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Basil I and Constantine (869–79)

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.1650 (formerly Fogg 1650)
Diameter 24 mm
Condition Half of seal is missing.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 6, no. 51.10.


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


[Iηsus Xris]t[o]s.


Two half-length figures, of which only the left is visible: Basil I, wearing a crown surmounted by a cross and a loros, and holding (with Constantine, lost from this seal) a labarum ornamented with an X in center and streamers. Remains of a circular inscription at left. Border of dots.


Basi[lio]s et Co[nstant(inos) aug(usti)].


Iηsus Xristos.
Basilios et Constantinos augusti.

Jesus Christ.
Basil and Constantine, augusti.


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]).