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    Description

    Didius Julianus (28 March-1 June AD 193). AR denarius (17mm, 2.56 gm, 6h). NGC Choice VF 4/5 - 3/5. Rome, March-May AD 193. IMP CAES M DID-IVLIAN AVG, laureate head of Didius Julianus right / RECTOR-ORBIS, Didius Julianus, togate, standing facing, head left, globe in outstretched right hand, roll in left. RIC IV.I 3. RSC 15.

    Didius Julianus was born to a wealthy family in AD 137, probably in Milan. He had a prominent government career, including several provincial governorships in the reigns of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus. Though successful, did not earn the respect of his fellow senators, who regarded him as a sensualist and a spendthrift. When the Emperor Pertinax was killed by the Praetorians after only a three-month reign, no ready successor was at hand. Pertinax's father-in-law, Flavius Sulpicianus, entered the Praetorian camp on 28 March and tried to get the troops to proclaim him emperor, but he met with little enthusiasm. Sensing an opportunity, Didius Julianus rushed to the camp and began to make cash promises to the soldiers from outside the wall. Soon the scene became an auction, with Sulpicianus and Julianus striving to outbid each other for the favor of the troops. When Sulpicianus reached 20,000 sesterces per soldier, Didius Julianus upped the bid by a whopping 5,000 sesterces. Sold! Julianus was allowed into the camp and proclaimed emperor. Confronted by the swords of the Praetorians, the Senate approved his elevation, but could not hide its disgust. Disturbances broke out throughout the city, and a crowd at the Colosseum loudly called for Pescennius Niger, governor of Syria, to march on Rome. Niger was not the only alternative. Two other provincial governors also declared themselves emperor: Clodius Albinus in Britain, and Septimius Severus in Pannonia. Severus, closest to Rome, immediately marshaled his troops and invaded Italy. Julianus at first tried negotiations, then sent assassins to kill Severus, to no avail. Julianus next tried to fortify Rome but the results were ineffective and ludicrous. With Julianus' authority in Rome rapidly deteriorating, Severus was able to send messages to the Praetorians, who renounced their allegiance to Julianus. Seeing their cue, the Senators proclaimed Severus emperor and passed a death sentence on Julianus. On June 1, AD 193, a Praetorian officer found the cringing Julianus hiding in the palace and dispatched him, ending his 66-day reign.


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