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FEL TEMP REPARATIO Reverse Description: Soldier spearing fallen horseman Exergue: PCON

360 A.D. Rome Æ 3 Fel Temp Reparatio

A battle scene on a coin

This is my entry for Day 18, “R” of the Blogging from A-Z April Challenge!
R = Rome.

2010 - 2024 2024 (larger with A Z on top) Blogging from A - Z April Challenge a-to-zChallenge.com


Reverse Description:  	 	Soldier spearing fallen horseman
Exergue:  	 	PCON

We can learn so much from coins that it can be amazing what you can fit on a small disc of metal. In this case one only 18mm diameter. And it can be fascinating that with so much study of ancient coins, particularly Roman coins, there can still be mystery around a fairly common coin. In this case, it’s not entirely clear what the exact denomination of this coin was, so we call it “Æ 3”. Æ is a symbol basically meaning “Base metal”. This coin is bronze, rather than gold or silver. The “3” indicates the size, although there are differing opinions on exactly how to classify that. On this ForumAncientCoins page Æ 3 is 17 – 21 mm diameter, but on this Archaeologists.net page, Æ 3 is 14 – 18 mm diameter. This one just fits in Æ 3 by either definition.

Regardless of what it was worth, the image on the coin is very evocative. It shows a soldier spearing a fallen horseman. It might be a little tricky to make out, so I’ve coloured it in here (this may not help, let me know what you think!):

FEL TEMP REPARATIO Reverse Description: Soldier spearing fallen horseman Exergue: PCON Horse coloured in purple, rider in blue, spearman in red and text in green

The horse is purple, rider on the horse in turquoise, spearman in red and the text in green. And yes, evidently there is a good reason I’ve never been offered a job as an engraver at the mint!

The text isn’t fully visible, but if it was, it would read FEL TEMP REPARATIO. This reverse legend is commonly found on coins from the time of Constans and Constantius II to that of Gratian (337 A.D. to 375 A.D.). Although the intended reading of this legend is debated and not completely certain, it most likely reads, FELicium TEMPorum REPARATIO, meaning “re-establishment of the happy times” (happy days are here again!). This is certainly an interesting way to depict happy days being here again. Though undoubtedly happier for the Roman spearman here than the barbarian on horseback.

That ForumAncientCoins link also has a better representation of a similar coin coloured in than my effort! NumisForums has various representations in much better quality also. As does this ForumAncientCoins page.


D N IVLIANVS NOB CAES Obverse Description: Bare-headed, Draped and cuirassed bust right

You can stop squinting, there is VERY little detail available on the obverse of this one! I’m not actually sure whether I’ve got it right way up here or not. The orientation varies on Roman coins. My best guess here is “Coin” orientation (hold the coin at each side and rotate top to bottom).

Because mine has PCON in the exergue of the reverse (at the bottom under the image) with M in the field in the centre, I believe mine might be similar to this coin on CoinProject issued by Julian II in 360 A.D.

My usual first reference for late Roman bronze coins is Tesorillo. In this case, they have the general coin, but not the PCON mint identification in the exergue. Going back to the CoinProject page, this piece was minted in Arles, France. Arles is where Van Gogh painted “The Night Cafe”, a painting mentioned in my piece on this more recent billiards token. In fact, even in Roman times, Arles was a favourite residence of emperors including Constantine I.

Arles was also where Emperor Constantine held the “Council of Arles” in 314 A.D. This was a meeting of 30 – 40 Catholic Bishops, primarily to resolve an ongoing issue regarding appointing an African bishop. One of the earliest such meetings and very unusual for an emperor to become involved in matters of the church. The council set out a number of rules, or “Canons”, decreeing that Easter should be celebrated at the same time around the world, and that charioteers and actors be excluded from Christian fellowship.

Back to the coin’s PCON mint designation, which refers to “Constantina”. We know this coin can’t be any earlier than Julian II, as it was that emperor who renamed Arles to Constantina in honour of his predecessor Constantine the Great.

What is your favourite coin that you’ve learnt the most from? Let us know.

FEL TEMP REPARATIO Reverse Description: Soldier spearing fallen horseman Exergue: PCON






2 responses to “360 A.D. Rome Æ 3 Fel Temp Reparatio”

  1. Lori Avatar

    Very cool information! I am going to check out some of the others.

    1. Q Avatar

      Thanks Lori! I do love how we often take the coins we use day to day for granted, but there is so much interesting information to be learnt from any of them.

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