Featured Julian: The Beard and the Bull

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Curtisimo, Jun 22, 2019.


What do you think the bull represents on this coin?

  1. The biblical Golden Calf

    0 vote(s)
  2. A sacrificial scene

  3. The Apis Bull

  4. The emperor Julian

  5. The astrological sign of Julian's birth

  6. Mithraic iconography

  7. Helios / Cattle of Helios

  8. Other

Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper Supporter

    I do a little stargazing myself...


    Though these days I find myself spending more time gazing at our own star instead with my H-Alpha solar telescope.

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  3. Clavdivs

    Clavdivs Well-Known Member

    @Curtisimo .. .I have had my eye on one of these coins for some time. Haven't been able to secure one that fits my budget - but someday.

    That is THE BEST portrait I have ever seen for one of these - so amazing.
    Curtisimo likes this.
  4. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Supporter! Supporter

    This coin does present something of a puzzle as it appears to be the only overt reference to paganism on Julian's coinage. Otherwise his coinage is in most regards rather similar to everything else that is out there. There must be something about the large denominate Aes coins. After all at least initially Magnentius struck a very overt Christian coin on basically the same denomination.
    I suspect that the easy solution is that the bull represents some form of sacrificial offering common to many pagan rites. This is despite the lack of any of the paraphernalia associated with sacrificial animals especially bulls.
    Curtisimo, Ryro and Valentinian like this.
  5. lrbguy

    lrbguy Supporter! Supporter

    I can relate, and you really got a nice one. Back in the late 90s a dealer by the name of Ed Waddell ran an auction in which he offered an immaculate run of these, one from each mint that struck them. That made quite an impression on me since I knew I did not have the deep pockets that were needed at the time to try to do that. Still, I thought I would give it a try (off and on) until I had assembled a set by about 2005 that was only missing one mint. I kind of lost interest in the project after that, but have kept all the coins. I have a few added varieties from certain mints, but here is a run of one for each mint, except for one mint. Guess which mint is missing. From west to east they are:
    Lugdunum (Lyons) RIC viii 236

    Arelate (Arles) RIC viii 318

    Siscia (RIC viii 418)

    Sirmium (RIC viii 107)

    Thessalonika (RIC viii 225)

    Heraclea (RIC viii 104)

    Constantinople (RIC viii 163)

    Nicomedia (RIC viii 121)

    Cyzicus (RIC viii 126)

    Antioch (RIC viii 216)

    Maybe not the worlds greatest, but it was a kick. Have fun comparing the interpretive styles.
  6. gogili1977

    gogili1977 Well-Known Member

  7. lrbguy

    lrbguy Supporter! Supporter

    It's Aquilea. Anybody got one. They are not howling rarities, it just depends on when they come up.

    Here is an example (not mine) from the missing mint:
  8. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Supporter! Supporter

    I am wondering if we are missing something by trying to study this issue of coins on its own without looking at the coin in the context of what was issued at the same time as it was. If one looks at the last issues of Constantius II one finds that the solidii feature the emperor as a soldier and the reverse the theme of a united empire. Along with the gold the silver congratulates him on his many years of service and the hope he will continue for another ten years. The aes continues the celebration of the emperor bringing grief to his enemies, though at the very end one finds a series depicting him in military garb holding spear and globe. Overall these coins present a unified theme of a strong and capable soldier with many years of proven success keeping the enemies of Rome at bay.
    When looking at coins of Julian one immediately sees a subtle change. The militancy is reserved to the reverse of the gold coinage, with the silver and smaller aes essentially promising good government. Then we are left with the "bull" coinage. It is possible that he is signaling as a part of this "good" governance the restoration of pagan worship. But I wonder if there is something else going on here as well. Peace is sometimes depicted in Roman art as a pastoral scene with people being able to tend their fields without the fear of war. I wonder if that is something he might be trying to signal. conbis10.jpeg Solidius of Constantius II conbis12.JPG Siliqua of Constantius II
    Curtisimo, TIF, gogili1977 and 4 others like this.
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