Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Coin of Gallienus - The Emperor as Germanicus

Emperor wearing radiate crown facing right.

Two German captives bound and seated beneath a trophy of captured German arms, armor, and shields.

This coin, another silver Antoninianus, commemorates the victory of the Emperor Gallienus over those troublesome Germanic tribes.

The Germans were getting rather feisty during his reign for the 7 years when he was essentially co-emperor with his father and in charge of the western portions of the empire, and then the 8 years when he was ruling alone, even as other Romans were rebelling and declaring themselves emperor at the same time.

Gallienus, in response to the German invasions went forth and won multiple victories against them in five major campaigns, mainly engaging in battles along the Danube and Rhine rivers.

This coin commemorates his fifth major victory over the Germans, the victory against the Alemanni where he stopped their invasion cold in the Battle at Milan in 259 AD.

To commemorate these five successful campaigns and victories he was given the title Germanicus. The term Germanicus is a Latin honorific term meaning essentially "He who kicked Germanic ass and took names".

Success against the Germanic tribes was always a crowd-pleaser in Rome, and helpful in maintaining the loyalty of the armies as they appreciated being led by a winner. This string of victories against the Germans however, didn't stop a group of Illyrian officers from assassinating Gallienus as he went forth to fight the imposters and rebels Postumus and Aureolus. The Illyrians then named Claudius II emperor.

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