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    Severus II, Augustus (AD 306-307). AV aureus (18mm, 5.34 gm, 7h). Choice VF 5/5 - 2/5, marks. Aquileia, late 306. SEVERV – S P F AVG Laureate head right / FELCITAS SAECVLI AVGG NN, two Victories holding up wreath inscribed VIC / AVGG, SMAQ in the exergue. RIC VI 74. Cohen 11. Depeyrot 8/1 (this coin cited). Paolucci-Zub 125 (this coin). Calicó 4982 (this coin). Biaggi 1882 (this coin). Extremely rare.

    From the Morris Collection. Ex NAC 49, (October 21 2008), lot 447; Weber Collection (Hirsch XXIV, 1909), lot 2532; L Vierordt Collection (J. Schulman, 1924), lot 2598; M&M XI, (1995), lot 857.

    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. The image of Jupiter on the reverse of this aureus shows his devotion to the traditional gods of Rome, while in the West Constantine's coinage was already beginning to show Christian influence.

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