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Portraits Of Power - The Faces Of Imperial Rome

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 Posted 11/03/2020  4:56 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Finn235 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks guys!

@Bob, Yes it is speculation on the part, although I know that some (more qualified than I) have done extensive studies on various Imperial portraiture found on coins and elsewhere - and at least a handful of individual engravers have been identified. The basis for my assumption that the same individual worked throughout the reigns of Alexander through Gordian is that after Gordian we can see a couple decades' worth of quality portraits, although the overall quality goes down slightly, becomes markedly less consistent, and the quality of manufacture of the coins also takes a hit, first with dies being used well past when they should have been retired (as seen on my Philip/Aequitas ant) - all signs of new management.

And very nice coins, @Paul! I especially like the pleasing toning on that Philip I!
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 Posted 11/03/2020  5:03 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Finn235 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Trajan Decius, 249 - 251



AR Antoninianus
IMP C M Q TRAIANVS DECIVS AVG, Radiate, cuirassed bust right
PANNONIAE, Personification of Upper and Lower Pannonia, each holding a military standard


AE Sestertius
IMP C M Q TRAIANVS DECIVS AVG, Laureate, draped bust right
VICTORIA AVG SC, Victory advancing left, holding wreath and palm

Born near Sirmium in Pannonia in 201, Decius' early years are obscure. He attained Senatorial rank during the later Severan period, and is listed as suffect consul in 232. He served as the governor of Moesia and Germania Inferior during the later reign of Severus Alexander, and governor of Hispania Tarraconensis during the reign of Maximinus I. He lived in Rome as a Senator during the reigns of Gordian III and Philip, and served Philip as the Urban Prefect. He was among the most vocal of the senators who pressured Philip into quelling the revolt of Pacatian, and was placed at the head of the legions sent to put down that usurper. He was successful in mid 249, and the legions under his command proclaimed him emperor against Philip, which Decius (ostensibly) reluctantly accepted. He defeated Philip's forces outside Verona in September 249, and was ratified as emperor by the Senate, who granted him the honorific name Trajan, expecting a level of success on par with Rome's greatest emperor.

As emperor, Decius was popular and respected; driven, and some would call him a visionary. He had witnessed the weakening of the Empire's internal structure during the tumultuous reigns of his predecessors, and attributed that to the breakdown of Roman morals. To remedy this, he both repaired and funded the building of new public structures in Rome, and revived the office of Censor, which he offered to his colleague Valerian, who declined the nomination. Decius squarely blamed the Christians for angering the gods and causing calamity to the empire, and passed an edict requiring all citizens of the empire to sacrifice to the traditional gods and health of the emperor, on pain of torture, confiscation of property, and even death. The Decian Persecution caused a great many Christian martyrs, and was the first of many persecutions in which Christians were actively sought out and punished - this act has left a black mark on Decius' reputation among later Christian historians.

In 251, responding to reports of increased barbarian invasions on Moesia and Thrace, Decius and his son Herennius Etruscus departed to put down the threat. They succeeded in reflecting the invasion, and sought to head them off to recover the lost captives and booty. The forces met at the Battle of Abritus, but the Romans, expecting a disorganized horde of panicked barbarians fell victim to a trap set by their king Cniva, who ambushed them and cornered the three Roman legions into a swamp. Decius saw his son Herennius Etruscus die early in the battle, and fell while trying to rally his troops to break free of the swamp. He was 50 years old.
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 Posted 11/03/2020  5:17 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Finn235 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Herennius Etruscus, Son of Trajan Decius
Caesar under Decius, 249-251
Augustus, (Briefly?) 251

As Caesar


AR Antoninianus
Q HER ETR MES DECIVS NOB C, Radiate, cuirassed bust right
PRINCIPI IVVENTVTIS, Apollo seated left, holding branch, resting arm on lyre

Born in about 227, Herennius Etruscus was the son of Decius and Herennia Etruscilla. Hoping to establish a lasting dynasty, Herennius was elevated to Caesar in 250. He was given the Consulship in 251, and then elevated to Augustus in about May of that year alongside Decius. He served as the vanguard of the campaign against the Goths, and was among the first casualties in the Battle of Abritus, dying after being struck by an enemy arrow. He was about 24 years old.
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Edited by Finn235
11/03/2020 5:18 pm
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 Posted 11/03/2020  5:21 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Finn235 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Herennia Etruscilla, wife of Trajan Decius


AR Antoninianus
HER ETRVSCILLA AVG, Draped bust right on crescent
PVDICITIA, Pudicitia (modesty) seated left, holding scepter and drawing drapery from face

Very little is known of Decius' wife Herennia Etruscilla. It is presumed that the couple married in the 220s, and contemporary histories make little mention of her personality or life. She was in Rome when her husband and oldest son perished in battle, and retained her title of Augusta as her son Hostilian was raised to Augustus. After Hostilian's death, Herennia Etruscilla disappears from history.
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 Posted 11/03/2020  5:26 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Finn235 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Hostilian, 251
Caesar under Decius, 251
Augustus with Trebonianus Gallus, Mid-Late(?) 251

As Caesar


AR Antoninianus
C VALENS HOSTIL MES QVINTVS N C, Radiate draped bust right
MARTI PROPVGNATORI, Mars advancing right holding spear and shield

As Augustus

AR Antoninianus
C OVAL OSTIL MES COVINTVS AVG, Radiate draped bust right
ROMAE AETERNAE, Roma seated left, holding spear and victory


Hostilian was the younger brother of Herennius Etruscus, although how much younger is a matter of debate. He was elevated to Caesar probably in 251, but remained in Rome during his father and brother's campaign on account of his youth. When Trebonianus Gallus arrived at Rome, he adopted Hostilian as his son and raised him to co-emperor. Hostilian disappears from history around November 251, probably dying in the plague that was ravaging most of Europe at the time. Coins of Hostilian as Caesar are much more common than his coins as Augustus, indicating that (contrary to what the historical accounts tell us) Hostilian may have shared the office of Caesar with his brother for some number of months. Judging by his portraiture on coinage and his father's refusal to bring him on military campaigns, Hostilian was likely a young teenager at the time of his death.
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Edited by Finn235
11/03/2020 5:28 pm
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 Posted 11/04/2020  4:38 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Palouche to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Very nice coins again Steve.....
I'm really enjoying this thread and learning a great deal on the way....

That's a nice Hostilian as Augustus coin, tough to find!


Quote:
Augustus, (Briefly?) 251
...I didn't know that Herennius Etruscus had coins as Augustus so thanks as now I do.....Pretty darn rare!...And expensive!
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 Posted 11/05/2020  01:00 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Finn235 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks Paul!

Although Decius and Etruscilla are fairly common and easy to find, their sons are pretty tough to find in nice condition without forking over some serious cash, hence why all of mine are a bit more rough than the rest of my collection!

And Herennius Etruscus as Augustus is indeed quite rare! I have only seen a couple for sale since I started looking for them, and my bids were blown out of the water both times, as the coins went for well over $1k. Here's an example that sold at CNG a few years ago:
https://www.cNGCoins.com/Coin.aspx?CoinID=247009
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 Posted 11/09/2020  11:02 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Finn235 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Trebonianus Gallus, 251 - 253


AR Antoninianus
IMP CAE C VIB TREB GALLVS AVG, Radiate, draped bust right
LIBERTAS AVGG, Libertas standing left, holding pileus and scepter, star to right


AE Sestertius
IMP CAES C VIBIVS TREBONIANVS GALLVS AVG, Laureate draped bust right
VIRTVS AVGG SC, Virtus standing left, holding transverse spear and shield on ground


Born in 206, Trebonianus Gallus hailed from an old aristocratic family but little is known about his early life. He was appointed suffect consul in 250 and sent to govern the province of Moesia Superior that same year. When Decius and Herennius Etruscus died in 251, Gallus was the closest official who could rise to the rank of Emperor, and the troops proclaimed him as such as soon as the news broke. Contemporary historians blamed Gallus of treachery, although the evidence available does not indicate he wished his predecessor dead.

The morale and finances of the empire were in shambles at this point, and Gallus had the enormous task of balancing the pressing needs on the frontier and his need to consolidate his power at Rome. Acting hastily, he struck a humiliating peace accord in which the Goths were allowed to retreat to safety with their plunder and captives, and were to be paid an annual subsidy to stay out of Roman territory. This was seen as cowardice by the army, but for the time being the troops still backed Gallus' claim to the purple. When Gallus arrived at Rome, he faced yet another challenge in Decius' sole surviving heir, Hostilian, who had legal right to inherit the purple without a colleague. This potentially lethal situation was defused by Gallus, who opted to adopt Hostilian as his own son, and vowed to rule jointly with the young emperor. Gallus denied his wife Afinia Baebiana the titles of Augusta, allowing Herennia Etruscilla to remain empress regent for her son.

Not long after ascending to the throne, a rebel by the name of Mariades began causing trouble in the East, then fled for shelter with Shapur I. A Roman force was sent after the usurper, but this punitive campaign was taken as an act of war by Shapur, who nullified the treaty enacted with Philip a decade prior and sent his armies to ravage the Roman East. Concurrently, Asia Minor and Moesia came under attack by Gothic raiders, who were repelled by Aemilian in 253. Aemilian was proclaimed emperor for his heroism, and marched on Rome. Gallus attempted to recall his legions from Gaul under the command of Valerian, but was too late: Aemilian arrived first with a vastly superior army, and Gallus was murdered by his own troops in favor of the usurper. He was 47 years old.
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 Posted 11/09/2020  11:05 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Finn235 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Volusian, 251 - 253


AR Antoninianus
IMP CAE C VIB VOLVSIANO AVG, Radiate, draped bust right
P M TR P IIII COS II, Genius (of the Senate?) standing left, holding short scepter and branch

Volusian was the son of Gallus and Baebiana, aged about 20 at the time of his father's accession. When he accompanied his father back to Rome in 251, Hostilian was named co-emperor with Gallus, and Volusian received the title of Caesar. He was raised to co-Augustus with his father in late 251 following the death of Hostilian.

Next to nothing is mentioned of Volusian, who appears never to have left his father's side during their two year reign. He perished alongside his father when the troops revolted in favor of Aemilian in 253.
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 Posted 11/09/2020  11:16 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Finn235 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Aemilian, June - September 253


AR Antoninianus
IMP AEMILIANVS PIVS FEL AVG, Radiate, draped bust right
IOVI CONSERVAT, Jupiter standing left, holding scepter and thunderbolt, small figure of Emperor at feet

Aemilian was born during the early Severan period, ostensibly a man of low birth. His early life was either never documented, or else was purged on orders of his successor.

Aemilian enters history in 251, being sent to govern Moesia Superior as Gallus departed for Rome to consolidate his position as emperor. When the Goths broke their treaty and raided Moesia, Aemilian acted decisively and heroically, driving them back over the Rhine, then pursuing to strike a crippling blow. The revitalized troops proclaimed him Augustus, and Aemilian set out at once for Rome to seize the purple.

Learning of the usurper, Gallus sent to recall the Gallic legions under Valerian, who were fortifying the Limes there against possible attack. Valerian set out to aid his emperor, but was too late, as Gallus' troops killed their emperor in favor of Aemilian, who was in control of the more powerful army.

The Senate was hesitant at first to accept Aemilian as emperor, apparently detesting his low birth, just as they had done with Maximinus Thrax 18 years prior. They eventually relented, although he was refused the office of Consul. Apparently in his negotiations with the Senate, Aemilian vowed to concentrate on subjugating the Sassanians in the east, after which time he promised to dissolve the offices of the Principate and return all power back to the Senate, in essence re-founding the Republic. It is probable that this show of good faith is why Aemilian was granted the honorific "Pius" which he used on his coinage.

Shortly after winning the approval of the Roman aristocracy, Aemilian elevated his wife Cornelia Supera to the position of Augusta, and had coins minted for both of them. Just three months after the defeat of Gallus and Volusian, their reinforcements arrived, headed by the accomplished and respected Valerian. Aemilian's troops feared this new claimant, and Aemilian was murdered just as his predecessors were. Most details of his life were expunged from the historical record.
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 Posted 11/10/2020  5:25 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Palouche to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Very nice group again Steve!...
All four coins have great detail ob and rev!
It's a slice of Roman history that I've yet to look into in any depth and so learnt a great deal from your neat write ups..Thanks..
The Aemilian Ant is lovely a tough and expensive coin to find Congrats on that one....

Here's my only coin of this group (ex Finn235 ), a Trebonianus Gallus Ant but minted in Antioch showing just how different the Emperor was portrayed on coins from this mint compared to the more realistic depictions of Rome..
Trebonianus Gallus, AR Antoninianus, Antioch, 251-253 AD, 21.6mm; 3.55 gr.
Obverse- IMP C C VIB TREB GALLVS PF AVG, radiate, draped and cuirassed bust right
Reverse- VICTORIA AVG, Victory walking left, holding wreath and palm.
RIC IV-3, 93;
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 Posted 11/24/2020  2:01 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Finn235 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Chapter IX: Peak Crisis - The Licinius Dynasty
& The Fractured Empire

Valerian, Gallienus, and Family, and the Breakaway Empires
AD 253 - 268


Valerian, 253 - 260


BI Antoninianus
IMP C P LIC VALERIANVS AVG, Radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, with youthful features
SALVS AVGG, Salus standing left, holding scepter and holding patera to snake rising from altar
(This is an unusually youthful bust of Valerian)


BI Antoninianus
IMP C P LIC VALERIANVS AVG, Radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right
FIDES MILITVM, Fides standing, holding two standards
(This example from Rome probably most accurately portrays what he looked like in life, as no busts have been attributed to Valerian with 100% certainty)


BI/AE Antoninianus
IMP C P LIC VALERIANVS AVG, Radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right
FIDES MILITVM, Fides standing, holding two standards
(This is an unusually aged-looking Valerian, showing the extent to which debasement took hold of the antoninianus while he was in office)


Born during the early Severan period, Valerian may have been the last emperor born during the second century AD. Details of his early life are sparse, although it is known he was a career politician. Valerian married a woman named Mariniana early in his life, who died under unclear circumstances before 253 after bearing him at least two children, Gallienus and Valerianus Minor. Valerian was an early supporter of Gordian I against Maximinus Thrax in 238, and held his first ordinary consulship that year. He again enters history in 251, being offered the powerful office of Censor by Trajan Decius, which he apparently declined. He was placed at the head of an army and sent to Gaul by Trebonianus Gallus in 252 or 253, and was apparently the emperor's most trusted colleague after Aemilian rose up in rebellion. News came of the death of Gallus and Volusian before they were within range to assist, so Valerian's troops proclaimed him Emperor. He arrived in Rome after Aemilian had been in power for about 3 months, and faced almost no resistance either from the army or the Senate.

His first act was to raise his adult son Gallienus to the office of Caesar, which he held only briefly before being raised to full Augustus--it was clear that the empire was on the brink of collapse as war raged in the East and the Goths and Germans attacked relentlessly. Valerian sent his son to stabilize the frontier at Gaul, his teenaged grandson Valerian II to stabilize Illyria, and went East to personally see to the Sassanian threat. He saw some initial success, retaking Antioch by 257, but a plague broke out and decimated his forces. Around this time, Valerian seems to have blamed these calamities on the presence of Christians in the empire, and issued orders to seek and eradicate Christians if they refused to apostatize.

By 259, Shapur had managed to rebound in his war with the Romans; Valerian's forces were defeated at the Battle of Edessa in early 260. Realizing what was at stake, Valerian arranged a face-to-face peace negotiation with Shapur. He was betrayed, however, and Valerian and all of the troops left under his command were taken as prisoners of war by the Sassanians. What happened to Valerian after his capture is a matter of debate. Shapur makes no mention of Valerian after his capture. Contemporary Roman sources obviously had no idea what happened deep in enemy territory, but Christian writers, writing over a century later, maintain that Valerian was subjected to humiliating treatment, being used as a human foot stool by Shapur. Desperate, Valerian reportedly offered huge sums of gold for his own ransom, to which Shapur responded by executing the captive emperor by pouring molten gold down his throat. It is reported that Valerian's taxidermied corpse was recovered in a later campaign against the Persians.
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 Posted 11/24/2020  2:04 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Finn235 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Mariniana, Wife of Valerian I
Died before 253


AR Antoninianus
DIVAE MARINIANAE, Veiled and draped bust right on crescent
CONSECRATIO, Soul of Mariniana, holding scepter, seated on flying peacock right

Next to nothing is known of Egnatia Mariniana, Valerian's wife. She was the mother of Gallienus and his brother Valerian Minor (not to be confused with Valerian II), and only consecration coinage exists for her; indicating she probably died before 253.
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 Posted 11/26/2020  5:49 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Palouche to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Very interesting write up again, thanks Steve...
Lovely looking Mariniana and also the AVG's with their different depictions of Volusian....
I do have one Valerian which has a very animalistic representation of Felicitas
Valerian I AR Antoninianus.Rome AD 255-256 ...2.93g
Obverse..IMP C P LIC VALERIANVS PF AVG, radiate, draped bust right
Reverse..FELICITAS AVGG, Felicitas standing left holding caduceus and cornucopiae.
RIC 87, Cohen 55; Sear 9936.
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 Posted 11/26/2020  6:07 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Bob L to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Good update, Steve. Quite an interesting reverse on that Mariniana. Speaking of interesting reverses: Paul...wow.
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