Crosses

Crosses

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Early Crosses: Tiberios II, issued 574–82 (BZS.2008.004), and Constantine IV, issued 681–85 (BZS.1958.106.542)

Depending on its use and position the cross could mean many things: when placed atop a globe in the emperor's hand it symbolized his mastery over the Christian World, when surrounded by the inscription VICTORIA it stood for the idea of Christian victory and victory through Christ, as embodied by the first Christian emperor Constantine the Great, and when shown on steps it represented the True Cross on the hill of Calvary and symbolized the ultimate victory of Christ over death and the redemption of the sins of the world. Crosses appear on early imperial seals in two forms: as decorative elements, often flanking figures such as Victory or the Mother of God, and as part of the imperial regalia, such as the globus cruciger. On one early seal of Tiberios II the cross appears alone on the reverse, with the inscription VICTORIA, replacing the figure of Victory. The cross reappears during the reign of Constantine IV, from the period of his sole rule (681–685). These seals depict a cross potent on the reverse.

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Michael II and Theophilos, issued 821–29 (BZS.1955.1.4280)

The largest group of seals showing crosses are those from the period of Iconoclasm in the eighth and ninth centuries. Although these seals largely share their design with the silver miliaresion introduced by Leo III in 720, they have a different inscription surrounding the cross. The seal group depicts a cross potent, of different form to the earlier cross, on a base and steps. The circular inscription around the cross reads, "in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit" and was intended to be read as the beginning of an inscription that continued on the obverse of the seal, naming the emperors. During the brief restoration of icons from 787–811, both Constantine VI and Nikephoros I used an altered version of the Iconoclast seal. Constantine's cross was not accompanied by an inscription and Nikephoros used the circular space for an inscription identifying himself and his son as emperors. On personal seals, the cross-on-steps motif continued after the end of Iconoclasm in 843, until the beginning of the eleventh century, but was never again seen on imperial seals.

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Constantine VI, issued 790–92 (BZS.1958.106.561), and Nikephoros I and Staurakios, issued 803–11 (BZS.1958.106.654)
 

More Exhibit Items

Victory and Angel
Victory and Angel

The Mother of God
The Mother of God

Crosses
Crosses

Christ
Christ

Saints
Saints

Divinities Enthroned
Divinities Enthroned

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