Early during the reign of Julian the Apostate as Augustus (360–363), the mint at Arles began adding a small eagle to the reverse of the coins that it produced, whether in gold, silver, or bronze. However, it had discontinued this practice by the start of the reign of his successor Jovian. This eagle has been variously explained as a symbolic reference to Julian’s paganism, as a symbol of Roman imperial power, or as a reference to some real incident involving an eagle. It is argued here that it was really an issue mark, with no connection to any other features within the relevant reverse designs, and that its significance can be understood only in the context of the traditional choice of issue marks at Arles. Since Arles seems to have allowed mint officials to sign their names upon their product in the form of monograms, it is argued that the addition of the eagle to the coins may represent a slight variation of this practice. In this context, the eagle is best understood as a visual pun upon the name of a senior mint official, probably the procurator monetae himself, named Aquila or something similar.


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