Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by gogili1977, Aug 27, 2018.

  1. gogili1977

    gogili1977 Well-Known Member

    I collected all three emperors with reverse REQVIES OPTIMORVM MERITORVM. Post your examples and what you think is relevant. Why is struck for these three emperors only?

    Divus Claudius Gothicus. Half Follis. Struck under Constantine I. Thessalonica. Obv: DIVO CLAVDIO OPTIMO IMP, Veiled and laureate head right. Rev: REQVIES OPTIMORVM MERITORVM / TSΓ, Emperor seated left on curule chair, raising hand and holding sceptre. RIC 26.
    Divus Maximianus. Half Follis. Struck under Constantine I. Siscia. Obv. DIVO MAXIMIANO SEN FORT IMP, laureate and veiled bust right. Rev. REQVIES OPTIMORVM MERITORVM, Emperor veiled, seated left in curule chair, holding short sceptre, SIS. RIC 41.
    Divus Constantius I. Half Follis. Siscia. Obv: DIVO CONSTANTIO PIO PRINCIP, Laureate, veiled and draped bust right. Rev: REQUIES OPTIMORVM MERITORVM/ SIS, Emperor, veiled, seated left on curule chair, holding sceptre and raising hand. RIC 42.
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  3. R*L

    R*L Well-Known Member

    Interesting coins, I can't say I have ever seen the type before - Requies Optimorum Meritorumum - retirement most deserved. Given none of these emperors had an opportunity to retire of their own volition (eg they all died while reigning) it is a curious legend.
  4. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    Constantine, who issued the coins, claimed the three as family. Lacking DNA tests, we have to take his word for it.
  5. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Just a guy making his way in the universe

    It's interesting that they were only struck in the half-follis denomination, correct?
  6. R*L

    R*L Well-Known Member

    It is curious that coins were struck for the late Claudius Gothicus under the Tetrarchy and then Constantine. Does anyone have any idea why would they want to be associated with him in particular?

    Presumably the coins for Maximian were struck as part of Constantine's efforts to rehabilitate his image. However it might be that Constantine was also making a bit of a grim joke - the legend retirement most deserved has a certain irony given Constantine forced him to committ suicide after a failed coup!. From Wikipedia:

    In early 310, Maximian attempted to seize Constantine's title while the emperor was on campaign on the Rhine. Few supported him, and he was captured by Constantine in Marseille. Maximian killed himself in mid-310 on Constantine's orders. During Constantine's war with Maxentius, Maximian's image was purged from all public places. However, after Constantine ousted and killed Maxentius, Maximian's image was rehabilitated, and he was deified.

    Is there any write up on these coins that anyone is aware of?
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  7. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    From Wikipedia:
    The unreliable Historia Augusta reports Claudius and Quintillus having another brother named Crispus and through him a niece, Claudia, who reportedly married Eutropius and was mother to Constantius Chlorus.[22]Some historians suspect this account to be a genealogical fabrication, however, intended to link the family of Constantine I to that of a well-respected emperor.

    Some historians assume anything in "the unreliable Historia Augusta" is wrong by definition. Constantine believed it and that is enough to explain the coin.
  8. Gavin Richardson

    Gavin Richardson Well-Known Member

    So recently I’ve been researching gesture in Roman art. (I know, I need to get more.) While it’s reductive to posit a one-to-one correspondence between a single gesture and meaning, often the Roman gesture of the raised arm/hand indicates that the figure is speaking. Take, for example, this image from the Vatican Vergil, ca. 400, depicting an aged, seated man speaking in the Georgics:


    With this strong convention in mind, I am puzzled by the memorial issues for Claudius II, Maximianus, and Constantius Chlorus referenced in this thread. The obverse identification of each man as “Divus” indicates that the men are depicted as deceased and conventionally deified—I take their head cover to indicate their sacred status; to me the cover even resembles a winding sheet.


    These coins date from about 317 or so—well after Constantine’s conversion experience. I doubt Constantine actually believes these men are gods; he’s probably just following a cultural convention that’s as much political as religious.

    But the reverse type celebrating their “rest of the greatest merit” or “most deserved rest” seems to depict the same shrouded (and therefore, dead), seated emperor.

    Then why is the figure’s hand raised? Is he speaking? He’s not reaching out to God, as on the Constantine “Hand of God” memorial coinage. He doesn’t seem to be imploring the heavens. He seems to be speaking, or instructing, as in the Georgics painting above. But if dead men tell no tales, what could the dead man have to say?

    Maybe it’s a simple iconographical borrowing of earlier issues, like this one.


    But the raised hand/speech motif is so strong in late antiquity that I think speech is implied here. Would anyone care to speculate on how we are to parse that raised hand gesture from the dead?
  9. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    That hand configuration is common on coins showing greetings of blessings. I posted several examples o the thread that honored TIF's five years here so I won't repeat them here. post #52

    If you are having trouble with the not yet fully Christian Constantine using Divus in this manner, what do you have o say about his own consecration coins? All his children were raised as Christians. Should we distinguish between Divus and Deus or should we just realize that details of theology were then, as now, under development and discussion?
  10. Gavin Richardson

    Gavin Richardson Well-Known Member

    I have no trouble with religious beliefs and practices being in flux.

    The idea of a raised hand being a blessing makes better sense to me than speech. A salute seems harder to reconcile; it seems the living should salute the dead. But a blessing from a divus "ancestor"? That makes sense.
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  11. gsimonel

    gsimonel Well-Known Member

    I don't think we can equate Christian theology of the 4th century with Christian beliefs today. My guess is that Constantine was drawn to Christianity because he assumed that the Christian god was more powerful than the pagan gods, and so he wanted that god's patronage. I know that he received a lot of tutoring in Christianity during his lifetime and eventually came to accept the belief that the Christian god was the only true god, but many of the beliefs that he took with him to his grave were still very different from what most Christians believe today. I think the deification coins were simple depicting Constantine going to meet his patron (and, considering his ego, probably ruling jointly with him!).
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  12. Victor_Clark

    Victor_Clark standing on the shoulders of giants Dealer

    RIC VII describes busts raising a hand (like my avatar) as "imperatorial gestus"

    Gestus is the physical embodiment of an attitude- in this case, the attitude of "I am Emperor"
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  13. Gavin Richardson

    Gavin Richardson Well-Known Member

    That’s interesting Victor. Thanks.
  14. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    As the Tetrarchy fell apart, Constantine I began to publicly assert that he was descended from Claudius Gothicus. This illustrious ancestry formed the basis for Constantine's claim to have the right to rule over an undivided empire. Constantine claimed that his grandmother was a daughter or a niece of Claudius II, who died of the plague nearly 50 years previously, in AD 270.

    Here's the only example I have; it's from Siscia:

    Claudius II (DIVO) under Constantine half follis.jpg
    Divus Claudius II Gothicus. Died AD 270.
    Roman billon half follis, 1.31 g, 15.3 mm, 8 h.
    Siscia mint. Struck under Constantine I, AD 317-318.
    Obv: DIVO CLAVDIO OPTIMO IMP, laureate and veiled head right.
    Rev: REQVIES OPTIMO-RVM MERITORVM, Divus Claudius seated left on curule chair, raising right hand and holding scepter in left; SIS in exergue.
    Refs: RIC VII 43; Cohen 245; RCV 16398.
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