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Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Gold crossbow fibula (brooch)

Late Imperial, Tetrarchic
A.D. 286–305 or 306/7–308/9
2 1/8 in., 1.855oz. (5.4 cm, 52.6g)
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'
Said to be from Arretium (modern Arezzo, Italy)

Instituto di Corrispondenza Archeologica. 1867. Bullettino dell'Instituto di Corrispondenza Archeologica, VI–VII: p. 135.

Instituto di Corrispondenza Archeologica. 1868. Bullettino dell'Instituto di Corrispondenza Archeologica, : pp. 25–30.

Bormann, Eugen. 1901. Inscriptiones Aemiliae, Etruriae, Umbriae Latinae / consilio et auctoritate Academiae Litterarum Regiae Borussicae, Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, v.11, pt.2:1. no. 6711.1, p. 1171, Berolini: Berolini, apud G. Reimerum.

Oliver, Andrew Jr. 1966. "Greek, Roman, and Etruscan Jewelry." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 24(9): pp. 283–84, fig. 31.

Noll, Rudolf. 1974. "Eine Goldene 'Kaiserfibel' aus Niederemmel vom Jahre 316." Bonner Jahrbücher, Vol. 174: no. B2, p. 232.

Noll, Rudolf. 1976. "Zur Goldenen 'Kaiserfibel' Arrezo (ehemals in Florenz)." Bonner Jahrbücher, Vol. 176: pp. 179–81, figs. 1–2.

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.

Higgins, Reynold. 1980. Greek and Roman Jewellery, 2nd ed.. p. 185, pl. 163b, Berkeley: University of California Press.

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

Johansen, Ida Malte. 1994. "Rings, Fibulae and Buckles with Imperial Portraits and Inscriptions." Journal of Roman Archaeology, 7: p. 227 n. 25.

Deppert-Lippitz, Barbara. 2000. "A Late Antique Crossbow Fibula in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum Journal, 35: no. 3, pp. 46, 48–49, figs. 9a, b.

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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