DETAIL: This is a very handsome, exceptionally large and heavy silver antoninianus produced in the city of Rome itself either in 240 or 241 A.D. It is in exceptionally good condition, evidencing only very slight wear from circulation in ancient Rome, with all legends and themes very clear and distinct. It was well struck both front and back on an oversized planchet. Unlike most coins of the era, the strike caught the entirely of both the legends and the themes, and this is applicable to both the obverse as well as the reverse. It is without a doubt a superior strike, considerably larger and heavier than the typical specimen of the era. The obverse of the coin depicts Roman Emperor Gordian III, draped, cuirassed, and with radiate crown; and bears the legend "IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AVG".
"GORDIANVS" refers to the Emperor's name, of course, Marcus Antonius Gordianus. The "V" is used instead of a "U" as in Roman Latin there was no "U". The "IMP" preface to his name is an abbreviation for "Imperator". Imperator was originally a title or acclamation awarded to victorious generals in the field during the Republic Period (before Julius Caesar). Throughout the history of Republican Rome, the title was bestowed upon an especially able general who had won an enormous victory. Traditionally it was the troops in the field that proclaimed a man imperator - the first step in the process of the general applying to the senate for a triumph (a ceremony both civil and religious held in Rome itself to publicly honor the general and to display/parade the glories and trophies of Roman victory).
Imperatrix was the title of the wife an Imperator. After Augustus Octavian (Julius Caesar's successor) had established the hereditary, one-man rule in Rome that we refer to as the Imperial Roman Empire, the title Imperator was restricted to the emperor and members of his immediate family. If a general who was not part of the imperial family was acclaimed by his troops as Imperator, it was tantamount to a declaration of rebellion or civil war against the ruling emperor. Though the title Augustus is probably the closest Latin equivalent to the English word emperor; it was eventually the term Imperator which became the root of the English word "Imperial". The title Pius Felix is a combination of two separate terms. Pius is a title used for Roman Emperors to means that they are dutiful toward the pantheon of Roman deities, to the country (patriotic), and (perhaps) to their family. Felix means quite simply fortunate, or lucky. In fact the Romans had a goddess of good fortune, Felicitas, who was worshipped in various sanctuaries in Rome. Never hurts to have a leader who is both pious and lucky.
The suffix to Gordian's name, "AVG", was an abbreviation for Augustus. The term "Augustus" is Latin for "majestic" (thus the honorific salutation "your majesty"). However the term "Augustus" in the common vernacular of the Roman Empire became synonymous with the Emperor. The first "Augustus" (and first man counted as a Roman Emperor) was Octavius, Julis Caesar's nephew and heir. Octavian was given the title of Augustus by the Senate in 27 B.C. Over the next forty years, Caesar Augustus literally set the standard by which subsequent Emperors would be recognised, accumulating various offices and powers and making his own name ("Augustus") identifiable with the consolidation of these powers under a single person. Although the name signified nothing in constitutional theory, it was recognised as representing all the powers that Caesar Augustus eventually accumulated.
Caesar Augustus also set the standard by which Roman Emperors were named. The three titles used by the majority of Roman Emperors; "Imperator", "Caesar", and "Augustus" were all used personally by Caesar Augustus (he officially styled himself "Imperator Caesar Augustus"). However of the name "Augustus" was unique to the Emperor himself (though the Emperor's mother or wife could bear the name "Augusta"). But others could and did bear the titles "Imperator" and "Caesar". Later useage saw the Emperor adding the additional titles "Pius Felix ("pious and blessed") and "Invictus" ("unconquered") in addition to the title "Augustus"). In this usage, by signifying the complete assumption of all Imperial powers, "Augustus" became roughly synonymous with "Emperor" in modern language. As the Roman Empire began splintering, Augustus came to be the title applied to the senior Emperor, while the title "Caesar" came to refer to his "junior" sub-Emperors.
The obverse of the coin portrays Roman Emperor Gordian III. Gordian III was the grandson of Emperor Gordian I. Emperor Gordian I had committed suicide a few months prior upon being informed of the death of his son, Gordian II, in battle. Two Senators, Balbinus and Pupienus were elected emperors by the Roman Imperial Senate upon the death of Gordian I and Gordian II. However the Roman army found neither of the two new emperors to their liking, and the Praetorian Guard murdered both on July 29th, 238 A.D., thereupon proclaiming thirteen-year-old Gordian III emperor.
Gordian III was very popular amongst the people and especially the Praetorians, who lifted him up on a shield to be cheered by the jubilant people of Rome. Gordian appointed the wise and good Timestheus as Praetorian Prefect. Under the counsel of Timestheus, Gordian ruled well and became quite popular. Gordian married Timestheus's daughter, Tranquillina. The Roman Empire had peace and stability during his reign, which was rare during the Third Century. But the peace was marred by the necessity for Gordian to spend about half of his reign engaged in campaigns against the Persians.
In 241 A.D., the Persian king Ardashir died, and his son Shapur immediately began making trouble for Rome by invading Syria. Gordian III and his army went to deal with Shapur a year later and won several victories in battle against the ruthless Persian. In fact the Roman military campaigns were so effective that the Persians were compelled to evacuate most of Mesopotamia. Praetorian Prefect Timestheus died of an illness in 243 A.D., and Philip the Arab became Gordian's Praetorian Prefect in his place. Philip was not the loyal friend that Timesthius was. Philip took great pains to make the soldiers dislike Gordian III by bringing about a shortage of supplies and blaming it on Gordian's inexperience, eventually inspiring the murder of Gordian III on February 25, 244 A.D., while campaigning in Mesopotamia. Philip intimidated the Senate into acknowledging him as Augustus, and then appointed his own son, Philip II as Caesar.
The image of Gordian III depicted on this coin shows him wearing a radiate crown. The radiate crown, common on the dupondius and antoninianus coins of Roman origin, is reference to divinity, specifically to the Greco-Roman Sun God Sol (or Helios, to the ancient Greeks, and Apollo to the later Greeks). The ancient Greeks generally portrayed their sun god as radiate crowned - as can be seen depicted on the reverse of many ancient Greek (and ultimately Roman) coins. Eventually the Emperors of Rome borrowed the theme, not only depicting a Crowned God Sol on the reverse of their coins, but as well bestowing these divine attributes upon the obverse depiction of their Emperors.
The Emperor is also depicted wearing a cuirass. Roman muscle cuirass armor was considered a sign of a high ranking commander and was worn by Roman Emperors, Praetorian Prefects, Roman Generals, Praetorian Tribunes, and Legionary Legates. Examples of this type of armor can be seen in Roman marble statues and engravings at various museums throughout the world. They were constructed of a leather-trimmed, thin sheet of metal (bronze, silver, or gold) and covered the chest and back. The metal work was generally very elaborate, and in the form of various gods or goddesses, mythological creatures, or the Roman eagle. There has only been one (fragmentary) ancient Roman cuirass ever recovered.
The reverse of this coin portrays Roma, the Roman Goddess who personified Rome. The legend, "ROMAE AETERNA" literally means "Rome forever". Roma is usually portrayed helmeted, in armor, often accompanied by a shield, typically holding a small figure (trophy) of Victory (the Greek Goddess "Nike"), a wreath, or a parazonium (a short sword generally worn by Roman military officers) or less commonly, a scepter or spear. The goddess here is depicted helmeted sitting atop her shield. In one hand she holds a scepter, and in the other hand a statuette of "Victory", or "Nike". "Nike" to the Greeks, was "Victoria" or "Victory" to the Romans, and was probably the inspiration for the winged and robed prototypical depiction of Angels in early Roman Christianity. To the Greeks Nike was the personification of victory.
She was also represented in sculpture in connection with the Olympian deities who grant victory; and thus was often portrayed as a small trophy or statue being presented by Zeus or Athena. The Romans borrowed this theme as well, and the Goddess Roma (closely associated with the Greek Goddesses Minerva and Athena) and Jupiter are often depicted holding a statue of Victory. Oftentimes the statue is depicted holding the wand of Mercury (the Greek God Hermes); an allusion to her role as herald of victory. Victory (and Victory statues) made frequent appearances on the reverse of Roman coins through the third century. The Roman Emperor Augustus had an altar to Victoria installed in the senate building with a statue of Victoria standing with one foot on a globe. The cult of Victory in dated back to 294 B.C., when the Consul L. Postumius Megellus built a temple to the goddess on the Palatine. The cult of the Goddess Victoria was one of the last Roman (pagan) cults to succumb to Christianity when in 382 A.D. her statue was taken down by Emperor Gratianus.
The goddess Roma was still a typical feature of Roman coinage even after the empire became Christian, as the goddess was not so much considered a pagan deity as she was considered the personification of Rome. A personification isn't really a deity or goddess, it is rather a symbol much like the Statue of Liberty symbolizes both America and the abstract concept of freedom and liberty. In Roman context, these are the values at the heart of the Via Romana - the Roman Way - and are thought to be those qualities which gave the Roman Republic the moral strength to conquer and civilize the world. In this case, Roma represented precisely to the Romans what the State of Liberty means to Americans, and what Britannia means to the British. It is more than merely a national symbol.
Nonetheless Roma was worshipped as a deity, though principally in the provinces. She was worshipped as a deity as early as the second century B.C. in many cities in Asia Minor. Typically she was depicted with imagery closely akin to that of Tyche (the Greek goddess of prosperity), with a mural crown on her head and with all of the attributes of prosperity and power. Under Augustus (Julius Caesar's heir) her cult in Hellenic cities was united partly with that of (the deified) Augustus, partly with that of (the deified) Julius Caesar. In Rome itself Roma was typically depicted in a military theme, sometimes with imagery closely akin to that of Minerva (Roman Goddess of War; from the Greek Athena). Between the old Forum and the Coliseum the Emperor Hadrian erected a temple in honor of Roma and Venus, as ancestors of the Roman people. The temple eventually became known as the templum urbis, and the ruins still remain until today.
Your purchase includes, upon request, mounting of this coin in either pendant style "a" or "d" as shown here. Pendant style "a" is a clear, airtight acrylic capsule designed to afford your ancient coin maximum protection from both impact damage and degradation. It is the most "politically correct" mounting. Style "d" is a sterling silver pendant. Either pendant styles include a sterling silver chain (16", 18", or 20"). Upon request, there are also an almost infinite variety of other pendants which might well suit both you and your ancient coin pendant, and include both sterling silver and solid 14kt gold mountings, including those shown here. As well, upon request, we can also make available a huge variety of chains in lengths from 16 to 30 inches, in metals including sterling silver, 14kt gold fill, and solid 14kt gold.. We will ship within one business day of our receipt of your electronic remittance.
HISTORY: Coins came into being during the seventh century B.C. in Lydia and Ionia, part of the Greek world, and were made from a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver. Each coin blank was heated and struck with a hammer between two engraved dies. Unlike modern coins, they were not uniformly round. Each coin was wonderfully unique. Coinage quickly spread to the island and city states of Western Greece. Alexander the Great (336-323 B.C.) then spread the concept of coinage throughout the lands he conquered. Ancient coins are archaeological treasures from the past. They were buried for safekeeping because of their value and have been slowly uncovered throughout modern history. Oftentimes soldiers the night before battle would bury their coins and jewelry, hoping and believing that they would live long enough to recover them, and to return to their family. Killed in battle, these little treasure hoards remain until today scattered throughout Western and Eastern Europe, even into the Levant and Persia.
As well, everyone from merchants to housewives found the safest place to keep their savings was buried in a pot, or in some other secretive location. If they met an unexpected end, the whereabouts of the merchants trade goods or the household's sugar jar money might never be known. Recently a commercial excavation for a new building foundation in London unearthed a Roman mosaic floor. When archaeologists removed the floor, they found 7,000 silver denarii secreted beneath the floor. Even the Roman mints buried their produce. There were over 300 mints in the Roman Empire striking coinage. Hoards of as many as 40,000 coins have been found in a single location near these ancient sites. Ancient coins reflect the artistic, political, religious, and economic themes of their times. The acquisition of ancient coins is a unique opportunity to collect art which has been appreciated throughout the centuries.
Coins of the Roman Empire most frequently depicted the Emperor on the front of the coins, and were issued in gold, silver, and bronze. The imperial family was also frequently depicted on the coinage, and, in some cases, coins depicted the progression of an emperor from boyhood through maturity. The reverse side of often served as an important means of political propaganda, frequently extolling the virtues of the emperor or commemorating his victories. Many public works and architectural achievements such as the Coliseum and the Circus Maximus were also depicted. Important political events such as alliances between cities were recorded on coinage. Many usurpers to the throne, otherwise unrecorded in history, are known only through their coins. Interestingly, a visually stunning portrayal of the decline of the Roman Empire is reflected in her coinage. The early Roman bronze coins were the size of a half-dollar. Within 100-150 years those had shrunk to the size of a nickel. And within another 100-150 years, to perhaps half the size of a dime.
One of the greatest civilizations of recorded history was the ancient Roman Empire. In exchange for a very modest amount of contemporary currency, you can possess a small part of that great civilization in the form of a 2,000 year old piece of jewelry. The Roman civilization, in relative terms the greatest military power in the history of the world, was founded in the 8th century (B.C.). In the 4th Century (B.C.) the Romans were the dominant power on the Italian Peninsula, having defeated the Etruscans and Celts. In the 3rd Century (B.C.) the Romans conquered Sicily, and in the following century defeated Carthage, and controlled the Greece. Throughout the remainder of the 2nd Century (B.C.) the Roman Empire continued its gradual conquest of the Hellenistic (Greek Colonial) World by conquering Syria and Macedonia; and finally came to control Egypt in the 1st Century (B.C.).
The pinnacle of Roman power was achieved in the 1st Century (A.D.) as Rome conquered much of Britain and Western Europe. For a brief time, the era of "Pax Romana", a time of peace and consolidation reigned. Civilian emperors were the rule, and the culture flourished with a great deal of liberty enjoyed by the average Roman Citizen. However within 200 years the Roman Empire was in a state of steady decay, attacked by Germans, Goths, and Persians. In the 4th Century (A.D.) the Roman Empire was split between East and West. The Great Emperor Constantine temporarily arrested the decay of the Empire, but within a hundred years after his death the Persians captured Mesopotamia, Vandals infiltrated Gaul and Spain, and the Goths even sacked Rome itself. Most historians date the end of the Western Roman Empire to 476 (A.D.) when Emperor Romulus Augustus was deposed. However the Eastern Roman Empire (The Byzantine Empire) survived until the fall of Constantinople in 1453 A.D.
At its peak, the Roman Empire stretched from Britain in the West, throughout most of Western, Central, and Eastern Europe, and into Asia Minor. Valuables such as coins and jewelry were commonly buried for safekeeping, and inevitably these ancient citizens would succumb to one of the many perils of the ancient world. Oftentimes the survivors of these individuals did not know where the valuables had been buried, and today, two thousand years later caches of coins and rings are still commonly uncovered throughout Europe and Asia Minor. Roman Soldiers oftentimes came to possess large quantities of "booty" from their plunderous conquests, and routinely buried their treasure for safekeeping before they went into battle. If they met their end in battle, most often the whereabouts of their treasure was likewise, unknown. Throughout history these treasures have been inadvertently discovered by farmers in their fields, uncovered by erosion, and the target of unsystematic searches by treasure seekers. With the introduction of metal detectors and other modern technologies to Eastern Europe in the past three or four decades, an amazing number of new finds are seeing the light of day 2,000 years or more after they were originally hidden by their past owners. And with the liberalization of post-Soviet Eastern Europe, new markets have opened eager to share in these treasures of the Roman Empire.
SHIPPING: These antiquities come from a number of collections which by and large originated here in Eastern Europe. As well, additional specimens are occasionally acquired from other institutions and dealers, principally in Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. All of these artifacts are now in the United States and are available for immediate delivery via U.S. Mail. All purchases are backed by an unlimited guarantee of satisfaction and authenticity. If for any reason you are not entirely satisfied with your purchase, you may return it for a complete and immediate refund of your entire purchase price. A certificate of authenticity (COA) is available upon request.
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