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Carthage - A Reluctant Party To A Usurpation

 
 
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5632 Posts
 Posted 03/21/2019  11:25 am Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add Finn235 to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Just picked up this extremely rare coin with a fascinating bit of history behind it!




Maxentius, as Caesar
AE Follis, Carthage Mint
M AVR MAXENTIVS NOB CAES, Laureate bust right
SALVIS AVGG ET CAESS FEL KART, Carthage standing, holding fruits in both hands, H left, Δ in ex.
RIC 51a
Rare - 4 examples on ACsearch, 1 on Coinarchives (duplicate), 4 on CNG (one is this coin)
ex. CNG 337/529
https://www.cNGCoins.com/Coin.aspx?CoinID=270666


The story:

Diocletian's vision for the tetrarchy was a permanent system in which Rome would be ruled by two Augusti and two Caesares in a perpetually peaceful and orderly line of succession - Each Augustus was expected to step down and retire after twenty years in office, and the new Augusti would nominate their own caesares. As Diocletian and Maximian prepared for retirement, everyone knew that Galerius and Constantius would succeed them. As both Maximian and Constantius had adult sons--Maxentius and Constantine, respectively--it was assumed that they would become the new Caesares. This was not the case, however, as Galerius conspired with Diocletian and nominated his own allies - Severus and Maximinus. Constantine and Maxentius were indignant, but did not openly challenge this order of succession. Constantine fled to his father in York in 305 and there won favor with his father and thus all the troops in Britain. When Constantius succumbed to his chronic illness in 306, his troops declared loyalty to Constantine and proclaimed him Augustus. After negotiations with Galerius, Constantine agreed to accept a demotion to the office of Caesar under Severus.

Maxentius would have none of this. All four tetrarchs were too busy to keep an eye on him, so, using the loyalty that the Western troops held for his father, he declared himself emperor from his seat in Rome in October 306. He soon had the backing of his father Maximian, and Carthage followed suit in declaring loyalty. The rest of course, is history.

Enter this coin - Maxentius never once considered himself a Caesar under anyone, so why is he portrayed as such on this coin? The history, if any existed in the first place, was probably destroyed when Constantine took power, but the current scholarly consensus is that Carthage was probably hesitant to be a party to this rebellion, but considered it a safer bet to treat Maximian as the legitimate Augustus, and Maxentius as his Caesar. The rarity of these issues indicates that this discrepancy was quickly set right by agents of Maxentius.

Maxentius' coinage "as caesar" comes only from Carthage, probably only in the last months of 306 or very early 307, and is only of three types:
1) This type of follis as NOB CAES / Carthage Standing
2) An even more rare follis as PRINC INVICT / Africa Standing
3) An equally rare Aureus as NOB CAES / Carthage Standing
My Collections:
Roman Imperial
http://goccf.com/t/348979
Japan Type set Tokugawa + Modern
http://goccf.com/t/348999
Indo Sassanian
http://goccf.com/t/322087
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4150 Posts
 Posted 03/21/2019  12:02 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Ben to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Neat, had no idea this variety exists. I have been looking for a Carthaginian coin from the late empire, so I'll have to keep this in mind.
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 Posted 03/21/2019  1:15 pm  Show Profile   Check Mister Kairu's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add Mister Kairu to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Didn't quite understand all the politics (difference between Casear and Augustus for example) but I have always liked Carthage and the Punic Wars (yes I know hundreds of years before this coin's minting). Nice read, and I can see why this would be a rare type of coin!
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22419 Posts
 Posted 03/21/2019  3:44 pm  Show Profile   Check echizento's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add echizento to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Congrats on finding this rare coin, the history behind these coins is the reason why I collect them. This is an excellent example in every detail.
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United States
499 Posts
 Posted 03/21/2019  6:21 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add travelcoin to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Never new this type existed as well. Thanks for "schooling" us once again. You can never truly appreciate a coin until you know the history. Congrats on finding such a rare coin in this grade, I would imagine it's very difficult.
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12068 Posts
 Posted 03/22/2019  05:46 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Spence to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for helping me to learn something today Steve!
"The danger we all now face is distinguishing between what is authentic and what is performed."
-----King Adz
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1421 Posts
 Posted 03/22/2019  08:29 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Palouche to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Very interesting and educative write up Steve!

Great looking coin...I do like those Carthage reverses

Excellent rare addition to your collection, congrats...Paul
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5632 Posts
 Posted 03/22/2019  12:04 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Finn235 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks all!

As I am refining my Roman collection, I have found myself more and more interested in collecting emperors by title; e.g. as Caesar, as Augustus, and as a god or goddess after death. It's a lot of fun, but now I am perhaps too aware of the importance of coins such as this one - and others even more rare, like Diadumenian and Herennius Etruscus as Augustus!
My Collections:
Roman Imperial
http://goccf.com/t/348979
Japan Type set Tokugawa + Modern
http://goccf.com/t/348999
Indo Sassanian
http://goccf.com/t/322087
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