Ancient Coin Glossary
Find definitions for commonly used words referring to ancient coin designs, elements and inscriptions – including abbreviations found on ancient coins.
Augustus – "Honor majestic" A word related to the priestly arts. The Senate granted this title to Octavian, who then adopted it. It placed him above the rest of the state as protector of Rome. Used by emperors that followed him. Shown as AVG on coins.
Centurion – Soldier in charge of a century of men (80 men), smallest unit in the Roman army.
Citizen – Any male 15 or older who was a free man within the Roman republic. Citizenship gave voting, religious and social rights along with required military service.
Consul – An annually elected office – the highest and most coveted – in the Senate. It was sometimes held by the emperor himself. While there was no political power attached to the position, it commanded respect. Shown as cos on coins, followed by numbers indicating times office held.
Gloria Exercitus – "Glory to the Army," first used by Constantine the Great.
Optimus Maximus – "The greatest and the best"
Praetorian Guard – Usually the emperor’s personal bodyguards.
Praetorian Prefect – Commander of the Imperial Guard, usually the best legal mind in the government and responsible for the emperor’s safety.
Prefect (Praefectus) – Overseer, civil or military officer. Title given to a person of standing in the Roman world.
Princeps – First citizen, leader or best leader.
Province – Areas outside Italy ruled by Rome; Britain, Gaul, Spain and Egypt were just a few of the many provinces in the empire.