DN for Dominus Noster

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Valentinian, May 11, 2021.

  1. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    Late Roman AE coins of the mid fourth century and later commonly have obverse legend which begins with the title "DN" for "Dominus Noster" ("Our Lord"). I wrote an educational web page which discusses the initial issues which use that title for the emperor.


    Minted by Constantine for Maximian during his second reign, but before Constantine recognized Maximian as an active Augustus.
    27-26 mm. 7.98 grams.
    This is the first AE type to use "DN" after the retirement issues of Diocletian and Maximian.
    DN MAXIMIANO PF S AVG [DN and S for "Senior" circled in purple]
    Domino Nostro ... Pio Felici Seniori AVGgusto
    "For our lord Maximian, religious/pious and lucky/fortunate senior Augustus"

    Struck c. 307 at Lugdunum (Lyons) by Constantine for Maximian (in time interval (3) below).
    GENIO POPVLI ROMANI, Genius standing.
    altar to left, N in field right, PLC in exergue.

    RIC VI Lugdunum 206 "c. Spring 307". This issue includes coins of Constantine and Maximinus II as Caesars and Galerius as Augustus.

    The title "DN" was initiated in 305 and became the usual title in 348. In between some coins have it and many don't. Can you show us a coin from before the FEL TEMP REPARTIO reform of 348 with the title "DN"?
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  3. John Conduitt

    John Conduitt Well-Known Member

    Very interesting. I have one of Diocletian's retirement issue:

    Diocletian AE1, 305-307
    London. Bronze, 27mm, 10.51g. D N DIOCLETIANO FELICISSIMO SEN AVG (Dominus Noster Diocletiano Felicissimo Senioris Augusti). PROVIDENTIA DEORVM QVIES AVGG (RIC 77a).

    Also plenty of silver siliquas, well after the reform:

    Honorius Siliqua, 407-408
    Rome. Silver, 1.06g. D N HONORIVS P F AVG (Dominus Noster Honorius Pius Felix Augustus). VIRTVS ROMANORVM (Strength of the Romans) (RIC X 1267).
    Found Cambridgeshire, UK
    Last edited: May 11, 2021
  4. gsimonel

    gsimonel Supporter! Supporter

    Am I understanding your question correctly? Coins with DN in the legend are quite common by around A.D. 320.
    Licinius II
    Caesar, A.D. 313-324
    Bronze Nummus
    Antioch mint, A.D. 317-320
    Rev: IOVI CONS-ERVATORI CAESS - Jupiter, standing, facing left, chlamys hanging from shoulder, leaning on scpeter and holding Vicotry on globe; captive at feet
    SMANT in exergue; A in right field
    RIC 24
    20x18mm, 3.0g.

    Caesar, A.D. 317-326
    (Bronze) AE3
    Cyzicus mint, A.D. 317-320
    Rev: IOVI CONSER-VATORI CAESS - Jupiter, nude, standing, facing left, holding Victory on globe in right hand and leaning on scepter with left
    SMK in exergue; [wreath] in left field, Z in right.
    RIC 10
    19mm, 3.6g.

    Two examples of Constantine I ("the Great")
    A.D. 307-337
    Ticinum mint, A.D. 320
    RIC 131
    Rev: D N CONSTANTINI MAX AVG - Wreath enclosing VOT/XX
    TT in exergue; ✳ in center
    19 mm, 2.5 g.

    Ticinum mint, A.D. 326
    RIC 198
    Rev: D N CONSTANTINI MAX AVG - Campgate with two turrets; star above
    Q[crescent]T in exergue
    20 mm, 3.4 g.

    Are these what you were asking for?
  5. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

    DN on Diocletian abdication issue. Alexandria mint.


  6. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    Yes. There was a flurry of "DN" titles on coin obverses from 317 when the three Caesars (Licinius II, Crispus, and Constantine II) were promoted. It was sometimes expanded to "DOMINORVM NOSTRORVM" on the reverses.


    Crispus, Caesar 317-326. Struck as Caesar 320-321.
    20 mm.
    Reverse legend: DOMINORVM • NOSTRORVM • CAESS
    V in wreath
    A translation is something like "Vows for 5 years of our lords the Caesars".

    ST below
    RIC Ticinum 150 "320-321"

    Then about 324 when Licinius was defeated, DN becomes much less frequently used on obverses. But, it is on some pre-reform coins like this one:


    Constans, as Augustus (337-350), struck 347-8 [RIC] or 346 [Burgess, NC 1988, p. 83].
    14 mm. RIC Antioch 116.

    There are some "GLORIA EXERCITVS" coins with "DN" in the obverse title, but they are uncommon and I don't have one to show. Does anyone?
  7. Gavin Richardson

    Gavin Richardson Well-Known Member

    I love Warren Esty threads.

    This coin is a bit quirky--a Constantine SOLI INVICTO coin with the DN on the reverse--presumably expanded to the dative singular like everything else on the reverse--domino nostro?

    Here the god SOL INVICTUS seems to be "our lord." Certainly the line between Emperor and god is most thin.

    I am probably quoting Victor Clark in my notes on this coin below.

  8. Voulgaroktonou

    Voulgaroktonou Well-Known Member

    Dear @Valentinian, Very nice write up, as always– thank you! It’s not for nothing that Classicists refer to the 4th c. onward as the “Dominate”. The Dominus Noster titulature was to have a long run, from the early 4th to the middle 8th century. The last time it appears on eastern Roman coinage is during the reign of that irrepressible iconoclast Constantine V, 714-775. Below is a follis where it appears, although it is not clear in the photo and the letter “N” is missing.

    Constantine V Copronymus. 741-775. Constantinople, 741-?. Æ Follis, 4.20 gr. 20.5 mm. 11h
    Obv: D[N] CON – SτAN. Facing bust, wearing crown with cross, holding in right hand, a globus cruciger and in left, an akakia.
    Rev: Large M between X/X/X/ and N/N/N; cross above; Beneath, B.
    References: Sear 1555; DO 6b

    A solidus of his only slightly less virulent image breaker father Leo III displays the DN a little more clearly, although the initial Latin D has transformed into a Greek δ.
    LEO III, with Constantine V. 717-741 AD. Constantinople, 720. AV Solidus, 4.44 gr. 21 mm. 6h
    Obv: δND [L]EO - N PA MUL•. Facing bust of Leo, with short beard, wearing crown and chlamys, holding globus cruciger and akakia.
    Rev: δN CONSτ - ANτINUS M θ Similar bust of Constantine, but smaller and beardless.
    References: Sear 1504; DO 3 var. (officina). Berk 216 (this coin); Ex Sotheby’s 11/2/98, lot 389.
    In DOC III, 1, p. 229, Grierson discusses the expansion possibilities of the first 3 letters of the obverse legend δND, with δ(omino) N(ostr)O or a shorter δ(omi)NO [the third letter, D, being an alternate form of O] being equally acceptable.
    DonnaML, Bing, Johndakerftw and 2 others like this.
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