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A Siliqua of Flavius Julius Constantius


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Background

Born in Pannonia in 317 to Constantine I and Fausta, Flavius Julius Constantius(Constantius II) was the third son of Constantine I. Constantine raised his son to the rank of Caesar in 324 and left him on the Danube frontier to secure an Imperial presence on the turbulent border. When Constantine I died in 337, the twenty-year-old Constantius II was nearest to his father and the Imperial seat of power at Constantinople. Shortly after Constantine's death, it was reported that Constantius II either orchestrated or at least acquiesced to the massacre of his extended family. It would seem that the sons of Constantine took the advice of Arius Didymus that "Too many Caesars is not good" to heart. 

Early Reign.

Shortly after the massacre of Constantine's extended family, the surviving sons of Constantine divided the Empire into three sections: Constantine II(the oldest) received Gaul, Britain, and Spain. Constans(the youngest) received Italy, Africa, Raetica, Greece, and Pannonia; Constantius II(the middle boy) received Thrace, Anatolia, Syria, Egypt, and Cyrenaica. Immediately after dividing the Empire, Constantius II moved his capital to Antioch to oversee the ongoing war against Shapur II of Persia. Constantius would fight a series of wars with Shapur II for the next 23 years of his life, with both sides getting their fair share of victories and defeats. In the west, the forces of Constans had killed Constantine II in battle in northern Italy during a border dispute between the two brothers. By late 340, Constans ruled all territory west of Thrace, while Constantius ruled the east. During the 340s, the question of Arianism nearly drove the imperial brothers into open warfare. In 325, the Council of Nicea unanimously declared Arius's teachings on the nature of Christ to be heretical. However, the controversy did not end at Nicea. Towards the end of Constantine's life, he reconciled with Arius and other Arian bishops; his household was divided along similar religious lines as well, with Constantius II being an Arian or at least a Semi-Arian and Constans being a devout Nicene. By the 340s, Constantius II was actively removing and exiling Nicene Bishops from their posts in Alexandria and Antioch, much to the displeasure of Constans. Fortunately, Constantius II had the common sense to reinstate the said Nicene Bishop of Alexandria to avoid a civil war with his brother. 

The Terrible 350's.

In A.D. 350, Constans was overthrown by a coup led by one of his generals named Magnus Magnentius. Upon word of his brother's overthrow and death by Magnentius, Constantius II signed a temporary truce with Shapur II and began amassing his forces to face Magnentius in the west. Realizing that he needed an Imperial presence in the east to keep Shapur II in line, Constantius elevated his cousin Gallus to the rank of Caesar and left him in charge of the eastern provinces. By the summer of 351, Constantius II had managed to gather 60,000 troops for his western campaign. In late 351, Magnentius made the first move and sent his armies to invade Illyriacum and specifically to besiege the city of Mursa. Constantius's army met Magnentius's forces while the latter laid siege to Mursa. At the Battle of Mursa Major, both sides slugged it out for hours until Constantius's calvary finally broke through Magnetius's weakened infantry. By the time the day was over, 50,000 Romans lay dead on the battlefield. Constantius is said to have lost half of his army(30k out of 60k), while Magnentius lost well over 2/3rds of his(24k out of 36k). The battle was a disaster for the Roman army and would expedite the recruitment of german foederati into the ranks of the comitatensis to fill the vacancies left in years to come. 

After his victory over Magnentius, Constantius II waited nearly a year to regroup and equip his battered legions before he began his march into Italy. Magnentius offered battle one last time at Mons Seleucus, where he was defeated and subsequently committed suicide. After his victory over the usurper, Constantius II set up his base of operations in Arles to survey the damage done by the civil war. With the weakening of the western field armies, germanic tribes began making inroads into Gaul, leading to Constantius having to undertake a series of campaigns against the Franks and Alemanni. While conducting his war against the Germans, Constantius began to hear reports of his Caesar severely misbehaving and abusing his position of power in the east. In 354, Constantius ordered Gallus to Mediolanum(Milian) to account for his subordinates' accusations levied against him. When Gallus arrived at Mediolanum, he blamed all the allegations on his wife Constantina (Constantius's sister and who had only recently died). As one would expect, Constantius blew his lid and immediately ordered Gallus to be executed; however, when he calmed down, he rescinded the order though a court official had the second-order delayed to have Gallus killed. With the death of Gallus in 354 and the burdens of the Empire too much for one man to handle, Constantius appointed his bookish cousin Julian to the rank of Caesar and tasked him with driving out the Alemanni from Gaul. While Julian focused on the Rhine frontier, Constantius scored several victories against the Sarmatians and Quadi on the Danube frontiers, thus securing them for the time being. In 357, Constantius II celebrated a well-deserved triumph in the City of Rome, where the populace received him well. Constantius reciprocated the populace's affection and hosted games and races in addition to shipping an Obelisk from Alexandria to Rome as a gift to the city and people. While Constantius celebrated, Julian proved to be an excellent choice in Gaul and had successfully pushed the Germans out by 358 and was conducting punitive actions across the Rhine by early 359. 

The Emperor is dead. Long live the Emperor!

However, things took a sudden turn for the worst in mid-359 when reports of Shapur II having sacked Amida began to filter into Constantius's court in Mediolanum. Constantius rushed to Antioch to assess the damage done by Shapur's victory in Amida and to stablize the situation. Constantius immediately led a counter-raid in northern Mesopotamia, but it amounted to nothing more than the Roman and Persian armies circling each other with either having no intent to offer battle. Realizing that he needed more manpower to engage Shapur successfully, Constantius ordered the field armies of Gaul to prepare for redeployment to the east. Units of Julian's army went into open revolt upon hearing of the redeployment order and proclaimed Julian to the rank of Augustus in 360. Constantius II was enraged at Julian's usurpation but was bogged down by Shapur to mount any successful campaign against his cousin. Finally, in 361, Constantius managed to broker another temporary truce with Shapur, which allowed him to begin the campaign westward. Constantius made it as far as Mopsuestia before he was forced to stop due to a severe illness. At Mopsuestia, Constantius II realized that he was near death and had himself baptized by the Arian bishop Euzoius. While on his deathbed, he made Julian his rightful heir, which had the effect of avoiding a second round of civil war when the Empire could least afford it. Flavius Julius Constantius finally died on November 3rd, 361; he was forty-four years old and had ruled the Roman Empire to the best of his ability for twenty-four years. 

 

Assessment.

Constantius II is historically overshadowed by the colossus that was his father and his neopagan younger cousin. I find this unfortunate as Constantius II is a significant figure in both secular and religious developments of the 4th century. Constantius II competently ran the eastern dioceses of the Roman Empire at a time when the Sassanids were beginning to outmatch their Roman counterparts. In addition, it should be noted that Constantius managed to keep Shapur II at bay for nearly 23 years, a significant achievement as Shapur II is considered one of the greatest Persian shahs in Sassanid history. Furthermore, Constantius successfully reinforced the western frontiers at a time when it looked like the Germans would carve up significant parts of the Rhine and Danube frontiers. His appointment of Jullian to oversee the Rhine frontier in his absence was an excellent choice though one that would have consequences later on down the road. On religious matters, Constantius II kept his father's policies regarding banning Pagan sacrifices but did not attempt to outlaw the traditional Roman religion. Constantius's handling of Nicene bishops often gets him into trouble with Church scholars; however, it also should be noted that he never had any Nicene bishops executed. Constantius certainly was not without his flaws: sources comment on his explosive temper and general paranoia. Lastly, while Constantius had a hand in purging the extended Imperial family, he wasn't a mindless murderer as he granted Vetranio clemency and allowed the old man to live out his retirement on a state pension in peace. If I had to rate Constantius as a person, he wouldn't get very high, though, as an Emperor, it is evident that he put the Empire's safety before his own interests. Consequently, I'd rank Constantius II as a good Emperor based on his success against Shapur II, his political intuition, and for competently running the Roman state for 24 years. 

 

Final Notes

Constantius II is one of the few Emperors whom we have a  physical description of: "Low in statue; from waist to neck rather long, short legs; body strong, firm and capable of enduring toil; health preserved by riding, throwing the javelin, using the bow, and practicing military exercises, as well as by moderation in eating and drinking; complexion dark; eyes large and keen-sighted; hair soft, cheeks carefully shaven, smooth and healthy looking."  

Coins and portriats of the Emperor match the description well in my opinion. 

The Chronography of 354 which depicts Constantius II, among others. The portrait below is a Carolingian copy currently archived at the Vatican. 

 

Barb.lat_.2154.pt_.B_0025_fa_0013r_m.jpg


A bust of Constantius II.
Constance_II_Colosseo_Rome_Italy.jpg

 The political situation of the Roman world in A.D. 338 

See the source image

The politcal situation in A.D. 350 

?imw=5000&imh=5000&ima=fit&impolicy=Letterbox&imcolor=#000000&letterbox=false

And of course my latest coin which is responsible for this write-up!

 

715_04181k00.jpg

Constantius II
(337-361)

Siliqua (3,17g, 20/22mm), Thessalonica (Salonika), 340-350 AD
Av.: D N CONSTANTI-VS P F AVG, bust with rosette diadem, paludamentum and breastplate n.r.
Rv.: VICTORIA – DD NN AVGG / TES (in section), Victoria with wreath and tropaeum n.l.

RIC 94, RSC 263d. Small scratches.

 

Sources/Citations:

Constantius II - Livius

First Council of Nicaea | Description, History, Significance, & Facts | Britannica

Roman Emperor Constantius II | History Cooperative

Battle of Mursa Major | Historical Atlas of Europe (28 September 351) | Omniatlas

Roger Pearse — A good portrait of Constantius II? (tumblr.com)

Steam Workshop::Rome Era Chapter VII: An injured colossus- Mursa Major (steamcommunity.com)

Edited by Magnus Maximus
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I really agree with your assessment of Constantius II and I think that much of his bad rep is mostly due to Gore Vidal's portrayal of him in Julian. At places Gore seems to make a caricature of many high profiles from the 4th century -- and that is not solely on him, lack of credible sources also left him with no alternatives at points. But Constantius really gets the worst treatment, sometimes completely to no literary purpose, like the caricatural scene where he is presented lying to Shapur about how he himself led the Roman army at Argentoratum. Despite that, a more careful reading of Julian also shows us another side of Gore's Constantius: the statesman and the "man of his age" -- probably to contrast him to Julian, who was pretty much out of his age as a literary character. Presented with Constantius testament, Julian says "he was a strong man" which is likely a good assessment for the actual Constantius. And I think this is how his posterity was in the later part of the 4th century. Valentinian and Valens both tried to emulate his reign, Procopius used the REPARATIO FEL TEMP on his coinage with the left bust to bolster his connection to both Constantius and Julian, while Gratian prided himself in 375 with marrying Constantius' posthumous daughter. 

It's a lot that we don't know about the purges of 337, but it's very doubtuful that they were masterminded by Constantius. He was also notably absent from the further conflicts of 339-40 between Constantine II and Constans and accepted the partitions after the death of Constantine II without adding further claims. It seems also that at this time he receives Constantinople, not in 337. There was no known ill-will between him and Constans post-340 and him becoming sole ruler of the Empire in 353 does not seem like a plot that he followed through but rather the Providentia. 

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Really likable coin and even better writing! I agree with your assessment of Constantius II. He really can’t have had an easy job, with his brothers and cousins around.  Plus all the rest! I feel his father has gotten an undeservedly good reputation, and the son an undeservedly bad one. 
 

45530488_ConstantiusIISolidusb.jpg.2100357dc22e1413f287a72daa2c996b.jpg

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15 hours ago, Magnus Maximus said:

Background

Born in Pannonia in 317 to Constantine I and Fausta, Flavius Julius Constantius(Constantius II) was the third son of Constantine I. Constantine raised his son to the rank of Caesar in 324 and left him on the Danube frontier to secure an Imperial presence on the turbulent border. When Constantine I died in 337, the twenty-year-old Constantius II was nearest to his father and the Imperial seat of power at Constantinople. Shortly after Constantine's death, it was reported that Constantius II either orchestrated or at least acquiesced to the massacre of his extended family. It would seem that the sons of Constantine took the advice of Arius Didymus that "Too many Caesars is not good" to heart. 

Early Reign.

Shortly after the massacre of Constantine's extended family, the surviving sons of Constantine divided the Empire into three sections: Constantine II(the oldest) received Gaul, Britain, and Spain. Constans(the youngest) received Italy, Africa, Raetica, Greece, and Pannonia; Constantius II(the middle boy) received Thrace, Anatolia, Syria, Egypt, and Cyrenaica. Immediately after dividing the Empire, Constantius II moved his capital to Antioch to oversee the ongoing war against Shapur II of Persia. Constantius would fight a series of wars with Shapur II for the next 23 years of his life, with both sides getting their fair share of victories and defeats. In the west, the forces of Constans had killed Constantine II in battle in northern Italy during a border dispute between the two brothers. By late 340, Constans ruled all territory west of Thrace, while Constantius ruled the east. During the 340s, the question of Arianism nearly drove the imperial brothers into open warfare. In 325, the Council of Nicea unanimously declared Arius's teachings on the nature of Christ to be heretical. However, the controversy did not end at Nicea. Towards the end of Constantine's life, he reconciled with Arius and other Arian bishops; his household was divided along similar religious lines as well, with Constantius II being an Arian or at least a Semi-Arian and Constans being a devout Nicene. By the 340s, Constantius II was actively removing and exiling Nicene Bishops from their posts in Alexandria and Antioch, much to the displeasure of Constans. Fortunately, Constantius II had the common sense to reinstate the said Nicene Bishop of Alexandria to avoid a civil war with his brother. 

The Terrible 350's.

In A.D. 350, Constans was overthrown by a coup led by one of his generals named Magnus Magnentius. Upon word of his brother's overthrow and death by Magnentius, Constantius II signed a temporary truce with Shapur II and began amassing his forces to face Magnentius in the west. Realizing that he needed an Imperial presence in the east to keep Shapur II in line, Constantius elevated his cousin Gallus to the rank of Caesar and left him in charge of the eastern provinces. By the summer of 351, Constantius II had managed to gather 60,000 troops for his western campaign. In late 351, Magnentius made the first move and sent his armies to invade Illyriacum and specifically to besiege the city of Mursa. Constantius's army met Magnentius's forces while the latter laid siege to Mursa. At the Battle of Mursa Major, both sides slugged it out for hours until Constantius's calvary finally broke through Magnetius's weakened infantry. By the time the day was over, 50,000 Romans lay dead on the battlefield. Constantius is said to have lost half of his army(30k out of60k), while Magnentius lost well over 2/3rds of his(24k out of 36k). The battle was a disaster for the Roman army and would expedite the recruitment of german foederati into the ranks of the comitatensis to fill the vacancies left in years to come. 

After his victory over Magnentius, Constantius II waited nearly a year to regroup and equip his battered legions before he began his march into Italy. Magnentius offered battle one last time at Mons Seleucus, where Magnentius was defeated and subsequently committed suicide. After his victory over the usurper, Constantius II set up his base of operations in Arles to survey the damage done by the civil war. With the weakening of the western field armies, germanic tribes began making inroads into Gaul, leading to Constantius having to undertake a series of campaigns against the Franks and Alemanni. While conducting his war against the Germans, Constantius began to hear reports of his Caesar severely misbehaving and abusing his position of power in the east. In 354, Constantius ordered Gallus to Mediolanum(Milian) to account for his subordinates' accusations levied against him. When Gallus arrived at Mediolanum, he blamed all the allegations on his wife Constantina (Constantius's sister and who had only recently died). As one would expect, Constantius blew his lid and immediately ordered Gallus to be executed; however, when he calmed down, he rescinded the order though a court official had the second-order delayed to have Gallus killed. With the death of Gallus in 354 and the burdens of the Empire too much for one man to handle, Constantius appointed his bookish cousin Julian to the rank of Caesar and tasked him with driving out the Alemanni from Gaul. While Julian focused on the Rhine frontier, Constantius scored several victories against the Sarmatians and Quadi on the Danube frontiers, thus securing them for the time being. In 357, Constantius II celebrated a well-deserved triumph in the City of Rome, where the populace received him well. Constantius reciprocated the populace's affection and hosted games and races in addition to shipping an Obelisk from Alexandria to Rome as a gift to the city and people. While Constantius celebrated, Julian proved to be an excellent choice in Gaul and had successfully pushed the Germans out by 358 and was conducting punitive actions across the Rhine by early 359. 

The Emperor is dead. Long live the Emperor!

However, things took a sudden turn for the worst in mid-359 when reports of Shapur II having sacked Amida began to filter into Constantius's court in Mediolanum. Constantius rushed to Antioch to assess the damage done by Shapur's victory in Amida and to stablize the situation. Constantius immediately led a counter-raid in northern Mesopotamia, but it amounted to nothing more than the Roman and Persian armies circling each other with either having no intent to offer battle. Realizing that he needed more manpower to engage Shapur successfully, Constantius ordered the field armies of Gaul to prepare for redeployment to the east. Units of Julian's army went into open revolt upon hearing of the redeployment order and proclaimed Julian to the rank of Augustus in 360. Constantius II was enraged at Julian's usurpation but was bogged down by Shapur to mount any successful campaign against his cousin. Finally, in 361, Constantius managed to broker another temporary truce with Shapur, which allowed him to begin the campaign westward. Constantius made it as far as Mopsuestia before he was forced to stop due to a severe illness. At Mopsuestia, Constantius II realized that he was near death and had himself baptized by the Arian bishop Euzoius. While on his deathbed, he made Julian his rightful heir, which had the effect of avoiding a second round of civil war when the Empire could least afford it. Flavius Julius Constantius finally died on November 3rd, 361; he was forty-four years old and had ruled the Roman Empire to the best of his ability for twenty-four years. 

 

Assessment.

Constantius II is historically overshadowed by the colossus that was his father and his neopagan younger cousin. I find this unfortunate as Constantius II is a significant figure in both secular and religious developments of the 4th century. Constantius II competently ran the eastern dioceses of the Roman Empire at a time when the Sassanids were beginning to outmatch their Roman counterparts. In addition, it should be noted that Constantius managed to keep Shapur II at bay for nearly 23 years, a significant achievement as Shapur II is considered one of the greatest Persian shahs in Sassanid history. Furthermore, Constantius successfully reinforced the western frontiers at a time when it looked like the Germans would carve up significant parts of the Rhine and Danube frontiers. His appointment of Jullian to oversee the Rhine frontier in his absence was an excellent choice though one that would have consequences later on down the road. On religious matters, Constantius II kept his father's policies regarding banning Pagan sacrifices but did not attempt to outlaw the traditional Roman religion. Constantius's handling of Nicene bishops often gets him into trouble with Church scholars; however, it also should be noted that he never had any Nicene bishops executed. Constantius certainly was not without his flaws: sources comment on his explosive temper and general paranoia. Lastly, while Constantius had a hand in purging the extended Imperial family, he wasn't a mindless murderer as he granted Vetranio clemency and allowed the old man to live out his retirement on a state pension in peace. If I had to rate Constantius as a person, he wouldn't get very high, though, as an Emperor, it is evident that he put the Empire's safety before his own interests. Consequently, I'd rank Constantius II as a good Emperor based on his success against Shapur II, his political intuition, and for competently running the Roman state for 24 years. 

 

Final Notes

Constantius II is one of the few Emperors whom we have a  physical description of: "Low in statue; from waist to neck rather long, short legs; body strong, firm and capable of enduring toil; health preserved by riding, throwing the javelin, using the bow, and practicing military exercises, as well as by moderation in eating and drinking; complexion dark; eyes large and keen-sighted; hair soft, cheeks carefully shaven, smooth and healthy looking."  

Coins and portriats of the Emperor match the description well in my opinion. 

The Chronography of 354 which depicts Constantius II, among others. The copy below is a Carolingian copy currently archived at the Vatican. 

 

Barb.lat_.2154.pt_.B_0025_fa_0013r_m.jpg


A bust of Constantius II.
Constance_II_Colosseo_Rome_Italy.jpg

 The political situation of the Roman world in A.D. 338 

See the source image

The politcal situation in A.D. 350 

?imw=5000&imh=5000&ima=fit&impolicy=Letterbox&imcolor=#000000&letterbox=false

And of course my latest coin which is responsible for this write-up!

 

715_04181k00.jpg

Constantius II
(337-361)

Siliqua (3,17g, 20/22mm), Thessalonica (Salonika), 340-350 AD
Av.: D N CONSTANTI-VS P F AVG, bust with rosette diadem, paludamentum and breastplate n.r.
Rv.: VICTORIA – DD NN AVGG / TES (in section), Victoria with wreath and tropaeum n.l.

RIC 94, RSC 263d. Small scratches.

 

Sources/Citations:

Constantius II - Livius

First Council of Nicaea | Description, History, Significance, & Facts | Britannica

Roman Emperor Constantius II | History Cooperative

Battle of Mursa Major | Historical Atlas of Europe (28 September 351) | Omniatlas

Roger Pearse — A good portrait of Constantius II? (tumblr.com)

Steam Workshop::Rome Era Chapter VII: An injured colossus- Mursa Major (steamcommunity.com)

I think your example of the siliqua is what is usually described as a "heavy" siliqua. They began to decline in weight pretty quickly to about two grams and under. 

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Posted (edited)
43 minutes ago, kevikens said:

I think your example of the siliqua is what is usually described as a "heavy" siliqua. They began to decline in weight pretty quickly to about two grams and under. 

Yes, Constantius II reduced the siliqua from 1/96 to a Roman pound to 1/144 to a Roman pound in 355. My specimen was struck between 340-350, so is a “pre-reform” Siliqua. 

Edited by Magnus Maximus
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Posted (edited)
On 8/22/2022 at 3:30 AM, seth77 said:

I really agree with your assessment of Constantius II and I think that much of his bad rep is mostly due to Gore Vidal's portrayal of him in Julian. At places Gore seems to make a caricature of many high profiles from the 4th century -- and that is not solely on him, lack of credible sources also left him with no alternatives at points. But Constantius really gets the worst treatment, sometimes completely to no literary purpose, like the caricatural scene where he is presented lying to Shapur about how he himself led the Roman army at Argentoratum. Despite that, a more careful reading of Julian also shows us another side of Gore's Constantius: the statesman and the "man of his age" -- probably to contrast him to Julian, who was pretty much out of his age as a literary character. Presented with Constantius testament, Julian says "he was a strong man" which is likely a good assessment for the actual Constantius. And I think this is how his posterity was in the later part of the 4th century. Valentinian and Valens both tried to emulate his reign, Procopius used the REPARATIO FEL TEMP on his coinage with the left bust to bolster his connection to both Constantius and Julian, while Gratian prided himself in 375 with marrying Constantius' posthumous daughter. 

It's a lot that we don't know about the purges of 337, but it's very doubtuful that they were masterminded by Constantius. He was also notably absent from the further conflicts of 339-40 between Constantine II and Constans and accepted the partitions after the death of Constantine II without adding further claims. It seems also that at this time he receives Constantinople, not in 337. There was no known ill-will between him and Constans post-340 and him becoming sole ruler of the Empire in 353 does not seem like a plot that he followed through but rather the Providentia. 

Sorry for the delay in my response. Yes, I suspect that Gibbon and Vidal are largely why Constantius is disliked or ignored. I find it funny that the people who often malign Constantius II usually elevate Julian to be in the same category as Hadrian or Augustus, even though he got himself killed and left his army stranded behind enemy lines. Julian's SNAFU meant that many cities in Roman Mesopotamia were lost to the Romans until the reign of Maurice Tiberius in the 590s. In addition, I believe it wasn't until Theodosius I negotiated with Shapur III in the 380s that the low-level conflict stemming from Julian's defeat between the Romans and Persians finally died down. 

Edited by Magnus Maximus
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Luckily for my History master we followed Averil Cameron on the LRE rather than Gibbon. Averil Cameron is very nuanced on the 4th century and that also cuts through the prejudice surrounding Constantius II, who comes off as a decent administrator and a 'cooler head'. And very likely he did not overestimate his own capacity like was the case with Julian. All Constantine boys lived in the huge shadow of their father, but Constantius II managed not to blunder in the face of revolts and usurpations and not to quarrel with his brothers. His sense of 'justice' is spotty, alternating between harsh and extended purges (during and after Magnentius reign) and leniency (Vetranio) and ambivalence and indecision (Gallus), but what should get more play and traction is the way in which he ended his rule, recognizing and accepting Julian as his heir, which was likely a hard thing to do for someone in his circumstances. Also, the Empire was not left in dire financial straits. Was the Sasanian campaign something as imminent as Julian made it to be? Possibly, but I think that Constantius strategy in the East proved way more effective in keeping the threat at bay than Julian's full-blown invasion.

Edited by seth77
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Great discussion on one of my favourite Emperors! 

One tiny nitpick is that Constantius II did murder the Nicene Bishop Paul of Constantinople! It appears that Paul sowing discord and creating unrest would have warranted him his execution initially. However, with Constans being alive and tension being present between the brothers he could only exile him. Once Constans was dead, Constantius II was able to administer the penalty that he would have saw fit back in 341. I suppose that the caveat is that the  execution was not religiously motivated. Anyone who instigated such unrest would have been killed regardless of the context. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_I_of_Constantinople

Quote

Paul returned to Constantinople. Eusebius died in 341, and Paul was reinstated as bishop.[3] The Arians seized the occasion; Theognis of Nicaea, Theodorus of Heraclea, and other heterodox bishops, consecrated bishop Macedonius in the church of St. Paul; and again the city became the prey of a civil war.[1]

The Emperor Constantius was at Antioch when he heard of this, where he ordered Hermogenes, his general of cavalry, to see that Paul was again expelled. The people would not hear of violence being done to their bishop; they rushed upon the house where the general was, set fire to it, killed him on the spot, tied a rope round his feet, pulled him out from the burning building, and dragged him in triumph round the city.[1] Constantius was not likely to pass over this rebellion against his authority. He rode on horseback at full speed to Constantinople, determined to make the people suffer heavily for their revolt. They met him, however, on their knees with tears and entreaties, and he contented himself with depriving them of half their allowance of corn, but ordered Paul to be driven from the city.

Paul seems to have retired to Triers, but returned to Constantinople in 344, with letters of recommendation from Constans, the emperor of the West, who wrote to Constantius, that should Paul not receive his patriarchal see, he would attack him. Constantius only allowed Paul's re-establishment for fear of his brother's arms, and Paul's situation in the East continued very uneasy, for he had much to suffer from the power and malice of the Arian party.[3]

Constans died in 350. Constantius, in Antioch, ordered Philippus, prefect of the East, to once more expel Paul and to put Macedonius in his place. At a public bath called Zeuxippus, adjoining a palace by the shore of the Bosphorus, Philippus asked Paul to meet him, as if to discuss some public business. When Paul arrived, he showed him the emperor's letter, and ordered him to be quietly taken through the palace to the waterside, placed on board ship, and carried off to Thessalonica, his native town. Philippus allowed him to visit Illyricum and the remote provinces, but forbade him to set foot again in the East.[1]

Paul was later loaded with chains and taken to Singara in Mesopotamia, then to Emesa, and finally to Cucusus in Cappadocia.[1] Here he was confined in a close, dark place, and left to starve to death. After he had passed six days without food, he was, to the great disappointment of his enemies, found alive. Upon which they strangled him, and gave out that he died after a short sickness.

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As for coins, Constantius II is an under-rated emperor in that regard too and there's a trove of fascinating details and stories to be found. Here's my Constantius II minted under the authority of Vetranio. A real historical treasure. Firstly for its minting context, minted in the short time frame when Vetranio had officially recognised Constantius II as the rightful Augustus, but they were still reusing Vetranio's reverses. Secondly, for the reverse itself, a throwback(not the exact wording) to the phrase Constantine allegedly saw at the Milvian Bridge. "In Hoc Signo Victoria Eris" - By this sign, you will be Victorius, with accompanying Labarum. 

IMG_20220318_023058.jpg.d37d1a4a46cb375cf71e51ca0be33992.jpg

 

I also managed to snag a low quality (withlow quality pictures to match) Revolt of Poemenius issue from eBay unattributed. Ammianus relates how the city of Trier had a change of heart and shut their doors to Decentius, Magnentius' Caesar, who was operating from there. As a result we have a Constantian portrait with a Magentian reverse that could only have been minted for a few months before Constantius' officials reached the city. Magnentius presumably chose the large Chi-Rho reverse with flanking Alpha and Omega due to the Nicene connotations that it had, hence Constantius II discontinued it.

 

IMG_20220827_210211_2.jpg.2488f0942a8f6867b7c419cfbb2ce87e.jpgIMG_20220827_210233_2.jpg.b86d9507b184e74506002b99e7ebc755.jpg

 

Edited by Steppenfool
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3 hours ago, Steppenfool said:

Great discussion on one of my favourite Emperors! 

One tiny nitpick is that Constantius II did murder the Nicene Bishop Paul of Constantinople! It appears that Paul sowing discord and creating unrest would have warranted him his execution initially. However, with Constans being alive and tension being present between the brothers he could only exile him. Once Constans was dead, Constantius II was able to administer the penalty that he would have saw fit back in 341. I suppose that the caveat is that the  execution was not religiously motivated. Anyone who instigated such unrest would have been killed regardless of the context. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_I_of_Constantinople

I was unaware of that incident with St. Paul. Thanks for the correction!

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I could not resist delving into my (expansive) collection of Constantius II coins for a couple of examples.

Firstly, a Siliqua (Courtesy of Magnus Maximus) 

353-360 A.D. Constantius II Siliqua AR18mm., 1,87 gm.

Obv: DN CONSTANTIVS PF AVG Pearl, diademed, draped, cuirassed bust right.

Rev: VOTIS XXX MVLTIS XXXX four lines within wreath

SCON in ex.

Arles mint

RIC VIII 261-fer II 1030

(1) Constantius II RIC VIII. Arles 261 FER 1030 Siliqua.jpg

 

and Secondly a (silvered) AE3

350 A.D. Constantius II silvered Antoninianus 20mm., 2.5 gm.

Obv: DN CONSTANTIVS PF AVG Pearl, diademed, draped, cuirassed bust right

Rev: FEL TEMP REPATRIO Radiate Phoenix standing right on rocky mound .BSIS in ex. Symbol 2 (an R in retrograde)

Siscia mint

RIC VIII 240

(24) CONSTANTIUS II RIC VIII. Siscia 240 S.jpg

Edited by Topcat7
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Nice Siliqua. I was able to add another Constantius II. coin to my collection this week aswell:

2048055536_ConstantiusPhnix.png.a971d0de766022f92d05b61bdc16973d.png

Emperor Constantius II. - AE3 - Constantinople mint

Obv.: DN CONSTANTIVS P F AVG

Rev.: FEL TEMP REPARATIO (Phoenix standing on globe)

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31 minutes ago, wittwolff said:

Nice Siliqua. I was able to add another Constantius II. coin to my collection this week aswell:

Emperor Constantius II. - AE3 - Constantinople mint

Obv.: DN CONSTANTIVS P F AVG

Rev.: FEL TEMP REPARATIO (Phoenix standing on globe)

The Phoenix reverse is fascinating to me. VICTORIA had long been co-opted as a religiously neutral personification of victory (that would eventually produce the stereotypical appearance of a Biblical angel) and was therefore suitable for coinage of the Christian Empire. However, although not a deity, the phoenix is an overtly pagan mythological creature and seems a strange choice for the heirs of Constantine. I wonder if Constsntius was attempting a similar assimilation. It appears that the phoenix was associated with the resurrection of Christ by some Christian intellectuals of the time so it may have been used similarly to VICTORIA in that it could appeal to both camps.

It does incite one to speculate on the subtleties of the Constantininian coinage. Were overt references to Christ too on the nose for the large contingent of pagans in the empire? We get to read what happened in the opposite case, when Julian stuck a bull on his coinage and the very negative reaction he received in Antioch. We are also aware of the Constantine I SPES coinage that shows the Chi-Rho standard impaling a snake, that was quickly decommissioned. Was this too Biblical and too adversarial against paganism, or was it simply too hostile regarding Licnius and his half of the empire that Constantine had inherited?

Had iconography not taken off proper and were depictions of Christ still a taboo subject? Was coinage considered associated with sin and therefore depictions or direct references to Christ distasteful? Hence the propensity to utilise the military Chi-Rho standard, even by the hardline Theodosius I?

And how does the most Christian coinage of the time, the large Chi-Rho flanked by alpha and omega, by the Magnentian camp fit into all this? Magnentius did his best to appeal to pagans during his usurpation, but also felt that it was appropriate to commission the most overtly Christian coinage to date and for a long time afterwards. Even Theodosius Icoinage does not match in this regard. 

Edited by Steppenfool
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I think that a partial answer to your questions is related to the medium: coin iconography was a very conservative environment and it stayed like that up until the 20th century. Even the more pious Roman emperors continued a type of representations that were familiar to everyone. The innovations on the day-to-day coinage of the 4th century, with things that transcend the zeitgeist, are very few and did not catch on -- Constantius II discontinued the large Chi-Rho type even if 'Poemenius' put his effigy on the type, while Julian's bull series was abandoned as soon as news reached Antioch of his death (and a celebration ensued), as apparently the population resented that type.

Edited by seth77
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Posted (edited)

I just noticed this fascinating thread last night, with its great write-up by @Magnus Maximus. I admit that I was prejudiced against Constantius II by reading Gore Vidal's Julian, but am now more willing to be open-minded!

Here are my only two coins of his, issued some 35 years apart. I've posted both of them here previously.

Constantius II Caesar (son of Constantine I), silvered billon centenionalis, Trier Mint (2nd Officina) 326 AD. Obv. laureate, draped and cuirassed bust left, FL IVL CONSTANTIVS NOB C / Rev. Campgate with six rows, two turrets, no door, and star between turrets; PROVIDEN-TIAE CAESS. In exergue: STR followed by pellet in crescent. RIC VII Trier 480S (p. 209), Sear RCV V 17618. 19 mm., 3.09 g.

 image.jpeg.ae5697c74f7fc3ec6cab57f8f2722b5e.jpeg

Constantius II (son of Constantine I), AR reduced Siliqua, Lugdunum (Lyon) Mint, 360-361 AD. Obv. Rosette-diademed [despite description by all dealers as pearl-diademed], draped, and cuirassed bust right, D N CONSTAN-TIVS PF AVG / Rev. Victory advancing left, holding wreath in right hand and palm frond in left, both wings visible [despite description by all dealers as one wing visible], VICTORIA DD NN AVG; in exergue, mint mark LVG (Lugdunum). 17 mm., 2.06 g. RIC VIII 211 at p. 193 [both wings visible]; RSC V 259b (ill. p. 131) [rosette-diademed; both wings visible, = RIC VIII 211]; Sear RCV V 17948 (ill. p. 165) [applicable to RIC 210-211 & 214]. Purchased from Herakles Numismatics, July 2022; ex. Triskeles Auction 31, 27.03.2020, Lot 344; ex Spink Auction 16006, 26-27 Sep 2016, East Harptree Hoard Sale, Part of Lot 2929 (see https://www.numisbids.com/n.php?p=lot&sid=1689&lot=2929); from 1887 East Harptree hoard (one of 49 coins of this type in hoard; see article with inventory, “On a Hoard of Roman Coins Found at East Harptree, Near Bristol,” The Numismatic Chronicle (Vol. VIII, London 1888), pp. 22-46 at pp. 39-40; available at  https://archive.org/details/thirdnumismatic08royauoft/page/40/mode/1up). [Footnote re East Harptree Hoard omitted.]

image.jpeg.f88373f3e8b993599af41cbb77ab4c52.jpeg

Edited by DonnaML
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On 8/28/2022 at 7:14 AM, Steppenfool said:

And how does the most Christian coinage of the time, the large Chi-Rho flanked by alpha and omega, by the Magnentian camp fit into all this? 

 

Magnentius was challenging the pro Arian views (Jesus did not always exist) of Constantius II with the Chi-Rho type. The reverse (the A-W across fields) also references "I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end." Magnentius was trying to portray himself as a good Nicaean...the best successor to Constantine I 

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