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    Decius: Ill-Fated Reformer

    Trajan Decius (AD 249-251). AV aureus (19mm, 4.04 gm, 6h).  Rome,  AD 250-251. IMP C M Q TRAIANVS DECIVS AVG, laureate and cuirassed bust of Decius right / VBERITAS AVG, Uberitas standing left, holding pileus in right hand and cornucopia cradled in left arm. RIC --, cf. 28 (bust also draped). Cohen 104.  Calic├│ 3299. NGC (photo-certificate) AU 5/5 - 2/5, scuff.

    From The Andre Constantine Dimitriadis Collection. Ex Dreesmann Collection, Part I (Spink London, 13 April 2000), lot 33; Lanz 38 (Munich, 24 November 1986), lot 834. 

    Born in on the Danubian frontier, Gaius Messius Quintus Decius gained entrance to the Roman elite via his marriage to Herennia Etruscilla, descended from a noble Etruscan family. Decius rapidly rose to a series of important positions, including the governorships of Spain and Moesia Inferior. In AD 248-249, when the Emperor Philip I faced a series of revolts and usurpations, Decius convinced him not to abdicate. Philip instead placed Decius at the head of an army sent to the Danubian front to crush the usurper Pacatian and eject Gothic invaders. With these tasks accomplished by June of AD 249, Decius' soldiers proclaimed him emperor, much against his wishes (or so he claimed). His army defeated Philip in battle near Verona in September; the Senate enthusiastically approved his elevation and gave him the additional name of Trajan in honor of the great second-century emperor. Decius seems to have come to the throne with a ready-made agenda for the restoration of Rome's fading glory. He cracked down harshly on those he believed were undermining the ancient traditions of Rome. Christianity was particularly singled out, and thousands of Christians were forced to either make sacrifice to Rome's gods or face torture and execution. Renewed barbarian invasions late in AD 250 took his attention away from domestic affairs. An engagement with the Goths in the spring of 251 was successful enough to prompt Decius to raise his son Herennius to the rank of Augustus. Seeking a decisive battle, Decius pursued the fleeing Goths into the marshes of Abrittus and straight into an ambush. Decius, Herennius and about half of their army perished in the debacle, the first time a Roman emperor had fallen to a foreign enemy. The Christians claimed it was God's revenge on an arch-persecutor. In any case, the catastrophe at Abrittus accelerated the Roman Empire's slide into anarchy.

    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: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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