(silver, 13 millimeters, very rare)

Quality poor,
though the catalogue’s claim is “Very Fine”,
the art, the figure, just as inadequately defined.
Was he in such a rush to get it done? Hurrying
to strike this series of coins
at the emperor‘s behest?

To get them out and into the hands
of those rare remaining troops, huddled
upon the walls, their trepidation obvious,
unsure where best to stand, to see, to act,
peering out at a multitude
evidently prepared, ready to assault, to storm,
an endless caftanned horde
they had considered barbarians,
now gathered, now training their new-fangled weapons
on whichever areas of the battlements
were most vulnerable.

It must have been frightening, being part
of that army, of an Empire, upon whose border
they now stood, feeling the jangle of that silver currency
in their pockets, wondering how much
its crude representation of emperor and god would help.

And why am I so drawn to this, this coin?
So tempted to add my voice
to this auction’s song?

Should I raise my hand?
Empires rise. They fall.
It is so easy to forget.
A thousand years have passed,
and all that remains
is this degenerate species of coin.

See note 35: Stavraton