III Isaurus Syracusae
Λέων Γ' Ισαυρος
ο Εικονομάχος Συρακούσαι
|1.93 g 13.9-16.1 mm 6:00
Facing bust of Leon with
short beard facing, holding globus cruciger in right hand;
blundered inscription clockwise around.
Beardless bust of Constantine, wearing chlamys; holding cross potent on
inscription around, partly off flan.
Oaks 3/I 47; Ratto ---; Sear Byzantine 1526
Leo III "The Isaurian"
History & Numismatics
"Yet in spite of
the clamors of superstition, a favorable prejudice for the character of
Leo the Isaurian may be reasonably drawn from the obscurity of his
birth, and the duration of his reign. Even in the corruption and
debility of the modern Greeks, the elevation of a plebeian from the
last to the first rank of society, supposes some qualifications above
the level of the multitude."
Gibbon, Decline & Fall
Whilst we in the west often claim Charles Martel to have "saved" Europe
from Islam, in the annals of Muslim history Poitiers was nothing more
than a border skirmish. If credit is due for heading off the Islamic
explosion's entry into Europe, it belongs to the great Leo III. Not
only did he spare Europe the Muslim advance, he also can be said to
have saved the Roman Empire.
Unfortunately, the other great event of Leo's reign was the
introduction of iconoclasm, the suppression of holy images. Centred on
the belief that the worship of icons was clouding the worship of what
the icons were representing, iconoclasm swept the images away as
idolatrous. Possibly influenced by the Islamic proscription on graven
images, iconoclasm was supposed to lead to a purer faith. The icons
were too much a part of eastern faith though, and Leo and his
successors efforts were to ultimately do great and lasting harm to the
unity of the empire.