The Collaborative Numismatics Project

     

Resources Home
Home
New Articles
Most Popular
Recent Changes
Current Projects
Admin Discussions
Guidelines
How to

Index Of All Titles


BEST OF

Ancient Coin Collecting 101
Ancient Glass
Anonymous Follis
Anonymous Class A Folles
Armenian Numismatics Page
Byzantine
Coins of Pontius Pilate
Denomination
Dictionary of Roman Coins
Doug Smith's Ancient Coins
ERIC
Fibula
Greek Alphabet
Greek Dates
Greek Mythology Link
Helvetica's ID Help Page
Historia Numorum
Latin Plurals
Latin Pronunciation
Library of Ancient Coinage
Life in Ancient Rome
Maps of the Ancient World
Mint Marks
Monogram
Nabataean Numerals
Not in RIC
Numismatic Bulgarian
Numismatic Excellence Award
Numismatic French
Numismatic German
Numismatic Italian
Numismatic Spanish
Paleo-Hebrew Alphabet
Phoenician Alphabet
Pi-Style Athens Tetradrachms
Roman Coin Attribution 101
romancoin.info
Scarabs
Serrated
Siglos
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum
Syracusian Folles
The Temple Tax Hoard
Travels of Paul
Tribute Penny
Tyrian Shekels
What I Like About Ancient Coins
Widow's Mite

 

 


Labarum

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.


DICTIONARY OF ROMAN COINS



Please add updates or make corrections to the NumisWiki text version as appropriate.
Labarum

Labarum, a Roman military ensign, which is described to have been a more distinguished species of vexillum, or cavalry standard, and, like the rest, was an object of religious veneration amongst the soldiers, who paid it divine honours.

That the Labarum dated its desgnation as the imperial standard from an early period fo the empire, is a supposition confirmed by a colonial medal of Tiberius (dedicated to that Prince by Caesarea-Augusta --Saragozza), on which may be remarked the form of that ensign. It was originally a kind of square banner of purple bordered with gold fringe, attached to the upper end of a long pike or spear; on the drapery of this banner an eagle was painted, or embroidered, in gold tissue, and it was hoisted only when the Emperor was with army.

But Constantine the Great, after having abandoned paganism, caused a decided change to be made in the ornaments of the labarum. The staff of the pike was crossed at a certain height by a piece of wood, forming a cross. At the upper part, above this crosspiece, was fastened a brilliant crown of gold and precious stones, in the middle of which appeared the monogram of Christ, formed by two Greek initials, X. P., joined together thus and often accompianed by two other letters, A. and W., placed on each side, indicating the belief of Our Saviour's divinity, in the words of St. John's Apocalypse, as noted in Eusebius's Life of Constantine. From the two arms of the cross-piece, hung the purple banner, richly ornamented with jewels and with gold embroidery. And, instead of the Roman Eagle, the former object of the soldiers' idolatry, Constantine caused the monogram of Christ to be placed on the banner also. In the space between the crown and the flag, the Emperor placed his bust in gold, or those of his childeren. But this feature is not engraved on the medals.

Fifty chosen men were charged by him with the appointment of carrying and defending this sacred standard at the head of the army, when commanded by the Emperor in person, and were thence called Labariferi.

The Labarum marked with the monogram of Christ is seen on coins of Constantine the Great, also of Constans, of Jovianus, of Valentinianus, etc. A vexillum or cavalry standard, resembling the Labarum, appears on several colonial coins, such as Acci, Antiochia Pisidiae, Caesar-Augusta, etc.

It is also found in the left hand of emperors, on some military figures, on coins of Nero, Domitian, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius, Commodus, Septimius Severus, and other princes anterior to Constantine, with whose family and successors it appears on coins with the Christian symbols to the end of the imperial series.

The Labarum, or at least the vexillum, is an attribute which accompanies the numismatic personification of many of the Roman provinces, viz.:
-Africa, under Diocletian, Maximian, Galerius, Constantius Chlorus.
-Armenia, under Marcus Aurelius, and Lucius Verus.
-Britannia, under Antoninus Pius, and Septimius Severus.
-Cappadocia, under Hadrian, and Antonine.
-Dacia, under Antonine, Philip Senior, Trajanus Decius.
-Ilium, under Caracalla.
-Pannonia, under Aelius Caesar.


View whole page from the Dictionary Of Roman Coins