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An Eschatological Interpretation of Constantine's Labarum Coin
SAN (1975)
  • Charles M. Odahl
Shortly after the opening of the Constantinople mint in A.D. 326, several coin types were issued commemorating Constantine's victory over Licinius in the recent civil war. Among these was a bronze issue displaying reverse iconography strongly suggesting biblical imagery. The motif depicts a labarum piercing a dragon or crooked serpent, with the legend SPES PVPLIC (Hope of the Commonwealth) stamped across the field. The labarum on the coin is the Christian war standard originated by Constantine, and described in Eusebius' Vita Constantini I. 31: a vexillum topped with a monogram composed of the first two letters of the Greek word christos, a chi superimposed on a rho. Overlaid on the descending staff is a crossbar carrying a banner with three medallions representing Constantine and his two sons holding the rank of Caesar (Constantine II and Constantius II). The four regular specimens of ths coin type in museum collections contain obverses only of Constantine I, with the legend CONSTANTI-NVS MAS AVG."
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Citation Information
Charles M. Odahl. "An Eschatological Interpretation of Constantine's Labarum Coin" SAN Vol. 6 Iss. 3 (1975) p. 47 - 51
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