Roman Empire, Gratian, 367-383, AR Siliqua
Bust with diadem r.
Enthroned Roma with little Victory on globe
Gratian (* Sirmium; † 383 in Lugdunum), with full name Flavius Gratianus.
He was emperor in the west of the Roman Empire from 375 to 383, but was appointed co-emperor by his father Valentinian I as early as 367.
Together with Theodosius I, he raised Christianity to the status of state religion in the Roman Empire.
Gratian's reign can be seen as a transitional period in the Empire from paganism to Christianity and coincides with the end of the Arian controversy.
Under the influence of Ambrose of Milan, Gratian rejected (probably in 382 or 383) the insignia of the Pontifex Maximus, which Constantine and his successors had continued to accept. It is generally assumed that Gratian, on the advice of his advisor Ambrosius of Milan, took tougher action against paganism. In any case, he abolished all privileges of the pagan priests and vestal virgins, including the special rights of their cults, and thus also deprived them of financial means.
In 381 he had the altar of Victoria removed from the Senate's meeting hall (see Dispute over the Altar of Victoria). Without state support, paganism subsequently lost more and more influence. In 383, Gratian also declared apostasy (apostasy from the faith) by law to be a crime to be prosecuted by the state.
Gratian's reign contrasted on the one hand with his father's rule (as far as the good relationship with the Senate was concerned), but on the other hand it also showed continuity (as far as military and border policies were concerned). According to the sources, Gratian was pious and very educated.
Of importance, apart from his religious policy, is his appointment of the capable Theodosius as well as his overall successful border defence, even if the emperor as a person was relatively insignificant. However, his character and private life seem to have differed positively from some of his predecessors.
Siliqua is the name given to small, thin silver coins of Roman currency that replaced the argenteus from about 320 AD.
The term siliqua (Latin for pod) comes from siliqua graeca, the seed or pod of the carob tree.