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    Gallus: Nadir of Empire

    Trebonianus Gallus (AD 251-253). AV aureus (18mm, 3.45 gm, 2h).  Rome, AD 251-253. IMP CAE C VIB TREB GALLVS AVG, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Gallus right /  LIBERTAS AVGG, Libertas standing left, holding pileus in right hand and scepter in left. RIC 20. Cohen 60. Calic├│ 3334 (this coin illustrated). Very rare. Light scrape across face. NGC (photo-certificate) Choice AU 5/5 - 3/5, light marks.

    From The Andre Constantine Dimitriadis Collection. Ex McLendon Collection (Christie's New York, 12 June 1993), lot 179. 

    Trebonianus Gallus was born in the late AD 190s and was governor of Moesia when he joined the Emperor Trajan Decius on an expedition against the Goths in late in AD 250. At first attended by success, the campaign ended in disaster early the following year when Decius and his entourage foolishly pursued the fleeing Goths into a swamp and were killed in an ambush. An enduring tradition places blame for the debacle on Trebonianus Gallus for failing to bring up reinforcements, but the soldiers nonetheless proclaimed Gallus emperor along with Decius' surviving son, Hostilian. Upon returning to Rome in the summer of AD 251, Gallus named his own son Volusian as Caesar and betrothed him to one of Hostilian's sisters. When Hostilian died of the plague in November of the same year, Volusian was further elevated to co-Augustus with his father. Gallus and son preferred a mild, civilian-oriented type of government that proved ill-suited to the harsh realities of the age. They remained at Rome trying to direct affairs while an escalating series of calamities descended on the empire, including pestilence, famine, invasions by the Goths and Persians, and economic collapse. One historian aptly described the reign as "a succession of miseries, devastations, and horrors." In stark contrast to the energetic response of later soldier-emperors, Gallus seemed utterly overwhelmed and paralyzed. In mid-AD 253, the Danubian legions took matters into their own hands and proclaimed their general Aemilian as emperor. Gallus and Volusian summoned help from the general Valerian, then raising troops on the Rhine, but Aemilian moved quickly to invade Italy. At last roused to action, Gallus and Volusian scraped together an army and marched out to meet the rebels. But when their soldiers realized they were badly outnumbered, they murdered the unlucky co-emperors just north of Rome. 

    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
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