Gladiators of Rome
When we think of ancient Rome, we think first of the gladiators. These professional fighters delighted frenzied crowds in the Colosseum, doing battle with wild animals, with condemned criminals, and with one another, sometimes fighting to the death.
The archetype of the gladiator has persisted for more than two thousand years, to the present day.
Perhaps the biggest imperial fan of the contests was the emperor Constantius II, the son of Constantine the Great. When it was his turn to mint his own coins, on the occasion of the 1100th anniversary of the founding of the Old City of Rome in 348 CE, he chose to depict what he loved best: the exciting end of a gladiatorial contest, the moment when the gladiator is about to slay his opponent, who has fallen from his horse.
On the obverse of this very scarce bronze half-centenionalis is a portrait of Constantius II, with his name and imperial title. The reverse is a representation of the end of a gladiatorial bout–– the victor about to slay the loser–– with the legend FEL TEMP REPARATIO, which translates to “Happy days are here again.”
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