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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Roman Coins| ▸ |The Late Empire| ▸ |Theodosius I||View Options:  |  |  | 

Theodosius I, 19 January 379 - 17 January 395 A.D.

Theodosius I, also known as Theodosius the Great, was the last emperor to rule over both the eastern and western halves of the Roman Empire. The son of the famed general Count Theodosius, he was made emperor in the east by Gratian after the death of Valens at the disastrous Battle of Hadrianople, at a time when the East was ravaged in every direction by the Goths. He defeated them, but the Goths secured control of Illyricum establishing a homeland south of the Danube within the Empire's borders. Theodosius defeated the usurpers Magnus Maximus and Eugenius. He ending Roman slavery and inaugurated a feudal society, a pivotal transformation in European history. He effectively made Nicene Christianity the official state church and fostered the destruction of some prominent pagan temples including the Temple of Apollo in Delphi, the Serapeum in Alexandria, and the Vestal Virgins in Rome. In 393, he banned the Olympics in Ancient Greece. It was not until the end of the 19th century, in 1896, that the Olympics were held again. After his death, Theodosius' sons Arcadius and Honorius inherited the East and West halves respectively, and the Roman Empire was never again re-united.The Roman Empire 395 AD


Theodosius I, 19 January 379 - 17 January 395 A.D.

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This type of lead conical bulla seal is commonly attributed to Theodosius I with his sons, Arcadius and Honorius. While the attribution is not certain, there is reason behind it. The form is correct for the period and the type is very common for a seal. Forum has handled a few examples and there are at least four on Coin Archives. The large number of specimens supports attribution to the emperor, in whose name there was a lot of correspondence. Theodosius and his two sons are the best imperial fit for these three facing busts.
AS89555. Lead bulla (tag seal), conical type, commonly attributed to Theodosius I and his sons Arcadius and Honorius, VF, gray and buff surfaces, weight 9.316 g, maximum diameter 18.0 mm, obverse three bare-headed and draped busts facing, center bust larger, two flanking busts smaller; reverse domed back, pierced for the cord; ex CNG e-auction 233 (26 May 2010), lot 504; $150.00 (132.00)


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On 24 August 358, a little more than 25 years before this coin was struck, Nicomedia was destroyed by a major earthquake followed by a fire. The city was rebuilt, but on a smaller scale.
RL91670. Bronze maiorina, RIC IX Nicomedia 44(b)1 (S), LRBC II 2394, SRCV V 20560, Cohen VIII 54, Hunter V -, Choice VF, well centered, dark brown tone, scrape on obverse left field, small edge cracks, weight 4.490 g, maximum diameter 23.4 mm, die axis 180o, 1st officina, Nicomedia (Izmit, Turkey) mint, 28 Aug 388 - 15 May 392 A.D.; obverse D N THEODOSIVS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse VIRTVS EXERTICTI (glory of the Army), Emperor standing right, labarum in right hand, globe in left hand, left foot on captive laying right before him and looking back at him, SMNA in exergue; from the Maxwell Hunt Collection; scarce; $55.00 (48.40)


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In 389, all pagan buildings in Alexandria, including the library, were destroyed on the order of Theodosius.
RL91040. Bronze maiorina, RIC IX Alexandria 21(a)2 (S), SRCV V 20493, LRBC II 2910, Cohen 18, Hunter V -, gF, green patina, buff earthen deposits, light corrosion, edge a bit ragged with splits, weight 3.968 g, maximum diameter 21.4 mm, die axis 0o, 2nd officina, Alexandria mint, c. 387 - 392 A.D.; obverse D N THEODOSIVS P F AVG, rosette-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse GLORIA ROMANORVM (glory of the Romans), Emperor standing facing, head right, vexillum in right hand, globe in left hand, ALEB in exergue; ex Sayles & Lavender; scarce; $50.00 (44.00)


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In 378, after the disastrous Battle of Adrianople where Valens was killed, Gratian invited Theodosius to take command of the Illyrian army. As Valens had no successor, Gratian's appointment of Theodosius amounted to a de facto invitation for Theodosius to become co-Augustus of the East Roman Empire. Theodosius received the purple on 19 January 379. The Gothic crisis was so dire that his co-Emperor Gratian retired to Trier in Gaul to let Theodosius operate without hindrance.
RL88577. Bronze maiorina, RIC IX Thessalonica 37(d)3, LRBC II 1826, SRCV V 20500, Cohen VIII 27, Hunter V -, F, well centered, uneven strike with weak areas, a little rough, edge splits/cracks, weight 3.526 g, maximum diameter 24.0 mm, die axis 0o, 3rd officina, Thessalonica (Salonika, Greece) mint, 19 Jan 379 - 25 Aug 383 A.D.; obverse D N THEODOSIVS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse REPARATIO REIPVB, emperor standing facing, head left, raising kneeling turreted woman with his right hand, Victory on globe offering wreath in his left hand, Γ in right field, SMTES in exergue; $16.00 (14.08)


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The ruins of Antioch on the Orontes lie near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey. Founded near the end of the 4th century B.C. by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch's geographic, military and economic location, particularly the spice trade, the Silk Road, the Persian Royal Road, benefited its occupants, and eventually it rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the Near East and as the main center of Hellenistic Judaism at the end of the Second Temple period. Antioch is called "the cradle of Christianity," for the pivotal early role it played in the emergence of the faith. It was one of the four cities of the Syrian tetrapolis. Its residents are known as Antiochenes. Once a great metropolis of half a million people, it declined to insignificance during the Middle Ages because of warfare, repeated earthquakes and a change in trade routes following the Mongol conquests, which then no longer passed through Antioch from the far east.6th Century Antioch
RL88686. Bronze centenionalis, RIC IX Antioch 47(c)4, LRBC II 2706, SRCV V 20534, Cohen VIII 5, Hunter V 57 var. (rosette diademed), F, green patina with buff earthen highlighting, tight flan cutting off parts of legends, porosity, weight 2.853 g, maximum diameter 17.2 mm, die axis 0o, 3rd officina, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 9 Aug 378 - 25 Aug 383 A.D.; obverse D N THEODOSIVS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse CONCORDIA AVGGG (harmony among the three emperors), Constantinopolis enthroned facing, helmeted, head right, spear in right hand, globe in left hand, right leg bare, right foot on a galley prow, Θ left, Φ over K right, ANTΓ in exergue; $16.00 (14.08)


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The Edict of Thessalonica (also known as Cunctos populos), issued on 27 February 380 A.D. by the three reigning Roman emperors, ordered all subjects of the Roman Empire to profess the faith of the bishops of Rome and of Alexandria, making Nicene Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire. In 391, all non-Christian temples in the Empire were closed. The eternal fire in the Temple of Vesta in the Roman Forum was extinguished, and the Vestal Virgins were disbanded.
RL88656. Bronze maiorina, RIC IX Rome 43(d), LRBC II 753, SRCV V 20498, Cohen VIII 27, Hunter V 14, aVF/aF, tight flan, rough, encrustations, weight 5.596 g, maximum diameter 21.7 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, c. 379 - 25 Aug 383 A.D.; obverse D N THEODOSIVS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse REPARATIO REIPVB, Emperor standing half left, raising kneeling turreted woman with his right hand, Victory on globe offering wreath in his left hand, SMR[...] in exergue; $11.00 (9.68)


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On 24 November 380, Theodosius I made his adventus, or formal entry, into Constantinople.
RL88537. Bronze centenionalis, RIC IX Nicomedia 29(2) (S), SRCV V 20527, LRBC II 2347, Cohen VIII 6, Hunter V -, F, green patina, bumps, scratches, small edge splits, weight 2.213 g, maximum diameter 18.4 mm, die axis 180o, 1st officina, Nicomedia (Izmit, Turkey) mint, 19 Jan 379 - 25 Aug 383 A.D.; obverse D N THEODOSIVS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse CONCORDIA AVGGG (harmony among the three emperors), Constantinopolis seated facing on throne, turreted head right, spear in right hand, resting left hand on knee, branch left, branch right, SMNA in exergue; scarce; $5.50 (4.84) ON RESERVE







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REFERENCES|

Carson, R., P. Hill & J. Kent. Late Roman Bronze Coinage. (London, 1960).
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappes sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. 8: Nepotian to Romulus Augustus, plus tesserae & cotorniates. (Paris, 1888).
Depeyrot, G. Les monnaies d'or de Constantin II Zenon (337-491). Moneta 5. (Wetteren, 1996).
Hahn, Wolfgang. Moneta Imperii Romani-Byzantinii. (Vienna, 1989).
King, C.E. & D.R. Sear. Roman Silver Coins, Volume V, Carausius to Romulus Augustus. (London, 1987).
Paolucci, R. & A. Zub. La monetazione di Aquileia Romana. (Padova, 2000).
Pearce, J.W.E. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Volume IX, Valentinian I - Theodosius I. (London 1933).
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet, University of Glasgow, Vol. V. Diocletian (Reform) to Zeno. (Oxford, 1982).
Sear, D.R. Roman Coins and Their Values, Vol. V: The Christian Empire...Constantine II to Zeno, AD 337 - 491. (London, 2014).
Vagi, D. Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. (Sidney, 1999).

Catalog current as of Wednesday, October 16, 2019.
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Roman Coins of Theodosius I