VLPP Latin Query

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Gavin Richardson, Aug 22, 2019.

  1. Gavin Richardson

    Gavin Richardson Well-Known Member

    CON 1 VICT LAET 1 PT.jpg
    I am writing to gather some thoughts about the Latin expansion of the long inscription on the VLPP “two victories” reverse type of Constantine and others.

    Appearing in 313, this coin’s reverse legend reads VICTORIAE LAETAE PRINC PERP, which can be expanded to VICTORIAE LAETAE PRINCIPIS PERPETVI, “To the joyous victory [dative singular] of the eternal prince” [genitive singular].

    The fact that this coin reverse was struck exclusively for Constantine in 313 (in billon) argues at this point for the singular “eternal prince.” In 313, it is difficult to imagine any other “joyous” victory besides Constantine’s defeat of Maxentius. @Victor_Clark suggests that “These coins, or Festmünzen, may have been issued to celebrate the short-lived reconciliation of the three Augusti [presumably, Constantine, Licinius, and Maximinus II] and following the defeat of Maxentius in 312.”

    Paul Stephenson suggests that a 315 striking of this coin in Ticinum and Rome was part of a celebration of Constantine’s decennalia, so the singular “eternal prince” still works well.

    However, starting in 318, this reverse type is more widely struck for Constantine, Constantine II, Crispus, Licinius I, and Licinius II. How does this fact change the interpretation of the reverse legend? Two main questions here:

    1. After the widespread striking of this type in 318-320, does “joyous victory” no longer refer to the specific defeat of Maxentius? Does the legend then become a more generic wish for imperial victory in all endeavors?

    2. And does PRINC PERP then mentally get expanded to the plural PRINCIPUM PERPETUORUM, “of the eternal princes,” which is grammatically justified?

    I suppose my query is about the reception of this coin, which may ultimately be unknowable. My interest is prompted by the fact that I see this reverse legend expanded and translated in different ways, sometimes with prince singular and princes plural. PRINC would allow for both in Latin.

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  3. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Gavin - I enjoyed the write-up which provoked a read of this 2009 thesis - you never know what will turn up on the internet. I have only questions to answer your questions.

    What does it mean that Maximinus II Daia also used this VLPP reverse type?
    Wasn't he allied with Maxentius - why would he celebrate Constantine's victory?

    and this coin by Licinius who might also find little joy from Constantine's victory:
    or this later(?) coin from Lugdunum? mint under control of Constantine?

    Interesting to read that a couple hundred years later this type was still influencing other coins:
    OSTROGOTHS. Theodahad. 534-536 AD. Æ Follis

    Interesting to see that this coin from 534 reads: PRINCIPVM...could that be a clue to the original?

    It requires more knowledge and expertise than I have to draw any conclusion - I look forward to learning more from others.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2019
  4. Gavin Richardson

    Gavin Richardson Well-Known Member

    Those are illuminating questions, Sulla. I was not aware of the Maximinus II Daia use of the reverse type. And the Theodahad "reception" of a similar legend is also instructive. I don't believe he would have had any "co-emperors," making the plural PRINCIPVM a conventional choice by this time.

    I'm increasingly of the opinion that the legend began as a singular celebration of a singular victory of Constantine, and then morphed into a generic celebration of any and all victories by whoever happened to hold imperial office--any and all "princes."

    But my thinking is still evolving on this matter. Thanks for your input.

    Oh yeah--that 2009 thesis is Victor's. I've tagged him in this thread.
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  5. Victor_Clark

    Victor_Clark standing on the shoulders of giants Dealer

    The Maximinus II coin seems unofficial...cgb even called it "aberrant"-- Cette monnaie semble aberrante

    Even though the later VLPP were issued for all the rulers, I believe the reverse was still referencing Constantine. In A.D. 306, Constantine was awarded the title "prince of youth" (as many other rulers also, but not Licinius) by the senate and he issued many PRINCIPI types. Constantine seemed to enjoy the title so much that he called himself the "eternal prince" despite, or perhaps because of, being about 45 years old when the last round of VLPP's were issued.

    The circumstance of the last issue of VLPP's is important. The first civil war with Licinius had just ended and once again, Constantine was victorious. The Siscia mint is the best mint to look at, since Constantine had just won the territory from Licinius after the war and Siscia was also the farthest east of the mints that issued the VLPP's and also closest to the remaining territory of Licinius. An important aspect of this issue is the bust types. The military bust with spear and shield (the H12 bust and also the H11 with just spear) was only issued for Constantine and was never issued for Licinius -- he is always depicted as just laureate. In fact, Constantine is always helmeted on all issues from every mint, except for a rare early issue from Arles; which must have been an error and was quickly changed. Siscia even had a short run of the first use in the East of the title MAX for Constantine (IMP CONSTANTINVS MAX AVG Siscia 52), which may have been deemed a bit inflammatory as it was not used for rest of the series.

    So the last issue of the VLPP coinage is a summation of Constantine's continuing victories. So not just a singular victory, but all the victories; which, was quite a few by this point...with no losses.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2019
  6. Gavin Richardson

    Gavin Richardson Well-Known Member

    Thanks Victor. So do you assume that PRINC should be expanded to a singular and not a plural? The plural expansion seems to be the more common one. I think there’s an article in here somewhere…
  7. Victor_Clark

    Victor_Clark standing on the shoulders of giants Dealer

    There is a rare bronze medallion (RIC VII Trier 208) with the reverse VICTORIAE LAETAE PRINCIPIS PERPETVI. It was only struck for Constantine, the date of issue is uncertain; but sometime between shortly after the battle of the Milvian Bridge, circa A.D. 312, or around his decennallia, circa A.D. 316.
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  8. Archeocultura

    Archeocultura Well-Known Member

    It is interesting to see that Ferrando, in his extensive study of the mint of Arles, discards the non-helmeted issue and starts the VLPP series as late as 318 and gives a closing date in 319/320. That implies that there is no connection to any victory or celebration and would suggest an abbreviated singular text interpretation. The shield the victories hold is however inscribed VOT PR, which is a promise to the Roman people solemmly sworn on the altar which also makes part of the scene. In that respect the issue can be seen as a sign of 'Peace at last'. VII Arles F 0418-419 add 12-1785.jpg
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