ROMAN EMPIRE, Valerian I, 253-60 AD, antoninianius


ROMAN EMPIRE, Valerian I, 253-60 AD, antoninianius, no date (254-5 AD), Antioch mint, Obverse: radiate bust R, IMP C P LIC VALERIANVS AVG, Reverse: Jupiter seated L holding patera & scepter. eagle at feet, PACATORI ORBIS, billon, 19-23mm, 4.32g, SR9953, VF

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Valerian I was a high official and general who came to the defense of Trebonianus and Volusian against the usurper Aemilian, was too late, and was acclaimed Emperor by the Senate. He immediately elevated his son, Gallienus, to Augustus, making him co-Emperor. There were wars in the north and the east. Valerian tried to arrange a peace treaty with the Sasanids of Persia, but he was captured during the conference and taken hostage. Ransom was not paid, and he died in captivity. There is a story that the Persian king had his body stuffed and put on display in the palace.

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.