(131) Justin I - AV solidus, A.D. 518-527, 4.48 g. (inv. 91.269).
Obverse: Helmeted bust of Justin I three-quarter r., holding spear behind head in r.; shield with attacking horseman on l. shoulder; D(OMINVS) N(OSTER) IVSTINVS P(ER)P(ETVVS) AVC(VSTVS): Our lord Justin, perpetual Augustus.
Reverse: Standing angel facing, holding globus cruciger in l. and staff with cross in r.; eight-pointed star in r. field; VICTORIA AVCCC (AVGVSTORVM abbreviated) S: Victory of the Augusti, officina mark S; in exergue, CONOB: gold of Constantinople.
Provenance: Hesperia Art, 1959.
Bibliography: W. Wroth, Catalogue of the Imperial Byzantine Coins in the British Museum (London 1908); P. Grierson, Byzantine Coins (London 1982).

Of peasant origin, Justin I rose through the ranks of the military and was proclaimed emperor by the army in A.D. 518. A man of little learning, in matters of policy he is thought to have relied upon the advice of his nephew, Justinian I. He made an alliance with the papacy in Rome and restored religious orthodoxy in the East in the wake of his predecessor's unpopular Monophysitism or belief in the unity of the divine and human natures of Christ.

The obverse depicts Justin in the stylized portrait type established by his predecessor, Anastasius I (see no. 130). On the reverse, however, Justin introduced a new type. In place of the profile Victoria commonly depicted on the reverses of earlier coins (see no. 130) is a facing angel holding a cross-staff in his right hand and a globus cruciger or sphere with a cross on top in his left hand. The transformation of the female Victoria into a male angel has been accomplished by changing the Victoria's chiton belted beneath the breasts to a chlamys belted at the waist. Roman emperors had sometimes been depicted with the globus, a symbol of their rule of the world, but beginning in the fifth century it acquired the Christian cross and became a globus cruciger. The globe was apparently symbolic; there is no evidence of the existence of such an object until A.D. 1014, when Pope Benedict VIII had a globus cruciger made as a coronation present for Henry II.


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