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    Licinius: Constantine's Foil

    Licinius I (AD 308-324). AV aureus (21mm, 5.27 gm, 12h).  Nicomedia, AD 317-318. LICINIVS AVGVSTVS, laureate head of Licinius right / IOVI CONS LICINI AVG, Jupiter standing left on platform, holding statue of Victory, eagle left at feet holding laurel wreath in beak, platform inscribed SIC X / SIC XX, SMNΔ in exergue. RIC VII 18 (corrected legend reference). Cohen --, 131 variant (officina letter along with mintmark). Calicó 5103. Very rare. NGC (photo-certificate) XF 5/5 - 3/5.

    From The Andre Constantine Dimitriadis Collection. Ex Neil S. Phillips Collection (Spink London, 7-9 October 1997), lot 375. 

    Gaius Valerius Licinianus Licinius was born in the early AD 260s. Like many other young men of low birth, he joined the Roman Army and rose quickly through the ranks. During his career he befriended Galerius, who became Caesar in AD 293, and then Augustus upon Diocletian's retirement in AD 305. At the Conference of Carnuntum in November, AD 308, Galerius appointed him as Augustus in place of the deceased Severus II, thus leapfrogging the legitimate Caesars Constantine I and Maximinus II. The death of Galerius in AD 311 left four men claiming the supreme title of Augustus: Licinius in the Balkans, Maxentius in Italy, Constantine I in Gaul and Britain, and Maximinus II in Asia Minor and Egypt. Another round of civil wars in AD 312-313 saw Constantine defeat Maxentius and Licinius victorious over Maximinus. Licinius launched a massacre of all potential rivals, including Maximinus' children, Galerius' son, and Diocletian's daughter. Yet he grudgingly accepted Constantine's edict of toleration toward Christians and came to a modus vivendi with his western counterpart. Tensions rose, with a final civil war erupting in AD 324. Constantine landed a series of crushing blows, and Licinius retreated with the remnants of his army to Nicomedia for a final stand. His wife Constantia intervened and negotiated an honorable surrender. Constantine at first allowed him to retire to Thessalonica, but executed him in AD 325. Although Licinius was a competent soldier and administrator, his many murders paint him as an unattractive character.  This gold aureus, struck at Licinius' capital of Nicomedia in AD 317-318, depicts him in the almost Art Deco style of the later Tetrarchic era. The reverse image of Jupiter shows his devotion to the traditional gods of Rome, while in the West Constantine's coinage was already beginning to show Christian influence.

    All Roman gold coins from the Dimitriadis Collection have been issued a photo-certificate by NGC. These may be sent in for encapsulation after the auction at the request of the buyer, free of charge. Please e-mail SamS@HA.com if you would like to utilize this option.


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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2014
    10th-16th Thursday-Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 14
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