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    Aurelian: Restorer of the World

    Aurelian (AD 270-275). AV aureus (21mm, 4.10 gm, 1h).  Siscia (or Milan?), AD 270-271. IMP C AVREL-IANVS AVG, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Aurelian right / CONC-OR-DIA MILI, Concordia seated left holding a military signa in each hand. RIC Siscia 166D. Cohen 41. H. Huvelin and J. Lefaurie, 1980, 75-85 (same dies). Calic├│ 3985. Boldly struck on a broad flan, with attractive matte proof-like surfaces. NGC (photo-certificate) MS? 5/5 - 3/5.

    From The Andre Constantine Dimitriadis Collection. Ex Sotheby's (Zurich, 26 October 1993), lot 117; NFA XXVII (4 December 1991), lot 172. 

    Aurelian stands as a pivotal figure, for during the course of five action-packed years he stitched together a fragmented Roman Empire and put it firmly on the path to recovery. An Illyrian of humble origins, Lucius Domitius Aurelianus rose through the ranks of the Roman army along with a cadre of Danubian officers who formed a warrior elite. Acclaimed emperor after the death of Claudius II in AD 270, Aurelian immediately faced a rapid-fire series of invasions by several barbarian tribes, which he defeated in turn. He next turned his attention to the East, which had broken away under the rule of Queen Zenobia of Palmyra. In two lightning campaigns in AD 272 and 273, he routed Zenobia's formidable army and took Palmyra by storm. Barely pausing for breath, he led his legions into Gaul, which had been ruled by a separatist government for 14 years. His army routed the Gallo-Roman forces and their ruler Tetricus made formal submission to Rome. Senate and people rightly acclaimed Aurelian as "Restorer of the World" (Restitutor Orbis). He further hoped to impose a  kind of religious unity on the empire by encouraging the quasi monotheistic cult of Sol Invictus, the Unconquered Sun, and designated December 25th as the god's birthday, unwittingly creating Christmas. In AD 275, Aurelian planned to invade Persia, but a dishonest secretary feared his wrath and procured his assassination. His reign was one of colossal achievement that made possible the great Roman revival of the later third and fourth centuries. This aureus, struck at the Balkan mint of Siscia, depicts Aurelian as the lean, tough military man he undoubtedly was. The reverse depicts Concordia holding two military standards, representing the cooperation between Roman legions that made Aurelian's reconquest possible.




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    January, 2015
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