Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Gold crossbow fibula (brooch)

Late Imperial, Tetrarchic
ca. A.D. 286–306/7 or 308/9
2 1/8in. (5.4cm)
Gold and Silver
Credit Line:
Purchase by subscription, 1895
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 169
This type of fibula, used to fasten a cloak around the neck, became part of the standard insignia of military personnel during the third century A.D. This example is inscribed in Latin on the bow: HERCVLI AVGVSTE SEMPER VINCAS (May you always be victorious, Hercules Augustus!); the titles probably refer to the tetrarch Maximian, who styled himself as Hercules. The brooch would have been made at an imperial workshop and presented as a gift to a senior member of the imperial staff.
Inscription: inscribed: "HERCVLI AVGVSTE SEMPER VINCAS'
Oliver, Andrew Jr. 1966. "Greek, Roman, and Etruscan Jewelry." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 24(9): pp. 283-4, fig. 31.

Weitzmann, Kurt. 1979. Age of Spirituality: Late Antique and Early Christian Art, Third to Seventh Century no. 275, pp. 302-3, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1987. Greece and Rome. no. 121, p. 154, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Picón, Carlos A. 2007. Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome no. 475, pp. 405, 499, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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