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    Gratian: Unfulfilled Promise

    Gratian (AD 367-383). AV solidus (22mm, 4.46 gm, 12h).  Milan, AD 378-383. DN GRATIA-NVS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust of Gratian right, bust seen from front/ VICTO-RIA AVGG, Two emperors (Gratian and Theodosius I or Valentinian II) enthroned facing, with their right hands jointly holding globe; Victory above, wings spread; palm branch below; COM in exergue. RIC IX 5(d). Depeyrot 1/1. Sharply struck and lustrous. NGC Choice AU 5/5 - 3/5, edge marks.

    From The Andre Constantine Dimitriadis Collection. Ex Stack's (New York, 7-8 December 1989), lot 2861; Frederick Knobloch Collection (Stack's, 5 May 1984), lot 1432. 

    The eldest son of Valentinian I, Flavius Gratianus was born at Sirmium in AD 359. His course was set by the elevation of his father in AD 364; shortly thereafter, Valentinian named his brother Valens as co-emperor in the east, while he took charge of the more beleaguered west. Gratian was named  co-Augustus in AD 367 by his father at Ambiani (Amiens) in Gaul. In AD 375, Valentinian suffered an apoplectic stroke and died, leaving the western throne to the 16-year-old Gratian. A few days later, a cabal led by Gratian's stepmother Justina proclaimed his five-year-old half-brother, Valentinian II, as co-emperor. To his credit, Gratian agreed to share power with his sibling, with Valentinian and Justina controlling Illyria, Italy and Africa, while Gratian ruled the more threatened provinces of Gaul, Germany, and Britain. Gratian established his court at Trier, Germany, and relied on a counsel of advisors headed by the poet Ausonius, who helped maintain good relations with the Senate in Rome. Gratian was a devout Christian, however, and rejected a request by a pagan faction to restore the statue of Victory to the Senate house. He was also the first emperor to refuse the title of Pontifex Maximus, or high priest, a position that now fell to the Christian Bishop of Rome. In AD 378, a major Gothic invasion threatened the East Roman Empire, and Gratian was on his way east with reinforcements when his uncle Valens was killed in the battle of Adrianople. After careful deliberations, Gratian chose the capable Theodosius I as Valens' replacement. Gratian's youth seemed to promise a long reign, but in AD 383 the duke of Britain, Magnus Magnus, proclaimed himself emperor; Gratian's troops, angered at his earlier refusal to raise their pay, deserted to the usurper. Gratian fled toward the Alps, but was overtaken at Lugdunum and executed on August 25, AD 383, at the age of 24. 


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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2014
    3rd-10th Wednesday-Wednesday
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