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Zeno, 18 January - 17 November 474 and August 476 - 11 April 491 A.D.

Zeno was an Isaurian chieftain who moved to Rome and married Emperor Leo I's daughter, Ariadne. Their son, Leo II, succeeded Leo I as emperor, and shortly after declared his father Augustus. An exceedingly unpopular emperor, Zeno spent his 17-year reign defending the empire not only against the barbarians but also against many rebellions. He died in 491 A.D after suffering an epileptic fit.


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).
Grierson, P. & M. Mays. Catalogue of Late Roman Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection. (Washington D.C., 1992).
Hahn, Wolfgang. Moneta Imperii Romani-Byzantinii. (Vienna, 1989).
Kent, J. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Volume X, The Divided Empire and the Fall of the Western Parts, AD 395 - 491. (London, 1994).
King, C. & D. Sear. Roman Silver Coins, Volume V, Carausius to Romulus Augustus. (London, 1987).
Ranieri, E. La monetazione di Ravenna antica dal V all' VIII secolo: impero romano e bizantino, regno ostrogoto e langobardo. (Bologna, 2006).
Ratto, R. Monnaies Byzantines et d'autre Pays contemporaines l'poque byzantine. (Lugano, 1930).
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet, University of Glasgow, Vol. V. Diocletian (Reform) to Zeno. (Oxford, 1982).
Sear, D. Roman Coins and Their Values, Vol. V: The Christian Empire...Constantine II to Zeno, AD 337 - 491. (London, 2014).
Tolstoi, I. Monnaies byzantines. (St. Petersburg, 1913 - 14).
Vagi, D. Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. (Sidney, 1999).

Zeno Solidi

VICTORIA AVGGG [A-I], Victory standing half left holding long jeweled cross, star right, CONOB in exergue

1st Issue, p. 306, pl. 30


3rd Issue, p. 307, pl. 30

910 (C)  D N ZENO - PERP AVG, pearl diademed with trefoil ornament, horseman ridding down enemy
911 (S)  D N ZENO - PERP AVG, pearl diademed without ornament, horseman ridding down enemy
912 (R4) D N ZENO - PERP AVG, pearl diademed with cross on helmet, horseman ridding down enemy

4th Issue, p. 308, pl. 31

927 (R)  D N ZENO - PERP AVG, pearl diademed with trefoil ornament, horseman ridding down enemy
928 (R3) D N ZENO - PERP AVG, pearl diademed without ornament, horseman ridding down enemy

5th Issue, p. 309, pl. 31

929 (C)  D N ZENO - PERP AVG, pearl diademed with trefoil ornament, horseman ridding down enemy
930 (C)  D N ZENO - PERP AVG, pearl diademed without ornament, horseman ridding down enemy


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

ZENO, Eastern emperor from 474 to 491 A.D. Descended from an illustrious Isaurian family, he was originally named Trassalisseus, which he changed to Zeno on his marriage, in 468 A.D., to Ariadne, daughter of the Emperor Leo I and Verina. In 474 A.D., on the death of Leo I, Zeno took over the government of the Empire since the new emperor Leo II, Leo I's grandson, as well as the son of Zeno and Ariadne, was only a child. The boy lived only a short time, however, and on his death Zeno became sole Emperor. His reign was oppressive, and many revolts occurred which caused Zeno to flee to Isauria. Verina, widow of Leo I, claimed the Empire and installed her brother, Basiliscus, on the throne in 476 A.D. The following year, Basiliscus was deposed and Zeno reclaimed the Empire, but he showed no better qualities and rebellions were frequent. In 491 A.D., after a turbulent reign of seventeen years, he died and was succeeded by Anastasius, who married his widow Ariadne. The following coins of Zeno are extant:-


1. Gold Solidus. Obverse: D N (Domini) LEO ET ZENO P P AVG (Perpetui Augusti). Helmeted bust, facing, of Leo II, holding spear over his right shoulder and shield engraved with a horseman. Reverse: SALVS REIPVBLICAE I or Q. Leo II and Zeno seated facing, both nimbate, Zeno on the left, Leo II on the right; between their heads, a cross, and above, a star; in exergue, CONOB.
2. Gold Solidus. Obverse: Same legend and type as above. Reverse: VICTORIA AVGGG (Augustorum). Victory standing facing left, holding a long cross: in field, a star; in exergue, CONOB.
3. Gold Tremissis. Obverse: Same legend. Diademed bust of Leo II facing right. Reverse: VICTORIA AVGVSTORVM. Victory walking, holding wreath and globe; in field, star.
4. Gold Tremissis. Obverse: Same legend and type as above. Reverse: Cross within wreath; in exergue, CONOB.


1. Gold Tremissis. Obverse: D N ZENO ET LEO NOV CAES. Diademed bust of Zeno facing right. Reverse: VICTORIA AVGVSTORVM. Victory standing facing left, holding wreath and globe surmounted by cross; in exergue, CONOB.
2. AE 1. Obverse: ZENO ET LEO NOV CAES. Diademed head of Zeno facing right; in exergue, IIII. Reverse: INVICTA ROMA. Victory walking right, holding wreath and trophy over left shoulder; in field, S C; in exergue, XL.
 With respect to the letters NOV CAES, some have considered them to stand for Novus Caesar, but it is more probable that the NOV equates to NOB, and should be interpreted as Nobilissimus. A similar interchange of V and B can be found, on the gold coins of Theodosius II and Marcian, in the legend GLORIA ORVIS [ORBIS] TERRAR.
 Eckhel observes that, why Zeno and Leo are called Nobilissimi Caesares, when they were certainly Augusti, as testified by history and other coins, cannot be explained.


Obverse legends for gold and silver, D N ZENO PERP [or PERPE] AVG [or AV]. Principal reverse legends: Solidus, semissis and tremissis - VICTORIA AVGGG.
Gold coins - SALVS REIPVBLICE (sic). Christogram within wreath; No legend. Cross within wreath.Silver coins - GLORIA ROMANORVM. Zeno standing facing; in exergue, THCOB; TOV VIMV MTI [for VOT V MVLT X] in three lines within wreath; No legend. Military figure; in field, MD (Mediolanum) Barbarous type; Military figure on the prow of a ship; in field, RV (Ravenna);  Eagle standing facing right or left; Victory walking left. Bronze Coins: AE 1 Obverse: IMP ZEN [or ZENO] FEL [or FELIX] PERP AVG, or IMP ZENO SEMPER AVG. Reverse: INVICTA ROMA. Type as No 2 of Zeno and Leo II.
AE 3 Obverse: D N ZENO P F AVG. Reverse: No legend. Emperor standing.
AE 4 Obverse: D N ZENO P F AVG. Reverse: Monogram of Zeno within wreath.


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