Obverse: DN HONORIVS PF AVG; Diademed and Draped Bust of the Emperor Facing Right
Reverse: VIRTVS EXERCITVI; Honorius Standing Facing Forward, Head to the Right, Holding a Spear and a Shield, Crowned by Victory, Standing on the Right
Flavius Honorius was born in 384 A.D. and became emperor upon the death of his father Theodosius I in 394 A.D. Honorius inherited the Western Empire while his older brother Arcadius ruled the East. Overall, Honorius is considered by many historians to have been a weak and ineffectual ruler. However, he was lucky enough to have the talented and loyal Flavius Stilicho serving under him as Magister Militum. For the first fifteen years of Honorius’ reighn, Stilicho, who was part Vandal, protected the Western Empire from invading barbarians and potential usurpers. Yet during these same years, public anger over the high percentage of Germanic barbarians serving in the Roman army came to a boil. A corrupt official named Olympias convinced Honorius that Stilicho was planning to murder him and install his own son on the throne. Regrettably, Honorius acted against his loyal companion and Stilicho was executed. At this point, the borders were undefended, leaving the Visigoths free to wreak havoc in the West. Under the leadership of Alaric, the Visigoths entered Rome and made it all the was to the Southern tip of Italy before retreating. In 418 A.D., Honorius signed a treaty with the Visigoths, granting them an independent kingdom in what is modern day Toulouse in France, the first barbarian kingdom established on Roman land. Honorius would pass away five years later in 423 A.D.
How many hands have touched a coin in your pocket or purse? What eras and lands have the coin traversed on its journey into our possession? As we reach into our pockets to pull out some change, we rarely hesitate to think of who might have touched the coin before us, or where the coin will venture to after it leaves our hands. More than money, coins are a symbol of the state that struck them, of a specific time and location, whether contemporary currencies or artifacts of a long forgotten empire. This stunning hand-struck coin reveals an expertise of craftsmanship and intricate sculptural detail that is often lacking in contemporary machine-made currencies. This ancient coin is a memorial to an emperor’s reign passed from the hands of civilization to civilization, from generation to generation that still appears as vibrant today as the day it was struck.