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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Roman Coins ▸ Crisis and Decline ▸ Trajan DeciusView Options:  |  |  | 

Trajan Decius, July 249 - First Half of June 251 A.D.

Trajan Decius, a general under Philip I, successfully crushed the revolt of Pacatian. His troops forced him to assume the imperial dignity and although he still protested his loyalty, Philip advanced against him. Decius was victorious and Philip was killed. The Senate then recognized Decius as Emperor, giving him the attribute Traianus as a reference to that good emperor. As the Byzantine historian Zosimus later noted: "Decius was therefore clothed in purple and forced to undertake the government, despite his reluctance and unwillingness." Decius spent the rest of his short reign combating barbarians. Sometime in the first two weeks of June 251, Trajan Decius and his son Herennius Etruscus became the first Roman emperors to die in battle against a foreign enemy. Herennius died at his father's side, struck by an arrow. Decius survived the initial confrontation, only to be slain with the rest of the army before the end of the day.


Trajan Decius, July 249 - First Half of June 251 A.D., Anazarbus, Cilicia

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This coin commemorates an Olympic victory by Anazarbus. Agonistic "urns" or "crowns" were awarded to winners at ancient Greek games. They are called "crowns" because they may have been placed on the head of the victor. Beginning about two decades after this issue, the Olympics would begin a long decline. In 267, the German Heruli invaded Greece attacking Athens, Corinth, Argos, and Sparta. Although the invaders probably never reached Olympia, buildings were dismantled for material to build a wall around the Temple of Zeus and the Bouleterion. An earthquake, a failing economy, further invasions, and Christian antagonism probably caused further decline. The record of victors is very patchy after 261, with a gap of nearly a century from c. 277 to c. 369. Events may merely lack documentation or perhaps there was a moratorium. The last known Olympic victor was the Athenian boxer, M. Aurelios Zopyros in 385. In 393, Theodosius I outlawed all pagan festivals, including the Olympics, ending a thousand years of Greek tradition. Source: Eros and Greek Athletics by Thomas F. Scanlon.
RP84934. Bronze triassarion, Ziegler 744 (Vs 2/Rs 2, 4 spec.), SNG Levante 1495, SNG Pfalz 4732, SNG Leypold 2272, SNG BnF -, SNGvA -, F, dark patina, interesting portrait, porous, weight 8.486 g, maximum diameter 24.1 mm, die axis 180o, Anazarbus (Anavarza, Turkey) mint, 249 - 250 A.D.; obverse AYT K KVI TPAIAN ∆EKIOC CEB, radiate head right; reverse ANAZA• EN∆OΞ• ET HΞC (glorious Anazarbus, year 268), agonistic prize crown inscribed ∆EKIOC, containing palm frond, Γ − Γ (seat of 3 provinces, holder of 3 neocorates) flanking crown, OIKOVM/ENIKOC (Ecumenical = Olympic Games) in two lines below; very rare; $220.00 (€195.80)
 


Trajan Decius, July 249 - First Half of June 251 A.D., Antioch, Seleucis and Pieria, Syria

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His troops forced Decius to assume the imperial dignity and although he still protested his loyalty, Philip advanced against him. Decius was victorious and Philip was killed. The Senate then recognized Decius as Emperor, giving him the attribute Traianus as a reference to that good emperor. As the Byzantine historian Zosimus later noted: "Decius was therefore clothed in purple and forced to undertake the government, despite his reluctance and unwillingness."
RY76704. Billon tetradrachm, McAlee 1128(a) (ex. rare); Prieur 569; BMC Galatia p. 220, 579; SNG Cop -; SNG Hunterian -; SNG Munchen -, VF, well centered, toned, earthen encrustations, marks and scratches, porosity, flan crack, weight 8.768 g, maximum diameter 25.5 mm, die axis 180o, 1st officina, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 249 - 250 A.D.; obverse AYT K Γ ME KY TPAIANOC ∆EKIOC CEB, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from the front, one dot below; reverse ∆HMAPX EΞOYCIAC (tribune of the people), eagle standing left on palm branch, wings spread, head left, wreath in beak, S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; extremely rare; $90.00 (€80.10)
 


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In Roman religion, every man has a genius, a presiding spirit. In De Die Natali, Censorinus says, from the moment we are born, we live under the guard and tutelage of Genius. Cities, organizations, and peoples also had a genius. On coins, we find inscriptions to the Genius of the Roman people, of the Senate, of the Emperor, etc. The legend GENIVS EXERC ILLVRICIANI dedicates this coin to the Genius of the army in Illyria (western Balkans).

Genius' image is of a man with a cloak half covering the shoulders leaving the rest of his body naked, holding a cornucopia in one hand, and a simpulum or a patera in the other.
RS90372. Silver antoninianus, RIC IV 16(c), RSC IV 49, Hunter III 11, SRCV III 9374, VF, weight 3.252 g, maximum diameter 23.6 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 249 - 251 A.D.; obverse IMP C M Q TRAIANVS DECIVS AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse GENIVS EXERC ILLVRICIANI, Genius standing left, nude but for cloak over shoulder, patera in right hand, cornucopia in left hand, standard right; $85.00 (€75.65)
 


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Adventus Augustus inscriptions commemorate the emperor's arrival at Rome, either at the commencement of his reign or on his return from a distance.
RS71384. Silver antoninianus, RIC IV 11b, RSC IV 4, Hunter III 6, SRCV III 9366, VF, weight 5.333 g, maximum diameter 23.1 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 249 - 251 A.D.; obverse IMP C M Q TRAIANVS DECIVS AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse ADVENTVS AVG (arrival of the Emperor), Trajan Decius on horseback left, raising right hand in salute, scepter in left hand; $85.00 (€75.65)
 


Trajan Decius, July 249 - First Half of June 251 A.D., Antioch, Seleucis and Pieria, Syria

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In 256 A.D., about six years after this coin was struck, the Persian King Shapur conquered and plundered Antioch.
RY72860. Billon tetradrachm, McAlee 1135(e); Prieur 598; Dura Coins 523; BMC Galatia p. 221, 587, VF, full circle centering, corrosion, minor flan crack and edge irregularities, weight 11.374 g, maximum diameter 29.1 mm, die axis 225o, 5th officina, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 250 - 251 A.D.; obverse AYT K Γ ME KY ∆EKIOC TPAIANOC CEB, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind, five pellets below bust; reverse ∆HMAPX EΞOYCIAC (tribune of the people), eagle standing left on a palm frond, head left, wings spread, wreath in beak, S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; very rare; $65.00 (€57.85)
 


Click for a larger photo
In Roman religion, every man has a genius, a presiding spirit. In De Die Natali, Censorinus says, from the moment we are born, we live under the guard and tutelage of Genius. Cities, organizations, and peoples also had a genius. On coins, we find inscriptions to the Genius of the Roman people, of the Senate, of the Emperor, etc. The legend GENIVS EXERC ILLVRICIANI dedicates this coin to the Genius of the army in Illyria (western Balkans).

Genius' image is of a man with a cloak half covering the shoulders leaving the rest of his body naked, holding a cornucopia in one hand, and a simpulum or a patera in the other.
RS84398. Silver antoninianus, RIC IV 16(c), RSC IV 49, Hunter III 11, SRCV III 9374, VF, well centered, frosty surfaces, weight 4.154 g, maximum diameter 20.9 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 249 - 251 A.D.; obverse IMP C M Q TRAIANVS DECIVS AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse GENIVS EXERC ILLVRICIANI, Genius standing left, nude but for cloak over shoulder, patera in right hand, cornucopia in left hand, standard right; $65.00 (€57.85)
 


Trajan Decius, July 249 - First Half of June 251 A.D., Antioch, Seleucis and Pieria, Syria

Click for a larger photo
In 256 A.D., about six years after this coin was struck, the Persian King Shapur conquered and plundered Antioch.
RY79851. Billon tetradrachm, McAlee 1116(h) (rare); Prieur 520 (10 spec.); Dura Coins 478; BMC Galatia p. 220, 584; cf. SNG Hunterian 3086 (2nd off.); SNG Cop -; SNG Munchen -, VF, well centered and struck, dark toning, weight 11.820 g, maximum diameter 27.1 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 249 - 250 A.D.; obverse AYT K Γ ME KY ∆EKIOC TPAIANOC CEB, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind, no officina mark; reverse ∆HMAPX EΞOYCIAC (tribune of the people), eagle standing left on palm frond, wings open, head left, wreath in beak, S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; $60.00 (€53.40)
 







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OBVERSE LEGENDS

IMPCAESCMESSQDECIOTRAIAVG
IMPCAESCMESSTRAIQDECIOAVG
IMPCAESQTRAIANVSDECIVS
IMPCAETRADECAVG
IMPCAETRADECIVSAVG
IMPCDECIVSAVG
IMPCMQTRAIANVSDECIVSAVG
IMPTRAIANVSAVGDECIVS
IMPTRAIANVSDECIVSAVG


REFERENCES

Banti, A. & L. Simonetti. Corpus Nummorum Romanorum. (Florence, 1972-1979).
Calicó, X. The Roman Avrei, Vol. Two: From Didius Julianus to Constantius I, 193 AD - 335 AD. (Barcelona, 2003).
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappées sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. 5: Gordian I to Valerian II. (Paris, 1885).
Mattingly, H., E. Sydenham & C. Sutherland. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol IV, From Pertinax to Uranius Antoninus. (London, 1986).
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet, University of Glasgow, Vol. III. Pertinax to Aemilian. (Oxford, 1977).
Seaby, H. & D. Sear. Roman Silver Coins, Volume IV, Gordian III to Postumus. (London, 1982).
Sear, D. Roman Coins and Their Values III, The Accession of Maximinus I to the Death of Carinus AD 235 - AD 285. (London, 2005).
Vagi, D. Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. (Sidney, 1999).

Catalog current as of Sunday, July 23, 2017.
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Roman Coins of Trajan Decius