Jump to content

Ugly Beauty: Phocas Æ Follis, Cyzicus...


ewomack
 Share

Recommended Posts

The great jazz pianist Theolonious Monk once wrote a terrific song called "Ugly Beauty," and that exact phrase came to mind when I saw this Byzantine Phocas Æ follis. It's ugly, but, to me, it's also equally gorgeous. Historical records, quoted in Sear, say that Phocas had a "grotesque physical appearance." Others claim that he had a disfigurement. That might also mean that those who ultimately deposed him and dragged his decapitated body through the streets of Constantinople may have just had the advantage of the final word. Though he definitely looks sinister, ominous, and probably not GQ material, on this somewhat bloated and misshapen Follis. Some have also referred to him as the "Nero" or "Caligula" of Byzantium. He definitely made a fuss by deposing and executing the emperor Maurice and his family, and then conducting a reign of terror before Heraclius revolted and claimed the throne for a new dynasty. At least one commentator that I've heard thinks that Phocas might have received a bad historical rap, a la Richard III. Whichever interpretation one accepts, Phocas remains one of the most intriguing figures in Byzantine history. His coinage also runs a fascinating gamut of variations, complete with many unforgettable portraits.

602_to_610_Phocas_AE_Follis_01.png.985783c2eb086564af607036a2799f3a.png602_to_610_Phocas_AE_Follis_02.png.c9b24e4b4319a22481dcfc8762f1d6b1.png

Phocas (602-610), Æ Follis (33mm, 11.79g), Cyzicus, Dated RY 4 ? (605/6); Obv: δN POCAS+PERPAVG, Crowned bust facing,
wearing consular robes and holding mappa and cross, small cross to left; Rev: Large XXXX, ANNO above, II/II (date) to right, KYZA,
Sear 665

Please post your Phocas coins!

Edited by ewomack
  • Like 16
  • Yes 1
  • Heart Eyes 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

phocas.jpg.b9037f598a96f3c16a8d1f268a7bac85.jpg

Phocas (602 - 610 A.D.)

Æ Follis
O: DN FOCA NE PE AV, Crowned bust facing, wearing consular robes, holding mappa and eagle-tipped scepter.
R: Large M; cross above, A/N/N/O Ч/III across field; τHЄUP
Antioch Mint,Dated RY 8 (609/10)
28mm
8.7g
DOC 90; MIB 84a; SB 672

  • Like 11
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Or he can look sort of clueless.

Phocas, AD 602-610. Æ Follis (31mm, 10,35g, 1h). Cyzicus Mint, 2nd officina. Dated RY 4 (AD 605/606). Obv: ∂ И FOCAS PЄRP AV[G]; Crowned bust facing, wearing consular robes, holding mappa in his right hand and cruciform scepter in his left, cross to left. Rev: Large XXXX, ANNO IIII (date) above and to right, KYZB in exergue. Ref: DOC -; SB 665. Very Fine, dark patina with sandy highlights. Ex Savoca 2nd Black Auction (1 Mar 2020), Lot 202. From The Tareq Hani collection.

image.jpeg.cf02eb18a02c2d7d4a8233369df5c325.jpeg

  • Like 9
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is my only coin with Phocas. It has the "big little m."
[IMG]
Phocas, AD 602-610 and wife Leontia.
Byzantine Æ Follis,28.4 mm, 13.35 g, 7 h.
Constantinople, AD 602/603.
Obv: δmFOCA ЄPPAVG, Phocas and Leontia stg. facing. The Emperor holds globus cruciger, the Empress, nimbate, holds cruciform scepter.
Rev: Large M, surmounted by cross; ANNO to left, I (regnal year 1) right, CONB in exergue.
Refs: Sear 639; MIBE 129, 60a; DOC 163, 24b.

  • Like 9
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's my Focas....also has XXXX for 40 nummi on the reverse. Focas was a bad emperor but he did introduce beards as a style for Byzantine emperors, and also was the last emperor to build something in the Roman Forum, the column of Focas, which once carried this inscription from the Exarch of Italy:

The inscription on the statue reads as follows: “To the best, most clement and pious ruler, our lord Phokas the perpetual emperor, crowned by God, the forever august triumphator, did Smaragdus, former praepositus sacri palatii and patricius and Exarch of Italy, devoted to His Clemency for the innumerable benefactions of His Piousness and for the peace acquired for Italy and its freedom preserved, this statue of His Majesty, sparkling from the splendor of gold here on this tallest column for his eternal glory erect and dedicate, on the first day of the month of August, in the eleventh indiction in the fifth year after the consulate of His Piousness.” He also managed to erect a colossal statue of himself in Constantinople which has not survived to the present day. 

 

 

 

 

focas1.jpg

focas2.jpg

focas_column.png

Edited by Ancient Coin Hunter
  • Like 8
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 11/23/2022 at 9:42 PM, ewomack said:

The great jazz pianist Theolonious Monk once wrote a terrific song called "Ugly Beauty," and that exact phrase came to mind when I saw this Byzantine Phocas Æ follis. It's ugly, but, to me, it's also equally gorgeous. Historical records, quoted in Sear, say that Phocas had a "grotesque physical appearance." Others claim that he had a disfigurement. That might also mean that those who ultimately deposed him and dragged his decapitated body through the streets of Constantinople may have just had the advantage of the final word. Though he definitely looks sinister, ominous, and probably not GQ material, on this somewhat bloated and misshapen Follis. Some have also referred to him as the "Nero" or "Caligula" of Byzantium. He definitely made a fuss by deposing and executing the emperor Maurice and his family, and then conducting a reign of terror before Heraclius revolted and claimed the throne for a new dynasty. At least one commentator that I've heard thinks that Phocas might have received a bad historical rap, a la Richard III. Whichever interpretation one accepts, Phocas remains one of the most intriguing figures in Byzantine history. His coinage also runs a fascinating gamut of variations, complete with many unforgettable portraits.

602_to_610_Phocas_AE_Follis_01.png.985783c2eb086564af607036a2799f3a.png602_to_610_Phocas_AE_Follis_02.png.c9b24e4b4319a22481dcfc8762f1d6b1.png

Phocas (602-610), Æ Follis (33mm, 11.79g), Cyzicus, Dated RY 4 ? (605/6); Obv: δN POCAS+PERPAVG, Crowned bust facing,
wearing consular robes and holding mappa and cross, small cross to left; Rev: Large XXXX, ANNO above, II/II (date) to right, KYZA,
Sear 665

Please post your Phocas coins!

ewomack, I agree with the other website members, your coin has an unusually fine portrait & strike for the coin type ☺️! Congrats on adding it to your collection. Pictured below is my only coin of Phocas struck at the Constantinople mint. 522164297_NGC4280854-003.jpg.362a12064ef5e13d4199b2a3c9115509.jpg

Edited by Al Kowsky
spelling correction
  • Like 6
  • Heart Eyes 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some great looking Phokades here! Τhe Antiochene mint struck in year 7 (608-9) some folles and fractions with well sculpted portraits. I encountered my first one when I acquired a follis for a private collection (now in Dumbarton Oaks) of which I was then curator (the private collection, not DO! 🙂). I published it in a short article in The Celator, Aug. 2000), pp. 16-20. Some years later, I obtained another, lesser example for my modest collection. It is below. 10.56 gr. 30.2 mm. 5hr. It is Sear 672A; Hahn 84b. Obv: DN FOεΑ - ΝεΡε AV. Crowned, consular bust facing, holding in right hand, a mappa, in left, a globus cruciger. Rev: Cursive m. Above, cross; to left, A/N/N/O; to right, U/II. In exergue, τHεUP'.S0672A_01a.jpg.6b70440e9f3fa54cfa756ab11890bd77.jpg

Here is one of my half folles with the same well modelled portrait. 4.97 gr. 22.8 mm. 6hr. It is Sear 674; Hahn 86a; BNP 31-32. Obv: DN FOCΑ - ΝεΡε AV. Crowned, consular bust facing, holding in right hand, a mappa, in left, an eagle tipped scepter. Rev: X X. Above, cross; to left, A/N/N/O; to right, U/II. Beneath, P.

S0674_02.jpg.47a1893538139463c74318970b0d6aba.jpg

However, my real love in the Byzantine series is the silver. Here is a ceremonial miliarense of Constantinople, 602-7. 1.27 gr. 18.9 mm. 7hr. Sear 638A; Hahn 54. Obv: δN FOCA - S PP AVG Diademed, draped bust right. Rev: Anepigraphic. Cross potent flanked by palms.

S0638A.jpg.83fd0a628c438e19f92739a9bc5d6b8c.jpg

  • Like 8
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Benefactor
On 11/23/2022 at 6:42 PM, ewomack said:

The great jazz pianist Theolonious Monk once wrote a terrific song called "Ugly Beauty," and that exact phrase came to mind when I saw this Byzantine Phocas Æ follis. It's ugly, but, to me, it's also equally gorgeous. Historical records, quoted in Sear, say that Phocas had a "grotesque physical appearance." Others claim that he had a disfigurement. That might also mean that those who ultimately deposed him and dragged his decapitated body through the streets of Constantinople may have just had the advantage of the final word. Though he definitely looks sinister, ominous, and probably not GQ material, on this somewhat bloated and misshapen Follis. Some have also referred to him as the "Nero" or "Caligula" of Byzantium. He definitely made a fuss by deposing and executing the emperor Maurice and his family, and then conducting a reign of terror before Heraclius revolted and claimed the throne for a new dynasty. At least one commentator that I've heard thinks that Phocas might have received a bad historical rap, a la Richard III. Whichever interpretation one accepts, Phocas remains one of the most intriguing figures in Byzantine history. His coinage also runs a fascinating gamut of variations, complete with many unforgettable portraits.

602_to_610_Phocas_AE_Follis_01.png.985783c2eb086564af607036a2799f3a.png602_to_610_Phocas_AE_Follis_02.png.c9b24e4b4319a22481dcfc8762f1d6b1.png

Phocas (602-610), Æ Follis (33mm, 11.79g), Cyzicus, Dated RY 4 ? (605/6); Obv: δN POCAS+PERPAVG, Crowned bust facing,
wearing consular robes and holding mappa and cross, small cross to left; Rev: Large XXXX, ANNO above, II/II (date) to right, KYZA,
Sear 665

Please post your Phocas coins!

That's a wonderful example, especially the obverse!

Here's my Antioch follis, with the "M" on the reverse, with Phocas in consular robes, very similar to Kali's posted coin (same regna year, too!) .  This is a scarcer reverse for Phocas.  

Phocas, AE follis, Antioch, year 9, 609-610.

SB 672; MIB 84a

9.9 grams

951966333_D-CameraPhocasfollisAntiochyear9609-10ADSB672MIB84a9.9g2-27-22.jpg.0b043c7414c9a3dbe87d6e0804c5102d.jpg

 

Here's an example of a follis from Nicomedia.

Phocas, AE follis, Nicomedia, officina B, year 5, 606-607.

 Sear 659

10.74 grams

This coin is an apparent overstike of a follis belonging to Maurice Tiberius. 

323281845_D-CameraPhocasfollisNicomediary5606-7AD10.74govrstkMTfollisSear6595-20-22.jpg.64e24b49251507e8b375986f49448fa2.jpg

 

  • Like 7
Link to comment
Share on other sites

minted at Constantinople during the reign of Phocus between 23 Nov. 602 – 5 Oct. 610. Obv. FOCAS.PERP.AVG.: Crowned bust facing, wearing consular robes and holding mappa and cross. Rev. Large XXXX; above, A/N/N/O, usually to r., numerals representing regnal year, in ex., CON. BCVS #640.

image.png.026d719205f1cb94594f90ab816ceb2d.png image.png.ff518d81f415e074e35e587f493b9989.png

- minted at Antioch during the reign of Phocus between 23 Nov. 602 – 5 Oct. 610 with a regnal date (VI) of 607/8. Obv. D.N.FOCA.NE.PE.AV.: Phocas (on l.) and Leontia (on r.) stg. facing, Phocas holds gl. Cr., Leonita, who is sometimes nimbate, holds cruciform sceptre; between their heads, cross. Rev. Large m between A/N/N/O and numerals representing regnal year (sometimes above which, pellet); above, cross; in ex. tHEUP. BCVS #671.

image.png.bbdf73b112ff1caa06c29199c2980dd4.png image.png.51c205a616028ff5fb80ab802a32b171.png

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...