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‘Eyes To God’ Siliqua


Constantine II. AD 337-340. AR Siliqua (20mm, 2.67 g, 12h). Constantinople mint, 5th officina. Rosette-diademed head right, eyes upraised / CONSTAN TI NVS AVGVSTVS, Victory, winged and draped, advancing left, holding wreath in outstretched right hand and palm frond in left; C•Є. RIC VIII 15; RSC 70a. A hint of porosity, some light scratches, tiny field mark on reverse. Good VF.

Ex Weise Collection; CNG inventory 182286 (January 2003).

This silver siliqua of Constantine II is closely patterned upon the so-called “eyes to God” coinage of his father, Constantine I “the Great,” who had introduced the new style in AD 324. This new depiction showed the emperor wearing a Hellenistic diadem in place of the old Roman laurel wreath, and with his headed tilted back and eyes uplifted toward the heavens. The imagery seems to have been intentionally ambiguous, and could be viewed by various groups within the empire in the context of their own hopes and aspirations. Christians interpreted it as the culmination of God's plan to defeat the pagans and create a new Christian Roman Empire. Eusebius, in his Vita Constantini (IV.15), specifically mentions these coins as an indication of Constantine's piety: “... he had his own portrait so depicted on the gold coinage that he appeared to look upwards in the manner of one reaching out to God in prayer.” Non-Christians could also look to the similarities to the coins of the Hellenistic kings, whose diademed heads were often shown with similar upraised gaze.