CH-AU NGC Constantine I, AD 307-337 Copper-Bronze Coin

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Jupiter, or Jove, was the chief deity in the Roman pantheon. There was no greater symbol of Roman might. Jupiter’s blessing was the Roman version of the divine right of kings. The alliance between Constantine the Great and Licinius I fashioned in the early fourth century was uneasy, despite the latter being married to the half-sister of the former. The issue of these coins, both featuring near identical symbol-rich reverses of the greatest pagan god, communicated that the union was blessed by Jupiter himself. It was a way of promoting cohesiveness, announcing to their subjects that the Empire was in stable hands. These bronze folles, struck at the end of a period of coinage reform, feature historically unique stylized portraits of the emperors. If they look alike, this is by design. The objective was to present a handsome, powerful military man – not an actual likeness. In the tetrarchal period, when these coins were struck, we can distinguish rulers only by inscription and mint mark. On the reverse is Jupiter, chlamys across left shoulder, holding Victory on globe and leaning on sceptre, eagle at left with wreath in its beak. The inscription IOVI CONSERVATORI means “Jove protect our emperors” – the ancient equivalent to “God save the Queen”.