501 Treasures of Byzantium: No. 59 Missorium of Kertch, 4th century, currently located in the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.

Constantius is arguably the most interesting of the three sons of Constantine I. He lived long enough, unlikely his brothers Constantine II and Constans, to have an immediate impact on the empire, primarily with his interference in church policies. He was after all a man who loved to wield absolute power. It was Constantius who first sat next to his father’s deathbed and schemed to put in place his plans for succession. Next he acted on behalf of his brothers to have his extended family massacred, so that there would be no doubt who was in charge. He was always prepared to put to death, murder or engage in civil war against men he considered his enemy, to hold onto his absolute grip on power.

His grip on power would see his accession to the throne begin in the year 337 with his brothers as co-Augustus, and later from 350 as sole Augustus, before succumbing to illness on a journey to teach his cousin Julian a lesson about betrayal. 

Having said that an emperor’s long reign is surely an important milestone whether or not they were an able ruler or a tyrant?  It is said that this silver dish (and probably many others) was made to commemorate his victories, in particular, his twentieth anniversary of his accession to power. (Constantius was a very young boy when he was first made Caesar in the year 324.)

The detail of this silver dish (below) shows the emperor Constantius, riding in triumph, with the personification of victory (Nike) and a foot soldier on either side of him. Upon the shield of the soldier lies the detailed Christian symbol chi rho ( a motif of the first two letters of Christ’s name in Greek, X and P).

The silver dish of Constantius II was found in Kertch, Crimea, but is credited as being made in Antioch.

Photo credit: The copyright status of the silver dish of Constantius II seems to be unclear. I make use of it under the rationale of fair use for educational purposes. If any errors exist please let me know.