Heritage World Coin Auctions > NYINC Signature Sale 3113Auction date: 8 January 2024
Lot number: 31061

Price realized: 15,500 USD   (Approx. 14,130 EUR)   Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
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Lot description:

Gallienus, Joint Reign (AD 253-268). AV aureus (21mm, 3.31 gm, 12h). NGC MS 4/5 - 3/5, edge bend. Samosata, AD 255-256. IMP C P LIC GALLIENVS AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust of Galerius right, seen from behind / VICTORIAE / AVGG, Victory driving galloping biga right, whip in raised right hand, reins in left. Calicó -. RIC V.I -, cf. 276 (Valerian I). A simply spectacular coin in hand and the companion issue to the previous lot.

Publius Licinius Egnatius Gallienus ruled as Augustus from AD 253-268. Hailing from a distinguished Etruscan family, he jointly ruled with his father, Valerian I from AD 253-260, with Valerian I and Saloninus in AD 260 and solely from AD 260-268.

Gallienus' 15 year rule was a series of battles. Valerian I headed off to Asia Minor to work on the Eastern Empire, while Gallienus was left to work on issues in the European parts. Father and son would never see each other again as Valerian I would be captured by Shapur I of the Sasanian Empire in AD 260.

Gallienus first struggled against the Germans on the Rhine and Danube, resulting in the acquisition of the title Germanicus Maximus five times from AD 255-258. Valerian II, holding the rank of Caesar, died at some time in AD 258, either from natural causes or in one of the Danubian battles. Gallienus decided to abandon that campaign in order to concentrate on an invasion staged by the Juthungi (Alemanni) in the Rhine area. The invasion met opposition with Gallienus near Milan and was sorely defeated. Around this same time, Saloninus was named Caesar and sent to Cologne to establish his authority there and begin looking after the Western Empire.

Since Valerian I, while leading a plague infested army, was captured by Shapur I at Emesa in AD 260, the Eastern Empire was now in a state of flux. Assuming leadership was the praetorian prefect Callistus and the quartermaster-general Macrianus Senior. Seizing the opportunity for revolt, they proclaimed Macrianus Senior's two sons Quietus and Macrianus as emperors in Antioch. At the same time, the Franks were invading and reached as far south as Spain. Also, the governor of Lower Germany, Postumus, saw his opportunity and staged a revolt as well. Postumus took Cologne, executed Saloninus and his advisers, leaving the western provinces outside of the rule of the Roman Empire for 14 years.

Revolts sprang up in Egypt (L. Mussius Aemilianus, Prefect of Egypt, not the Aemilianus who was emperor in AD 253), Pannonia and Moesia (Ingenuus) and Byzantium (in response to the raids of the Goths). All of these were quickly subdued, but another revolt arose again in Pannonia and Moesia by Regalianus. The usurpation by Regalianus was the only one resulting in coinage that is currently known.

Gallienus, now devoid of offspring, gave the task of dealing with the revolt of Quietus and Macrinus to Aureolus, his general. Aureolus was used to dealing with revolts as he defeated Ingenuus. Aureolus' commander, Domitianus, met Macrinus, Macrinus Senior and army in Illyricium. There are two coins currently known for Domitianus, so he apparently made a claim for the throne as well. Quietus remained in power until Odaenathus of Palmyra, working as vice regent for Gallienus, defeated him eight months later. Aureolus decided to stage his own revolt in AD 262, but came to terms with Gallienus and was given command of the new cavalry corps. Although we do not have coins with the name Aureolus, there are Milanese antoniniani of elegant style in the name of Postumus that are attributed to him.

Having suppressed most of the revolts (Postumus was still ruling in the West), Gallienus returned to Rome in AD 263 to celebrate his decennalia. Since the dynamics of the Empire were changing so rapidly, some new policies were in order:

Milan became the military hub due to the proximity to the Danube and Rhine regions and the ability to thwart invasions to Italy; a new field army and cavalry corps was created, which was under the command of Aureolus; and senators could no longer assume command posts.

With the new policies in place, Gallienus and Aureolus headed off to battle Postumus. After some time, Postumus was trapped in a city, but Gallienus was injured by an arrow. Progress stopped and command was turned over to Aureolus. It is suspected Aureolus allowed Postumus to escape what should have been certain capture and execution. Gallienus was forced to give up the offensive and sent Aureolus to gather more troops and set up a defense in Milan.

In AD 267, a massive invasion of Asia Minor was staged by the Goths and Heruli. This invasion was so effective, the armies were within sight of Italy before being turned back. Rhodes, Crete, Thrace, Macedon, Thessaly, and Central Greece were all pillaged in the process. Gallienus and Claudius II finally defeated the invaders at Naissus.

While Gallienus was off in the Balkans working on the Goth and Heruli invasion, Aureolus seized the opportunity for yet another revolt. He defected to the side of Postumus, forcing Gallienus to give up the Gothic campaign and turn his attention again to the West. He arrived in Milan in September of AD 268, finding Aureolus had already been besieged by Claudius II. Gallienus assumed command of the siege to dispose of Aureolus himself. Within a couple of weeks of his arrival at Milan, Gallienus left his tent, unprotected, as there was news of a counter-attack by Aureolus, and was assassinated. Historians record that at the very least Claudius II was part of the conspiracy and may very well have murdered Gallienus himself. Co-conspirators were Heraclianus (who was sent to dispose of Vabalathus and Zenobia, but failed), Marcianus (who had helped in the Gothic campaign at Naissus) and Aurelianus, who became emperor himself two years later.

With Gallienus dead, Claudius II paid off the soldiers, was proclaimed emperor, finished the siege of Milan, executed Aureolus, joined the senate and proceeded to massacre Gallienus' family and associates in Rome in spite for Gallienus' policy of disallowing senatorial command posts in the army.



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Estimate: 15000-20000 USD