Did the Romans Accidentally Invent “BAE”? – The Most Blessed Tetrarchs

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Just for St Valentine’s Day, we at CANI thought we should show something of a luvvy side by looking at an ancient iteration of the modern phenomenon that is “bae.” While seemingly an acronym for “before anyone else” which has somehow morphed into an adjective/noun, the Romans managed to get there first.

During the late third/early fourth century, several of the Tetrarchs issued coins…

DIOCLETIANVS BAE AVG Diocletian A.D. 284-305
DN DIOCLETIANO BAEATIS Diocletian A.D. 284-305
DN DIOCLETIANO BAEATISS Diocletian A.D. 284-305
DN DIOCLETIANO BAEATISSIMO SEN AVG Diocletian A.D. 284-305
DN DIOCLETIANO BAEATISS SEN AVG Diocletian A.D. 284-305
DN DIOCLETIANO BAEAT SEN AVG Diocletian A.D. 284-305
DN MAXIMIANO BAEATIS Galerius A.D. 305-311
DN MAXIMIANO BAEATISS Maximianus A.D. 286-310
DN MAXIMIANO BAEATISSI Galerius A.D. 305-311
DN MAXIMIANO BAEATISSIM Galerius A.D. 305-311
DN MAXIMIANO BAEATISSIMO SEN AVG Maximianus A.D. 286-310
DN MAXIMIANO BAEATISS SEN AVG Maximianus A.D. 286-310

Latin Vocabulary

BEA – beatus “blessed”

BEAT – beatus “blessed”

BAEATISSIMO – baeatissimo “most blessed”

Who cares that these numismatic occurrences of BAE are all spelling errors? Surely that makes it all the more wonderful (or completely undermining the point of this blog, if there ever was one in the first place…)!?!?venice_-_the_tetrarchs_04

To be honest, looking at the porphyry Tetrarch statue now resident in St Mark’s Square in Venice, we should have recognised how blessed/before anyone else these guys felt about one another. It is all so loving.

Of course, that is to completely overlook that the Tetrarchy was quick to turn on one another and of the three to have BAE appear in their coinage, Diocletian died in a depressing retirement tending to his cabbages, Maximian refused to live in retirement, rebelling against his son and then his son-in-law, who had him killed and Galerius was struck down by some sort of horrendous cancer, gangrene or flesh-eating disease…

Not very BAE.

Not very BAE at all (am I using that correctly?).

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