Silver radiate coins with Roman Legionary badges: Pegasus and Capricorn

Roman, mid-late 3rd century AD

Regimental pride

The organization of the Roman army had much in common with modern fighting forces. This offered the advantage of a disciplined, well-trained force, superior to any of their adversaries. Part of their training was the instilling of a sense of regimental pride which helped them to pull together through hardships and remain resolute in front of their enemies. This was established through ceremony, tradition and symbolism.

Pegasus was the legendary winged horse used by the Greek hero Bellerophon. Pegasus' ability to fly aided him in killing the monster Chimaera (a creature that was part-lion, part-goat and part-snake). This was the legionary emblem of Legion II Adiutrix, a unit which had served in Britain, but at the time this coin was minted was serving in the province of Pannonia on the Danube frontier. The coin itself was minted at Milan, then an important military base, during the reign of Gallienus (AD 253-68). It records the fact that this legion sent a detachment to serve as part of a large fighting force being assembled by Gallienus.

Capricorn was another composite creature, a goat with the tail of a fish. It is also the tenth sign of the zodiac. This coin was produced in London by Carausius who was a usurper emperor in Britain (AD 287-93). It honours Legion II Augusta, which for most of its history was based at Caerleon in South Wales (Caerleon is Welsh for 'city of the legion' - extensive remains of the base can still be seen). Capricorn was the birth sign of the emperor Augustus (31 BC - AD 14), under whom the unit was formed and after whom it was named.

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Silver radiate coins with Roman Legionary badges: Pegasus and Capricorn

Pegasus

  • Capricorn

    Capricorn

 

More information

Bibliography

R.A.G. Carson, Principal coins of the Roman-1, vol. 2 (London, The British Museum Press, 1980)

G.R. Watson, The Roman Soldier (London, Thames & Hudson, 1969)

C. Foss, Roman historical coins (London, Seaby, 1990)

Dimensions

Diameter: 22.000 mm (Pegasus)
Weight: 4.340 g (Pegasus)
Diameter: 22.000 mm (Pegasus)
Weight: 4.340 g (Pegasus)

Museum number

CM 1868.5-11.15;CM 1895.12-4.13

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Location

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