This guide explores the various types of ancient military symbolism depicted on various coins of ancient Greece and Rome
Feel the ancient military come alive on the coins of the Greeks and the Romans explored in this video. It goes from the personification of valor as Virtus to the Roman god of war, Mars the counterpart of the Greek Ares. However fighting battles takes wisdom so coins with Greek Athena and the Roman counterpart Minerva with spear and shield is depicted.The Roman emperor would go into battle to vanquish his enemies on horseback. He did have the backing of military foot soldiers, or legions behind him carrying the legionary standards and eagles in the Roman military. One symbol the labarum actually was used in the Roman military after Constantine with the name of Jesus Christ as a monogram symbol . Constantine the Great saw this symbol in the sky before a great battle at the Milvian bridge against Maxentius, which he had painted on the shields of his army and wound up winning a great victory. The Roman military camps were depicted with the symbolism of the camp gates on their coins. These camp gates were also used as a quick way of communication on the frontiers where they would use them as fire signal beacons to muster their military forces to defend their frontiers. A coin with the Roman soldiers vanquishing their foes in battle driving spears through them as they lay prostrate on the floor, even the Roman emperor not being above such a military endeavor. Some ways to get around the battle field was to use chariots, including the four horse military chariot called the quadriga or the two horse type as the biga. There is also a rarely seen type of chariot which is the triga, a more widely used Greek type of war chariot. Elephants with their huge size, magnificence and sheer strength were the ancient equivalent of the tank in ancient times. A rare large silver Greek coin of Seleukos I Nikator of the Seleukid kingdom is show here also, with a chariot drawn by elephants. This made his military a formidable force to deal with. Then a silver coin with an elephant of Julius Caesar, the most famous ancient Roman is shown. It also brings back the story of the Romans facing elephant for the first time when Hannibal Barca, the general from Carthage who crossed the Alps with these elephants. The Romans just like many others who had to face them showed a respect for these formidable foes. Even Alexander the Great had to face elephants in his campaign that went into India. Galleys were used in ancient Greek and Roman times to get around and to move military forces along with supplies to their destinations. Several coins are shown here, one with a full sail and the other one of Mark Antony from the battle of Actium, which had a great naval battle that shaped history to what it is today. This coin of Mark Antony shows what could be described as trireme military row ships which were used in this battle. The other side had the legionary eagle (aquila) between two standards and named the legion the coin was minted for by it's number. Weapons were important for any battle. A coin of the kingdom of Bosporus is shown which shown all the important militaristic symbols such as the shield, the spear, the helmet, a sword in a scabbard and even a military axe. The weapons used in the legendary tales of Hercules were the bow and the club. On a coin of Alexander the Great he is even depicted as Hercules. Hercules used the skin of the Nemean lion as a helmet and armor which was impermeable to weapons according to legend. A shield of Macedonia is shown along with the helmet they used. An important mention of the Aegis, which is the severed head of Medusa used on shields and the breast plate of armor to scare or almost turn your enemies to stone. This was used on the armor of the ancient Greeks, such as in a depiction of Alexander the Great and even the Roman emperors including Augustus. Celebrating their victories, the Romans employed the goddess Victory whose Greek counterpart was Nike. Nike was originally a goddess of athletic Olympic style contests and she, along with her Roman counterpart is shown holding a wreath and a palm branch. The wreath would be placed on the head of the victories general, emperor or athletic contest winner and the palm branch was a symbol of victory. The Romans depicted their vanquished enemies as either bound captives or seated in a mourning position, sad over the great defeat they suffered by the Romans. The weapons, including the armor of the vanquished was used to build a trophy or a tropaion, consisting of the shields, swords, helmets spears and other military objects to be displayed in honor of a victory. The fronts of defeated ships were displayed in the Roman forum as Rostra and used also a speaker's platform along with being a great show of power to foreign dignitaries visiting Rome. There were also occasions that great architectural works that would be commissioned. A large Sestertius Roman coin of Nero is shown which has the arch. Arches are still standing in Rome to this day, one being by the Colosseum, known as the Arch of Titus which celebrated the victory over Judaea, the looting of the Great temple and the victory procession from there. The loot being used to build the Flavian Amphitheatre, known to this day as the Colosseum.
See the coins depicted in this guide for yourself and so much more!
- Click here to see all coins of VIRTUS personification of valor, and manliness.
- Click here to see all coins of ARES the Greek god of war.
- Click here to see all coins of MARS the Roman god of war.
- Click here to see all coins of ATHENA the goddess of military wisdom and more.
- Click here to see all coins of MINERVA the Roman counterpart of Athena.
- Click here to see all coins of EMPERORS on HORSES.
- Click here to see all coins with HORSES.
- Click here to see all coins of EAGLES which were used by Romans and Greeks.
- Click here to see all coins of ROMAN LEGIONARY STANDARDS on coins.
- Click here to see all coins of GLORY of ARMY featuring Legionary Soldiers.
- Click here to see all coins with LABARUM the Christian symbol standard.
- Click here to see all coins with CHI-RHO the Jesus Christ monogram, also known as Christogram used on the labarum.
- Click here to see all coins with CAMP GATE the Roman legionary camp with fire signal beacons.
- Click here to see all coins of BATTLE scenes.
- Click here to see all coins with CHARIOTS. Also see QUADRIGA and TRIGA and BIGA.
- Click here to see all coins with ELEPHANTS.
- Click here to see all coins with GALLEYS. Also see SHIPS.
- Click here to see all coins with SPEAR and SHIELD and HELMET and BOW and CLUB and AXE and SWORD and AEGIS and GORGONEION and TRIDENT.
- Click here to see all coins with NIKE the Greek goddess of Victory
- Click here to see all coins with VICTORY the Roman counterpart of Nike.
- Click here to see all coins of VICTORY OVER a Roman enemy.
- Click here to see all coins with TROPAION which is the Greek version of trophy.
- Click here to see all coins with TROPHY.
- Click here to see all coins with ARCH. See also COLUMN.
Ancient Coins of the Military
GORDIAN III 240AD Authent Authentic Genuine Silver Roman Coin VIRTUS i21683
VELIA in LUCANIA 300BC Philistion group Silver Greek Coin Athena Lion i53521
DOMITIAN 92AD Ancient Silver Roman Coin Athena MINERVA Cult i21934
NERO on HORSE with SOLDIER 67AD Rome Sestertius LARGE Ancient Roman Coin i53830
PROBUS on horse spearing barbarian 278AD Authentic Ancient Roman Coin i53272
MAXIMINUS II DAIA 312AD Rome Rare Aquila Standards Ancient Roman Coin i52865
CONSTANTINE I the GREAT 335AD Ancient Roman Coin Glory of Army Legions i27304
Theodosius I the Great with labarum 379AD Authentic Ancient Roman Coin i52710
CONSTANTIUS II son of Constantine the Great w labarum Ancient Roman Coin i51167
CONSTANTIUS II 324AD Arelate Mint OPEN DOOR CAMP GATE Rare Roman Coin i51101
CONSTANTIUS II Constantine the Great son Ancient Roman Coin Battle Horse i46699
PROBUS 276AD Authentic Ancient Roman Coin Sol Sun God on horse quadriga i44286
Roman Republic 104BC Roma Victory Chariot Authentic Ancient Silver Coin i49087
SELEUKOS I Nikator Tetradrachm Athena ELEPHANT Silver Greek Coin Seleukid i46301
JULIUS CAESAR Elephant Serpent 49BC Authentic Ancient Silver Roman Coin i47254
GORDIAN III 238AD Deultum Thrace GALLEY SHIP Ancient Roman Coin BEAUTY i52771
MARK ANTONY Cleopatra Lover 32BCActium Ancient Silver Roman Coin LEG XIX i53492
RHOEMETALKES 136AD Bosporus King Shield Sword Axe Horse Helmet Greek Coin i53539
Alexander III the Great as Hercules 336BC Ancient Greek Coin Bow Club i44200
DEMETRIUS I Poliorcetes 294BC Ancient Greek Coin HELMET SHIELD i27042
AMISOS in PONTUS MITHRADATES VI the GREAT Gorgon Aegis Nike Greek Coin i30066
AUGUSTUS Victory Over Brutus Cassius Assasins of Julius Caesar Roman Coin i53144
TRAJAN victory over DACIA 103AD Ancient Silver Roman Denarius Coin Rome i53511
CONSTANTINE I the GREAT RARE Ancient Roman Coin Victory Over SARMATIANS i39763
SEPTIMIUS SEVERUS 194AD Emesa Trophy Quality Ancient Silver Roman Coin i12586
NERO Arch Chariot & Mars 65AD Lugdunum Ancient Roman Coin Architecture i36665
Original Post Here: Ancient Greek and Roman MILITARY on COINS The Weapons, Battles & Symbols An interesting blog post about ancient coins. An ancient coin expert published this for educational purposes.
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