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Basil I and Constantine (869–79)

Accession Number:
BZS.1958.106.493 (formerly DO 58.106.493)

Previous Editions

DO Seals 6 no. 51.16.

Details

Diameter:
26 mm
Weight:
10.03 g
Condition:
Two halves, with loss of metal along the channel

Obverse

Basil I and Constantine (869–79)

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 ornamented with four rows of pellets. He has a cross behind his head. Circular inscription. Border of dots.

Basil I and Constantine (869–79)

[Iη]sus Xristus.

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 together with a fibula on his right shoulder. The two figures hold between them a labarum. Remains of a circular inscription. Border of dots.

Basil I and Constantine (869–79)

[Basi]l(ios) ce [C]onstant(inos) aug(usti).

Translation

Iηsus Xristus.
Basilios ce Constantinos augusti.

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 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).

On this specimen Christ’s name terminates in US (compare to BZS.1951.31.5.42, where Basil's name ends in US). In the inscription on the reverse Basil’s name seems to be abbreviated and the conjunction appearing between the emperors’ names is CE. At the end of the inscription there does not seem to be space for a second G. It is impossible to say what decoration appears in the center of the labarum that the two emperors hold,, and there appear to be no streamers hanging down from the labarum.

 

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