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    Constans: Energy to Indolence

    Constans (AD 337-350). AV solidus (22mm, 4.46 gm, 6h).  Trier, AD 347-348. CONSTANS AVGVSTVS, pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust of Constans right / VICTORIAE D D N N AVGG, two Victories standing facing holding between them a wreath inscribed VOT/X/MVLT/XX in four lines; TR in exergue. RIC VIII 135. Depeyrot 6/3. Cohen 171. Detailed obverse strike, with pleasing reddish luster in fields. NGC (photo-certificate) MS 5/5 - 4/5.

    From The Andre Constantine Dimitriadis Collection. Ex Stack's (New York, 10 November 1992), lot 20. 

    The youngest son of Constantine the Great, Flavius Julius Constans was born between AD 320 and 323. On Christmas Day in AD 333, his father proclaimed him Caesar, thus making him coequal with his elder brothers Constantine II and Constantius II. When Constantine died in May of AD 337,  Constans at first received only Italy and Africa as his sphere, but at a conference late in AD 337, his realm was enlarged to include the Balkan territories and Thrace, including the prestigious capital of Constantinople. These had been under the control of Constantius II, with whom Constans formed an alliance to thwart the dominance of their senior, Constantine II. Angered by their collusion, Constantine II invaded Italy in the spring of AD 340, but fell into an ambush and perished. In the territorial redistribution, Constans ended up controlling the entire Roman West, including Spain, Gaul, Germany and Britain. At first, he ruled with energy and ability, dealing the Franks a series of smashing defeats in AD 341-342 and conducting operations in Britain along Hadrian's Wall in AD 343. He also took a keen interest in religious affairs. Although both were Christians, Constans favored orthodox Catholicism while his brother supported the heretical Arian sect. The dispute deepened at the Council of Serdica in AD 342, where Constans strongly backed Bishop Athanasius, an archenemy of Arianism. Tensions rose to the brink of war in AD 346, but the brothers were able to patch up their differences. As time went on, Constans sank into indolence and depravity, becoming known as a despoiler of young boys. His greed was such that he increased the already heavy tax burden on his subjects and sold magistracies to the highest bidder. Worse for his own security, he showed open contempt for the soldiery, on whom his power rested. In January of AD 350, a cabal of senior officers rebeled and hailed the half-barbarian general Magnentius as emperor. Constans attempted to flee toward Spain, but was overtaken and murdered by one of Magnentius's agents. 

    All Roman gold coins from the Dimitriadis Collection have been issued a photo-certificate by NGC. These may be sent in for encapsulation after the auction at the request of the buyer, free of charge. Please e-mail SamS@HA.com if you would like to utilize this option.


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    Auction Dates
    April, 2014
    10th-16th Thursday-Wednesday
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