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    Liberation of Aquileia; Ex Emona Hoard

    Magnentius (AD 350-353). AV medallion of 3-solidi (34mm, 13.46 gm, 11h). NGC MS★ 5/5 - 3/5, Fine Style, light graffito. Aquileia, ca. AD 351. D N MAGNEN-TIVS P F AVG, bare headed, draped and cuirassed bust of Magnentius right, seen from front / LIBERATOR•REI•PVBLICAE, Magnentius, nimbate and in military attire, cloak flying behind, on stallion stepping right, offering his right hand to raise turreted and draped figure of Republica bowing left, cloak billowing behind, cornucopia and end of cloak in left hand, the other end of her cloak in right; SMAQ in exergue. RIC VIII 128. Gnecchi -. P. Bastien, Le monnayage de Magnence (350-353) (2nd ed. 1983), 196, 339 and pl. SV, 339. A. Jelocnik, Le trésor d'Emona, RN 1967, 12 and pl. 36, 5. Superbly struck and perfectly centered on bright flan.

    From the Paramount Collection. Ex Münzen & Medaillen, Auction 92 (22 November 2002), lot 329; Münzen & Medaillen, Auction 79 (28 February 1994), lot 617; Emona Hoard, 1956

    Born around AD 303 to parents of barbarian stock, Flavius Magnus Magnentius showed enough talent and initiative to rise high in the Roman army during the reigns of Constantine the Great and his son, Constans I, emperor of the West. In the AD 340s, Constans appointed Magnentius as commander in his personal guard, the Protectores. Whatever his merits, gratitude does not seem to have been among them, for in AD 350 he began plotting the overthrow of his benefactor. At a birthday party for a government minister, Magnentius walked in wearing an emperor's purple cloak and was immediately hailed by all the soldiers present. Constans, who had made himself unpopular with the army, attempted to flee to his brother, Constantius II, emperor of the East, but was overtaken and executed. After putting down the usurper Nepotian (half-nephew of Constantine I) in Rome, Magnentius solidified his rule in the West and appointed his brother Decentius as Caesar to fight the Germans on the Rhine. He also attempted to enter into negotiations with Constantius, but the Eastern emperor would hear none of it and vowed to avenge his brother's murder. However, he was preoccupied fighting the Persians, and had to disengage before he could turn his army against the West, which took more than a year. Constantius finally struck in the summer of AD 351, but Magnentius defeated his initial thrust into Italy and quickly went on the offensive, seizing the strategic town of Siscia and forcing a major engagement in the Balkans. The clash at Mursa on 28 September AD 351 proved one of the costliest battles in Roman history, leaving the ground strewn with 55,000 dead. Magnentius fared much the worse and retreated back into Gaul. Constantius took his time in pursuit, invading Italy the following year and methodically tightening the noose around Magentius, who was forced to take refuge in the city of Lugdunum. Rather than surrender, Magnentius fell on his sword in August AD 353. Decentius followed suit a few days later.

    Magnentius posed as a champion of the common people, a role reflected in this gold multiple, where he is usually shown without a diadem or other trappings of royalty. The reverse legend also carries a populist message, celebrating the liberation of the state from the tyranny of the sons of the House of Constantine, and struck to celebrate his entry into Aquileia in late AD 350 or early AD 351.




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    March, 2021
    25th-27th Thursday-Saturday
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