A Roman solidus with a portrait of the emperor Julian the Apostate on the front, and a soldier holding a standard and dragging a captive barbarian on the reverse.
Minted out of gold.
Made in the 360s at Constantinople. Gifted to the Metropolitan Museum in 1898 by Joseph H. Durkee, a Floridan politician.
This solidus of Julian was minted in Constantinople between 361 and 363. Though Julian is best known as being the “apostate,” the emperor who attempted to restore paganism after it was cast into disfavor first by Constantine, and subsequently by his son Constantius II, Julian should be equally recognized as a strong and successful military leader. This coin’s reverse celebrates the virtus exercitus romanorum, the military virtue of the Romans, and depicts a soldier with a defeated barbarian. Were this coin earlier, it would be likely that that captive would represent Julian’s victories against the Gauls, Franks, and Germans in the 350s. However, the date of this coin in the early 360s means that this captive is almost certainly a Persian soldier. Julian fought the early part of this campaign to great success. He and his army very nearly took the Persian capital of Ctesiphon, but Julian was fatally wounded in 363, and consequently never took the city. This coin represents the optimism that his early victories conveyed to the Romans.