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.
Use your arrow keys to navigate the tabs below, and your tab key to choose an item
Title:Gold crossbow fibula (brooch)
Period:Late Imperial, Tetrarchic
Date:286–305 CE or 306/7–308/9
Dimensions:2 1/8 in., 1.855oz. (5.4 cm, 52.6g)
Classification:Gold and Silver
Credit Line:Purchase by subscription, 1895
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: 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.
Campbell, Virginia L. 2017. Ancient Rome. p. 241, New York: Thames and Hudson.
Zanker, Paul, Seán Hemingway, Christopher S. Lightfoot, and Joan R. Mertens. 2019. Roman Art : A Guide through the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Collection. no. 93, pp. 181, 207, New York: Scala Publishers.
The Met Collection API is where all makers, creators, researchers, and dreamers can connect to the most up-to-date data and public domain images for The Met collection. Open Access data and public domain images are available for unrestricted commercial and noncommercial use without permission or fee.
We continue to research and examine historical and cultural context for objects in The Met collection. If you have comments or questions about this object record, please complete and submit this form. The Museum looks forward to receiving your comments.
The Museum's collection of Greek and Roman art comprises more than 30,000 works ranging in date from the Neolithic period to the time of the Roman emperor Constantine's conversion to Christianity in A.D. 312.