Sunday, January 24, 2010

Loyalty of the Armies - An Antoninianus of Philip I

Silver Antoninianus. AD 244-249, SEAR #2556.

Obverse: Draped bust of Philip I with radiate crown facing Right

Reverse: Four Legionary Standards

Philip the Praetorian Praefect, after killing Gordian III became emperor and struck this coin -Fides Exercitus - Loyalty of the Armies. A little ironic considering his lack of loyalty to his predecessor in office. Given that the bulk of Roman coins went to pay for the legions, it is unsurprising that the coins carry military themes and celebrate the military victories of the emperor or as in this case, propagandize to the recipients of these coins the need for their loyalty to the emperor and to remind them where their pay was coming from.

One of the main events for which Philip's reign is famous is a series of games held in Rome featuring a variety of wild beasts to celebrate the thousandth anniversary of the founding of the City of Rome. The games were commemorated on a series of coins he struck.

Philip's hope expressed on this coin for the loyalty of the armies was not met. A number of legions rebelled against him and he was killed in battle at Verona against another contender for the Imperium - Trajan Decius.

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