Sunday, February 12, 2012

An Antoninianus of Galienus - Virtvs Avg

Obverse: GALLIENVS AVG - radiate crowned head of Gallienus facing right

Reverse: VIRTVS AVG - helmeted Gallienus standing holding spear and shield (some catalogers refer to the shield as a globe) with a star below.

On this silver Antoninianus, you can see the bronze peeking through the silver layer applied to this coin. A flan crack also attests to the thinness of the coin itself. The inflationary cycle becomes more acute under this emperor and the silver coinage become more and more debased as the need to pay the expenses of the Empire, most notably its armies, outgrows its receipts. This became acute as the Empire faced multiple threats from outside its borders and multiple rebellions from within.

Virtus was a Roman virtue that stood for and conveyed manliness, valor, courage, and character, a quality vital for an emperor.

As always, the loyalty of the armies was paramount and part of retaining that loyalty was to have the empire depicted as a strong martial figure worthy of their loyalty.

Gallienus sadly did not long maintain that loyalty, even as he advertised his virtus and paid his soldiers well. He was assassinated by a conspiracy of Illyrican legionary officers in March 268 A.D. at the siege of Milan.

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