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XXI

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Aureolus

Aureolus was one of the many tyranni or usurpers that sprang up, in various parts of the Empire, during the reign of Gallienus. A Dacian by birth, and (if Zonarus is to be credited) in his youthful days a shepherd. Aureolus rose in the army and became governor of Illyria under Gallienus.  He rescued Gallienus out of the rebellious hands of Macrianus and his son, only to later revolt himself.  He was proclaimed emperor by the legions in Illyria, or rather in Rhaetia, about the year 267 C.E. Defeated by Gallienus shortly afterwards, he shut himself up in Mediolanum (Milan).  He was saved from his besiegers by the assassination of Gallienus, only to be slain by the troops of Claudius II Gothicus, in 268 C.E.


The Revolt That Killed Two of Romeís Finest Men

By Max Paschall

Aureolus was one of the many forgotten revolutionaries of his time.  But he was not similar to other rebels in the fact the he defected from a good position, wealth, and fame to become a forgotten outlaw.  He sought refuge with his enemy, and died of betrayal.

Marcus Acilius Aureolus was a Dacian shepherd who rose through the ranks to become one of Romeís finest generals.  He served as Gallienusís governor in Illyricum.  In 260 he eliminated the rebellion of Ingenuus in Pannonia and Moesia.  He sent his deputy commander, Domitianus, to destroy the Syrian legions of the Macriani.  Domitianus came out victorious, although the Macrianian revolt continued for another 8 months.  But in 262, the revolt of Ingenuus was re-ignited by Regalianus.  Aureolus stamped out this rebellion as well.

Sassanians and Sarmatians used cavalry in battle with the Romans with great victoryGallienus saw this and made a cavalry troop of his own and put Aureolus, who was now his best and most trusted general, at the head of it.  They called them the Equites, or ďhorsemenĒ.


Billon Antoninianus of Gallienus.

Although they were very expensive, they worked amazingly well in the war against Postumus (which commenced from 263 to 265), who was battling Gallienus, the current emperor, for the throne.  Gallienus trapped Postumus in a Gallic city one time.  It was almost Postumusís death, but at the brink of victory Gallienus was shot with an arrow on one of the attacks.  Gallienus pulled back from the siege and became cautious of Postumus despite the emperorís indefinitely larger forces. 

 

AE Antoninianus of Postumus.

 

He had Aureolus to go to Raetia to train more troops.  He was then assigned to go and defend Milan, the gateway to Italy, from Postumus while Gallienus was in Greece fighting the Goths and Heruli.  But Aureolus changed sides and became Postumusís ally either in Raetia or en route to Italy.  Either way, before reaching Milan, Aureolus was attacked by some of Gallienusís forces in Pontirolo at the Po Valley.  Aureolus was injured and they retreated to Milan where they were besieged first by Claudius II Gothicus, then by GallienusGallienus had Claudius II look after the reserves in Ticinum.

AE Antoninianus of Claudius II Gothicus.
 

While in Milan, the troops garrisoned there proclaimed Aureolus emperor.  But in the middle of the siege in September of 268, Gallienus was murdered by his closest staff; undoubtedly Claudius II had a hand in the murder for he was proclaimed the new emperor.  Aureolus then bribed Claudius II to spare his life, directly after which he surrendered to Claudius.  But Claudius did not keep his word, and soon after Aureolus surrendered the rebel was executed.

 

AE Antoninianus of Aureolus.  Struck in the name of Postumus.  Coin from the

authorís personal collection.  It has the tell-tale ďPĒ in exergue, and the word ďAEQVITĒ

on the reverse.

 

Although Aureolus did not mint coins in his own name, he did however mint them in his ally, Postumusís name.  There was a series of antoninianii, or ďdouble denariiĒ, that were minted during Aureolusís stay, which have different gods, goddesses, and personifications on the reverse.  But one thing they all have in common is the distinct P, S, or T in exergue.  They are the different officinas (mint workshops).  P is for PRIMA, or first.  S is for SECVNDA, or second.  And T is for TERTIAE, or third.  And most of the coins have the inscription of AEQVIT, EQVIT, or EQVITVM.  The Equites (as I explained before), were Aureolusís horsemen.  Therefore the three inscriptions above are in the honor of the cavalry which Aureolus controlled.  There is also a series of gold aurei which Aureolus supposedly minted.  Unfortunately these gold coins are undoubtedly modern fakes.

 

 

Bibliography

 

The Handbook of ROMAN IMPERIAL COINS, by David Van Meter

Coinage and History of the Roman Empire, by David L. Vagi, Vol. I

AUCTION VI Ė Pegasi Auctions, p. 44, #534., ending April 8th, 2002

 

 


Dictionary of Roman Coins



Please add updates or make corrections to the NumisWiki text version as appropriate.


AUREOLUS (Marcus Acilius) - one of the many tyranni or usurpers that sprang up, in various parts of the Empire, during the reign of Gallienus. A Dacian by birth, and (if Zonarus is to be credited) in his youthful days a shepherd, he rose in the army, and at length became governor of Illyria under Gallienus, whom he rescued out of the rebellious hands of Macrianus and his son, only, as it would seem, to revolt afterwards against his own sovereign. He was proclaimed emperor by the legions in Illyria, or rather in Rhaetia, about the year 267 C.E. Defeated by Gallienus shortly afterwards, he shut himself up in Mediolanum (Milan); but was delivered from his besiegers by the assassination of Gallienus only to be slain by the troops of Claudius II Gothicus, in 268 C.E.

On his coins, which consist of gold (if genuine) and small brass (no silver) of the highest rarity, he is styled, IMP C AVREOLVS AVG or IMP M ACIL AVREOLVS P F AVG. Reverses are, PROVIDENTIA AVG (Providence standing); CONCORDIA EQVIT (Female with rudder); CONCORD MIL (Two hands joined)."These pieces, which are of Roman die, were (says Hennin), struck in Rhaetia, or in Upper Italy, probably in Milan."



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