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Basil I and Constantine (869–79)

 
 

Obverse

Half-length representation of Christ, lightly bearded, wearing a tunic and himation. He raises his right hand in blessing and holds a book in his left hand. He has a cross behind his head. Remains of a circular inscription at left. Border of dots.

IS.........

Iηs[us Xristos].

Reverse

Two half-length figures: at left, Basil I, wearing a crown; at right, Constantine, wearing a crown and a chlamys pinned together with a fibula on his right shoulder. The two figures hold between them a labarum. Remains of a circular inscription at right. Border of dots.

....................A.

[Basilios et Constant(inos)] aug(usti).

Obverse

Half-length representation of Christ, lightly bearded, wearing a tunic and himation. He raises his right hand in blessing and holds a book in his left hand. He has a cross behind his head. Remains of a circular inscription at left. Border of dots.

IS.........

Iηs[us Xristos].

Reverse

Two half-length figures: at left, Basil I, wearing a crown; at right, Constantine, wearing a crown and a chlamys pinned together with a fibula on his right shoulder. The two figures hold between them a labarum. Remains of a circular inscription at right. Border of dots.

....................A.

[Basilios et Constant(inos)] aug(usti).

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.1649 (formerly Fogg 1649)
Diameter 32.0 mm
Previous Editions

DO Seals 6, no. 15.14.

Translation

Iηsus Xristos.
Basilios et Constantinos augusti.

Jesus Christ.
Basil and Constantine, augusti.

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 labarum, held between Basil and Constantine, is found on classes 1 and 2 folles minted in Constantinople, dated by Grierson to 868–70 (DOC 3.2: 8-9).