Obverse: DN FL CL IVLIANVS PF AVG; Helmeted, Draped, and Cuirassed Bust of the Emperor Facing Right, Holding a Spear and a Shield
Reverse: VOT X MVLT XX; Legend Surrounded by a Wreath
Flavius Claudius Julianus was born in 332 A.D., the nephew of Constantine the Great. Upon the death of Constantine the Great in 337 A.D., his three sons assumed control of the empire and murdered any potential rivals to the throne. However, Julian’s life was sparred because he was deemed too young to pose a threat. Julian grew up and gained the favor of Constantius II. In 355 A.D., he was given the title of Caesar and made the governor of Gaul. Julian proved to be an able and loyal administrator. He won several battles against barbarian invaders, making him very popular with the troops as well as the people. In 360 A.D., Constantius decided to transfer many of Julian’s troops to the East to wage war against the Persian. Yet the troops rebelled against Constantius and declared Julian emperor. When Constantius died en route to Gaul to suppress the insurrection, Julian assumed control of his troops and became emperor. Although his reign was brief (he was killed in battle against the Persians little over two years later), Julian is significant historically for his writings, some of which still survive to this day. Julian was a committed pagan and a leader of the neo-pagan movement that sought to restore the traditional gods to power in the face of the rising tide of Christianity. Though he had many followers, especially among the Senatorial class, Christianity was too well entrenched both among the people and among the power structure to allow paganism to flourish again. In fact, by the death of Theodosius I little more than thirty years later, paganism would be all but extinct in the empire.
How many hands have touched a coin in your pocket or purse? What eras and lands have the coin traversed on its journey into our possession? As we reach into our pockets to pull out some change, we rarely hesitate to think of who might have touched the coin before us, or where the coin will venture to after it leaves our hands. More than money, coins are a symbol of the state that struck them, of a specific time and location, whether contemporary currencies or artifacts of a long forgotten empire. This stunning hand-struck coin reveals an expertise of craftsmanship and intricate sculptural detail that is often lacking in contemporary machine-made currencies. This ancient coin is a memorial an emperor’s reign passed from the hands of civilization to civilization, from generation to generation that still appears as vibrant today as the day it was struck.