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Trajan Decius, July 249 - First Half of June 251 A.D.

Ancient Roman coins of Trajan Decius for sale in the Forum Ancient Coins consignment shop.

Trajan Decius, a general under Philip I, successfully crushed the revolt of Pacatian. His troops forced him to assume the imperial dignity and although he still protested his loyalty, Philip advanced against him. Decius was victorious and Philip was killed. The Senate then recognized Decius as Emperor, giving him the attribute Traianus as a reference to that good emperor. As the Byzantine historian Zosimus later noted: "Decius was therefore clothed in purple and forced to undertake the government, despite his reluctance and unwillingness." Decius spent the rest of his short reign combating barbarians. Sometime in the first two weeks of June 251, Trajan Decius and his son Herennius Etruscus became the first Roman emperors to die in battle against a foreign enemy. Herennius died at his father's side, struck by an arrow. Decius survived the initial confrontation, only to be slain with the rest of the army before the end of the day.

Also see ERIC - Trajan Decius.


Banti, A. & L. Simonetti. Corpus Nummorum Romanorum. (Florence, 1972-1979).
Calic, X. The Roman Avrei, Vol. Two: From Didius Julianus to Constantius I, 193 AD - 335 AD. (Barcelona, 2003).
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappes sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. 5: Gordian I to Valerian II. (Paris, 1885).
Mattingly, H., E. Sydenham & C. Sutherland. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol IV, From Pertinax to Uranius Antoninus. (London, 1986).
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet, University of Glasgow, Vol. III. Pertinax to Aemilian. (Oxford, 1977).
Seaby, H. & D. Sear. Roman Silver Coins, Volume IV, Gordian III to Postumus. (London, 1982).
Sear, D. Roman Coins and Their Values III, The Accession of Maximinus I to the Death of Carinus AD 235 - AD 285. (London, 2005).
Vagi, D. Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. (Sidney, 1999).

Obverse Legends


Dictionary of Roman Coins

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Trajan Decius

     DECIUS (Caius, or Caesus, Messius, Quintus, Trajannus). --This Emperor was born at Bubalia, a town of the Sirmienscs, in Lower Pannonia (near what is now Micowitz, in Hungary), A.D. 201.  Descended from an Illyrian family of rank, he prove himself an able statesman and a great captain.  But by what means he acquired his earliest promotion is not recorded.  Whilst the Maesian and Pannonian legions were in revolt, he was at Rome; in favor with Philip, and free from all suspicion on the score of his loyalty.  Accordingly he was selected by that prince for the task of settling the seditious tumult of the insurgent soldiers, who had proclaimed Marinus.  But no sooner did he appear in their sight than, in order to avoid the threatened chastisement, they, without his consent, proclaimed him Imperator.  Yielding, therefore, to the necessity of the moment, he stuck his tents, and hastened into Italy; where in an engagement with Philip, near Verona, he gained the victory, A.d. 249.  On the defeat and death of Philip, Decius was acknowledged as Emperor at Rome, and declared Augustus by the Senate at least as early as the beginning of autumn.  In the year 250 he conferred the dignity of Caesar, and the office of Consul, on his son Herennius Etruscus, and sent him against the Illyrians, who routed the son, but were energetically repulsed by the father.  In a battle with the Goths, fought near Abricium, in Thrace, A.D. 251, he was, thro' the treachery of Trebonianus Gallus, lost in a morass, his body never having been recovered for burial.  In the same engagement the young Herennius also perished.  This occurred after the month of October.
     The historian, Victor (II.) bears testimony to the eminent virtues and great accomplishments of Decius; to his quiet demeanor as a man, and to his promptness and energy as a soldier.  In all these characteristics he is represented by Sosimus, as being greatly the superior of Philip.  The most remarkable event by which the records of his life and government are distinguished, was his revival and restoration to the Senate, of the office of Censor, so many years disused, and, till this time, discharged almost universally by the Emperor.  Eutropius, ever liberal in awarding divine honors to princes, states, that Decius and his son were numbered among the gods. --By ecclesiastical historians, however, he is accused of having, in a spirit of injustice and persecution, exercised great cruelty towards the Christians during his reign.  He perished in the 55 year of his age, after holding the imperial scepter somewhat more that two years.  He married Herennia Etruscilla, who bore him two sons, namely, Herennius above named, and Hostilian. --See D.N. Vet. viii. 342-43.
     The coins of this Emperor are common in brass, except two or three medallions.  In silver they are also common, except a medallion.  The gold are all of very great rarity.  On these he is styled IMP TRAIANVS AVG -- IMP. Caesar M. Q. TRAIANVS DECIVS AVG. or Pius Felix Aug. --[The last two tites are confined to colonial coins].

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