. He had been wounded in the foot by an arrow at a mighty battle at Philomelium (which had been Masud's headquarters), and the city had been rased; once at Konya, he allowed his troops to despoil the graves outside the city walls, before taking the road home.

Cinnamus relates that the gratutitous heroics which Manuel displayed on this campaign were calculated to impress Manuel's new bride. Manuel and his army were harried by Turks on the journey home. Manuel erected the fort of Pylae before leaving Anatolia.

[For a detailed and interesting discussion of the reign of Manuel I Comnenus please see]

Frederick Barbarossa and the "two-emperor problem"
Frederick Barbarossa, who was to become a constant menace to Manuel's designs, had succeeded his uncle Conrad III in 1152, but unlike him proved in the end unprepared to make any territorial concessions in Italy. The origins of this "cold war" between the two empires cannot be dated with any certainty, but there may have been a tendency to date it too early. One school of thought would not date the outbreak of this rivalry to any earlier than 1159-60, the death of Manuel's German wife, Bertha-Irene. About this time there was a scare at Constantinople that Frederick Barbarossa would march on Byzantium, perhaps reflecting a desire on Frederick's part to crusade (which he eventually did, in the reign of Isaac II Angelus). The new Pope, Alexander III, by, as it would seem, offering to grant Manuel the imperial crown, used it as a bargaining chip to play off the emperors of west and east against one another. Manuel may have supported Alexander during the papal schism of 1160-1177 because he was the preferred candidate of Hungary and the Crusader states, both of which he hoped would recognise him as their feudal overlord. By this means he could claim sovereign rights over the crusading movement, and thereby turn it to his advantage. The playing off of Manuel against Frederick continued right up until 1177, the Peace of Venice, whereby Frederick agreed to recognise Pope Alexander, the autonomy of Sicily and of the northern Italian communes. But this result was not a foregone conclusion in the 1160s and early 1170s, and Manuel used Byzantine gold to win supporters in Italy and thereby keep Frederick occupied.

Marriage to Maria of Antioch 1161
Bertha-Irene died in late 1159/early 1160. Manuel sought to strengthen his ties with the Crusader principalities by selecting an eastern Latin princess for his wife. The exceedingly beautiful Maria of Antioch, daughter of Raymond of Antioch, was chosen, and the nuptials celebrated at Christmas, 1161.

Dynastic considerations 1169-1172
Manuel's wife Maria of Antioch gave birth to a baby boy 14 September 1169 in the porphyry marble birthchamber, the cause of great festivities. The infant was crowned emperor in 1171. With the death of Stephen III of Hungary in 1172, Stephen's brother Béla was sent out from Constantinople to assume the throne (though without Sirmium and Dalmatia being surrendered to the Hungarian crown). A husband for Maria Porphyrogenita was therefore required. At first it was proposed that she marry William II of Sicily, who was outraged when she failed to show up at Taranto on the appointed day, the emperor having had second thoughts.

The final months 1180
Manuel took ill in the month of March 1180. During this period of terminal illness the last major religious controversies took place. We are told that Manuel directed that the anathema pronounced against the god of Muhammad be removed from the abjuration against the Islamic faith declared by converts to Christianity. Manuel was opposed by the last patriarch of his reign, Theodosius Boradiotes (1179-1183), as well as, notably, by Eustathius of Thessalonica. Both parties were satisfied in the end upon a reading of the emperor's proposed amendments to the abjuration. This controversy would seem to be a different one from the one alluded to in Eustathius' funeral oration for Manuel, since Manuel is praised by Eustathius for his stance in it, which seems to have revolved around a book written by a convert from Islam that magnified the Father at the expense of the Son (and therefore had Arian overtones). It became apparent that the emperor was dying, and, on the advice of Theodosius, he renounced astrology. As his end approached, he assumed the monastic habit and the name Matthew, demanding that his wife Maria become a nun. Manuel's son Alexius was but eleven, and the minority would prove to be disastrous for Byzantium. Manuel died thirty-seven years and nine months from the beginning of his reign.

General strategies in Manuel's foreign policy
The funeral oration for Manuel by Eustathius of Thessalonica is an interesting document in that it discusses some of the general policies pursued over Manuel's reign. It endorses his policy of dividing his enemies, the Petchenegs, the Sicilian Normans and the Turks, among themselves by using Byzantine gold, a policy of "divide and rule". We have seen how this was applied especially in Italy. Another general policy was to create friendly buffer states on the frontiers of the empire, most notably Hungary (and Serbia) and the Crusader States. Manuel would deliberately underpin the most powerful potentate in each region (the king of Hungary, the king of Jerusalem, the sultan of Konya) and thereby emphasise his own absolute sovereignty. In the funeral oration this granting of autonomy is justified as the reward for good service, as in the parable of the talents. We also see in the panegyric of the 1170s the downplaying of the idea of world rule which was so prevalent in the reign of John. Although Manuel claimed sovereign rights over many of his neighbours, his territorial claims were limited: coastal southern Italy, Dalmatia and Sirmium, coastal Egypt. The Byzantines seem to have come to terms with the reality of nation states and it is in Manuel's reign that they begin to refer to themselves not only as "Romans", but as "Hellenes", in order to demarcate themselves from the barbarians surrounding them.

Manuel's taxation, government and army
Nicetas Choniates roundly criticises Manuel in his history for increasing taxes and lavishing money on his family and retainers, particularly his Latin favourites. We have also seen how money was spent in Manuel's ambitious foreign policy. Mention is made of two towers, one at Damalis, and one next to the monastery of the Mangana, between which a chain could be stretched to block the Bosphorus. Then there was the work done at both the Great Palace and the Palace of the Blachernae, galleries, a pavilion alla Turca and numerous mosaics. He also founded a monastery at Kataskepe at the mouth of the Black Sea, which was endowed from the imperial treasury.

Choniates further criticizes the continuation and spread of the granting of pronoiai, parcels of land, the income from each of which supported a soldier. Many of these were granted to foreigners, for example, Turks captured in the Meander campaigns were settled around Thessalonica. The pronoia would pay not only for a soldier's upkeep, but his expensive equipment, for in Manuel's reign the bow and arrow and circular shield had been replaced by a heavier western-style panoply of armour, large triangular shield and lance. Choniates laments how fashionable a practice it had become in Manuel's reign to forsake the land or one's trade and become enlisted in the army.

Manuel and the "Comnenian system"
Throughout Manuel's reign, as under his father John, the top tier of the aristocracy was formed by the emperor's family, the Comneni, and the families into which they married. The extended family was, however, by now becoming unwieldy, and beginning to lose its cohesion, as the example of Manuel's cousin Andronicus shows. Under Manuel it was degree of kinship to the emperor which determined one's rank, as synodal listings show. So it was that very quickly after Manuel's death the upper tier of the aristocracy splintered into separate groups, each with its own identity and interests.

The various aristocratic courts, that of the emperor and other key members of the extended family, most notably the sebastokrator Isaac Comnenus the elder and the sebastokratorissa Irene, widow of Manuel's brother Andronicus, attracted literati who would seek to serve under them. Such figures would not only turn their hands to literature, encomia in prose or poetry, expositions on mythology, commentaries on Homer or the philosophers, historical chronicles and even, in this period, romances - the twelfth century is a high point of literary production at Constantinople, so much so that some have even talked of a "Comnenian renaissance" - but they would seek to perform more menial, such as administrative, duties to support themselves. Such men would often come from noble families whose prestige had been eclipsed by the Comnenian upper tier of the aristocracy. Serving under a lord was one way of advancing oneself, entering the Church was another.

The patriarchal church and education
The deacons of the church of St Sophia were a powerful group, the chartophylax being second only to the patriarch. These deacons would either go on to become bishops in the provinces, or possibly first hold one of the professorial chairs associated with the patriarchal church. First there were the "teachers", didaskaloi of the Gospels, Epistles and Psalter. Then there was the maistor ton rhetoron, "master of the rhetors", responsible for delivering speeches in praise of the emperor on January 6 each year and of the patriarch on the Saturday prior to Palm Sunday, as well as for other state occasions. And there was the hypatos ton philosophon, "consul of the philosophers", an office which had lapsed but was revived under Manuel.

Character and Legacy
Was Byzantium of the middle to late twelfth century living on borrowed time? Until recently this was the verdict of many scholars. Yet John II and Manuel had, if there is any kernel of truth in their encomia, at least temporarily reversed the overrunning of Anatolia by the Turks, and Manuel had won Dalmatia and Sirmium from Hungary. But Byzantine collapse was rapid, which is the reason why scholars have searched in the reigns of John and Manuel for the beginnings of the disintegration that occurred under the last Comneni and the Angeli. The history and comments of Nicetas Choniates have been adduced as vindicating this view. The victory of the military aristocracy that the establishment of the Comnenian dynasty represents has been seen as both the reason for the temporary reversal of Byzantine fortunes - government by three very capable autocrats - and of ultimate failure, because of the splintering into factions that oligarchy, such as was present in the Comnenian system, foments. A Marxist interpretation is that the feudalisation of the Byzantine Empire, the depletion of the free peasantry, that began to take place in the middle period was the reason for its ultimate failure. But to the Byzantines at the time Byzantium seemed to be holding its own; the "nations" around were being kept at bay, and even though the panegyric of renovation is less evident than in the reign of John II, the emperor remains despotes, "master" of the oikoumene, "world". Indeed, Manuel would be remembered in France, Genoa and the Crusader States as the most powerful sovereign in the world.

We have mentioned the funeral oration for Manuel by Eustathius of Thessalonica. This contains a series of vignettes of the personal aspects of Manuel. There are commonplaces: the emperor is able to endure hunger, thirst, heat and cold, lack of sleep and so on, and sweats copiously in his endeavours on the empire's part. Although these ideas have been recycled from earlier reigns, notably that of John II, the contemporary historians agree that Manuel was an indefatigable and daring warrior. However, there are more specifically individual touches in the Eustathian oration. Manuel had a manly suntan and was tall in stature. The emperor was capable of clever talk, but could also talk to others on a man-to-man basis. Eustathius makes much of the emperor's book-learning (Cinnamus claims to have discussed Aristotle with the emperor). The restoration of churches was a major concern for Manuel. He also had some expertise in medicine (he had tended Conrad III of Germany and Baldwin III of Jerusalem personally). Manuel showed temperance in eating and drinking, with a certain liking for beer as well as wine, the latter being mixed sour after the manner of ascetics. Likewise, he would not slumber long. He would generally choose walking over riding. The oration closes on the widow and orphan Manuel has left behind. The situation resulting for the Byzantine Empire at this stage, with the vacuum created by Manuel would result in no less than implosion.

Copyright (C) 2003, Andrew Stone.
Published: De Imperatoribus Romanis: An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Rulers and their Families Used by permission.

Edited by J. P. Fitzgerald, Jr.
Manius Fonteius53 viewsObv: Conjoined, laureate heads of the Dioscuri facing right, stars above their foreheads, XVI (in monogram) below their chins.

Rev: A galley facing right, ••• before, MN FONTEI above, control letter B below.

Silver Denarius, Rome mint, 108 - 107 BC

4.1 grams, 18.5 mm, 90°

RSC Fonteia 7, S184
4 commentsCaesar's Ghost
IMP•CAESAR•DIVI•F•AVGVSTVS•IMP•XX / •PONTIF•MAXIM•TRIBVN•POT•XXXIIII / Ӕ As (10-12 A.D.)8 viewsIMP • CAESAR • DIVI • F • AVGVSTVS • IMP • XX, bare head left / • PONTIF • MAXIM • TRIBVN • POT • XXXIIII, huge letters S•C, no field or mint marks.

Ӕ, 26-27mm, 5.77g, die axis 5h (slightly turned coin alignment), material: supposed to be pure red copper.

IMPerator (originally meant "supreme commander", Augustus started to use it as a title)
CAESAR (Augustus adopted the last name from Julius, this is not a title yet)
DIVI Filius (Son of the divine [Julius], Augustus was thus named, having been adopted by Caesar as his son) AVGVSTVS (following his defeat of Mark Antony and Cleopatra in 31 BC Senate granted Octavian this new name, meaning "majestic")
IMPerator XX (Vicesimum) (i. e. "invested with the twentieth imperial acclaim", second 'imperator' means his military title, a victorious general, the number refers to important victories when the title was renewed) PONTIFex MAXIMus (the high priest, starting with Augustus the emperor was always the head of state religion)
TRIBVNitia POTestas (Tribunal power, the function of the tribune of the people, originally an important republican official, was "hijacked" by Augustus when he was building the imperial structure of power and subsequently became another emperor's title, renewed every year and thus very useful for dating coins)
XXXIIII (Augustus got his tribunal power for life in 23 BC, during the Second Settlement with the Senate, so the 34th tribunal year of Augustus gives us 11 AD as the year of issue of the coin, ±1 since the coin could have been minted slightly before or after, and there is alos some uncertainty about when exactly the tribunal year number was increased by)
SC = [Ex] Senatus Consulto (Senatus is genitive, Consulto is ablative of Consultum) = by decree of the Senate, i. e. the authority of the Senate approved minting of this coin (necessary to justify issue of copper alloy coins for which the intrinsic value was not obvious)
As or assarius – the lowest-valued Roman coin (in times of Augustus minted of pure red copper).

The size and weight of the coin, large SC and the bare head of the emperor (who actually looks really like a typical official portrait of Augustus) all point towards an early imperial as. Unfortunately due to a very poor condition of the coin all that can be reliably gathered from the legends: IMP… left of the neck, …(DI)VI… top of the head on obverse and …XII… 10-11 o'clock on reverse, perhaps also …PONTI… at 2 o'clock and a few other letters, that get increasingly unreliable. Fortunately to my knowledge this excludes all of the coins except just one as of Augustus: RIC 471, Cohen 226, BMC 275, minted in Rome, with the legends as given above and very common. The closest other coin fitting the general outlook is Ӕ as of Tiberius (RIC 44, Cohen 25, BMC 91), but for it the obverse legend starts with TI and DIVI never gets close to 12 o'clock. And the face of Tiberius typically looks noticeably different.

Still, I will be very grateful if anybody looking at this coin points out any other possibilities for identification.

No biographical info here, since Augustus (reign 27 BC - 14 AD) is too well known.
Yurii P
constantius postreform.jpg
AE radiate CONSTANTIUS I (CHLORUS) - 305-306 AD40 viewsobv:IMP.C.CONSTANTIVS.PF.AVG (radiate, draped bust right)
rev:CONCORDIA.MILITVM (Constantius standing right receiving Victory on globe from Jupiter) / B / ALE
ref:RIC VI-Alexandria59a, C.22
3.19gms, 20mm