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Armed and Dangerous Emperors


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I did a search of this forum for “armed emperors”...

...and “emperors with weapons” and no such post came up. I was not sure if this topic had been covered before.

I’ve never owned any weapon wielding Roman emperor coins before October of this year. These folks died a violent death, either in battle or at the hands of assassins. I was preparing to create a crossed sword graphic for this post but then decided against it. All of these emperors are carrying spears and I don’t see any swords.




Please post your coins featuring armed emperors or weapon brandishing deities.






Edited by LONGINUS
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Nice topic. Here's one of Arcadius with a spear.


BI 3.00g, 18mm, 6h.
Cyzicus, 395-401 CE
D N ARCADIVS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust to right / VIRTVS EXERCITI, emperor standing facing, head to right, holding spear, resting on shield, and being crowned by Victory standing to left and holding palm branch; SMKB in exergue
RIC X 66
Ex Roma

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Just remembered that I have this one too of Demetrios I Poliorketes hurling a spear and running over a lion (most likely symbolic of Lysimachos)


Demetrios I Poliorketes
AE 18 mm, 5.20 g, 6 h
uncertain mint in Macedon or Greece (?)
circa 300 BCE
Prow to left. Rev. ΔΗΜ / ΒΑΣΙ Demetrios on horseback galloping left, hurling spear; to left, forepart of a lion right.
HGC 3, 1024. Newell 179 and pl. XVII, 18. SNG Alpha Bank -. SNG München -.
Ex Leu


Then of course there's these. Evidently you had to be careful in ancient Persia if you saw the king running around. He carried all sorts of weapons.


Achaemenid Kings of Persia
AR-Siglos 5.6 gm, 15mm
Sardis. c. 375-340 BCE
Obv: King r., dagger and bow. Rev: Incuse rectangle
Carradice Type IV C (pl.14, 49); BMC Arabia pl. 27, 19
Ex Akropolis Coins (PeteB)



Persia, Achaemenid Empire, temp. Artaxerxes III to Darios III
c. 350-333 BCE
AE 11mm, 2.39g
Uncertain mint in western Asia Minor (Ionia or Sardes?). Persian king, wearing kidaris and kandys, in kneeling-running stance r., holding spear in r. hand, bow in l.; c/m: eight-rayed star within incuse circle. R/ Incuse rectangle, containing pattern possibly depicting relief map of the hinterland of Ephesos.
Johnston, Earliest, Æ 4; Mildenberg, Münzwesen pp. 25-26 and pl. XIII, 112; BMC (Ionia) p. 34, 7.
Ex London Ancient Coins

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16 hours ago, LONGINUS said:

Please post your coins featuring..............weapon brandishing deities.


Lucania, Herakleia
Æ14, 3rd century BC
Obv.: Draped bust of Athena right, wearing crested Corinthian helmet.
Rev.: HPAKΛEIΩN, Female(?) marin divinity with human upper part of the body right, round shield in left hand, spear over shoulder; in field left, thunderbolt.
Æ, 2.45g, 13.6mm
Ref.: SNG Cop. 1142, Weber Coll. 724 var. (star on rev.).



Thessaly, Perrhaiboi
Obol, 450-400 BC
Obv.: Athena Itonia right in fighting attitude, holding spear and shield, P-[E-R]-A
Rev.: Horse galloping left, trailing rein
Ag, 0.65g, 9.7mm
Ref.: SNG Copenhagen 195



Antoninus Pius
Egypt, Alexandria.
Tetradrachm 141-142 (year 5)
Obv.: ΑΝΤⲰΝΙΝΟϹ ϹƐΒ ƐVϹΒ, laureate head of Antoninus Pius, r.
Rev.: Artemis advancing, r., drawing arrow from quiver at shoulder, holding bow; at feet, dog r. and in field, L-Ɛ
Ref.: Dattari-Savio Pl. 108, 2152 (this coin).
Billon, 24mm, 13.53g

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In Hinduism the trident is the weapon of Shiva known as Trishula (Sanskrit for "triple-spear").


Jaga Deva..1199-1213 AD.....19mm/5.70gr...Die axis 12 o'clock.
Obverse...Ardochsho (Lakshmi) seated cross-legged facing in lalitasana (with right leg folded under and left leg hanging down), holding diadem in right hand and long-stemmed lotus in left hand, legend in Sharada script, to the left: 'Ja', to the right 'ga'.
Reverse...Highly stylized King standing facing, sacrificing at an altar to the left. Holding trident in left hand. Bottom right legend in Sharada script 'Deva'....Ex-William Spengler collection.

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Catering to the topic (despite my comfort zone being weaponry of Western Asia),  here's a (probably) Roman spearhead.


Roman, 1st – 4th century AD

(Supposedly from the Danubian Limes)

Iron, 18.4 cm (7.25”)



Barbed “plumbata” head, long tapering socket, tip bent from impact.


Cf. Radman-Livaja, Ivan (Militaria Sisciensia: Nalazi rimske vojne opreme iz Siska u fundusu Arheoloskoga muzeja u Zagrebu, 2004), figure 28. And a similar head, although on a Roman plumbata rather than a spearhead: figure 34.

Cf. Unz, Christopher and Deschler-Erb, Eckhard (Katalog der Militaria aus Vindonissa, 1997), figures 332, 333.



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Since some people have already widened the field a little, this thread is screaming for a medieval German emperor who was keen to associate his own dynasty with Charlemagne's, and (...no coincidence) to perpetuate the notion that the Carolingian empire represented a revived Roman empire in western Europe.  This is lifted, shamelessly, from a post in the 'Medieval Monday' thread.



Friedrich I, 'Barbarossa.'  AR denar of Aachen, issued c. 1171-1190.
Obv. Friedrich crowned, enthroned, holding sword and orb, star in right field.
Rev. Stylized skyline of Aachen, with crenellated stone wall and gate in the ‘foreground,’ roofs and spire (/dome) above.
+ROMA CAPVT MVNDI (‘Rome, Capital of the World’). (The spire may represent the central dome of Charlemagne’s original chapel, emulating the dome of Justinian in the Hagia Sophia, Istanbul. And, like it, still extant, as part of the much larger cathedral complex in modern Aachen.)
Bonhoff 1605 (plate coin); Krummbach 27.2, Menadier 27.
Since Aachen /Aix was Charlemagne's capital, the reverse legend symptomizes not only broader 12th-century perceptions of the Carolingian empire as a legitimate successor to the (western) Roman one, but also, given all that, how keen Friedrich was to appropriate Charlemagne's dynastic legacy.

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