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Licinius I & II Dynastic Follis


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As a result of the first Civil War between Constantine the Great and Licinius c. 316, Licinius lost his European territories and his rule was confined to the East. Nonetheless, Licinius still controlled half of the Roman world under an uneasy peace. One of Licinius' most important mints was Cyzicus, now in modern Turkey. During this period the mint usually produced the typical IOVI CONSERVATORI type, but in 320-21 the mint produced a very small and interesting issue. This coin is part of that issue. On the obverse appears two busts: that of Licinius I Augustus is on the left side, facing right, and Licinius II Caesar is on the right, facing him, facing left. Both are reaching to the center of the obverse, where they jointly hold a Victory which in turn is reaching out to crown both of them. The obverse legend is DD NN IOVII LICINII INVICT AUG ET CAES. This translates as "Our Lords the Iovii, the Liciniuses, Invincible Augustus and Caesar ". Thus in this coin the Liciniuses claim the heritage of the Iovii, that is, the special relationship between Jove and Ruler that was claimed by Diocletian. In so doing the Licinii claim precedence over the family of Constantine. The reverse is equally interesting. Pictured is Victory, standing right, with a branch in left hand, offering a wreath to Jupiter standing left, with chalyms and scepter. The legend is IOM ET VICT CONSER DD NN AUG ET CAES, or "Jove and Victory, the Guardians of our Lords the Augustus and Caesar". Again, the Licinii claim a special relationship with Jove and Victory---something that may have resonated with their pagan subjects if the emerging Christianity of Constantine were beginning to be public knowledge. Note that at this point Constantine's coins did not portray the pagan gods. The type exists from three of Licinius' mints---Cyzicus, Nicomedia and Heraclea--but is almost impossible to find in any condition from any mint. This is an extremely rare type. This coin is catalogue in Roman Imperial Coinage, volume VII as Cyzicus, 13. It is rated R2 for rarity, which means that the authors of the reference know of only 7-10 examples of this specific coin.

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Historically Significant Ancient Coinage

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