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|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.|
Also see: ERIC - AURELIAN
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AURELIANUS (Lucius Claudius Domitius), born, of an obscure family, at Sirmium in Pannonia or in Dacia Ripensis, about A.D. 207. A man of sagacity, valor and talent, severe to the point of cruelty, he distinguished himself in Gaul under Gordian III (A.D. 241), against the Sarmatians. He rose to be general of the cavalry in the army of Claudius II Gothicus, and, with the consent of all the legions, was proclaimed Emperor in Pannonia, after the death of Claudius in A.D. 270. He embellished Rome; and rebuilt the Temple of the Sun, of which his wife was priestess. The Goths, Germans, and other northern tribes who assailed the Empire, having deluged Italy with their myriads, defeated Aurelian at Placentia. But he avenged himself promptly, by three victories, which resulted in peace with the vanquished barbarians. He also recovered Gaul and Spain out of the hands of Tetricus I. Scarcely, however, had he placed Rome in a state of security by repairing and fortifying the walls (one of which, begun in A.D. 271, bears his name and still exists today), when the war against Zenobia, widow of Odenathus and Queen of Palmyra, called him to the East. At length her magnificent capital, after a long siege and reduced to extremities by famine, surrendered to Roman arms (A.D. 272). Zenobia, after a fruitless attempt at escape, was brought as a prisoner to Rome, where she, feted out in golden chains, together with Tetricus, graced the triumph of the victorious Emperor in A.D.273. Palmyra destroyed and Egypt subdued, Aurelian endeavored at Rome to gain the affections of the lazy, indolent populace, by his liberalities, which were of the most prodigal kind. But, in caressing the multitude, he still maintained order and justice, and was inexorable against crime, his punishment of which was sometimes carried to a dreadful extreme, as in the case of the monetal forgers in A.D.274. His prudence dictated to him the abandonment of Dacia (the conquest of Trajan), situated beyond the Danube, which then became the barrier of the Empire. On his march, between Byzantium and Heraclea, against the Persians, whose king, Sapor, had begun the hostilities, he was assassinated by some of his generals (deceived by the treachery of his freedman and secretary Mnesteus) in A.D.275. He had reigned four years and nine months.
Aurelian is represented on his coins, sometimes laureate, sometimes radiate, after the usual manner of the Roman Emperors, and at other times crowned with a diadem according to the fashion of eastern kings. - Victor says of him, "Primus apud Romanos diadematem capiti innexuit" - and Jornandes (quoted by Oiselius), says, "Is primus gemmas vestibus, calceamentisque inseruit, diadematemque in capite."
On the Latin coins of this emperor he is styled, AVRELIANVS AVG. - IMP AVRELIANVS AVG (See the photograph at the top of this biography). - IMP C AVRELIANVS AVG. - IMP C L DOM AVRELIANVS AVG. - IMP CAES DOM AVRELIANVS AVG. - IMP C AVRELIANVS INVICTVS AVG. - DEO ET DOMINO NATO AVRELIANO AVG. - DEO ET DOMINO NOSTRO, etc.
Thus we see, by the last of these titles, that "this humble Pannonian peasant was the first of the Roman Emperors who openly assumed the regal diadem, and now for the first time we read on medals struck [at Rome] during the life time of an emperor, the arrogant and impious titles of DOMINVS et DEVS." - See Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol i. 436.
Aurelian's money is numerous. The gold is of the second and fourth degree of rarity. Base silver is also rare. The brass, with exceptional instances, is very common. Some pieces represent him with Ulpia Severina, his wife; and others with Vabalathus Athenodorus. On some of his medals, the entire bust appears, and shows him with a spear on his right shoulder and a shield on his left arm.
Among the rarest types of reverse are the following :-
Gold medallions. ADVENTVS AVG. Emperor on horseback, with lance reversed. [This, by far the rarest medallion of Aurelian, and in extremely fine condition, brought £26.00 at the sale of the Thomas collection, in 1844. The same type is engraved in Akerman, Descr. Cat. ii. pl.I. p.91].
Gold. P M TR P VII COS II P P. Mars carrying a trophy. [See the preceding wood cut. A well preserved specimen of this fine type, at the Thomas sale, brought five pounds, seven shillings and sixpence.] - PROVIDENTIA DEORVM. Providence and Sol.
Third Brass. PIETAS AVG. Two figures sacrificing. - RESTITVT ORBIS. The Emperor crowned by a female figure; with INVICTVS on the obverse. - DEO ET DOMINO NATO AVRELIANO AVG. Head of Aurelian. - Reverse, RESTITVT ORBIS.