Julian II, 360-363. Solidus (Gold, 21 mm, 4.43 g, 1 h), Sirmium. FL CL IVLIA-NVS P P AVG Pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust of Julian II to right. Rev. VIRTVS EXERCI-TVS ROMANORVM / ✱SIRM(wreath) Roman soldier advancing right, head to left, holding trophy over his left shoulder and dragging bound captive with his right. Depeyrot 21/1. RIC 95. A virtually unimprovable example, lustrous, very sharply struck and with a bold and impressive portrait. Virtually as struck.
Much has been said and written about Julian's criticism of Christianity and his love of pagan philosophy, but it is often forgotten that he was also an energetic and successful general. Like Alexander and Trajan, Julian loved military life and often slept side by side with his soldiers, which made him very popular among the troops. Like Caesar, he won a surprising number of battles against Germanic tribes, and this and the following lot 756 consequently celebrate the virtue of the Roman Army by showing a soldier carrying a trophy and dragging a bound captive behind him. Unfortunately for the Romans, Julian's invasion of Persia in 363 turned out to be much less successful, as the emperor was killed in battle (or perhaps murdered) on the retreat from Ctesiphon, and his successor Jovian was forced to agree to a humiliating peace treaty with the Sasanids to save the remains of the invasion force.