FIL AVG Constantine Follis

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Fugio1, May 25, 2020.

  1. Fugio1

    Fugio1 Supporter! Supporter

    Over the last couple of days I received two auction winnings. One republican denarius posted earlier, and one Constantinian Follis from the year 308 CE.
    Constantine FIL AVG Antioch RIC 111 6.79g.jpg
    Denomination: Follis
    Era: C. 308 CE
    Metal: AE
    Obverse: FL VAL CONSTANTINVS FIL AVG; Laureate head r.
    Reverse: GENIO F-IL AVGG; Genius standing l., holding patera and cornucopia; -/(O/Є)//ANT•.
    Mint: Antioch
    Weight: 6.79 gm.
    Reference: RIC 111 (Antioch)
    Provenance: Naville 57, April 26, 2020. Lot 653

    Scarce FIL AVG issue, struck at Antioch by Maximinus II who was also demoted to Filius Augustorum at the Carnuntum conference. Both Maximinus and Constantine were unaccepting of this downgrade from either Caesar or Augustus and the mints under their respective control didn't claim this title for themselves.

    The eastern mints Antioch and Alexandria under control of Maximinus continued to use Nobilisimus Caesar on the coins for Maximinus, but coins for Constantine were were issued with the title FIL AVG. The Carnuntum conference was Galerius' show so mints under his jurisdiction struck for both Constantine and Maximinus as FIL AVG.

    Only at Antioch was the title adorned in the legends on both obverse and reverse. At other mints (Alexandria, Nicomedia, Thessalonica, Siscia) only the obverse legend is seen with FIL AVG, the reverse with either Genio Caesaris or Genio AVGG.

    Please post anything relevant from your collection.
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  3. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    This is the Maximinus FIL AVGG from Thessalonika. I find it interesting that the reverse is Genius of the Caesar rather than of the friend.
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  4. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Great coin! Doug showed the Maximinus II from Thessalonica, here's my Constantine FIL AVGG from the same workshop.

    Constantine - FIL AVGG.jpg
    CONSTANTINE II, as Filius Augustorum
    AE Follis. 6.01g, 24.6mm, Thessalonica mint, AD 309-10. RIC VI 32b (Scarce). O: CONSTANTINVS.FIL AVGG, laureate head right. R: GENIO CA-ESARIS, Genius standing left pouring liquid from patera and holding cornucopia; •SM•TS• in exergue, star in left field, Δ in right field.
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  5. gsimonel

    gsimonel Supporter! Supporter

    Great OP. I have two FIL AVG in my CtG collection - one with GENIO CAESARIS . . .
    Alexandria mint, A.D. 308-310
    RIC 99b
    23 x 25 mm, 7.4 g.

    . . . and one with GENIO AVGVSTI.
    Siscia mint, A.D. 309-310
    RIC 200b
    (Note that the obverse inscription is CONSTANTINVS FIL [dot] AVG)
    25 mm, 5.4 g.

    I would love to get my hands on a GENIO FIL AVG like yours. Great coin, Fugio1!
  6. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    Constantius Chlorus died in 306 while fighting the Picts in Scotland , he appointed
    his son Constantinus as his successor:

    P1180760 chlorus (2).jpg
  7. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    There was a brief period of confusion at the mint of Antioch in 308, when the mint had to make up its mind whether to depict Constantine as Caesar or as the "son of the Augustus." This coin is from that period, possibly before deciding to opt for the FIL AVG:

    CI nob fil.JPG

    This pairing of FL VAL CONSTANTINVS NOB CAES with GENO CAESARIS* is unlisted in RIC and seems to be rather scarce but this might be due to an error, which means that NOB CAES can be with GENIO CAESARIS while FIL AVG was used with GENIO FIL AVGG.

    This coin is earlier than OP (Group IV i RIC VI Antioch 104var, unlisted for obverse legend), possibly dating before Carnuntum (autumn 308).
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  8. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    If you want to know more about FIL AVG coins, here is a web site on them:

    Constantine, as FIL AVG
    24 mm.
    Struck c. early to later 309
    at Antioch
    [only one G]

    The story is pretty complicated, but that's part of the fun. It gives you, the collector, lots to think about. Also, there are related coins that could be collected alongside these. If you are up for trying to fit an unusual coin into its historical context, try reading that web site.
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  9. gsimonel

    gsimonel Supporter! Supporter

    I just received this coin. It's from the most recent CNG eAuction. I was very happy to win this one:
    AE Nummus
    Thessalonica mint, A.D. 308-310
    RIC 39b
    Obv: CONSTANTINVS [dot] FIL [dot] AVGG
    Rev: VIRTVTI E-XERCITVS - Virtus, helmeted, nude except for chlamys draped across shoulders, advancing right, holding transverse spear in right hand and trophy over shoulder with left.
    [dot] SM [dot] TS [dot] in exergue; star in right field, Δ in left.
    26 mm, 7.2 g.
    Ex. Dattari collection.

    I have two questions about this coin: 1) How do we know this is Virtus and not Mars? Virtus is usually portrayed in military dress on coins of Constantine, whereas Mars is usually nude. Is there a particular characteristic that distinguishes them? Does it have anything to do with Eastern vs. Western mints? Or is it just the cataloguer's call?
    2) Is there a way to make a dot in HTML? I can make a Δ by typing "Δ". Is there a similar method for a dot?
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  10. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    You can copy Greek letters or a big dot from here (bookmark it) or from below:

    I just copied most of my short page below:

    Γ Δ Λ Π Σ Θ Φ Ξ Ω Є Һ [= N] ∂ [= D in dominus nostrum] ω ɣ

    A big dot: • 8-pointed star ✳

    π ϒ
  11. Victor_Clark

    Victor_Clark standing on the shoulders of giants Dealer

    Last edited: Jun 24, 2020
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  12. Gavin Richardson

    Gavin Richardson Well-Known Member

    Here's what I have written elsewhere. BTW, I wish both coins were mine. :woot:. They aren't.

    There seems to be some discussion about whether the figure on the reverse of the VIRTVS AV-GG ET CAESS NN coins struck for Severus II, Maximinus II, and Constantine is Mars or a personification of Virtus. A gold multiple struck at Trier for Constantius Chlorus (RIC VI Treveri 31) features the same figure on the reverse with the legend MARTI VICTORI; “To Mars the Victor,” lending iconographical weight to the argument that the reverse figure on the base metal VIRTVS coins is indeed Mars.

  13. Gavin Richardson

    Gavin Richardson Well-Known Member

    And here is my FIL AVGG from Siscia, along with my write-up. I think the write-up owes a lot to @Valentinian's fine site.

    CONSTANTINE RIC VI Siscia 200b A.jpg
    Upon first glance, a collector of late Roman imperial bronzes would not see anything remarkable about this coin–it looks like (quite literally) a million other Constantine coins of the fourth century, with “the genius of the Augustus” celebrated on the reverse. But it’s the last seven letters of the obverse legend that make this coin quite interesting: “FIL AUGG,” which stand for “filius augustorum,” or “son of the Augusti.” The Augusti were the emperors of the western and eastern Roman empires. The Augustus in the East, Galerius, essentially invented this title “filius augustorum” as a means of placating a 36-year-old Constantine, who was gaining power in the West against Galerius’s hand-picked successor, Severus II. This title was somehow designed to be flattering–perhaps a step above the typical title of “caesar” often given to the Augustus-in-waiting. But Constantine rejected the bogus title and called himself the full-fledged Augustus of the West in 307 A.D. Indeed, Constantine never struck coins with the “filius augustorum” title, and the legend “CONSTANTINVS FIL AVGG” was used only at eastern mints controlled by Galerius, whence the coin in the photo, struck ca. 309-310 A.D. at Siscia (present-day Sisak, in Croatia). Thus, this coin is scarce, if not rare, due to the limited and short-lived striking period with this obverse title. Constantine would continue to amass power–power which culminated, of course, in his triumph at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312 A.D., cementing his status as Augustus, a title he would not relinquish until his death in 337.
  14. gsimonel

    gsimonel Supporter! Supporter

    To support Gavin's thesis, here's a coin of Constantine's depicting Virtus in military dress:
    Nicomedia mint, A.D. 311
    RIC 70, var.
    Rev: VIRTVTI E-XERCITVS - Virtus, in military dress, advancing right with spear and shield
    SMN in exergue, A in right field
    23 mm, 4.7 g.

    To undermine Gavin's thesis, here's a coin of Constantine depicting Mars in military dress:
    Treveri (Trier) mint, A.D. 316
    RIC 118
    Rev: MARTI CONS-ERVATORI - Mars, helmeted, in military dress, standing right, looking left, holding spear and resting hand on shield.
    BTR in exergue; T in left field; F in right.
    20 mm, 3.2 g.

    Take your pick, I guess, depending on which side of the argument you fall on.
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  15. Clavdivs

    Clavdivs Well-Known Member

    Nice addition!

    Constantine I (Caesar, 306-309). Æ Follis (29mm, 8.59g, 12h). Heraclea, 306-7. Laureate head r. R/ Genius standing l., holding patera and cornucopiae; HTB.
  16. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    A naked male figure on a reverse with a "Virtvs" legend, like the ones shown, is definitely supposed to be Mars -- displaying the qualities of "virtus" -- and is never supposed to be the actual personification of Virtus. Why? Because the personification of Virtus is always female (because the word is grammatically feminine) and is always, or almost always, portrayed with one bare breast. See my comment in another thread at But please ignore the penultimate paragraph, in which I suggest that a couple of Republican coins might show Virtus as male; see @curtislclay's subsequent comments refuting that suggestion. See also the article at, on the female personification of Virtus.

    As I said in my comment:

    Perhaps one way of looking at it would be to draw a narrow distinction and to think of the actual personification of "Virtus" per se as being female, while thinking of the many clearly male, fully-clothed figures on VIRTVS AVG reverses [or the naked figures of Mars!] as representing the qualities and attributes of "Virtus" -- which, of course, are stereotypically male in the first place; "virtus" is usually translated as "valour" in old numismatic dictionaries and other works -- rather than as being Virtus herself. As the article at Forum states, "Virtus embodies manly courage and strength of character. There were powerful female figures in Roman culture, but these were generally goddesses like Minerva, not mortals. So, having a female personification of these qualities sometimes presented difficulties to the propagandists. As a result, coins often showed, not Virtus herself, but a soldier or the emperor with a "VIRTVS" legend to indicate that the army, or the emperor, was valorous and manly. In fact, a whole range of characters were brought into play."

    As for the coin posted by @gsimonel, supposedly showing Virtus in military dress on the reverse, I can't enlarge it and can't tell if the reverse figure has one bare breast. If yes, it's Virtus. If no, clothed or not, it's not the personification of Virtus, but is simply a soldier displaying "valorous" qualities.
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  17. gsimonel

    gsimonel Supporter! Supporter

    Thank you for this explanation, DonnaML. I looked at the coin in question (Nicomedia mint, A.D. 311, RIC 70, var.). There is no exposed breast. And I noticed another clue that I had overlooked before: the figure is holding a trophy over his left shoulder! (I had originally interpreted it as the cloak.) So it is clearly a soldier. Thank you for clearing this up.

    But that raises another question. There are several issues of Constantine's with the reverse inscription MARTI CONSERVATORI--along with a few variations--that depict a figure in military dress. Compare these two coins, both from the same mint, minted one year apart:
    Treveri (Trier) mint, A.D. 309
    RIC 830
    Rev: MARTI PATRI CONSERVATORI - Mars, helmeted, nude, standing, facing right, holding reverse spear, resting shield on ground
    PTR in exergue; T in left field, F in right
    25 mm, 7.6 g.

    Treveri (Trier) mint, A.D. 310-313
    RIC 862
    Rev: MARTI CON-SERVATORI - Mars, helmeted, in military dress, holding reverse spear, resting hand on shield
    PTR in exergue; T in left field, F in right
    24 mm, 4.4 g.

    The upper coin is clearly Mars. But I wonder if the lower coin might be depicting the personification of the military, the point being that Mars is the protector of soldiers.
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  18. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I agree with the question but allow that there may be no answer. The figure could just be a soldier wanting the protection of the god. Virtus and Mars figures have distinctive features without which I would prefer we call the figure nothing too specific. Soldier right works for me.
  19. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    The real difference is that on the earlier one Mars is naked below the waist and on the later one he is not. Artistic sensibilities were changing in the early 4th century.

    Under the First Tetrarchy, until 305, numerous male figures were depicted naked. At Trier during the Second Tetrarchy, under Constantius as Augustus (305-306), Genius begins naked and changes to "loins draped" in the second issue. The trend to clothe previously naked figures continued under Constantine. The GENIO POP ROM type which he initiated is draped at his mints:


    Constantine as Caesar, 306-307, at Trier. RIC Trier 719. 28-26 mm.

    But Genius is still naked in the east:


    Constantine as FIL AVG at Alexandria. Genius is naked.25 mm. RIC Alexandria 100b. "late 308-310."

    Sol was depicted naked:

    Constantine as Augustus at Lugdunum (Lyon), RIC Lugdunum 309, "c. 309-310."

    until Sol wasn't naked:

    Maximinus II at Antioch. Struck 310-311. RIC Antioch 154.

    There are still naked figures after 317:

    Constantine II became Caesar in 317 and Sol is still naked at Arles.

    This could make a thread of its own. I wonder if the change is related to religion?
  20. gsimonel

    gsimonel Supporter! Supporter

    I was wondering the same thing. But, as you pointed out, Constantine was still portraying Sol as nude. The clothed Sol appeared only in the East.

    It's possible that as Constantine was becoming more overt in his acceptance of Christianity he decided to slowly remove all references to other gods on his coinage. So instead of promoting Mars, he started promoting the army.
  21. Clavdivs

    Clavdivs Well-Known Member

    I think Valentinian is spot on that this topic could be a thread on its own.
    Really interesting. I wonder if @Victor_Clark would have any theories..


    I can't get David Letterman's company out of my head..:woot:

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