An extremely rare gold double solidus or medallion depicting Aelia
Eudocia is expected to realize £80,000 to £100,000 ($137,000 to
$171,000 in U.S. funds) during a Sept. 22 and 23 auction in London.
The coin, one of three surviving examples, highlights Dix Noonan
Webb’s auction of ancient and world coins.
Eudocia was wife of an emperor of the eastern Roman Empire and later
a ruler of Palestine in her own right.
The coin was struck in Constantinople in the fifth century and was
probably a special commemorative piece given to courtiers for services
to the imperial family. Eudocia is depicted wearing her imperial
regalia on the obverse, while on the reverse she is shown enthroned
and wearing a halo, a symbol of sovereignty, enlightenment and divinity.
According to the auction firm, Eudocia was an extraordinary woman
who deserves to be more widely remembered.
Born in Athens, she traveled to the court of Theodosius II, emperor
of the eastern part of the Roman Empire, in Constantinople in 420 to
challenge her father’s will. Theodosius fell in love with her and she
married him in 421. The dynastic title Aelia was added to her name.
Theodosius gave Eudocia imperial powers previously held by his
sister Pulcheria and struck coins depicting his wife. These are part
of the transitional coinage bridging the changeover from the late
Roman to the Byzantine eras.
Pulcheria was angry that her powers had been handed to Eudocia and
this provoked a bitter dispute between them.
In 441, several years after the double solidus in the auction was
struck, Eudocia was accused of adultery, probably falsely, and
banished, according to the auction house.
Eudocia went to Jerusalem and, as the most senior member of the
imperial family living in Palestine, became ruler of the province. She
protected all religions from the discriminatory laws imposed by her
husband and oversaw the construction of major public buildings,
according to Dix Noonan Webb. After her death in 460, Roman historians
ignored Eudocia because she was said to have fallen into disgrace, but
the people of Palestine honored her memory, the firm indicated.
For more information about the auction, write to Dix Noonan Webb at
16 Bolton St., London W1J 8BQ, telephone the firm at (011) 20 7016
the firm or visit its website.