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    Description

    Unique Gallienus Aureus

    Gallienus (AD 253-268). AV aureus (21mm, 3.37 gm, 12h). NGC MS 4/5 - 4/5. Rome or Milan, ca. AD 264-266(?). GALLIENVS P F AVG, laureate head of Gallienus left / AETER-NITAS AVG, Sol standing left, raising right hand and holding globe in left, Г in left field. RIC --. Cohen --. Calicó --, cf. 3464 (right facing head, different obverse legend). Unrecorded and apparently unique! Nicely struck on a broad flan, with some light reddish toning over subdued mint luster.

    No Roman emperor is more unjustly vilified than Gallienus, who spent his 15-year reign desperately fighting the forces of chaos and destruction. Publius Licinius Egnatius Gallienus was born circa A.D. 218-220 to Valerian, a wealthy senator who served in a number of important posts during the AD 230s and 240s. In AD 253, Valerian seized the throne and named Gallienus, then in his mid 30s, as co-emperor. Valerian traveled East to combat a major Persian invasion while Gallienus took charge of Roman forces in Gaul and the Balkans, spending six years in continuous warfare against barbarian incursions. He won a smashing victory over the Alemanni in AD 259, but almost immediately came news that Valerian had been captured by the Persians and the entire Roman army of the East annihilated. All hell broke loose in the following months. Roman generals revolted in Gaul, the Balkans and Asia Minor, while barbarian raiders poured across the unprotected frontiers in destructive waves. Economic collapse, banditry, piracy and pestilence followed in their wake as the Roman Empire fragmented and spiraled perilously close to oblivion. Still, Gallienus battled on doggedly, showing grit and ingenuity. His military reforms, including the the promotion of a tough new officer class from the Danubian provinces, were key to the eventual Roman recovery. Though a capable soldier, he was also a patron of art, literature and philosophy. His poetic pretensions, gender-bending wit and love of luxury earned him the disdain of Rome's upper classes. But he was tolerant and humane, and he won the respect of Christians by ending decades of persecution. In AD 268, he fell victim to a plot by the very Danubian officers he had raised to prominence. But the great Roman revival of the late third century owes as much to Gallienus as to the soldier-emperors that followed him. 

    This apparently unique gold aureus bears mute witness to the economic crisis facing the Roman world during the reign of Gallienus. Weighing only 3.37 grams, it contains half the gold of aurei issued three decades before. The reverse alludes to the growing popularity in the legions of the quasi-monotheistic cult of Sol Invictus, the "Unconquered Sun." 


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2017
    3rd Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
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