This example of a very scarce bronze ½ centenionalis coin was one of small quantity that were minted for a brief period between 348 and 350 AD. It was issued in the names of Roman emperors Constans and Constantius II, both sons of Constantine The Great, to commemorate the 1100th anniversary celebration of the founding of the old city of Rome on April 21st, 348 AD. On the obverse is found the bust of the emperor, his name and abbreviated titles. The coin’s reverse shows the image of a Phoenix bird perched on either a globe or a mound of stones (pyre) with light radiating from its head, and the inscription FEL TEMP REPARATIO (Latin: Happy Days Are Here Again).
The Phoenix is a legendary, sacred firebird found in the mythologies of many ancient cultures throughout the old world and later adopted by the Romans. The myths describe a colorful, long-necked bird with a 1,000 year life-cycle, near the end of which it builds itself a nest of spices or twigs that then ignites; both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young Phoenix arises, born anew.
Roman emperors used coins as an important means of communicating political propaganda. As such, this issue was intended to show the resurgence of Roman imperial power and prestige under the house of Constantine. As a symbol of rebirth, the Phoenix was uniquely appropriate iconography for a coin issued to convey renewal after the passing of 11 centuries since the founding of Rome in 753 BC.
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