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Claudius II Gothicus


Claudius II Gothicus. A.D. 268 - 270 . AV medallion of 8 aurei (38.83 g). Mediolanum, ca. A.D. 268. IMP C M AVRL CLAVDIVS · P · F · AVG, laureate and cuirassed bust right, aegis on left shoulder and toga palmata on right; cuirass ornamented with emperor on horse right, spearing fallen enemy / CONCORD-IA · EX-ERCITVM, Concordia standing facing, head left, holding standard surmounted by legionary eagles in each hand. RIC -, but cf. 1 (medallion of six aurei); J. Lafaurie, RN 1958, p. 101, 7-10 and pl. 8, 9 (these dies); H. Huvelin and J. Lafaurie, "Trésor d' un navire Romain trouvé en Méditerranée nouvelles découvertes," BSFN (1975), p. 719; Gnecchi -, cf. p. 9, 1 and pl. 3, 8 (medallion of six aurei); Vagi 2376; Cohen -. Very rare and among the finest specimens known of this prestigious issue. Struck on a very broad flan and with an unusually well-detailed and pleasant portrait. Flan crack and a few very minor surface marks, otherwise about extremely fine. Ex NAC 24 (5 December 2002), 201. Realized CHF 80,000 on an estimate of CHF 97,500. NAC: The final year of Gallienus' reign was not altogether different from any of the fourteen years before: a Gothic invasion and a rebellion within the army, both of which had to be addressed simultaneously. In this case the difference was in the magnitude of the events, for we are told that the Gothic invasion of late 267 or early 268 involved 2,000 vessels and 320,000 soldiers. After the Goths had pillaged Greece, Thrace, Macedon, and even parts of Asia Minor, they suffered a crushing defeat near Naïssus where perhaps as many as 50,000 of them died in a single day. The victory is traditionally given to Claudius II 'Gothicus', but many scholars now attribute it to Gallienus. If the defeat was the work of Gallienus, then he was not afforded the opportunity to follow it up, because a rebellion at Milan by the commander Aureolus commanded his attention. This was a dangerous situation because Aureolus had taken control of Milan, one of the empire's most strategic cities, and had allied himself with the Gallic rebel Postumus. (We are certain of this because during his revolt Aureolus struck coins at Milan in Postumus' name.) By the time Gallienus arrived in northern Italy, the siege of Milan seems to have been initiated by the commander of the Dalmatian Cavalry, the future emperor Claudius II. Upon arriving in northern Italy, Gallienus assumed command of the siege. His reasons were certainly personal: Aureolus was a trusted commander whom Gallienus had already forgiven for an earlier revolt, perhaps in 262. Regardless, the takeover must have upset Claudius, who probably suspected Gallienus had arrived at the pivotal moment to capture the glory for himself. Claudius then conspired with other officers, including the future emperor Aurelian, to murder Gallienus. The deed was achieved as Gallienus emerged from his tent upon hearing a false alarm indicating a counter-offensive. After the promise of a liberal bribe, the soldiers hailed Claudius their new emperor, and he continued the siege until Aureolus had been ousted and executed. It is possible - even likely - that these large gold medallions were struck to help pay for the accession promises Claudius had made outside the walls of Milan shortly after he murdered Gallienus. One of the first measures taken by Claudius was to improve the purity and the weight of the aureus. They had been struck at the rate of 80 to 90 per pound for most of Gallienus' reign, and Claudius raised the standard to the 60 to 70 per pound range. These massive gold medallions probably were intended as eight-aureus pieces, and if so they were based upon a weight slightly heavier than the low end of Claudius' range. The weight increase achieved by Claudius is easy to recognize when his eight-aureus medallions are compared to the eight-aureus medallion of Gallienus, for there is about a 30 percent difference in their intrinsic value.

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Roman Imperial Medallions

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