Saturday, February 06, 2010

Genius of the Armies of Illyrica - An Antoninianus of Trajan Decius

Obverse: Draped bust of Trajan Decius facing right with radiate crown

Reverse: Genius standing left with legionary standard to right.
Inscription: GENIVS EXERC ILLYRICIANI - Genius (spirit) of the Armies of Illyrica.

Silver Antoninianus.

C. Messius Quintus Traianus Decius (say that five times fast), known to history as Trajan Decius, was the governor of Lower Moesia. Upper and Lower Moesia are just about where modern-day Serbia and Bulgaria are located. He was sent by Philip I to put down the revolt of Pacatian in Upper Moesia and after the rebels killed Pacatian, he was induced by the same rebels to be the new contender and quickly marched on Rome.

After defeating and killing Phillip I in battle (Philip had himself killed Gordian III to become emperor), Trajan Decius became emperor in 249 AD. His reign lasted 3 short years, coming to a rather dead end in late 251 AD when he was killed in a battle with the Goths at Abrittua.

Like Philip I, the loyalty of the armies was paramount. After all, Trajan Decius came to power by using the legions to dethrone Philip I, and his rule could be subject to a similar challenge by restive army commanders and armies. This coin promoting the spirit of the legions in Illyrica (essentially modern day Albania) was important to ensure the loyalty of the legions receiving these coins there and reminding them who was paying them.

1 comment:

Expatriate Owl said...

Trajan Decius is almost a dead ringer for Bernie Madoff!

Does Mr. Picard know that you have that coin?