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The Death of Julian

Ancient Coin Hunter

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For most emperors we do not have details about the particular circumstances of their demise, we know that, for example, the Praetorian Guard had engineered their downfall in many cases, but for others outside of Nero who said: "What an artist dies with me!" and Septimius Severus who famously said on his deathbed at York: "Enrich the soldiers, ignore all others!" to his sons Geta and Caracalla we do not have in most cases accounts of their final words. 

In the case of Julian we have a detailed account of his death by the historian Ammianus Marcellinus, including his last words, also embellished by later historians like Eusebius. Likely these declamations in most cases simply were words placed in their mouths by the writer who had a particular axe to grind. Let us then look at these final moments...

Book XXV, Chapter III

"After having spoken these words in a calm tone, [Julian] wishing to distribute his private property to his closer friends, as if with the last stroke of his pen, he called for Anatolius, his chief court-marshal. And when the prefect Salutius replied "He has been happy," he understood that he had been slain, and he who recently with such courage had been indifferent to his own fate, grieved deeply over that of a friend. Meanwhile, all who were present wept, whereupon even then maintaining his authority, he chided them, saying that it was unworthy to mourn for a prince who was called to union with heaven and the stars. As this made them all silent, he himself engaged with the philosophers Maximus and Priscus in an intricate discussion about the nobility of the soul. Suddenly the wound in his pierced side opened wide, the pressure of the blood checked his breath, and after a draught of cold water for which he had asked, in the gloom of midnight he passed quietly away in the thirty-second year of his age."

According to Eusebius writing much later on, the last words of Julian were "Thou hast conquered, Galilean!" referring to the ultimate victory of Christianity over his pagan revival effort.

Now the coin:

AE 30, 8.1 grams, Nicomedia mint, A.D. 361-363 Obverse: DN FL CL IVLIANVS PF AVG Diademed, draped, cuirassed bust right Reverse: SECVRITAS REIPVB Bull standing right, two stars above//palm Mintmark: SMNB Reference: RIC VIII 119, page 483 (SMNA, no SMNB examples recorded...


There is some debate, including discussions on CoinTalk, about whether the bull on the reverse represents the Egyptian Apis Bull or rather, Taurus. Most scholarship seems to point to Taurus...




Feel free to share any coins of Julian and/or your opinion as to the bull on the reverse...


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A fascinating figure with fascinating coins. I have not studied the why or what of the bull, but here is mine.
Julian II (360 - 363) AE1 (BI Maiorina); Thessalonika Mint; Obv: DN FL CL IVLIANUS PF AUG; Diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right; Rev: SECVRITAS REIPVB; Bull standing right, two stars above;*TESΓ in exergue; Ref: RIC 226;

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This is the only Jullian I have. The emperor standing reverse seems to be of a finer style than other AE4's and the helmet looks to be horned rather than crested.


Julian II, AE4. AD 355-360

Obv: Bare-headed, draped, cuirassed bust right.
Rev: SPES REI-PVBLICE, Emperor helmeted, in military dress standing left, holding globe and spear.

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This is most likely a barbarous imitation because of the "beautiful" portrait 


Julian II AD 360-363. Heraclea

Double Maiorina Æ

28 mm, 7,71 g

RIC VIII Heraclea 104

Obv: D N FL CL IVLI-ANVS P F AVG, bust of Julian, pearl-diademed, draped, cuirassed, right / SECVRITAS REI PVB, Bull, standing right, head facing; above, two stars. Mintmark •HER(A on •)CL•A


One of the first ancient coins I have seen, long before deciding to collect ancients as primary collecting focus, was a Julian II, identified by a specialist as I had no idea about it. I would have issues in attributing this even today.


Julian II, Arelate

Date Range: AD 355 - AD 360

D N IVLIAN-VS NOB CAES, bust of Julian, bareheaded, draped, cuirassed, right / FEL TEMP - REPARATIO, ssoldier, helmeted, draped, cuirassed, advancing left, spearing fallen horseman with right hand and wearing shield on left arm; shield on ground to right; horseman wearing a pointed cap, turning to face soldier, extending right arm

RIC VIII Arelate 270 or 271 or 273 or 274

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@Ancient Coin Hunter, my somewhat informed opinion is that the bull on this Julian II type is almost certainly intended to represent Taurus. Look at the star(s) above its horns. If it were the Apis bull, it would have a sun disk (and probably a uraeus as well) between its horns. See this example in bronze, which I previously posted in the thread about my antiquities collection in the Antiquities and Artifacts Forum:

Egyptian bronze Apis Bull, Late Dynastic Period, ca. 662-330 BCE, intact (except for broken tip of left horn), with sun disk and uraeus between horns. 7.6 cm. (3") H, 49 mm. L.  Purchased March 20, 2021, Hixenbaugh Ancient Art, New York City.

The dealer's description:

Hixenbaugh description of bronze Apis Bull.jpg

A couple of photos showing the sun disk and uraeus:


Apis bull new 6 (495x800).jpg
Back to Julian II, here's my example of his double maiorina with bull:
Julian II, AE Double Maiorina, 361-363 AD, Sirmium [Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia] Mint, 2nd Officina.  Obv. Pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right, FL CL IVLI-ANVS PF AVG / Bull (prob. Taurus) standing right, two stars above, SECVRITAS REIPVB; in exergue: mintmark star-BSIRM-palm branch. RIC VIII Sirmium 107B (p. 392), Sear RCV V 19152 (ill.), Cohen 38. 28 mm., 8.48 g. Purchased from Frank S. Robinson, Auction 113, Sep 2, 2020, Lot 315.

Julian II (nephew of Constantine I), AR reduced Siliqua, AD 360-361, Arles [Constantina/Arelatum] Mint, 1st Officina. Obv. Pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right, DN IVLIAN-VS P F AVG / Rev. VOTIS/V/MVLTIS/X in four lines within wreath. In exergue: PCON [PRIMA CONSTANTINA = First officina in Arles]. RIC VIII Arles 295, RSC V 16, Sear RCV V 19132. 17 mm., 2.2 g.


Julian II (nephew of Constantine I), AR reduced Siliqua, AD 362-363, Antioch Mint. Obv. Pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right, bearded, FL CL IVLIA-NVS PF AVG / Rev. VOT X MVLT XX in four lines within wreath; in exergue, ANT [Antioch]. 2.17 g., 19.33 x 18.40 mm., 6 h. RIC VIII 213 (p. 531), RSC V 147a, Sear RCV V 19128 (p. 279), Ghey 22 (this coin) [Ghey, E., “Vale of Pewsey, Wiltshire,” unpublished catalogue held by British Museum]. Purchased 17 May 2022 from Noonans (f/k/a Dix Noonan Webb) Auction, “The Vale of Pewsey Hoard of Late Roman Silver Coins,” Lot 11; ex Vale of Pewsey Hoard, discovered in Wiltshire 12-13 Sep. 2020, Portable Antiquities Scheme Hoard ID BM-7D34D9 (see https://finds.org.uk/database/hoards/record/id/3305). [Footnotes omitted.]


Julian II, AE Centenionalis, 361-363 AD,  Sirmium [Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia] Mint, 2nd Officina. Obv. Pearl-diademed, helmeted and cuirassed bust left, spear in right hand, shield in left, D N FL CL IVLIANVS P F AVG / Rev. VOT/X/MVLT/XX in four lines within wreath. In exergue: BSIRM [BETA SIRMIUM = Second officina in Sirmium] RIC VIII Sirmium 108, Cohen VIII 151, Sear RCV V 19172. 20.3 mm, 3.393 g.



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Thanks Donna. Very helpful post...and I am in full agreement with you. As an amateur astronomer taking a rare opportunity to observe on a clear night at my new house (clear nights being rare) I was able to observe the Crab Nebula, (M1) a supernova remnant of the bright "star" noted by Chinese and Persian astronomers as well as Native Americans in the White Sands area of New Mexico in 1054 - nearby the star zeta Tauri last night. It was bright enough to rival the moon in prominence at it peak. Why it was not discussed by Western sources is a mystery, though the bright Halley's comet appearance of 1066 was memorialized on the Bayeaux Tapestry, but I digress

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During a time I get so bored with comes a badass trying to bring back the old gods! And like so many of my favorites, from Alexander through Pyrrhos, Demetrios Poliorketes, Pompey to Julian II, he dies a strange and stupid death.




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On 12/25/2022 at 8:20 PM, ValiantKnight said:

I’d say my denier of Charlemagne:


Charlemagne, Frankish Kingdom/Carolingian Empire
AR denier
Obv: CARLVS REX FR, cross above, cross within dotted circle in center
Rev: METVLLO, cross above, KRLS (Karolus) monogram within dotted circle in center
Mint: Melle
Date: 793/794-814 AD
Ref: Nou-94 



On 1/11/2023 at 9:53 PM, Hrefn said:

My only siliqua of Julian is imitative, with the Lugdunum mintmark blundered, and a peculiar portrait.  From an  Artemide auction in August 2021



I love the imitative siliqua - great barbaric style. I wonder why there are so (relatively) many imitative siliquae of Julian II around.

Here is my favourite Julian II from my collection:





Screenshot 2023-01-03 at 19.03.54.png

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