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The fascinating reverse of Roman coins

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This post is part of a continuing series about Roman coins for us novice or non-coin collectors. As I learn from the great teachers and experts, I will continue to add to this series. This post and the attached links deal with the reverse (back) of Roman coins and their historical contexts.


Many people are fascinated by coins from the Roman Empire because of the great diversity of images on the reverse of the coins.


Since Roman coins were used as a means of spreading Imperial propaganda throughout the Empire, the reverse of the coins were a perfect vehicle to spread this message to a diverse and largely illiterate population. This message could range from the hope or celebration of military success to depictions of architectural feats or the Imperial family.


They reverse of the coins would frequently have either an image of a deity (god and goddess) or of a personification. A personification was an image of an idea, concept, or geographic location; e.g., good fortune, fruitfulness and fertility, chastity and modesty, Rome, etc.


In the formally Christianized Empire, gods and goddesses were no longer customary, of course, but the use of personifications continued. For example, the image of the goddess Victory was common on the reverse of coins throughout the history of the Roman Empire. During the Christianized era, however, Victory lost her divine status and was relegated to a mere personification, more compatible with a Christian Empire.


The links below mostly deal with the images of deities or personifications.



This is a link to an article by Beast Coins, both a teacher and dealer of Ancient coins:




This is a link to Doug Smith's excellent articles. His knowledge about Ancient coins is very extensive, but I admire most his enthusiasm about the coins' historical background.








This article is from Bill Welch's site, which has been recognized as one of the best by his expert peers in the field:









guy also known as gaius

Edited by guy

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  • Map of the Roman Empire