Obverse: DN THEODOSIVS PF AVG; Helmeted, Draped, and Cuirassed Bust of the Emperor Facing Right Holding a Spear
Reverse: GLORIA ROMANORVM; Theodosius Standing to the Left in a Galley Piloted by Victory
Theodosius I, full name Flavius Theodosius, called Theodosius the Great, was Roman emperor of the East (379-395) and of the West (394-395), and the last man to rule a united Roman Empire. Theodosius was born in Spain, the son of the Roman general Theodosius. When the eastern Roman emperor Valens was killed fighting the Visigoths at Adrianople in 378, the western Roman emperor Gratian chose Theodosius to rule in the East; he was crowned the following year. In 382, after numerous skirmishes, Theodosius negotiated a favorable peace with the Goths, permitting them to reside in his empire on the condition that they serve in his army. After the murder of Gratian in 383, Theodosius recognized the usurper Magnus Clemens Maximus as emperor of the West, with the exception of Italy, where Valentinian II continued to rule as Gratian's legal successor. When Maximus invaded Italy in 388, Theodosius defeated and killed him, restoring Valentinian as Roman emperor of the West. Theodosius was a strong champion of Orthodox Christianity; he persecuted the Arians and discouraged the practice of the old Roman pagan religion. In 392, Valentinian was murdered by his general Arbogast, who set up Eugenius as puppet ruler in his place. Theodosius again marched to Italy, where he defeated Arbogast and Eugenius in September 394. During the following four months he was the ruler of both East and West. After his death at Milan on January 17, 395, his sons Arcadius in the East and Flavius Honorius in the West succeeded him.
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 to a great emperor passed from the hands of civilization to civilization, from generation to generation that still appears as vibrant today as the day it was struck.