Saturday, June 21, 2014

Not So Semper FIDES - A Coin Of Probus

Obverse: IMP C M AVR PROBVS AVG. (Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius Probus Augustus) Large bust of the Emperor in armor facing right and wearing a double diadem.

Reverse: FIDES MILITVM. (The loyalty of the Armies) III in exerge. Personification of Fides standing facing right, holding a legionary standard in each hand.

Mint mark is III for the Lugdunum mint in Gaul, today known as Lyon. The III indicates the third officinae produced this coin.

The loyalty of the armies was of paramount concern to a Roman emperor, especially in the third century when they were keenly aware of how often emperors were overthrown my their own legions. After all, Probus had just led his army to overthrow the prior emperor Florian in 276 just three months after Florian had been elevated to the purple.

Since much of the monies minted in this period was for legionary pay, propagandizing the military virtues of the emperor, his victories against enemies of Rome, and appealing to the loyalty of the armies as in this coin were very necessary endeavors.

Unfortunately, in 282 AD, the loyalty of the armies to Probus ran out and he was murdered by his own soldiers in Sirmium.

This is an interesting reverse variation because most of the cataloged coins of the Fides Militvm series have Fides facing left, not right.

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