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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Roman Coins ▸ The Tetrarchy ▸ DiocletianView Options:  |  |  | 

Diocletian, 20 November 284 - 1 May 305 A.D.

Caius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus was a man of humble birth who rose through the Roman military ranks on pure talent. Becoming emperor after the assassination of Carinus, Diocletian introduced many reforms that prolonged the life of the Empire, which was on the verge of total collapse before his reign. These reforms, however, eliminated most personal freedoms and turned much of the population into hereditary serfs. Diocletian was the first Roman emperor to voluntarily abdicate. He lived out his retirement in his palace on the Dalmatian coast, tending his vegetable gardens. His palace went on to become the core of the modern day city of Split.


Diocletian, 20 November 284 - 1 May 305 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt

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Victory or Nike is seen with wings in most statues and paintings, with one of the most famous being the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Most other winged deities in the Greek pantheon had shed their wings by Classical times. Nike is the goddess of strength, speed, and victory. Nike was a very close acquaintance of Athena and is thought to have stood in Athena's outstretched hand in the statue of Athena located in the Parthenon. Victory or Nike is also one of the most commonly portrayed figures on Greek and Roman coins.
RX79881. Billon tetradrachm, Dattari 5715; Milne 4857; SNG Milan 2184; SNG Hunterian 4872; BMC Alexandria p. 325, 2519; Kampmann 119.48; Emmett 4064.4; SNG Cop -; Geissen -, VF, well centered, nice portrait, some die wear and damage, edge crack, some light corrosion, weight 7.641 g, maximum diameter 19.1 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 29 Aug 287 - 28 Aug 288 A.D.; obverse A K Γ OYA ∆IOKΛHTIANOC CEB, laureate and cuirassed bust right; reverse Nike advancing right, raising wreath in extended right hand, palm frond in left hand over left shoulder, ∆ over L (year 4) on right; $50.00 (€44.50)
 


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In 291, Diocletian signed peace treaties with the kingdoms of Aksum and Nubia.
RA51543. Billon antoninianus, Bastien pl. XXIII, 323a (same obverse die, 39 spec.); RIC V, part 2, 28; Cohen VI 153; Hunter IV 33 var. (bust), VF, weight 2.785 g, maximum diameter 22.5 mm, die axis 180o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, 290 - 291 A.D.; obverse IMP DIOCLETIANVS AVG, radiate and mantled bust left, holding eagle-tipped scepter; reverse IOVI AVGG, Jupiter standing left, victory in right, leaning on long scepter in left hand, eagle at feet left, in exergue; ex Harlan J. Berk; $45.00 (€40.05)
 


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In 292, the Roman general Achilleus was proclaimed emperor in Alexandria. For two years he ruled over Egypt, but in 294 his rebellion was crushed by Emperor Diocletian.
RS60443. Billon antoninianus, Bastien 435; RIC V, part 2, 34; cf. Hunter IV 35 (1st officina); SRCV IV 12658 var. (obv. legend), EF, near full silvering, uneven strike, weight 2.795 g, maximum diameter 22.4 mm, die axis 0o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, 292 A.D.; obverse IMP DIOCLETIANVS AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse IOVI AVGG, Jupiter seated left, Victory on globe in right hand, long scepter behind in left, uncertain officina letter in exergue; $40.00 (€35.60)
 


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In 293, Diocletian's Palace was built on a small bay on the Dalmatian coast, four miles from Salona, today's Split, Croatia.
RA77808. Billon antoninianus, RIC V 323, Cohen VI 146, Hunter V 72, SRCV IV 12654, VF, well centered, green patina with highlighting earthen deposits, slightly ragged flan, light marks, weight 2.430 g, maximum diameter 21.9 mm, die axis 135o, 3rd officina, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 290 - 294 A.D.; obverse IMP C C VAL DIOCLETIANVS P F AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse IOV ET HERCV CONSER AVGG, Jupiter standing right, chlamys over shoulders, globe in right hand, long scepter in left hand, facing Hercules standing left, nude, offering Victory on globe in right hand, club and Nemean lion's skin in left, crescent with horns up above Γ in center, XXI (mark of value) in exergue; from the Butte College Foundation, ex Lindgren; $40.00 (€35.60)
 


Diocletian, 20 November 284 - 1 May 305 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt

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The ancients did not all agree on the attributes of Serapis. A passage in Tacitus affirms that many recognized in this god, Aesculapius, imputing healing to his intervention; some thought him identical with Osiris, the oldest deity of the Egyptians; others regarded him as Jupiter, possessing universal power; but by most he was believed to be the same as Pluto, the "gloomy" Dis Pater of the infernal regions. The general impression of the ancients seems to have been that by Serapis, was to be understood the beginning and foundation of things. Julian II consulted the oracle of Apollo for the purpose of learning whether Pluto and Serapis were different gods; and he received for an answer that Jupiter-Serapis and Pluto were one and the same divinity.
RX71176. Billon tetradrachm, Milne 4781, Curtis 1954, Geissen 3210, Dattari 5622, Kampmann 119.13, BMC Alexandria 2529, SNG Cop 980, Emmett 4025, VF, green patina, some earthen encrustation, weight 8.691 g, maximum diameter 20.3 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 29 Aug 285 - 28 Aug 286 A.D.; obverse A K Γ OYAΛ ∆IOKΛHTIANOC CEB, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse Alexandria standing left, wears turreted cap, head of Serapis in right hand, scepter in left hand, L - B (year 2) flanking across field; $36.00 (€32.04)
 


Diocletian, 20 November 284 - 1 May 305 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt

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Athena is seen here with her frequent companion Nike.
RX85512. Billon tetradrachm, Geissen 3237, Milne 4851, Curtis 1963, BMC Alexandria 2484, SNG Cop 988, Dattari 5633 var. (legend break), Kampmann 119.43, Emmett 4028, F, light corrosion, weight 8.507 g, maximum diameter 18.6 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 29 Aug 287 - 28 Aug 288 A.D.; obverse A K Γ OYA ∆IOKΛHTIANOC CEB, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse Athena standing left, Nike in right, resting left hand on shield, L∆ (year 4) lower left; $32.00 (€28.48)
 


The Pre-Reform Coinage of Diocletian

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BL43186. The Pre-Reform Coinage of Diocletian by Percy H. Webb, Numismatic chronicle reprint series, Attic Books 1977 reprint, paperback pamphlet, 29 pages; $6.00 (€5.34)
 







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OBVERSE LEGENDS

DIOCLETIANVSAVG
DIOCLETIANVSPAVG
DIOCLETIANVSAVGVSTVS
DIOCLETIANVSPFAVG
DNDIOCLETIANOBAEATIS
DNDIOCLETIANOFELICIS
DNDIOCLETIANOFELICISSIMOSENAVG
DNDIOCLETIANOPFSAVG
IMPCCVALDIOCLETIANVSPFAVG
IMPCDIOCLETIANVSPFAVG
IMPDIOCLETIANVSAVG
IMPDIOCLETIANVSPFAVG


REFERENCES

Bastien, P. Le monnayage de I'atelier de Lyon, Diocletien et ses coregents avant la reforme monetaire (285 - 294). Numismatique Romaine VII. (Wetteren, 1972).
Bastien, P. Le Monnayage de l'Atelier de Lyon, De la Réforme Monétaire de Dioclétien à la fermeture temporaire de l'Atelier en 316 (294 - 316). Numismatique Romaine XI. (Wetteren, 1980).
Calicó, X. The Roman Avrei, Vol. Two: From Didius Julianus to Constantius I, 193 AD - 335 AD. (Barcelona, 2003).
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappées sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. 6: Macrianus to Diocletian & Maximianus. (Paris, 1886).
Depeyrot, G. Les monnaies d'or de Diocletien à Constantin I (284-337). Moneta 1. (Wetteren, 1995).
Gnecchi, F. I Medaglioni Romani. (Milan, 1912).
Jelocnik, A. The Sisak Hoard of Argentei of the Early Tetrarchy. (Ljubljana, 1961).
King, C.E. & D.R. Sear. Roman Silver Coins, Volume V, Carausius to Romulus Augustus. (London, 1987).
Mattingly, H., E.A. Sydenham & P. Webb. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol V, Part II, Probus to Amandus. (London, 1933).
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet, University of Glasgow, Vol. IV. Valerian I to Allectus. (Oxford, 1978).
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet, University of Glasgow, Vol. V. Diocletian (Reform) to Zeno. (Oxford, 1982).
Sear, D.R. Roman Coins and Their Values, Vol. IV: The Tetrarchies and the Rise of the House of Constantine...Diocletian To Constantine I, AD 284 - 337. (London, 211).
Sutherland, R.A.C. & C.H.V. Carson. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol VI, From Diocletian's reform to the death of Maximinus. (London, 1967).

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Roman Coins of Diocletian