The Roman pantheon, like the Greek, featured not one but two celestial rulers of war, one male and one female: Mars (Ares) and Minerva (Athena). Over time, each deity developed specific attributes relating to warfare. If the former was responsible for success on the battlefield, as was widely believed, the latter’s divine aid kept the motherland secure. Mars was the god of conquest, Minerva the goddess of protection.
As capitals of the country and homes to the imperial family, cities were vital to the success of empire, and thus took on a mystical quality. In particular the two Rome's, the original on the Tiber and the new one on the Bosporus, were personified in the celestial pantheon. Just as Athena was the protector of Athens, so did the protectors of Rome and Constantinople take on female form.
If a capital city fell, so too fell the Empire. Thus emperors and subjects alike took to praying to the fearsome warrior goddesses who kept their metropolises safe. These two genuine ancient bronze coins, minted by the emperor Constantine, honor the twin city goddesses of old and new Rome. Note their resemblance, both to each other, and to the Roman war goddess Minerva.
The city goddesses had varying levels of success. While Rome fell to the barbarians in 476, a century and a half after these issues, Constantinople stayed in Western hands for eleven hundred years before finally falling to the Turks in 1453.
This deluxe portfolio album features two genuine ancient Roman bronze coins issued by the emperor Constantine the Great (A.D. 306-337), to commemorate the two most important cities of the Empire, Rome and Constantinople. Historians differ on what these coins were called; the historical record is unclear. Some refer to them as folles, others as quadrans. The obverses feature their respective helmeted city goddess with the legends CONSTAN/TINOPOLIS or VRBS ROMA. While more common reverse designs exist, both of these coins were struck with the same scarce reverse type that shows two victorious soldiers flanking a standard, surrounded by the legend: GLORIA EXERCITVS (the glory of the army). This design celebrated the fourth-century military successes against the “barbarian” Goths—the same tribes that would later invade and sack Rome. These coins were both minted during the same period after 330, when Constantinople—the Nova Roma or New Rome—was dedicated. Coins were handmade and often crudely struck, occasionally leaving parts of the legends either faint or off the flan.
Rome’s Fearsom e Twin City Goddesses: Rom a and Constantinopolis
Data: Album open measures: 11” x 7.5”
Album folded measures: 5.5” x 7.5”
Coin weights range from: 1.4-2.6 g;
Diameter range: 15-19 mm
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