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    Heraclius: Tragic Hero

    Heraclius (AD 610-641). AV solidus (21mm, 4.33 gm, 6h).  Constantinople, 5th officina, AD 610-613. dNN hЄRACLI PЄR AVI, draped and cuirassed bust of Heraclius facing, wearing plumed helmet with integral crown surmounted by plume and cross on circlet,  holding cross in right hand / VICTORIA AVΣЧ, cross potent set on two steps; Є//CONOB. Sear 729. DOC 1a. MIB 1a. Graffito V in reverse left field. NGC (photo-certificate) MS 5/5 - 3/5, clipped, graffito.

    From The Andre Constantine Dimitriadis Collection. Ex Stack's (New York, 22 February 1989), lot 54. 

    One of the greatest Byzantine rulers, Heraclius was the son of the similarly named Exarch of Carthage. As Constantinople descended into chaos under the usurping tyrant Phocas, the elder Heraclius launched a rebellion that slowly spread through the provinces, finally reaching Constantinople in AD 610. The younger Heraclius ascended the throne and found the Empire in dire straits, with the Persians, Slavs, Avars and Lombards attacking on every frontier. The Sasanian Persians overran the Eastern provinces, sacking Jerusalem and carrying the True Cross back to Ctesiphon as a prize. Heraclius spent his first decade reorganizing the Empire as a fortress state, creating military zones called "themes" in which peasants were granted land in return for military service. In AD 622, Heraclius led his reconstituted army on the attack. After six years of superhuman effort, the Persians were utterly routed and his arch enemy, the Great King Khusro II, was deposed and murdered. Syria, Judaea and Egypt were restored to East Roman rule and the True Cross was restored to Jerusalem with great fanfare. The Avars were likewise driven back and nearly annihilated. By AD 632 Byzantium seemed triumphant and restored to its former glory, but at this point the Arabs burst out of the desert, carrying the fire of Islam, and swept all before them. The heroic Heraclius lived to see most of his great accomplishments undone by this dynamic new force. Nevertheless, his reform of the army had given Byzantium a strong new backbone that would sustain it through the medieval centuries, and his legend lived on. The devastation caused by decades of ceaseless warfare had been horrific and the world was forever changed: It is at this point that the "East Roman" Empire of late antiquity became medieval "Byzantium," a much altered state. 

    This coin from the Dimitriadis Collection has been issued a photo-certificate by NGC. It may be sent in for encapsulation after the auction at the request of the buyer, free of charge. E-mail SamS@HA.com if you would like to utilize this option.


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    Auction Dates
    September, 2014
    3rd-10th Wednesday-Wednesday
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