(132) Justinian I - AV solidus, A.D. 527-545, 4.45 g. (inv. 91.270).
Obverse: Facing helmeted and cuirassed bust of Justinian, holding globus cruciger in r.; at l. shoulder, shield with attacking horseman; D(OMINVS) N(OSTER) IVSTINIANVS P(ER)P(ETVVS) AVC(VSTVS): Our lord Justinian, perpetual Augustus.
Reverse: Standing facing angel with cross-staff in r. and globus cruciger in l.; VICTORIA AVCCC (AVGVSTORVM abbreviated) E: Victory of the Augusti, officina mark E; in exergue, CONOB: gold of Constantinople.
Provenance: Hesperia Art, 1959.
Bibliography: P. Grierson, Byzantine Coins (London 1982).

Justinian's accomplishments in military affairs, the law, and the arts were among the greatest of the Byzantine empire. He reclaimed most of the territory of the Roman empire, codified the old Roman law, and built Hagia Sophia and other important churches and monuments in Constantinople. Underlying his temporal victories was a strong personal conviction for orthodox Christianity.

Justinian's policy of reconquest is made clear on the obverse of this coin. In place of the usual spear, in his right hand the emperor holds the globus cruciger, a globe surmounted by a cross, indicating that the emperor receives his authority from God. From this time onward the globus cruciger would become a regular feature of the Byzantine imperial bust. On earlier coins the globus had been held by Victoria on the reverse (see no. 131).

Although stylized in the manner of most Byzantine coin portraits, this portrait type may bear some resemblance to the emperor, for Justinian's biographer, Procopius, writes that he was "rather plump," his face "round and not unattractive" (Secret History, 8).


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