Roman Empire

Honorius, Co-Emperor AD 393-423

RIC 1310; Depeyrot 3/1, Extremely Fine

Ravenna, ca. AD 408-415. D N HONORI-VS P F AVG, diademed, helmeted, draped and cuirassed bust of Honorius right, sporting beard and wearing helmet decorated with three stars. Reverse: VICTORI-A AVGGG, emperor standing facing, placing foot on back of prostrate lion left, crowned by manus Dei, holding staff surmounted by staurogram and resting hand on hilt of sword; R-V//COB.

This solidus takes its typological cues from the coinage of Constantine the Great, perhaps in an attempt to shore up the prestige of the ineffectual Honorius. The reverse depicts the emperor spearing a serpent-tailed lion with a christogram, presumably alluding to the defeat of Priscus Attalus. The type couches the victory in religious terms, with the Christian emperor triumphing over the monstrous lion representing the pagan senator Priscus Attalus, and looks back to the famous emission of Constantine depicting the christogram-topped labarum spearing a serpent (RIC VII, 19) which is thought to (somewhat prematurely) symbolize the triumph of Christianity over paganism.