Obverse: DN ARCADIVS PF AVG; Diademed and Draped Bust of Emperor Facing Right
Reverse: VIRTVS EXERCITI; Arcadius Standing to the Right Resting His Foot on a Bound Captive, Holding a Standard and a Globe
The Roman Empire was permanently divided into East and West in the year 395 A.D. when Arcadius was made emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire upon the death of his father, Theodosius I. Arcadius’ brother, Honorius, was given the Western Roman Empire to rule. Although there had been both an eastern and a western emperor since the time of Diocletian, the empire had always been ruled as if it had been one empire with two halves. After 395, each half took on the character of a separate empire, with the western empire retaining the Latin language and European culture and traditions while the inhabitants of the eastern empire spoke Greek and adopted a culture combining Greek, Middle Eastern, and North African elements. Arcadius was married to an intelligent and powerful woman, Eudoxia, who wielded much influence in the politics of the empire and the Church. Arcadius died at the palace of Constantinople from illness on May 1, A.D. 408. His son Theodosius II succeeded him on the throne.
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 empires. This stunning hand-struck coin reveals an expertise of craftsmanship and intricate sculptural detail that is often lacking in contemporary machine-made currencies. This coin documents an important chapter in the eventual dissolution of the Roman Empire. Although the empire was in disarray, this sumptuous coin bears no traces of the chaotic times. Instead, this bronze coin is a glorious memorial passed from the hands of civilization to civilization, from generation to generation.