- The Collaborative Numismatics Project
  Explore Our Website And Find Joy In The History, Numismatics, Art, Mythology, And Geography Of Coins!!! NumisWiki Is An Enormous Unique Resource Including Hundreds Of Books And Thousands Of Articles Online!!! The Column On The Left Includes Our "Best of NumisWiki" Menu If You Are New To Collecting - Start With Ancient Coin Collecting 101 NumisWiki Includes The Encyclopedia of Roman Coins and Historia Nummorum If You Have Written A Numismatic Article - Please Add It To NumisWiki All Blue Text On The Website Is Linked - Keep Clicking To ENDLESSLY EXPLORE!!! Please Visit Our Shop And Find A Coin You Love Today!!!

× Resources Home
New Articles
Most Popular
Recent Changes
Current Projects
Admin Discussions
How to
Index Of All Titles


Aes Grave
Aes Rude
The Age of Gallienus
Alexander Tetradrachms
Ancient Coin Collecting 101
Ancient Coin Prices 101
Ancient Coin Dates
Ancient Coin Lesson Plans
Ancient Coins & Modern Fakes
Ancient Counterfeits
Ancient Glass
Ancient Oil Lamps
Ancient Weapons
Ancient Wages and Prices
Ancient Weights and Scales
Anonymous Folles
Anonymous Follis
Anonymous Class A Folles
Antioch Officinae
Armenian Numismatics Page
Byzantine Denominations
A Cabinet of Greek Coins
Caesarean and Actian Eras
Campgates of Constantine
A Case of Counterfeits
Byzantine Christian Themes
Clashed Dies
Coins of Pontius Pilate
Conditions of Manufacture
Corinth Coins and Cults
Countermarked in Late Antiquity
Danubian Celts
Damnatio Coinage
Damnatio Memoriae
Denarii of Otho
Diameter 101
Die Alignment 101
Dictionary of Roman Coins
Doug Smith's Ancient Coins
Edict on Prices
ERIC - Rarity Tables
Etruscan Alphabet
The Evolving Ancient Coin Market
Facing Portrait of Augustus
Fel Temp Reparatio
Fertility Pregnancy and Childbirth
Friend or Foe
The Gallic Empire
Gallienus Zoo
Greek Alphabet
Greek Coins
Greek Dates
Greek Coin Denominations
Greek Mythology Link
Greek Numismatic Dictionary
Hellenistic Names & their Meanings
Hasmonean Dynasty
Helvetica's ID Help Page
The Hexastyle Temple of Caligula
Historia Numorum
Horse Harnesses
Identifying Ancient Metal Arrowheads
Illustrated Ancient Coin Glossary
Important Collection Auctions
Islamic Rulers and Dynasties
Julian II: The Beard and the Bull
Julius Caesar - The Funeral Speech
Kushan Coins
People in the Bible Who Issued Coins
Imperial Mints of Philip the Arab
Later Roman Coinage
Latin Plurals
Latin Pronunciation
Library of Ancient Coinage
Life in Ancient Rome
List of Kings of Judea
Malloy Weapons
Maps of the Ancient World
Military Belts
Mint Marks
Museum Collections Available Online
Nabataean Alphabet
Nabataean Numerals
The [Not] Cuirassed Elephant
Not in RIC
Numismatic Bulgarian
Numismatic Excellence Award
Numismatic French
Numismatic German
Numismatic Italian
Numismatic Spanish
Parthian Coins
Patina 101
Paleo-Hebrew Alphabet
Phoenician Alphabet
Pi-Style Athens Tetradrachms
Pricing and Grading Roman Coins
Reading Judean Coins
Representations of Alexander the Great
Roman Coin Attribution 101
Roman Militaria
Roman Mints
Roman Names
Rome and China
Satyrs and Nymphs
Serdi Celts
The Sign that Changed the World
Silver Content of Parthian Drachms
Star of Bethlehem Coins
Statuary Coins
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum
Syracusian Folles
Taras Drachms with Owl Left
The Temple Tax
The Temple Tax Hoard
Test Cut
Travels of Paul
Tribute Penny
Tribute Penny Debate Continued (2015)
Tribute Penny Debate Revisited (2006)
Tyrian Shekels
Uncleaned Ancient Coins 101
Venus Cloacina
What I Like About Ancient Coins
Who was Trajan Decius
Widow's Mite

   View Menu


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

     Zodiac.  "The Ecliptic (or great circle which the sun describes in virtue of his proper motion) has been divided by astronomers from time immemorial into twelve equal parts called Signs.  The names are Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricornus, Aquarius, and Pisces.  In each of these signs the ancients formed groups of stars, which they denominated Zodiacal constellations (zwdia, animals), not confined to the ecliptic, but included within an imaginary belt, extending 9° on each side of it, to which they gave the name of Zodiac (zwdiakdz kukloz, circle or zone of the animals.)  (Encyc. Brit.., 9th ed. art., Astronomy, vol. ii., p. 771.)"  The Roman inferiority to the Greeks in the science of Astronomy is fully recognised by the Latin writers (Virg. Aen. vi. 848; Seneca, Nat. Quaest. vii., 25), and while the astronomical science of the Greeks was in its infancy, that of the Romans had no existence (Sir G. C. Lewis, An historical survey of the Astronomy of the Ancients, 1862.)

     The Zodiac is represented on several Greek Imperial coins (Alexander Severus - Perinthus; Julia Maesa-Amastris; Valerian-AEgae; Eckhel, Doct. Num. Vet., vol. ii., pp. 40, 386, vol. iii., p. 37); and on Alexandrian coins of Antoninus Pius (Eckhel, op. cit., vol. iv., p. 70; Head, Hist. Num., p. 721.)  It may also be found on the following Roman coins:--


     Obv. IMP. CAESAR TRAIAN. HADRIANUS AVG. Bust of Hadrian to r., laureated.  Rev. SAEC. AVR. (Saeculum aureum in the exergue) P. M. TR. P. COS. III. (around.)  Male figure (? Trajan deified or Hadrian with the attributes of Eternity) half naked, standing to r., within a circular or oval band or zone, on the outer side of which are the signs of the Zodiac; his r. hand rests on the zone and his l. holds a globe, on which is a phoenix. AV. (100 frcs.)

     Cohen (Méd. Imp. 1st ed., vol. ii., p. 157; 2nd ed., vol. ii., p. 216) describes the zone as "une auréole ovale," but this piece is described in the "Pembroke Sale Catalogue," p. 135, as bearing the signs of the Zodiac, and traces of it can be seen on the specimen in the British Museum (Madden, Num. Chron., N.S., 1862, vol. ii., p. 49.)


    1. Obv. ANTONINVS AVG. PIVS. P. P.  Head of Antoninus Pius to r. or to l. laureated. Rev. ITALIA (in the exergue) TR. POT. COS. III. [or IIII.] S. C.  Italy, laureated, seated to l., on a globe, around which is the Zodiac.  AE. I. (12 frcs.)

    2.  Obv.  ANTONINVS AVG. PIVS P. P. TR. P. COS. IIII.  Bust of Antoninus Pius to r., laureated. Rev. No legend.  The earth (Tellus) seated to r., leaning against a bull lying down, and holding a cornu-copiae.  Four infants (the Seasons) are grouped around her, one is seated on her knees, another (Summer) holds a sickle; behind her a plough; above, a half circle of the Zodiac.  AE. Med. (500 frcs.)


    Obv.  M. COMMODVS ANTONINVS PIVS FELIX AVG.  Bust of Commodus to r., laureated.  Rev. COS. VI. P. P.  The Sun radiated, standing, holding a whip and about to get into a quadriga, which is raising itself to r. on the waves of the sea; in front, the star of the morning (Phosphorus); above, a portion of the Zodiac; to the r. the Earth (Tellus) lying to l., holding ears of corn and cornu-copiae.  AE.  Med. (500 frcs.)
   A similar type, but without the Zodiac, occurs on the brass medallions of Antoninus Pius (Cohen, Méd. Imp., 2nd ed., vol. ii., p. 381 ; Froehner, Médaillons de l'Empire Romain, p. 72.)


    Obv.  IMP. CAES. M. ANTONINVS. AVG.  Head of Elagabalus, laureated.  Rev.  COL. PTOL. (Colonia Ptolemais).  Diana Venatrix standing to r., in a distyle temple; the whole surrounded by the signs of the Zodiac. AE. II.
    Struck at Ptolemais Galilaeae.  The same type occurs on the second brass of Valerian I.


   Obv.  CONSTANTINVS P. F. AVG.  Head of Constantine l. tor., laureated.  Rev.  RECTOR TOTIVS ORBIS.  The Emperor seated to l. on arms, holding in r. hand the Zodiac and in l. a parazonium ; behind, a Victory standing, holding a palm branch, and crowning him; in the exergue, S. M. T. (Signata Moneta Thessalonicae).  AV. (800 frcs.)
    This unique coin is in the British Museum, and has been historically illustrated by the present writer (Num. Chron., N.S., 1862, vol. ii., pp. 48-60.)  It was struck in A.D. 323, thirty-seven years after Diocletian had first divided the Empire, and when Constantine I. was entitled to inscribe on his coins that he was "sole master of the whole [Roman] world."


   1.  Obv. DIVO TRAIANO AVGVSTO.  Bust of Trajan to r., laureated.  Rev. No legend. Shield on which the head of the Sun and Moon, surrounded by the Zodiac ; a male figure seated ; behind, a statue of Minerva.  AE. (Eckhel, Doct. Num. Vet.,  vol. viii., p. 308.)
   2.  Obv.  IMP. CAES. FL. CONSTANTINO MAX. P. F. AVG.  Head of Constantine to the right, laureated, and with paludamentum, surrounded by the twelve signs of the zodiac.  Rev. S. P. Q. R.  (Senatus Populusque Romanus)  QVOD INSTINCTV DIVINITATIS MENTIS MAGNITVDINE CVM EXERCITV SVO TAM DE TYRANNO QVAM DE OMNI EIVS FACTIONE VNO TEMP (ore) IVSTIS REMP (ublicam) VLTVS EST ARMIS ARC (um) TRIVMPHIS INSIGNEM DICAVIT, within a laurel wreath.  AE. 14¼.
   The reverse of this remarkable piece of the  contorniate style is taken from the famous inscription on the arch of Constantine, dedicated in A.D. 315, placed thereon to commemorate the defeat of Maxentius (tyrannus) in A.D. 312, and which reads as follows (Orelli. Inscr., No. 1075):--


                P. F. AVGVSTO S. P. Q. R.






LIBERATORI VRBIS                             FUNDATORI QVIETIS

   It appears to have been first published by Banduri (vol. ii., pp. 256, 279), but was condemned by Eckhel though he had not seen it. ("Qualiscunque dicatur, mihi opus antiquum non videtur."  Doct. Num. Vet., vol. viii., p. 88.)  It was at one time in the collection of Sir Andrew Fountaine, and from thence passed into that of the Earl of Pembroke.  The compiler of the "Pembroke Sale Catalogue" (p. 297) in a lengthy note vindicated its authenticity, supposing it to have been "a ticket of admission" issued on the occasion of the dedication of the arch of Constantine, but whether it sold as a genuine piece I am unable to say.  Cavedoni (Ricerche, p. 21), did not accept it as genuine; and Cohen (Méd. Imp., vol. vi., p. 582) has not admitted it tant il paraît suspect.
    As regards the inscription on the arch, it has been by some stated (Guattini, Monumenti Antichi di Roma, p. xciv., 1789 ; Roma Descritta, p. 42, 1805 ; Henzen, Suppl. ad. Orell., vol. iii., p. 113) that the words INSTINCTV DIVINITATIS appear to have been written over the effaced words NVTV IOVIS O. M., or perhaps DIIS FAVENTIBVS;  but Garucci quite sets this question at rest by stating (Num. Cost., 2nd ed., p. 245 ; Rev. Num., 1886, p. 96), from personal inspection, that the marble was not lower in the portion where these words occur than in other parts, nor are the letters themselves confused, nor are there indeed any traces of letters to be seen that could have been previously engraved.  The Padre Mozzoni assured Cavedoni (Ricerche, p. 21, note) that the words INSTINCTV DIVINITATIS were the original.  Cf. De Rossi, Bullet. d'Arch. Crist., 1863, Nos. 7 and 8.

   I may add that Constantine himself, in his "Oration to the Assembly of the Saints," speaks of his services as owing their origin to the inspiration of God ('Ex epipnoiaz qeon thn archn econsan lr on thz emhz andragaqiaz ton qedn aition einai diabebaiountaz.  Ap. Euseb., c. 26), whilst both Constantine and Licinius gave thanks to the Deity (Divinitas) and to God (Deus) for the victories that they had gained over Maxentius.  Cavedoni (Ricerche, p. 21, note) notices that Constantine is called Divino monitus instinctu by his anonymous panegyrist (viii., c. 11) and by Nazarius (Paneg., ix., c. 17 ; cf. 12, 13) as governing Divino instinctu.  For further particulars see Madden, Christian Emblems on the Coins of Constantine I., etc., in the Num. Chron., N.S., 1877, vol. xvii., pp. 11-56, 242-307; 1878, vol. xviii., pp. 1-48, 169-215; Smith's and Chectham's Dict. of Christian Antiq. art. Money.

View whole page from the Dictionary Of Roman Coins
All coins are guaranteed for eternity