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BRIT
fANIN4

ON ROMAN COINS OF THE SECOND CENTURY A.D.


By JOCELYN TOYNBEE, NI.A.
Lecturer in Classics, University College, Reading.

(Pla te xxiv.)

The history of art in the Roman period is the history of the


interplay of two opposite tendencies. On the one hand there is the
Roman taste for realism and accurate representation, combining with
the Italian love of naturalism; on the other, the fostering of the
Greek tradition of idealism in art both by the Greek artists who
worked at Rome and by the Greek enthusiasts among their Roman
employers. After the culmination of Roman historical art under
the Flavians and Trajan, the second century, as is well known, was
marked by a great reaction in favour of things Hellenic, and it is with
one small part of the Greek revival under Hadrian and the Antonines,
when Greek art blossomed afresh for the last time during the history
of the ancient world, that I propose to deal in this paper.
Of all departments of art it is the personification of countries
and cities which illustrates most clearly the triumph of Greek
traditions at this time. It has already been shown1 that the idea
of representing a locality by an allegorical figure was a familiar one
throughout the history of Greek art and flourished especially in the
Hellenistic age. When we reach the Roman period, we find that the
idea was no less popular, but that it is possible to distinguish two
contrasting principles upon which the artists who produced the
personifications worked, corresponding exactly with the two opposing
tendencies which characterise the art of the Roman age as a whole.
The ' Roman ' method was to personify a country in the guise of an
actual inhabitant realistically portrayed 2; numerous examples of
this principle are provided by coin-types, statues and other monuments continuously from Republican days to the death of Trajan.
But in Greek art the traditional method of personifying a city or
country was to represent it, not by the figure of an actual inhabitant,
but by an abstraction, an ' ideal ' female figure, intended to symbolise
by her attitude, dress and attributes the essential significance of
I P. Gardner,
).Hi.S. ix, I888, p. 47 ff.

e.g. the famous so-called ' Thusnelda ' in the


Loggia dei Lanzi at Florence, most probably a
personification of Germania (Strong, Roman
Sculpture, pl. lxviii); Armneniapersonified as a male
2

Armenian captive on coins of Augustus with the


legend CAESAR DIVI F. ARMENIA CAPTA (Mattingly,
Coins of the Romian Empite in the British Museum,
vol.

Ix, pl. 24)

Ctc.

'BRITANNIA'

ON ROMAN COINS OF SECOND CENTURY A.D.

143

that for which she stood. This principle, to the complete


exclusion of the ' Roman' principle, with which it had previously
co-existed, underlies the great array of 'geographical' personifications which forms one of the most typical features of Hadrianic
art, and of which the famous series of coin-types struck by
Hadrian in I34-5 A.D. as a record of his journeys through the
provincesaffordsby far the finest examplesthat have come down to
us; and this, as I hope to show, was the principle on which were
produced the types of the particular personificationwith which
we are here concerned,the HadrianicBritanniaand, with one exception, her Antonine successors.
I.

HADRIAN.

Of the twenty-five countries or cities representedin Hadrian's


great coin-seriessixteen belong to the southernor easternareasof the
Mediterraneanworld, and had alreadyplayed a part in the history of
ancient civilisation before the Roman Empire and Roman Imperial
coinage had come into existence. In all such cases the Hadrianic
artist, when creating the type of his personification, found himself
heir to a store of traditionalfacts and ideas, often of actualprototypes
from earlierart. But in the taskof personifyingBritanniathe coindesigner was faced with the problem of embodying in allegorical
form a country situated on the north-western extremity of the
Empire, into which the traditions of Mediterraneancivilisationhad
only just begun to penetrate, and of which the Hellenic world had
takenno cognisance. By instinct and trainingGreekartistsworkingat
Rome were accustomedto turn to Greekmodelsfor theirinspiration,
but in this case the nature of the subject demanded originality.
It is the manner in which the creator of the Hadrianic Britannia
has succeeded in combining faithfulnessto Greek artistic traditions
with an effective expression of contemporary events of the first
importancein Roman politics that forms one of the chief points of
interest in the type.
Of the history of Britain under Hadrian only vague and meagre
recordsare to be found in the ancient writers. Spartianusmentions
troubles in the island at the beginning of the reign,1 and dismisses
the Emperor'sactivities in the province-the building of the Wall
and the important work of pacification and organisation-in two
brief notices,2 while a short allusionis made by Fronto to the losses
sustainedby the Romantroops at the hands of the rebellious Britons
about the time of Hadrian'saccession.3 Poor indeed and inadequate
1 Vita 5, 2. ' Britanni teneri sub Romana ditione
non poterant.'
2 ibid. ii, 2, ' Britanniam petit, in qua multa
correxit murumque per octoginta milia passuum
primus duxit, qui barbaros Romanosque divideret'

' Compositis in Britannia rebus transgressus


I2, I.
in Galliam . . .'
3 The Correspondenceof Marcus Cornelius Fronto,
avo vestro
Loeb. edit. vol. 2, p. 22. 'Quid?
Hadriano imperium obtinente quantum militum
ab Britannis caesum.'

144

'BRITANNIA'

ON ROMAN COINS OF SECOND CENTURY A.D.

must these literary records appear in the presence of the enduring


monument of imperial frontier defence left by Hadrian in our
country, and it is to the coins that we must turn for evidence corroborating the fact to which the Wall bears witness, namely that the
visit of the Emperor to Britain in I2I A.D. and the events which led
up to it, were of peculiar importance and created an impression
at Rome of which the ancient writers do not give the least suggestion.
The Britannia is indeed unique as being the only ' province ' type
of which there were two issues ; one belongs to the main series of
I34-I35

A.D.,

and the other, the coins of which correspondin style

and legends with those of II9 A.D.,1 iS contemporary with affairs


in Britain immediately preceding the imperial visit. Another
'geographical' type of an earlier date than the series proper, the
Restitutori Orbis Terrarum, was issued by Hadrian at the end of I20
A.D. or early in I2I as a programme of the journeys throughout the
length and breadth of the Empire, which he had in view.2 So in
1I9
A.D. coins were struck with the type of the personified Britain,
as having the distinction of being the first province to which the
British politics must soon indeed
Emperor gave close attention.
have claimed both his own personal interest and the interest of the
Roman government and of the capital in general, if historians are
right in connecting the allusions made by Spartianus and Fronto
to disturbances in the island on Hadrian's accession with a serious
military disaster in which the Ninth Legion was cut to pieces.4 The
type may thus commemorate the inauguration in I 19 A.D., as a result
of this defeat, of the new frontier policy, the building of the Wall,
the importance of which not only caused Hadrian two years later
to cross to Britain and watch the progress of the work himself, but
also claimed immediate recognition on the coin-types of the current
year. The early Britannia coins have then, in common with the
coins of the Restitutori Orbis Terrarum type, the interest of being
the forerunners, struck before Hadrian set out upon his first tour, of
the great Hadrianic series of ' geographical ' personifications. After
the appearance of these two types the mint was inactive, as far as
coins of this class are concerned, throughout the whole period of the
Emperor's travels until the issue of the I 34-5 series as a retrospect of
what had been accomplished. Then the Britannia type appears
once more in its place among the types of the other provinces and
cities of the Empire, with the normal legends and portrait style
1 Mr. Mattingly of the British Museum has now
established the following chronological sequence
for the earliest group of ' cos. iii ' coins, namely
those on which the Emperor is given the title of
Pontifex Maximus:PONT. MAX.
on rev: I I9 A.D.
121 A.D.
M.
P.
, obv: Izo-early
M.
A.D.
P.
, rev: 121-122
Our Britannia type, which in its earlier issue bears

the legend PONT. MAX. on the reverse, thus belongs


to the year 119 A.D.
2 Cohen,
Les monnaies de l'empire romain2,
no. 1285 i1.
ii, p. 213,
(1 Obv.: IMP CAESAR TRAIANVS HADRIANVS AVG.
MAX.
TR.
Rev.: BRITANNIA
(exergue) PONT.
POT. COS. III.

Cohenop.
4

S.C.

no. 197 1 2 (Plate xxiv, r).


G. Macdonald, Roman Wall in Scotland, p. 6.
cit.2ii,

p.

12I,

'BRITANNIA

ON

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OF SECOND

CENTURY

A.D.

145

of the year. 1 The Restitutori Orbis Terrarum type was not re-issued,
but it is possible to imagine that these two early types together
met with a success and popularity which may have contributed
towards the formation of Hadrian's scheme for using the reversedesigns of a great coin series as a medium for propaganda, for
disseminating that idea of the Empire which it had been the chief
purpose of his journeys to foster, the conception of a great fellowship united by a common Graeco-Roman civilisation.
Apart from the difference in the obverse portrait, a certain
inferiority in the style of the reverse design is to be noticed in the
Restitutori Orbis Terrarum coins as compared with the coins of
Perhaps the fact that the type of the personified Britain
134-5 A.D.
apparently by
A.D.),
was designed during the same period (II9-I22
an artist less skilful than the coin-designers of the latter part of
Hadrian's principate, and was, by reason of its popularity, used over
again without alteration in the issue of the great series, may account
for a certain obvious defect in the Britannia figure. It is by no
means easy to decide whether Britannia is intended to be in a seated
or in a standing posture, and Cohen, indeed, has gone so far as to
distinguish two varieties of the type, one seated and the other
standing. But between the various specimens of the type there is
no difference marked enough to warrant any such distinction; and
although it is difficult to describe Britannia as seated, since in no
case is there the slightest indication of what she is seated on, it is
still more difficult to see how she could keep her balance were she
standing. It seems more reasonable to interpret her consistently as
a seated figure, supported by some object which has not been allowed
to appear in the design, and to attribute this somewhat serious
omission to lack of skill or judgment on the part of the artist.
Though somewhat inferior in certain points of execution, the
Restitutori Orbis Terrarum type is no less Greek in method and con-

ception than the types of

and the same is true of the

I34-I35,

Britannia of I I9. This first issue of Britannia coins is very probably,


as we have seen, to be associated with a military disaster followed
by an important development in the history of the military occupation of the province. Yet it is not as the conquered barbarian of
the ' Roman ' type, merely recording the immediate military
consequences of a British rising, but as an essentially ' ideal ' figure,
embodying, in the traditional Greek manner, a more universal aspect
of the country, that Britain is personified on Hadrian's coins. The
type has indeed been described as that of ' Britain subdued.'2 But
the attitude with the elbow resting on the right knee and the right
hand supporting the head is not one of dejection. Britannia does
1 I Obv.HADRIANVS
Cohen, op. cit.2

ii,

,El

AVG. COS. 111. P.P.

Rev. BRITANNIA (or BRITTANNIA)


p.

IZI,

S.C.

nos. 194-196,

198, 199.

2.

G. Macdonald,Op. Cit.

pl. i, A. 2.

Haverfield,

Roman Occupationof Britain, fig. 4, z (Plate xxiv, Z).


2 G. Macdonald,
op. cit. p. 7.

I46

'BRITANNIA'

ON ROMAN

COINS OF SECOND CENTURY A.D.

not look down, but straight out before her; the figure suggests,
not sorrow, but vigilance. 1 She is Britannia Graeco-Romanised
rather than Britannia capta, an outpost of the Roman Empire,
armed, as is the case with the personifications of other frontier
provinces, because she is taking her share in the defence of the
Empire's boundaries. We might almost describe the type as symbolic
of the watch on the Great Wall, the construction of which was
now being planned, if not already begun, ' qui barbaros Romanosque
divideret.'
Britannia is characterised by native dress and arms. She wears
a short tunic, braccae, short boots and an ample cloak ornamented
round the bottom with a fringe,2 fastened on the right shoulder,
covering the breast, left shoulder and upper arm and hanging down
behlind, while it is brought round again in front across the knees.
She holds in her left hand a spear, sometimes reversed,3 and at her
left side, resting on the ground, is a large shield, on which her left
hiand rests, with a decorated rim and a great spike in the centre. 4
The rocks on which her right foot is placed are, perhaps, intended to
suggest the bleak and rugged character of the scenery of northern
Britain. 5 In one detail the Britannia differs quite markedly from
the other personifications of the Hadrianic series, that is in the treatment of the hair. Britannia's hair is not worn with a fillet in a roll
round the head and knotted behind, the usual Greek coiffure, which
occurs even in the case of the figures personifying such outlying
provinces as Dacia, Thracia and Noricum, but it is turned back
from the face in thick, waving locks, somewhat resembling the hair
Possibly the
of one of the Provinces from the Hadrianeum.6
that a
for
be
accounted
supposing
by
treatment
may
difference of
method
this
to
indicate
hair
easier
by
the
found
less skilled hand
when dealing with a full-face instead of a profile ; or it may be a
deliberate touch of realism on the part of the artist, who in designing
a tvpe as a contemporary, rather -than as a retrospective, record
of events in Britain in i19, might more naturally tend to suggest the
physical characteristics of the people on whom attention was at
the moment focussed.
I Mr. Mattingly has pointed out to me that
Britannia's attitude bears a distinct resemblance
to that of Securitas.
2 Cf. the cloak with a fringed border worn by the
captive woman on the so-called ' Trophy of Marius'
(Biesikowski, De simulacris barbararum gentium
apud Romanos, p. 39, fig. I9).
3 Never a sceptre, as Cohen sometimes describes it.
4 This remarkable type of shield, for which I can
find no parallel, seems to have been peculiarly
British, though neither Caesar nor Tacitus nor any
other of our ancient authorities mention it. The
popular notion that the British chariot wheels were
equipped with spikes or scythes appears to rest on
very doubtful authority (Daremberg et Saglio, s.v.

Essedum, p. 8I5, and Dechelette


ologie, i i i I 83).

Manuel d'arche-

5 Mr.
Mattingly has made the interesting
suggestion that these are not rocks but the actual
Wall itself. The regularity with which they are
arranged certainly favours the idea that they
represent courses of stone, but at the same time it
should be noticed that in Hadrian's Dacia type,
where there is no question of a wall, the rocks on
which the province is seated are even more symmetrical.
6
Biefikowski op. cit. p. 79, fig. 75; Lucas, jabrbuch des kaiserlichen deutschen archdologischen
Instituts, Band xv, .1900, fig. 13.

'BRITANNIA'

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CENTURY

A.D.

I47

The military side of Hadrian's activity in Britain is also commemorated by coins of the ' Exercitus ' type with the legend

EXERC.

or EXERC. BRITANNICVS. 1 Of the fact that there was another


side to the Emperor'swork in the province we should, had we only
the literary records to rely upon, be entirely without evidence;
but here again the coin-types supplementour knowledge. The type
Adventui Aug. Britanniae struck in I34-5 A.D. gives us a different
conception of the personified Britain.2 Britannia stands in the
usual attitude of the province on an ' adventus' coin, looking to the
left towards the Emperorwho greets her from the other side of an
altar, and holding a paterain her right hand. Not a trace of anything
military is to be found in this figure. She wears the regular Greek
dress, the long chiton reachingto the feet and the himation draped
in the usual way, hanging down the back and brought round in
front across the lower part of the body with one corner thrown
over the left arm. The upper edge of the garment is apparently
drawnover the head to form a hood or veil. Obviouslyit is the civil
area of Britain that is here personified. Britannia is welcoming
Hadrianas the patron of her civil life, whose interests the Emperor,
while chiefly, no doubt, concerned with the strengthening of the
militaryfrontier, did not ignore nor neglect. The evidence afforded
by this AdventuiAug. Britanniaecoin-type for the prosperityof the
civilian population of Britain during the Hadrianic age and its
gratitude for the imperial favour has been confirmed by recent
excavationson the site of the Roman city of Viroconium(Wroxeter).
Here in I30 A.D. the tribal community (civitas) of the Cornovii
erected a large public building and set up over the entrance an
inscriptionrecordingits dedicationto the reigningEmperor.3 After
the first few decades of the Roman occupation Viroconium ceased
to be a military station and settled down to a peaceful existence as a
Romano-Britishcountry town, 4 and the new Wroxeterinscription is
unique as being at present the only inscription of Hadrianic date
from the civil area of Britain. Its importance for our purpose lies
in the fact that, with the ' adventus' coin, it shows us Britain in the
north-westjoining with the provincesof the south and east in bearing
witness to Hadrian as the promoter of that peaceful, prosperous
city-life which the citizens of the Roman Empire had inherited
from the Hellenistic world.
BRITAN.

II.

THE ANTONINES.

In the Antonine period we meet againwith that contrastbetween


the Greek and Roman points of view in art which the uniformly
1 Cohen, op. cit.2 ii, p. I53, nos. 555, 556. Macdonald, op cit. pl. i, A. x; Haverfield, op. cit.
fig. 4, 1.
2 | Obv. IIADRIANVS AVG. COS. III P. P .
Rev. ADVENTVI AVG. BRITANNIAE S.C.
Cohen, op. cit. 2ii p. 0og, no. zS. .1EI(Plate XXIV,3).

3 Birmingham Post, Tuesday, July 15,


1924,
p. 7; Antiquaries Journal, October, 1924 . rear's
Work, 1923-4, p. 8z; Classical Review, vol. xxxviii,
1924~ p. 146.
Nov.-Dec.,
4l-Iaverfield, Victoria County History of Shropshire, i, pp. 216, 244, 245.

I48

'BRITANNIA

O.N ROMAN

COINS

OF

SECOND

CENTURY

A.D.

Greek character of Hadrianic work had for the time being obliterated.
On the one hand the Hellenic renaissance of the Hadrianic age still
exercised a powerful influence; we find work of Antonine artists
which preserves, both in method and in idea, the traditions of Greek
art. On the other hand there is distinct evidence of a tendency,
which began to show itself during the reign of Hadrian's successor,
to break away from the Greek tradition, to subordinate the 'ideal'
in favour of the more definitely Roman preference for the actual and
the real. As far as the personification of countries and cities is
concerned, the Hellenic element is, as would be expected, still
predominant. The coin-series issued by Antoninus Pius in the first
year of his principate, to commemorate the offer of the aurum
coronarium,bears so close a resemblance to Hadrian's series of I 34-5
that it seems not unlikely that both series were the product of the
same school. Apart from this series of I39 the personifications of
only two countries are to be found on the coins of Pius, Italia and
Britannia. The Italia type,' issued first in I39 and again in I40-3,
exhibits all the characteristics of Hadrianic art, and is identical on
the coins of both dates. Of the coins with the personified Britain as
their reverse design there were also two issues, but here the types
are not identical. Whereas the types of the earlier issue are essentially
Greek in character, those of the later issue do, to some extent, illustrate
the ' Roman ' tendency in Antonine art, a tendency which is also
illustrated by certain features of another series of monuments of
Pius' reign which belong to this particular class of personifications,
the Provinces from the Hadrianeum.
The Britannia coins of Pius' first issue date from the Emperor's
third consulship, I40-3 A.D., and show three varieties of type. One
of these2 is, as regards the attitude and attributes of the figure,
clearly reminiscent of Hadrian's Britannia. The province is seated
to the left, again without any indication of what she is sitting on,3
her right foot resting on a rock. She holds a spear in her right hand,
while her left rests upon a large shield, on which is an ornamental
pattern radiating from a great spike in the centre. In certain points,
indeed, there is divergence from the Hadrianic type. Pius' Britannia
does not support her head with her left hand, but grasps in the
latter her spear; her face is shown, not in full, but in profile; she
wears a long chiton, and her himation, which is fastened by a clasp
in front, has no fringed border. Also, this Britannia is unique
among all other personifications of the province in the fact that she
wears, apparently, a helmet.4 But the influence of the Hadrianic
I Cohen, op. cit. 2ii,
2

pp. 314-315, nos. 463-472.

Obv.ANTONINVS AVG. PIVS.


Rev. BRITAN (in field)

P.P. TR.

P. COS III.

IMPERATOR

S.C.

(circumference).
no. 11 5. I"' (Plate xxIv, 4).
Here, however, it is just possible to suppose

,Cohen, op. Cit. 2ii, p. 28i,


3

that the seat is concealed behind the shield, whereas


the design on Hadrian's coin does not admit of
this supposition.
4 The British Museum does not possess a specimen
of this coin, and the bronze cast in the Ashmolean
Museum is taken from a poorly preserved specimen,

'BRITANNIA

ON

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COINS

OF

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CENTURY

A.D.

I49

type, not only upon the composition of the design, but also upon the
whole idea of the figure, is perfectly obvious. Pius' type displays
the same attitude of vigilance, the same conception of Britain, not
as the home of a conquered people, but as a unit of the Empire in
her capacity as a frontier province, an outpost of Roman civilisation
in the north-west. The same idea underlies the other two types of
this issue which, while showing greater divergence in detail from the
Hadrianic Britannia, reproduce its spirit with no less fidelity. Of
these one,1 of which the British Museum possesses a fairly good
specimen, is not mentioned by Cohen. It shows Britannia ' ruling
the waves,' for the globe on which she is seated to the left, in a somewhat precarious manner, floats upon the sea, an obvious allusion to
the fact that Britain is an island. She wears short boots, braccae,
a short chiton and a cloak fastened on the right shoulder. Her left
elbow rests upon a round shield with an ornamental rim, and she
holds in her left hand a spear and in her right a legionary standard. 2
The face is seen in profile and the hair is worn in a roll round the
head and fastened into a knot behind. The significance of the globe
is by no means clear. A globe is the attribute held in the left hand
by Hadrian's Orbis Terrarum3 and by Trajan's Italia, 4while a large
In the case of
globe forms the throne of Pius' fine seated Italia.
both these personifications the appropriateness of the attribute is
too obvious to require comment. But it is not easy to see why
Britannia should be given this symbol of sovereignty. The only
other monument on which a globe is in any way associated with
Britain is the reverse of a coin of Pius of the same period, showing
a winged Victory standing to the left on a globe with the legend
BRITAN across the field. 6
Figures of Victory on a globe are, of course,
common, 7 but in this instance it is just conceivable that if the coins
with the Victory were struck before those with the Britannia, the
globe on which Victory is poised may have suggested to the designer
of the Britannia type the idea of seating her upon one. Or possibly
the globe may refer to the remote situation of Britain-' et penitus
toto divisos orbe Britannos.' 8 But these are mere conjectures,
and beyond conjecture it does not seem possible to go. Not a
and is therefore not very reliable as evidence for
details. But after examining the latter, I am
inclined to decide in favour of Britannia being here
represented with a helmet. Possibly the combination of long chiton and himation indicates an
attempt to assimilate the Britannia to the Roma
type. It is not possible to come to any definite
conclusion about the treatment of the hair of this
Britannia from the Ashmolean cast.
I(

Obv.ANTONINVS AVG. PIVS P.P. TR.P. COS III.


Rev. IMPERATOR 1I (circumference) BRITAN
(exergue) s.c. (Plate xxiv, j).

I cannot discover anything to account for the


use of the legionary standard in this and in the third
type of Pius 140-143 Britannia issue. In all
2

Hadrianic types and in all the other types of Pius


where a standard is an attribute of a personified
province it is the vexillum which is represented.
The introduction of the legionary standard in these
two types seems to have been an experiment which
was tried and then abandoned, for the vexillum
reappears in the Britannia type of Pius' 155 issue.
" Cohen, op. cit. 2 ii, p. 213, no. i285.
Cohen, op. cit.5 ii, p. 37, no. 179, pp. 51-52,.
nos. 326, 3276 Cohen, Op. cit.5 ii,

pp.

314-315, nos. 463-472.


z8i, no. 113.
Band iii, p. 335, Abb.14Daremberg et Saglio, figs. 7466 and 7467.
8 Vergil, Ecl. i, 66.
6 Cohen, op. cit.5 ii, p.
7 e.g. Roscher, Lexic(n,

I50

BRITANNIA

ON ROMAN COINS OF SECOND CENTURY A.D.

vestige of the idea of Britannia Capta is to be traced either in this


type or in the remaining type of I40-3.
In the latter1 Britannia
is seated to the left on a rock, not, as Cohen describes her, ' dans
l'attitude de la tristesse,' 2 but in a posture indicating serenity and
vigilance. She looks straight out in front of her, her left arm resting
on the rim of a large oval shield with an ornamental border and
central spike, supported on a helmet. Her coiffure, dress and
attributes are identical with those of the type with the globe-neatly
dressed hair, short chiton, cloak, braccae and boots, with the spear in
the left hand3 and the legionary standard in the right.
The occasion for the first issue of Britannia types by Pius can be
easilydetermined. From about I39-I44A.D. the Roman governor of
Britain was Lollius Urbicus, 4 under whose auspices, so Pius'
biographer, Julius Capitolinus, tells us, the Britons were defeated,
and a turf wall-the wall between the Forth and Clyde-was erected
in the north of the island.5 The acclamation of Pius as Imperator
for the second time has been connected with Lollius' victories, and,
as this acclamation is known from epigraphic evidence to have taken

place at the end of

I42

or beginning of

I43,6

we may venture to fix

the date of the Britannia types which bear the legend IMPERATOR II
with more precision than Cohen has done, assigning them to the
early part of the year I43.
But it was, doubtless, to commemorate
not so much the victories I as the new line of frontier defence that
the Antonine artists created the three types of the vigilant Britannia.
In so doing, they adopted the very device used by the Hadrianic
coin-designer for symbolising the watch on Hadrian's Wall, and, while
they introduced new details and new variations, they adhered throughout to the same underlying principle of personifying the country,
in accordance with Greek tradition, in its ' ideal ' and ' universal'
aspects. 8
1 Obv.ANTONINVS AVC. PIVS. P.P. TR.P. COS III.
Rev. BRITANNIA (exergue) IMPERATOR II (circumference) s.c.
Cohen, op. Cit.2 ii, p. 282, no. I19.
Obv. Same legend.
Rev. B3RITANNIA S.C.
Cohen, Op. cit.2 ii, p. 28I, no. II6; G. Macdonald,
op. cit. pl. ii, I (Plate xxiv, 6).
2 Cohen makes this remark only in connexion
with his no. I I6, but presumably he intended it also
to apply to his no. I I9, the types of both coins being
identical. Jatta (Le rappresentanze figutrate delle
provincie romane, p. I5), following Cohen, makes
the mistake of placing this coin under the heading
'T'ipo della provincia capta.'
3 In the British Museum specimen the spear and
the spike on the shield are practically obliterated.
It is, however, just possible to distinguish their
traces.
4 D. Atkinson, The Governors of Britain fromn
Claudiusto Diocletian,7.R.S. xii, I922, p. 66.
5 luli Capitolini Antoninus Pius 5, 4. ' Britannos

per Lollium Urbicum vicit legatum alio muro


cespiticio summotis barbaris ducto.
6 G. Macdonald, op. cit. p. 8.
7 It must have been for this purpose that the
coins with Victory and the legend BRITAN were
struck, cf. supra p. 149, note 6, and G. Macdonald
op. cit. Plate i, A 3; Haverfield, op. cit. fig. 4, 3.
It is natural to suppose that these were issued immediately after the successes of Lollius and probably
before the Britannia types.
8 I suggest the following chronology for the
cos. iiI Britannia types. The activities of Lollius
occasioned three experiments in ' Britannias '

early in

143

A.D.-(i)

Britannia in quasi-seated

attitude with helmet (?), long chiton and spear =


Cohen i i 5; (ii) Britannia seated on globe * (iii)
All
Britannia seated to 1. on rock=Cohen II9.
these coins have the legend IMPERATOR II. (i), from
its close resemblance to the Hadrianic type, I should
place first in date-(iii) would certainly seem to
come last. It is decidedly the best design of the
three, and was evidently popular, since Commodus'

'BRITANNIA

ON

ROMAN

COINS

OF

SECOND

CENTURY

I5I

A.D.

Pius' second issue of coins with Britannia types was some twelve
years later than his first issue and dates from his fourth consulship
in the year 155 A.D. We have seen that the events associated with
Lollius' activities in Britain can be assigned to a definite date, which
tallies exactly with the date of the earlier Britannia coins. But it
is not quite so easy to place the other literary record that has come
down to us of affairs in Britain during this reign, namely the
statement of Pausanias that the Emperor annexed the larger part of
the territory of the Brigantes because they had made an attack
upon the Genounian 'moira' (a district otherwise unknown), which
was subject to Rome.1 The problem of dating has, however, recently
been solved for us by two modern historians of Roman Britain.2
As it is clearly impossible to identify Pausanias' account of a campaign
against the Brigantes with Capitolinus' account of Lollius' operations
in Scotland, it seems not unreasonable to equate the former with
events in Britain which occasioned the issue of Britannia types in
I55.
I55

That events of importancedid take place in Britain in

I54

or

is the natural conclusion to be drawn from the existence of


such coins at this date, and the combined evidence of two inscriptions
found in Roman Britain makes this conclusion a practical certainty.
An inscription from Birrens, in the region of the Brigantes, tells us
that the Roman governor of Britain in I58 was Julius Verus,3
while from another inscription found in the Tyne, we learn that this
Verus had been sent to Britain with a special draft of troops from
The earliest date by which Verus could have reached
Germany.
Britain is I575 so he cannot be credited with having himself crushed
the British rising, probably Pausanias' Brigantian rising, which
the coins of I55 commemorate. But it would seem that this
rebellion, though quelled for the time being, had been a very serious
one and had perhaps threatened to break out again, and that it
opened the eyes of the Roman government to the necessity of
reinforcing the garrison of the province with troops drawn from
elsewhere, when the new governor was appointed.
A serious rising, possibly accompanied by a massacre of Roman
troops and put down with considerable severity, is just what the
Britannia type of I55 A.D. suggests. 6 Here we have no pure abstracmedallion (vide infra) is an almost exact copy of it.
(ii) may be dated between (i) and (iii); as far as
style and composition go, it holds an intermediate
position between the other two. I would also
suggest that the c )s. III coins with the same type as
(iii) but without IMPERATOR II, (=Cohen II6) were
struck later in I43 when the interest in the
' salutatio ' had died down, to commemorate the
progressof the work on the wall, the latest and most
successful of the three IMPERATOR II types being
repeated for this purpose.
'Pausanias
TWv &V

viii, 43, 4.

BpeTTaaLOa

BptyavrWv

'Awer4Te7ro U
7
T1v
roXX5v,

Kai
6'Tt

e7reoBavLLe Ksal oirot oui'v 67rXots 1pati


I'evouvcLav
/,a oLpaO,v7r-qK6ouvs'PwicLaw.

eri

2 Haverfield,
Roman Occupation of Britain,
pp. I zo, I 2 I ; Macdonald, op. cit. pp. 9, I0.
: Haverfield, op. cit. fig. 6, p. I22.
op. cit. fig. 5, p. I2I ; Macdonald,
4Haverfield,
op. cit. plate I, I3, p. 8.
5 Ritterling,
Wesedeutche Zeitschrift, Korrespondenz-blatt, xxii (I903), p. 217.
6 | Obv. ANTONINVS AVG. PIVS P.P. TR. P. XVIII.
Rev. BRITANNIA, COS III, S.C.
Cohen, op. cit. 2 i p. z8z, nos. 117 II8, iL2.
Num. Chron.
G. Macdonald, op. cit. pl. ii, 2;
pl. xi, 5-8 (Plate XXlV, 7).
I907,

I52

BRITANNIA

ON ROMAN COINS OF SECOND CENTURY A.D.

tion, embodying the ' universal' aspect of Britain as a unit of the


Empire. The type was struck to commemorate a particular occasion on
which Roman arms dealt successfully with rebellious subjects, and we
shall not be surprised to find that it differs very markedly in character
both from the Hadrianic and from the earlier Antonine Britannia
types. Britannia, wearing short chiton, braccae and cloak, is seated
to the left on a rock, on which her left hand rests. Her right knee
is drawn up and supports her right elbow, while her head is bowed
anid her chin rests upon her right hand. It seems to me that there
can be little doubt that we have here a representation of Britannia
capta. The whole attitude of the figure implies dejection and defeat.
The downward glance and loose dishevelled hair falling down the
neck recall immediately the portraits of captives which occur not
infrequently as personifications of countries in pre-Hadrianic art,
and the position of the weapons on the left of the design-the large
oval shield, with central spike,' and the vexillum 2-also indicates
that we should look upon our Britannia in this light. In the
Hadrianic type and earlier types of Pius the shield, spear and standard
are all closely connected with Britannia herself; she rests her hand
and elbow upon the shield and holds in her hands her spear and
standard, as though she were ready to fight at any moment in defence
of civilisation against the incursions of barbarism. But in the type of
Pius' second issue she takes no heed of the shield and vexillum at her
side. She has been disarmed and deprived of her military equipment
because it had been turned against the Roman Empire in mutiny
and not used in its service. So clearly does this type appear to
belong to the regular ' provincia capta' class and so obvious is the
contrast between it and all earlier Britannia coins, that it is curious
that Cohen does not mention in this case 'l'attitude de la tristesse,'
and that Jatta, while placing the coin under the heading 'Tipo
della provincia capta,' is equally silent on this point. Yet this
Britannia would seem to have as clear a claim to the title 'capta'
as the Germania capta of Domitian's famous silver medallion,3
and Bienikowski seems to be drawing an over-subtle distinction
between this and other ' provinciae captae ' when he says (op. cit. p. 34)
of our type-' Auf der hier . .. wiederholten Miinze ist der Ausdruck
des Trauer gemildert, da die Frau ihren Kopf nur ganz leicht mit
den Fingern beriihrt.'
The last Britannia type dating from the Antonine age is of
special interest as showing how strong was the influence, right down
to the end of the second century, of the Hellenising tendency in
1 This is not, I think, an utnbo, as Biesikowski
(op. cit. p. 34) describes it.
2 I am convinced by an examination of the coins
that this object is a vexillum and not ' a sceptre
surmounte.d by an eagle ' as it is called by Cohen

(op. Cit. 2 ii, p. z8z) and his follower Jatta (op. cit.
p. 15).
3 Gnecchi,
I medaglioni romani, i, pl. zi 1i
Grueber, Roman Medallions in the British Museum,
pI. i.

BRITANNIA

ON

ROMAN

COINS

OF

SECOND

CENTURY

A.D.

I53

'Roman ' art. In the year I85 A.D. Commodus struck a fine bronze
medallion with the figure of Britannia as the reverse design. 1 Our
literary sources do not supply us with any dates, but one is naturally
inclined to suppose that the events mentioned by Cassius Dio and
iElius Lampridius as taking place in Britain under Commodus were
the occasion for the issue of the type. 2 Both writers agree in
recording a serious rising on the part of the provincials and a punitive
expedition, conducted with great severity, on the part of Rome.
Thus, speaking quite broadly, the relations between the Roman
government and the inhabitants of Britain were similar to those
that existed under Pius in 155 A.D., and we should have expected
that the artist of Commodus' reign, when preferring to revive an earlier
design, instead of creating one of his own, would have borrowed the
type of Pius' second issue. But the medallion is an almost3 exact
replica of the third type of Britannia coins issued by Pius in I43,
the type of the peaceful, vigilarnt province, conceived in the
'idealistic' Greek manner, gazing before her, with her hair neatly
dressed and her arms held in readiness to protect her share of the
Graeco-Roman civilisation of the Empire, whose tranquillity the
Britanni-even the provinciales, according to the Vita, who are,
perhaps, to be distinguished from the wilder tribes of the north,
the &Bp3opot
of Dio, and may be the mutinous troops -had actually
disturbed.
In addition to the medallion another and earlier Britannia type
of Commodus, a coin struck in the year I84, is mentioned by Cohen. 5
Obv.M. COMMODVS ANTONINVS
Rev. BRITTANIA (SIC) P.M. TR.

AVG.
P.

X.

PIVS BRIT.
IMP.

VII.

CoS IIII, P.P. (Plate xxxv, 8).

MdPKsXXOV
MdpKeXXOe

06XtOV
[LeV

6'

e7r'

aLUTObS

700otO70os

9e

eV

....

bv TO7S 5re f3ap/3dpovs

Lampridii
To0s ev Bperavst'i 6eP4r3 KdKiKWE.-lii
Commodus Antoninus 13, 'in Britannia . . . imperium eius recusantibus provincialibuis, quae omnia
ista per duces sedata sunt.' Cf. 8, ' appellatus est
Commodus etiam Britannicus ab adulatoribus, cum
Britanni etiam imperatorem contra eum deligere
voluerint.'

Cohen, op. cit. 2 iii, p 232, no. 37; Gnecchi,


op. cit. ii, pl. 782; Grueber, op. cit. p!. xxix;
op. cit.
G. Macdonald,op. cit. pl. ii) 3; Bienikowski,
fig. 46; Jatta (op. cit. p. 15) makesthe curiousmistake of assigning Commodus' medallion to the
reignof Hadrian. The originof his erroris probably
to be found in his misreadingof the following
3 The only point in which Commodus' medallion
sentence in Biefikowski(op. cot. p. 56), where the really differs from the sestertius of Pius is in a detail
wilder
und
medallion is mentioned: 'Noch
of the standard. The standard held by the
barbarenhaftersieht Britannia (fig. 46) auf den Britannia of Commodus does not show the halfMiinzen Hadrians (Cohen, n. I94-9), Pius (ebd. n.
und Commodus' (ebd. n. 37-38) aus.'
113-II9)

moon decoration which appears on the standard


in both the second and third types of I43 A.D.

Fig. 46 is the medallionof Commodus,but Jatta,


4 Cf.
' Commodus-Hercules in
Rostovtzeff,
sentence
who seemsto have takenover Bienkowski's
without further verification, concludes that it Britain,' J.R.S. xiii, p.96. This revival of the peacereproduces a Hadrianic type, as Bienskowski's ful Britannia type does, however, take on a new
wording which is certainly misleading,might at significance if we accept Mr. Collingwood's theory
first sight suggest. As a result of this confusion, (in I.R.S. xiii, 69 ff.) that between i8i, the year of
Jatta does not include in his collection the real the great catastrophe, and I85 Ulpius Marcellus
carried out extensive repairs on the Wall. The
Britanniatype of Hadrian,a seriousomission.
type would then commemorate the restoration to
2 Cassius Dio LXXII,
8.
'E,7&verode Kal
of her line of frontier defence-the Wall
/yLsrTO7
de o Britain
7r6Xeol 7-tves aCTWl . ...
and the watch thereon.
vrepBpeTrPPtK6e . TiV yap ev r-- Vros eOYs
o Cohen, op. cit. 2 iii, p. 231, no. 35. Obv. M.
PeC3oK67eV T6 TElXOS TO &iOpitOv avTo)s rE Kai
Rev. BRIrT.
PIvs.
AVG.
ANTONINVS
COMMODVS
7-a
7-cWY 'Pwsacwtv arpar67reaa, mat o0\X& KaKOVpi
1eraTiSo-WTfSpa0LiTWPY (exergue) P.M. TR.P. VIIII IMP. VII COS IIII P.P.
yO6vTwv, o-TpaTlrqlyoP Te rtva
o0s etXe KaL-cKOq/dvTc'7i,
(circumf.) s.c. 1E1.
fo/?siOeles o K6,u,uo3os,

154

BRITANNIA

ON ROMAN COINS OF SECOND CENTURY A.D.

He describes Britannia as a female figure standing to 1., holding a


curved sword and a wreath (?) or a patera (?). This coin I am not
in a position to discuss, for there is no specimen of it in the British
Museum collection, and I have not at present been able to obtain
either cast or reproduction of it from elsewher'e. If it is genuine
and accurately described by Cohen, it is of considerable interest as
giving us a type of Britannia with quite unique attributes.
With the Britannia types of Commodus we may class two early
third-century types-the Africa of Septimius Severus struck in (?)20zo 1
and the Italia types of Severus and Caracalla issued in (?) 20I and 203
respectively 2-as being the last products of the Greek revival of the
second century in this particular group of personifications. After this
time Roman coins can no longer, from the aesthetic point of view,
claim a place in the history of Greek art. The Greek conception of
a geographical unit personified as an ideal figure did, indeed, survive
on the Roman coinage. The orbis terrarum type appears to have
enjoyed considerable popularity, and was adapted for such personifications as Oriens and Respublica. But apart from this the geographical
types struck during the period which separates the close of the
second century from the end of the western Empire in 476, are
comparatively few and far between and are confined to a very limited
number of provinces,3 and a comparison between the earliest of these
-the Dacia of Traianus Decius, issued c. 250and the types of the
second century shows how rapid was the decay of technical skill
during the third century. The coins connected with Britain afford
a good illustration of the sudden loss of interest in these personifications which seems to have accompanied the decline of art. It was
only twenty-five years after the striking of Commodus' Britannia
types in I84 and I85 that a large number of coins were issued by
Septimius Severus, Caracalla and Geta in the years 2i0 and 2II to
commemorate their British campaigns. Yet the reverses of the
coins of this group are nearly all occupied by conventional figures
of Victory.5
Among the Severus coins there is only one which contains what is
possibly a personification of Britain-the female figure on the reverse,
described by Cohen as standing on one side of a trophy, while a
Victory stands on the other and a captive is seated below. 6
1 Cohen, op. cit.2 iv, p. 6, nos. 25-31.
I am
following Cohen's dating of the silver coins on
which Severus is simply described as PIVS AVG. The
bronze Africa coins with the same types can be dated
as belonging to the years 194 and 195, owing to the

346, 377); Pannonia (ibid. v, pp. 193-4) 217


the Pannonian city of Siscia
vi, 171, 192);
(ibid. vi, p. 3 I 6); Illyricum (ibid. vi, p. 304); Dacia
(ibid. v, pp. I87-I88, 269, 36I ; Vi, p. 136, I84)
and Sarmatia (ibid. vii, p. 377). Colonial coins are

presenceof IMP.

not here included.


4Cohen, op. cit. iv, 75-77, 209-210,
275-277.
5 G. Macdonald, op. cit. pl. ii, 4-10.
6 Cohen, op. Cit.2 iv, p. 77, no. 733. Obv.

III

or IMP.

iv

on the obverse.

ibid. iv, p. 27, no. zz8, p. 153, no. io2.


3 Africa (ibid. vi, pp. 500, 503, 504; Vii, pp. 6z,
Hispania (ibid. vi, p. 66); Gallia
105, 235);
(ibid. v, p. 528; vi, Pp. 49-50, 8o); Francia
xibid. vii, pp. 249, 349); Alamannia (ibid. vii, pp.

248,

226;

SEPT.

SEVERVS

BRITANNICAE

L.

S.C.

PIVS

AVG.

Rev.

VICTORIAT

FIG.

22.

GOLD

155

ON ROMAN COINS OF SECOND CENTURY A.D.

BRITANNIA

MEDALLION
1922

OF CONSTANTIUS

CHLORUS,

(From Arethuse, I924).

FOUND

NEAR ARRAS

IN

1.

,r.

FIG. 23.

GOLD MEDALLION
OF LONDON,

OF CONSTANTIUS CHLORUS WITH THE PERSONIFICATION

FOUND NEAR ARRAS IN I922

(From Arethuse,I924).

{1.

I56

'BRITANNIA'

QN ROMAN COINS OF SECOND CENTURY A.D.

This type appears to be really identical with one which is


found on coins of Caracalla and Geta, showing a Victory
erecting a trophy, on the opposite side of which there stands to the
front a female figure, wearing a long chiton, with her hands bound
behind her back.1 It seems likely that this figure is intended for
Britannia and not merely for a British captive, as in some cases
she wears a mural crown and there is a captive, on a smaller scale,
seated at her feet. But the tying of the hands indicates that we
have here a Britannia capta, a conception intermediate between a
purely ' ideal ' figure and the representation of a native prisoner. 2
Only one other episode during the history of post-second century
Roman Britain occasioned the striking of Britannia types on Roman
coins-the usurpation of Britain by Carausius in z86 A.D. and the
recovery of the island by Constantius Chlorus ten years later. The
coins struck by Carausius with the reverse legend EXP. or EXPECTATE
VENI show the usurper clasping the hand of the Province who stands
to the r. facing him, wears a long chiton and has her hair gathered into
a knot behind, and holds a standard. 3 Among the gold medallions
found near Arras in I922 are two pieces struck by Constantius
Chlorus which record on their reverse types the defeat of Allectus,
Carausius' assassin and successor (fig. 22).
These show Constantius
crowned by Victory, standing to the r. and raising up the kneeling
figure of Britannia, who wears a long chiton and holds an oblong
legionary shield and a spear in her left hand and a palm-branch
in her right. 4 Finally, on the reverse of the largest and most
important medallion of the Arras treasure is seen the personification
of Londinium, which had now replaced York as the centre of Roman
administration in Britain, distinguished by the legend LON., kneeling
outside the walls of the city in the year 296 A.D. to welcome her
The type was, of course, intended to comdeliverer (fig. 23).
memorate Constantius' triumphal entry into London in that year,
and the fact that the city itself is thus personified on so large and
striking a piece is indicative of the important position it occupied at
the time. Londinium wears a sleeved chiton, himation and shoes,
her hair is fastened up neatly into a knot at the back of the neck, and
1 Cohen, op. Cit.2

iV,

M. AVREL. ANTONINVS

p. I95,
PIVS AVG.

P. XIIII COS III S.C.;

2io,

ANTONINVS
S.C.;
AVG.

p.

PIVS AVG.

p. 277,
BRIT.

no.
Rev.

223,

no. 639. Obv.M. AVRFL


Rev. VICTORIAE BRITANNICAE
Obv.

VICTORIAE

XXIV, 9, IO).
2 It is noteworthy

no. 495. Obv.


Rev. PoNsrF. TR.

P. SEPTIMIVS GETA PIVS


BRITANNICAE.

(Plate

that in this Severus, Caracalla


and Geta type the figure of Britannia, if Britannia
she be, is on a small scale and is strictly subordinate
to the composition as a whole, being no longer the
central object of interest as in the second-century
types. For the mural crown, cf. the Britannia
medallion in a mosaic at Berlin (Jatta, op. cit. fig. s).

3 Cohen, op. Cit.2 Vii, p. 8, nos. 54-6i.


Num.
Chron. 1907, pp. 305, 306, pl. i, 9 (Plate xxiv, iI).
The caduceus which Cohen suggests as the attribute
of Britannia on one coin (no. 56) would be an odd
attribute for Britain, and it seems probable that it
is a standard indifferently rendered. Cohen also
describes her as holding a tridentin some cases; but
in all the British Museum specimens, at any rate, the
attribute is certainly a standard.
4 Arethuse, Jan. 1924, pl. viii, 5, 6. I am able
to reproduce here these medallions from Aretbuse
through the kindness of M. Jules Florange.
5 Arethuse, loc. cit. pl.
vii;
Gordon Home,
Roman rork, p. 79.

'BRITANNIA

ON

ROMAN

COINS

OF SECOND

CENTURY

A.D.

I57

on her head there is an object, rising to a point in the centre, which


seems to be a stephaneof the regular Greek type.- She is in fact,
as are the Britannia types of Carausiusand Constantius, an ' ideal'
figure carrying on the tradition of the second century types; and
thus the last. monument of our series shows an interesting juxtaposition of the GreekandRomanelementsin' Roman' art, the,' ideal'
personificationof the city side by side with a realistic sketch of her
actual walls and towers. Nor is it without interest that, just as the
first type in the series, the Britannia of Hadrian, symbolises the
recognition of the province as a unit in the Roman world, so the
London medallion recordsthe gratitude of the people of Britain to
the redditor lucis aeternae,2 the Emperor who restored them to
Rome and to their membershipof the Empire.
1 A similar object appears to be worn by
Constantius' kneeling Britannia, but it cannot be
distinguished very clearly on these smaller medallions.

2 The legend round the circumference of the


reverse reads REDDITOR LVCIS AETERNAE.

J.R.S. vol. xiv

PLATE XXIV.

(1924).

5_
6

m~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Gm

10
COINS SHOWING

THE VARIOUS TYPES OF 'BRITANNIA

(see

pp.

142 if.).

Related Interests