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Old July 19th, 2016, 12:04 PM   #1

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Translation of Latin/Greek in Latin alphabet inscriptions on Byzantine coins?


I was looking at some middle byzantine coins, and I noticed that, surprisingly, I could actually read the inscriptions on some of them. I got curious as to what these inscriptions said, but, as is often the case with byzantine artifacts, I could not find any substantial info on them. I tried appealing to google translate, but, as I feared, it gave me nothing. Roman coins (and latin/greek inscriptions trying to save space in general) almost always shorten most words to 3-4 letters. Since I have little knowledge of latin or greek, if there is someone in the community who does, a rough translation would be wonderful.

Coin one:

Click the image to open in full size.
Side one reads:

basileus *
☩ basilios

"emperor, empire" I think, but for some reason google translate gives me nothing

Side two reads:

☩ Basil
iosentheo
basileus
romeon

Most of it is fairly easy to understand "basil, roman emperor" but I don't know what "Iosentheo" means. A quick google search tells me it's supposed to be partitioned as "ios en theo", "? and pious" maybe?

Coin two:

Click the image to open in full size.

This one is much harder to make out, but it's the best example I could find.

Side one reads:

resna(m?)tium *
☩ I(h,n?)sxpsrex

For the first line I have no idea, but I'm fairly certain the second is something about jesus christ as king (XP stands for "christ pantaucrator" if I'm not mistaken)

Side two reads:

eu basil (c?)usb *
☩ basilios eco

Again, not sure except for "basil".

Something interesting about the coins is that both the alphabet and the words are a combination of greek and latin.

Last edited by JeanDukeofAlecon; July 19th, 2016 at 12:32 PM.
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Old July 19th, 2016, 12:15 PM   #2

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In the first coin says: Basilios the king

And in the back: Basilios the God blessed king of the Romans

The funny thing is that the new generation writing this way again :P

Edit:

Quote:
Originally Posted by JeanDukeofAlecon View Post
Side two reads:

☩ Basil
iosentheo
basileus
romeon

Most of it is fairly easy to understand "basil, roman emperor" but I don't know what "Iosentheo" means. A quick google search tells me it's supposed to be partitioned as "ios en theo", "? and pious" maybe?
It's like this:

☩ Basilios
en theo
basileus
romaion

Basilios is a name derived from the word ''king'' and in this sentence have the sense of a name.
Basileus is the word king..

Last edited by skapeti; July 19th, 2016 at 12:25 PM.
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Old July 19th, 2016, 12:25 PM   #3

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Quote:
Originally Posted by skapeti View Post
In the first coin says: Basilios the king

And in the back: Basilios the God blessed king of the Romans

The funny thing is that the new generation writing this way again :P
Thanks for the translation, though "basileus" meant "emperor" in a byzantine context, not king. Calling the emperor a king was an insult, and I've seen it used that way in primary sources (one example was nikephorus phocas calling the holy "roman" emperor "rex" as to not acknowledge his status).

Edit in response to your edit: from what I've seen basileus meant "ruler/commander" in a general sense, comparable to "imperator". It was used to refer to kings, but it became somewhat exclusive to the roman emperor as time went on.

Last edited by JeanDukeofAlecon; July 19th, 2016 at 12:30 PM.
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Old July 19th, 2016, 12:37 PM   #4

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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeanDukeofAlecon View Post
Thanks for the translation, though "basileus" meant "emperor" in a byzantine context, not king. Calling the emperor a king was an insult, and I've seen it used that way in primary sources (one example was nikephorus phocas calling the holy "roman" emperor "rex" as to not acknowledge his status).

Edit in response to your edit: from what I've seen basileus meant "ruler/commander" in a general sense, comparable to "imperator". It was used to refer to kings, but it became somewhat exclusive to the roman emperor as time went on.
I didn't knew that but there is another word for emperor ''αυτοκρατορ''... i guess this has to do with the century, in the early Byzantium perhaps they use the word ''king'' and later as they deepen in the greek language they replaced it with ''αυτοκρατορ''

a guess
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Old July 19th, 2016, 12:54 PM   #5

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Quote:
Originally Posted by skapeti View Post
I didn't knew that but there is another word for emperor ''αυτοκρατορ''... i guess this has to do with the century, in the early Byzantium perhaps they use the word ''king'' and later as they deepen in the greek language they replaced it with ''αυτοκρατορ''

a guess
Both "basileus" and "autokrator" were used by greek speakers to refer to the roman emperor long before the empire split. "autokrator" means "sole ruler". The title implies superiority over all other leaders, which is why it was used for the roman emperor.
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Old July 19th, 2016, 01:35 PM   #6

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The gold coin is a solidus, highest denomination, typical 4.5 grams.

Byzantine(just like Roman) coins tend to have many abbreviations.

On observe side it is definitely Latin and says something like “IhS XPS REX REGNANTIUM”. I think it means “Jesus Christ, King of the Kings”.

I don’t have access to Greek alphabets and signs so excuse my approach. But the legends on the reverse side are in Greek where it says something like “bASILIOS EC OEY b” which means something like “Basil” or “Emperor” and “In god”.

I will suggest the first few pages of David Sear’s “Byzantine Coins and their Values” in his second edition. In the first 20-30 pages he gives a solid intro into Byzatine coins and how to read them, and as well explained the various legends and abbreviations.

EDIT:
Now when I think of what Skapeti said, I think the last word "b" is an abbreviation for "Basileus".

“bASILIOS EC OEY b.”

I think it says "Basil, In God, Basileus"

Generally it would be understood as: "Basil, with the grace of God, Basileus of the Romans"

But don't take my word for sure.

Last edited by El Cid; July 19th, 2016 at 01:50 PM.
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Old July 19th, 2016, 02:11 PM   #7

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Quote:
Originally Posted by El Cid View Post
The gold coin is a solidus, highest denomination, typical 4.5 grams.

Byzantine(just like Roman) coins tend to have many abbreviations.

On observe side it is definitely Latin and says something like “IhS XPS REX REGNANTIUM”. I think it means “Jesus Christ, King of the Kings”.

I don’t have access to Greek alphabets and signs so excuse my approach. But the legends on the reverse side are in Greek where it says something like “bASILIOS EC OEY b” which means something like “Basil” or “Emperor” and “In god”.

I will suggest the first few pages of David Sear’s “Byzantine Coins and their Values” in his second edition. In the first 20-30 pages he gives a solid intro into Byzatine coins and how to read them, and as well explained the various legends and abbreviations.

EDIT:
Now when I think of what Skapeti said, I think the last word "b" is an abbreviation for "Basileus".

“bASILIOS EC OEY b.”

I think it says "Basil, In God, Basileus"

Generally it would be understood as: "Basil, with the grace of God, Basileus of the Romans"

But don't take my word for sure.
Thanks for the translation. It seems my theory about the first side was correct. Is the second phrase “bASILIOS EC OEY b.” in latin or in greek? It uses the greek "basileus", but the other side of the coin uses latin.
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Old July 20th, 2016, 01:50 AM   #8

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Quote:
Originally Posted by El Cid View Post
The gold coin is a solidus, highest denomination, typical 4.5 grams.

Byzantine(just like Roman) coins tend to have many abbreviations.

On observe side it is definitely Latin and says something like “IhS XPS REX REGNANTIUM”. I think it means “Jesus Christ, King of the Kings”.

I don’t have access to Greek alphabets and signs so excuse my approach. But the legends on the reverse side are in Greek where it says something like “bASILIOS EC OEY b” which means something like “Basil” or “Emperor” and “In god”.

I will suggest the first few pages of David Sear’s “Byzantine Coins and their Values” in his second edition. In the first 20-30 pages he gives a solid intro into Byzatine coins and how to read them, and as well explained the various legends and abbreviations.

EDIT:
Now when I think of what Skapeti said, I think the last word "b" is an abbreviation for "Basileus".

“bASILIOS EC OEY b.”

I think it says "Basil, In God, Basileus"

Generally it would be understood as: "Basil, with the grace of God, Basileus of the Romans"

But don't take my word for sure.
Ihs = Ιησούς/Jesus
Xrs = Χριστός/Christ
Regnatium= I think it means king or ruller

Jesus Christ King

Basilios=Βασίλειος/Basil
Ec=Εκ
Θεu=Θεού
Basileus=Βασιλεύς

Βασίλειος εκ Θεού Βασιλεύς
Basil from God King/Emperor

Last edited by Kentarchos; July 20th, 2016 at 01:54 AM.
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Old July 20th, 2016, 11:31 AM   #9

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You forgot a ”Rex” before ”Regnantium”.

In any case, page 33 and 44 in David Sear’s ”Byzantine Coins and their values” where i took picture from my phone:


EDIT: Nope, i can't make historum to make the pixels of the image higher. Forget it.

Last edited by El Cid; July 20th, 2016 at 11:37 AM.
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Old July 21st, 2016, 06:24 AM   #10

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Quote:
Originally Posted by El Cid View Post
You forgot a ”Rex” before ”Regnantium”.

In any case, page 33 and 44 in David Sear’s ”Byzantine Coins and their values” where i took picture from my phone:


EDIT: Nope, i can't make historum to make the pixels of the image higher. Forget it.
Yes you are right, I forgot the word rex, my mistake, I just focused more on the Greek translation.
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