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Basil I and Constantine (869–79)

Accession Number:
BZS.1958.106.572 (formerly DO 58.106.572)

Previous Editions

DO Seals 6, no. 51.2.

Details

Diameter:
29 mm
Field:
24 mm
Condition:
Two halves, with loss of metal along the channel

Obverse

Basil I and Constantine (869–79)

Half-length representation of Christ, bearded, wearing a tunic and himation. He raises his right hand in blessing and holds in his left a book with a cover ornamented with four rows of pellets. He has a cross behind his head. Circular inscription. Border of dots.

ISSXRISOS

Iηsus Xristos.

Reverse

Basil I and Constantine (869–79)

Two half-length figures: at left, Basil I, bearded, wearing a crown surmounted by a cross and a loros; at right, Constantine, beardless and more diminutive than Basil, wearing a crown surmounted by a cross and a chlamys pinned with a fibula on his shoulder. The two figures hold between them a labarum ornamented with an X in center and streamers. Circular inscription. Border of dots.

ASILIOSEC.SA/A

Basilios et C[o]nstant(inos) aug(usti).

Translation

Iηsus Xristos.
Basilios et C[o]nstant(inos) aug(usti).

Jesus Christ.
Basil and Constantine, augusti
.

Audio

Commentary

On solidi dating from Basil’s joint reign with Constantine, the obverse depicts Christ seated on a lyre-backed throne, while on the reverse are Basil to left and Constantine to right, holding between them a patriarchal cross on long shaft.  Basil wears a loros, and Constantine a chlamys (DOC 3.2:2a1 [pl. 30]). In common with the coinage as well is the employment of "augusti," present on the class 2 solidus as well as class 2d follis (DOC 3.2:9d.1 [pl. 31]).

Grierson explains the awkward relationship between the chronology of coinage and the depiction of Basil’s co-emperors in terms of the former's antipathy towards his middle son, Leo. Dating here follows that of the class 2 solidus, up to Constantine’s death in 879, rather than the class 2 follis, which includes Leo after his association with Basil in 870, and reflects the degree to which the design of imperial seals followed that of the solidus.

The design of the labarum, with an X at the center, is a characteristic of Grierson’s class 2 follis, attributed to 868–70 (for example, DOC 3.2:9a.1 [pl. 31]).

 

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