Obverse: IMP C DIOCLETIANVS PF AVG; Laureate and Draped Bust of the Emperor Facing Right
Reverse: GENIO POPVLI ROMANI; Genius Standing to the Left, Holding a Patera and a Cornucopiae
Born of humble origins Diocletian became one of the most remarkable men of the Roman world. He possessed the rare mixture of soldierly courage and the diplomacy of a seasoned senator. Nine years after he was proclaimed emperor, he took the unprecedented step of converting his regime into the Tetrarchy, comprising two Augusti (himself and Maximianus), and two Caesars (Constantius I and Galerius). This extraordinary measure was implemented in order to stabilize the empire, and prevent the internecine troubles that had so plagued the imperial throne. Diocletian's reforms in provincial redistribution, military reorganization and monetary changes (resulting in a radical reform of the coinage), were far-reaching and enlightened. It is not so surprising that such a man should decide to relinquish his title and seek quiet retirement at Split in modern Croatia. Though the innovations of Diocletian have passed with time, the senate-house he reconstructed near the Roman Forum and his Dalmatian villa can still be seen.
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 an intimate memorial to Diocletian, passed from the hands of civilization to civilization, from generation to generation that still appears as vibrant today as the day it was struck.