ROMAN EMPIRE. Theodosius II, 408-450. Multiple or medaillion of 1½ Solidi 437, Constantinople. Obv. DN THEODO-SIVS PF AVG. Bust bearded, diademed and drapped right. Rev. ADVENTVS-S DN AVG; on the exergue CONOB. Emperor nimbed riding horse to left, raised his right hands in greetings; star in the left part fo the field. Gnecchi - (cf. Marcianus for the type); RIC -; DOC -. AU. 6.63 g. RRRRR UNC
Extremely rare and in exceptional condition. The second example known of this "Donativum" issue. Only another one, from the same dies, was sold by Tkalec auction house in 2002, February 18th, lot 271.
The long reign of Theodosius II is rich in abundant monetary production. It is nonetheless surprising to note that over a period of 42 years, only 6 gold multiples have come onto the market.
Gnecchi in his work on Roman medallions was not aware of the existence of a multiple for the reign of Theodosius II.
The earliest occurrence of a gold multiple for this emperor is an 18 scripulum or 4½ Solidi medallion found in Bulgaria near Sofia in the late 1930s . Like many multiples of this size, this example bears traces of a brooch mount. It remains today the largest multiple known for the reign of Theodosius II.
Grierson & Mays were able to study a multiple of 2 Solidi present in the Whittmore collection at the Dumbarton & Oaks Museum . Curiously another multiple of 1 Solidus ¼ or Festaureus is present in this collection but was not published in their work .
More recently, an article published in 2014 concerning a silver votive dish found in Toulouse in the 1880s reattributes the central medallion to Theodosius II, it is of the same type as the 2 Solidi present in the Whittmore collection.
This exceptional coin is the second known example. It is also the first offered at auction since the Tkalec AG auction of February 18th, 2002, lot 271.
The death of the western emperor Honorius in 423 opened a period of instability. Theodosius II took advantage of the presence at the court of Constantinople of his aunt Galla Placidia, daughter of Theodosius I, to elevate his six-year-old nephew, Valentinian III, to imperial dignity. On this occasion, he strengthened the dynastic ties by betrothing him to his daughter Licinia Eudoxia.
The position of Valentinian III remained precarious, an usurper, John, occupied the imperial throne of the West. It took a two-year military campaign for Valentinian III to finally officially gain imperial dignity on October 23, 425 in Rome.
In 437, Theodosius II organized the marriage of Licinia Eudoxia. The marriage took place in Constantinople, on this occasion the emperor issued an honorary or donativa emission to exalt the coming of the Western emperor to the capital of the Eastern Empire.
Since Constantine I and his exceptional issue of 8 Solidi, all the adventus-type multiples issued had been standardized to the 2 Solidi module. These honorary issues refer to exceptional events such as an accession, a trip or a return from war of the emperor.
In this specific case, we are in the presence of one of the rare surviving elements of an event of major political and historical interest, the marriage of the emperor of the West with the daughter of the emperor of the East.
Although the two parts had been separated since the death of Theodosius I in 395, the two entities retained the desire to become a single political entity again. This marriage is directly in line with this policy of reunification and remains a major evidence of this ultimate attempt to recreate the ancient unity of a Roman Empire in full decline.