ROMAN EMPIRE, Macrianus, 260-261 AD, antoninianus


ROMAN EMPIRE, Macrianus, 260-261 AD, antoninianius, no date (260 AD), uncertain Syrian mint, Obverse: radiate bust R, IMP C FVL MACRIANVS P F AVG, Reverse: Roma seated L holding Victory, ROMAE AETERNAE, billon, 22mm, 3.07g, SR10807, XF

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Macrianus the Elder was the equivalent of Minister of the Treasury, more or less, in command of the military in the east. When Emperor Valerian I was captured by the Persians, the Elder maneuvered the elevation of his sons, Macrianus and Quietus. The reigning Emperor, Gallienus, had to be dealt with. Macrianus marched west, engaged, was defeated and killed.

The Roman Empire was a system of theoretically constrained autocracy. The Emperor was supposed to be accepted by the Senate, which was supposed to be representing the people. It became difficult to restrain the autocrats. The succession problem was never solved. Many Emperors were murdered. In the 4th century AD the Empire was split for administrative purposes into eastern and western branches, the west devolving into local kingdoms in the 5th century AD, while the eastern branch continued as what we call the Byzantine Empire until 1453.

“Ancient Coins” includes Greek and Roman coins and those of neighbors and successors, geographically from Morocco and Spain all the way to Afghanistan. Date ranges for these begin with the world’s earliest coins of the 8th century BC to, in an extreme case, the end of Byzantine Empire, 1453 AD.