by Claudia Ghezzi

Intrinsic elements of the multiples (their rarity that made them particularly precious, their types and their legends) show their celebratory function and their role as imperial gifts to seal relationships concord fides with the recipient (assistants, allies, officers, functionaries). The types exalt imperial victories, the close relationship of the emperor with the army, events such as the appointment to consulship or the celebration of the vota, deities or concepts of strong ideological meaning, such as Hercules (the emperor's protector), or the happiness of times.

A few literary sources reinforce this interpretation as well. An passage of the Historia Augusta (Ales. Sev. 39, 9-10) recalls the removal from circulation of pieces from 2 to 100 aurei, ordered by Alexander Severus, for, as he himself said, "it would result in the Emperor being encouraged to give too generous largesses" Gregory of Tours (Hist. Eccl. Franc. VI, 2), on the other hand, describes Chilperic, king of the Franks (561-584 A.D.), showing with pride gold multiples weighing one libra which he received as gifts from the Byzantine emperor Tiberius II Constantine (578-582 A.D.). They show the imperial portrait and a quadriga, driven by an auriga, a well documented type in Roman age (e.g. on Constantius II's gold multiples).

Furthermore, multiples could also circulate as legal money, and therefore could be used for payments. Finally, these beautiful pieces were often inserted in jewels.

Click on the images of the coins to enlarge them

Multiplo da quattro
aurei di Gallieno

Multiplo da otto
aurei di Claudio II

Multiplo da due
solidi di Costanzo II

Multiplo da un
solido e un quarto di
Costanzo II

© 2008 UCSC Milano