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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Roman Coins ▸ Recovery of the Empire ▸ AurelianView Options:  |  |  | 

Aurelian, August or September 270 - October or November 275 A.D.

L Domitius Aurelianus was born in Sirmium about 207 A.D. Of humble background, Aurelian rose in the ranks to become one of Rome's greatest generals. Proclaimed emperor around 270 A.D., he quickly crushed the various usurpers, restoring to its largest extent except for the Dacia, which was abandoned permanently. Aurelian then embarked on a series of public works meant to restore the empire's shattered infrastructure. His brilliant rule was cut short by a court conspiracy ending in his assassination in 275 A.D. Rome in 271 A.D.


Palmyrene Empire, Aurelian and Vabalathus, 270 - 275 A.D.

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Vabalathus, son of the Palmyran king Odenathus and Zenobia, was declared Augustus but Aurelian defeated his forces. He and Zenobia were then taken to Rome where they lived in great comfort. The abbreviated titles of Vabalathus most likely were, Vir Clarissimus Romanorum (or Rex) Imperator Dux Romanorum. The portraits of Vabalathus are interesting because they display both the Roman laurel and the Hellenistic royal diadem.
RA87980. Billon antoninianus, MER-RIC 3103, BnF XII 1241, Göbl MIR 353a2, Hunter IV 5, RIC V-2 381, Cohen VI 1, SRCV III 11718, Choice gVF, well centered, brown tone, areas of porosity, somewhat ragged edge, weight 3.112 g, maximum diameter 20.6 mm, die axis 0o, 2nd officina, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, Nov 270 - Mar 272 A.D.; obverse IMP C AVRELIANVS AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust of Aurelian right, from the front, B below; reverse VABALATHVS V C R IM D R, laureate, diademed, draped and cuirassed bust of Vabalathus right, from behind; $150.00 (€127.50)
 


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Aurelian defeated the Alamanni, Goths, Vandals, Juthungi, Sarmatians, and Carpi. He defeated the Palmyrene Empire in the east and the Gallic Empire in the west, reuniting the Empire in its entirety. He was responsible for the construction of the Aurelian Walls in Rome. His successes were instrumental in ending the Crisis of the Third Century, earning him the title Restitutor Orbis or "Restorer of the World."
SL89709. Billon antoninianus, MER-RIC 2747, RIC V-1 290, Venèra 9995 - 10000, BnF XII 1031, Hunter IV -, NGC MS, strike 5/5, surface 3/5, silvering, scratches (4243955-014), weight 4.15 g, maximum diameter 24.1 mm, die axis 315o, 2nd officina, Serdica (Sofia, Bulgaria) mint, issue 8, phase 2, Nov 274 - Sep 275; obverse AVRELIANVS AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust right; reverse RESTITVT ORBIS (to the restorer of the world), woman standing right, presenting wreath to emperor standing left, scepter in left hand, star in center field, KAB in exergue; ex Heritage auction 231808, lot 64072; $140.00 (€119.00)
 


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In 271, the Juthungi invaded Italy and sacked the city of Piacenza. A Roman army of 15,000 men under Aurelian was ambushed and defeated at the Battle of Placentia. The Juthungi then moved towards a defenseless Rome. Aurelian rallied his men and defeated the Germanic tribes on the Metauro River, just inland of Fano. After this near disaster, Aurelian began construction of a new defensive wall to protect Rome. The Aurelian Walls, 19 kilometers, enclosed the city with fortifications.
RA88938. Billon antoninianus, MER-RIC 2931 (13 spec), BnF XII 1151, Venèra 10109, Gloucester 500, RIC V 355 var., Cohen 259 (20f.) var., VF, well centered, glossy near black patina, small edge splits, weight 3.343 g, maximum diameter 23.2 mm, die axis 0o, 1st officina, Cyzicus mint, 3rd issue, end 271 A.D.; obverse IMP AVRELIANVS AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust right, one globules behind shoulder; reverse VICTORIA GERN (sic), Victory walking left, raising wreath in extended right hand, palm frond in left hand; ex CNG e-auction 411 (13 Dec 2017), lot 451 (misattributed); rare; $130.00 (€110.50)
 


Palmyrene Empire, Aurelian and Vabalathus, 270 - 275 A.D.

Click for a larger photo
Vabalathus, son of the Palmyran king Odenathus and Zenobia, was declared Augustus but Aurelian defeated his forces. He and Zenobia were then taken to Rome where they lived in great comfort. The abbreviated titles of Vabalathus most likely were, Vir Clarissimus Romanorum (or Rex) Imperator Dux Romanorum. The portraits of Vabalathus are interesting because they display both the Roman laurel and the Hellenistic royal diadem.
RA87978. Billon antoninianus, MER-RIC 3103, BnF XII 1241, Göbl MIR 353a2, Hunter IV 5, RIC V-2 381, Cohen VI 1, SRCV III 11718, VF, well centered, some corrosion, part of edge a little ragged, weight 2.694 g, maximum diameter 21.9 mm, die axis 180o, 2nd officina, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, Nov 270 - Mar 272 A.D.; obverse IMP C AVRELIANVS AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust of Aurelian right, from the front, B below; reverse VABALATHVS V C R IM D R, laureate, diademed, draped and cuirassed bust of Vabalathus right, from behind; $100.00 (€85.00)
 


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Aurelian probably joined the army in 235, a year that began an era of crisis, imperial assassinations, invasions, civil wars, plagues, and economic depression, which severely damaged the army. He distinguished himself in battle and successes as a cavalry commander eventually made him a member of emperor Gallienus' entourage. Claudius gave him command of the elite Dalmatian cavalry, and then promoted him to Master of Horse (second in command of the army after the Emperor). As emperor, Aurelian's successful restoration of the Army enabled him to defeat the Alamanni, Goths, Vandals, Juthungi, Sarmatians, and the Palmyrene Empire effectively ending the Roman Empire's Crisis of the Third Century.
RB88412. Billon antoninianus, MER-RIC 3085 (36 spec.), RIC V-1 366, BnF XII 1220, Venèra 10728 - 10732, Hunter IV 105, Cohen VI 206, Choice gVF, well centered, areas of porosity, small green encrustations, weight 4.114 g, maximum diameter 21.7 mm, die axis 0o, 1st officina, Cyzicus (Kapu Dagh, Turkey) mint, issue 10, phase 2, early - summer 275; obverse IMP AVRELIANVS AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust right; reverse RESTITVTOR EXERCITI (restorer of the army), Aurelian standing left holding scepter and presenting globe to Mars, also holding scepter, helmeted, standing right, A in center, XXI in exergue; $70.00 (€59.50)
 


Click for a larger photo
Aurelian probably joined the army in 235, a year that began an era of crisis, imperial assassinations, invasions, civil wars, plagues, and economic depression, which severely damaged the army. He distinguished himself in battle and successes as a cavalry commander eventually made him a member of emperor Gallienus' entourage. Claudius gave him command of the elite Dalmatian cavalry, and then promoted him to Master of Horse (second in command of the army after the Emperor). As emperor, Aurelian's successful restoration of the Army enabled him to defeat the Alamanni, Goths, Vandals, Juthungi, Sarmatians, and the Palmyrene Empire effectively ending the Roman Empire's Crisis of the Third Century.
RA87240. Billon antoninianus, MER-RIC 3088 (45 spec.), RIC V-1 366, BnF XII 1224, Venèra 10733 - 10747, Cohen VI 206, Hunter IV 105 var. (2nd officina), Choice VF, well centered, much silvering, weight 3.314 g, maximum diameter 23.0 mm, die axis 0o, 2nd officina, Cyzicus (Kapu Dagh, Turkey) mint, issue 10, phase 2, early - summer 275; obverse IMP AVRELIANVS AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust right; reverse RESTITVTOR EXERCITI (restorer of the army), Mars (on left) and Aurelian standing confronted, Aurelian presenting globe to Mars, each holds a long scepter, B in center, XXI in exergue; $60.00 (€51.00)
 


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Aurelian's concord with the military apparently came undone; after severely punishing corrupt soldiers and making a list of high-ranking officers marked for execution, he fell victim to a conspiracy of his chief officers and was assassinated at Caenophrurium in Thrace.
RA88411. Billon antoninianus, MER-RIC 2207, RIC V-1 244, Venèra 7511 - 7517, Gloucester 391, Maravielle 481, Komin 1062, BnF XII -, Hunter IV -, VF, well centered on broad oval flan, small edge cracks, weight 3.362 g, maximum diameter 25.7 mm, die axis 180o, 3rd officina, Siscia (Sisak, Croatia) mint, issue 6, autumn 272 - early 274; obverse IMP AVRELIANVS AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust right; reverse CONCORDIA MILITVM (harmony with the soldiers), Aurelian on left standing right clasping hands with Concordia in right standing left, T* in exergue; $50.00 (€42.50)
 







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OBVERSE LEGENDS

AVRELIANVSAVG
AVRELIANVSAVGCONS
AVRELIANVSPAVG
IMPAVRELIANVSAVG
IMPAVRELIANVSINVICTAVG
IMPAVRELIANVSINVICTVSAVG
IMPAVRELIANVSPAVG
IMPAVRELIANVSPFAVG
IMPAVRELIANVSPIVSAVG
IMPCAVRELIANVSAVG
IMPCAVRELIANVSINVICTVSAVG
IMPCAVRELIANVSINVICTVSPAVG
IMPCAVRELIANVSPAVG
IMPCAVRELIANVSPFAVG
IMPCAVRELIANVSPIVSFELAVG
IMPCDAVRELIANVSAVG
IMPCDOMAVRELIANVSAVG
IMPCLDAVRELIANVSAVG
IMPCLDAVRELIANVSPFAVG
IMPCLDOMAVRELIANVSAVG
IMPCLDOMAVRELIANVSPAVG
IMPCLDOMAVRELIANVSPFAVG
IMPCAESLDOMAVRELIANVSAVG
IMPDEOETDOMINONATOAVRELIANOAVG
SOLDOMIMPROM
SOLDOMIMPROMANI
SOLDOMINVSIMPERIROMAN


REFERENCES

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Catalog current as of Sunday, April 21, 2019.
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Roman Coins of Aurelian