Anno 396 the Roman Empire was split; it was the year in which the old Emperor Theodosius died. He distributed the realm between his two sons. Arcadius took control over of the Greek east with the capital of Constantinople, while his brother Honorius reigned the Latin west including Rome. This separation was intended as purely administrative – the problems of the huge empire had simply become too numerous to be solved from one center.
Today the year 395 is regarded as a caesura, and as the beginning of the Middle Ages. The contemporaries, on the other hand, continued to think of themselves as citizens of the Imperium Romanum or – in the eastern part – of the Basileia ton Rhomaion. The chief gold coin in this empire was the solidus. This piece shows on the obverse the bust of Arcadius (395-408), the first Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium.
The reverse depicts Constantinopolis, the personification of the city of Constantinople.