The image at right is of a worn and corroded coin struck by the usurper Eugenius. The fact that this emperor chose to wear a philosopher's beard in an age when beards were out of fashion supplied the tiny clue that solved the riddle of attributing this coin. Eugenius was an admirer of the emperor Julian, another pagan emperor of thirty years before who signified his rejection of the Church by his wearing of the philosopher's beard so popular with the members of the Neo - Platonist movement. Collecting Roman coins is not only fun for history buffs, but provides entertainment for the Sherlock Holmeses amongst us as well!
It was never really intended that Eugenius rule the Roman Empire. He was simply a puppet in the hands of the Frankish general Arbogastes who had taken power after Valentinian II had died (or more probably was murdered by Arbogastes' own hand) He was placed on the throne in a. D. 392 and fulfilled this pathetic role until deposed by the forces of Theodosius I after Arbogastes' defeat at the Battle of the River Frigidus. Eugenius was executed the day after the battle on September 6. 394.
Eugenius had been Valentinian II's Master of Offices and was well known as a teacher of grammar and rhetoric. He was a Neo-Pagan and was probably chosen for the throne to gain the support of the Symmachi and other powerful pagan senatorial families.
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