|Abstract: ||The representations and legends in the Roman coinage were, to some extent, a mirror of the current political and social situation as the events and phenomena of the political and social life — either favourable or unfavourable for Rome — entailed the choice of contents promoted through the coinage. It seems, therefore, that the representations and legends should reflect the condition of the Roman state: its prosperity or crisis. Such an assumption is the basis of our considerations, whose area of focus is the power and quality of the message conveyed by the iconography of the coin reverses.
The arbitrariness, conventionality and traditionalism of the iconographic solutions show on the example an image that recurrently appeared in the golden age of Antonine dynasty (96–192), then under Severan dynasty (193–235) and also in the period of the IIIrd century crisis (235–284).
It has also been noticed that, both in the legends and in the coin imagery, the information concerning the condition of the state hides behind the veil of qualities, deeds and achievements of its ruler, his programme and ideological and political desires. Moreover, the picture of the Roman world, as created via numismatic imagery, is positive, full of positive and optimistic values, guided by the emperor — the guarantor of order and the gainer of victories. However, it would be a mistake to view the condition of the Roman state as a continuance of prosperity, as the coin images and monetary legends may, at first glance, suggest.
The “barbarian motif” in the Roman iconography is an allusion to what is bad, what brings chaos, what — coming from outside of Rome or from within the Roman world — weakens the state and threatens the Empire. The accumulation of “barbarian” representations in the Roman coinage becomes a clear trace leading to a detection of faults and cracks in the “idyllic” image of the Empire.
This iconographic motif, with its pejorative connotations, may be viewed as a reflection of the Roman Empire in the state of crisis. Also the results of the introductory quantitative numismatic analysis, concerning of the occurrence of the “barbarian motif” in the imperial coinage of the 3rd century crisis, speak for that.|