Monday, 18 September 2017

Expectate Veni

 EXPECTATE VENI, Denarius, RIC 554

The acquisition of my latest ‘Expectate’ coin of Carausius (fifth coin and the second silver denarius) has prompted this post.

EXPECTATE VENI, Denarius, RIC cf 554

The reverse legend “EXPECTATE VENI” is only found on the Roman coins of the British usurper Carausius. No other emperors used the legend. It comes from Vergil’s Aenid. The legend roughly translates as 'Come O Long Awaited One', although, as Casey (1977) points out, the quote from the Aeneid is somewhat out of context and rather than it being a momentous arrival the original is rather sombre and introspective in mood as it continues:

"And, oh, how harrowing was the sight of him; how changed he was from the old Hector... Now his beard was ragged and his hair clotted with blood, and all these wounds which he had sustained fighting to defend the walls of his homeland could still be seen."

 EXPECTATE, Antoninianus, RIC cf 605

The reverse type of the coin, struck at the beginning of Carausius’ reign and shows two figures greeting, occasionally with an altar between them, interpreted as Britannia greeting the new ruler.

EXPECTATE VENI, Antoninianus, RIC cf 605

EXPICTA, Antoninianus, RIC 774

Casey, P.J; 'Tradition and Innovation in the Coinage of Carausius and Allectus' in Munby, J and Henig, M; Roman Life and Art in Britain (1977)