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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Roman Coins| ▸ |The Tetrarchy| ▸ |Diocletian||View 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|, |Diocletian,| |20| |November| |284| |-| |1| |May| |305| |A.D.||follis| |(large)|
In 301 A.D., Diocletian issued his Edict on Maximum Prices in an attempt to curb inflation.
RT97949. Billon follis (large), RIC VI Thessalonica 21a, Cohen VI 106, SRCV IV 12784, Hunter V -, aVF/gVF, well centered on a broad flan, flow lines, choice reverse, porosity/corrosion on obverse,, weight 9.952 g, maximum diameter 30.1 mm, die axis 0o, 1st officina, Thessalonica (Salonika, Greece) mint, 300 - 301 A.D.; obverse IMP C C VAL DIOCLETIANVS P F AVG, laureate head right; reverse GENIO POPVLI ROMANI (to the guardian spirit of the Roman People), Genius kalathos on head, naked except chlamys over shoulder, standing left holding cornucopia and pouring liquid from patera, •TSA• in exergue; $60.00 SALE PRICE $54.00
 


|Diocletian|, |Diocletian,| |20| |November| |284| |-| |1| |May| |305| |A.D.||post-reform| |radiate|
In 299, Galerius established the Peace of Nisibis with the Persian king Narseh, the Romans retained dominion over Armenia and northern Mesopotamia, and the Tigris became the boundary between Rome and the Sassanid Empire.
RL94836. Copper post-reform radiate, RIC VI Cyzicus 15a, SRCV IV 12834, Cohen VI 34 var. (also draped), Hunter V 82 var. (same), gVF, full legends on flan, earthen encrustations, scratches, weight 2.422 g, maximum diameter 20.3 mm, die axis 180o, 3rd officina, Cyzicus (Kapu Dagh, Turkey) mint, c. 294/6 - 299 A.D.; obverse IMP C C VAL DIOCLETIANVS P F AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust right, seen from the front; reverse CONCORDIA MILITVM (harmony with the soldiers), Diocletian on left, standing right, baton in left hand, receiving from Victory from Jupiter with right hand, Victory standing on globe and offering wreath, Jupiter on right, standing left, nude but for paludamentum over shoulders, long scepter vertical in left hand, KΓ in center; from the Ray Nouri Collection; $60.00 SALE PRICE $54.00
 


|Diocletian|, |Diocletian,| |20| |November| |284| |-| |1| |May| |305| |A.D.||post-reform| |radiate|
In 296, after the Sassanid king Narseh declared war on Rome and invaded Armenia, Diocletian dispatched his son-in-law Galerius with a large army. Galerius was completely defeated near Carrhae and forced to retreat across the Euphrates to join Diocletian at Antioch. At Antioch, Diocletian forced Galerius to walk, still clad in the purple robes of an emperor, a mile in advance of his imperial cart. The message was clear: the loss at Carrhae was not due to the failings of the soldiers, but due to the failings of their commander.
RL94837. Copper post-reform radiate, SRCV IV 12835, Cohen VI 34, RIC VI Antiochia 60a corr. (laureate head), Hunter V 101 var. (2nd officina), VF, centered on an oval flan, earthen deposits, scratches, weight 2.726 g, maximum diameter 20.6 mm, die axis 180o, 3rd officina, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, c. 296 A.D.; obverse IMP C C VAL DIOCLETIANVS P F AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse CONCORDIA MILITVM (harmony with the soldiers), Diocletian on left, standing right, wearing military garb, baton (or parazonium) in left hand, receiving from Victory from Jupiter with right hand, Victory standing on globe and offering wreath, Jupiter on right, standing left, nude but for paludamentum over shoulders, long scepter vertical in left hand, * / Γ in low center, ANT in exergue; from the Ray Nouri Collection; $60.00 SALE PRICE $54.00
 


|Diocletian|, |Diocletian,| |20| |November| |284| |-| |1| |May| |305| |A.D.||antoninianus|
On 1 March 293, Diocletian and Maximian appointed Constantius Chlorus and Galerius as Caesars. This is considered the beginning of the Tetrarchy, known as the Quattuor Principes Mundi ("Four Rulers of the World"). The four Tetrarchs established their capitals close to the Roman frontiers:
- Nicomedia (northwestern Asia Minor) became capital for Diocletian
- Mediolanum (Milan, near the Alps) became the capital for Maximian
- Augusta Treverorum (Trier, in Germany) became the capital for Constantius Chlorus
- Sirmium (Serbia, on the Danube border) became the capital for Galerius
RL94838. Billon antoninianus, Hunter IV 61 (also 1st officina), RIC V-2 306, Cohen VI 33, SRCV IV 12635, Choice VF, highlighting earthen deposits (desert patina), weight 4.368 g, maximum diameter 21.8 mm, die axis 180o, 1st officina, Cyzicus (Kapu Dagh, Turkey) mint, 293 - 294 A.D.; obverse IMP C C VAL DIOCLETIANVS AVG, radiate, draped bust right, from behind; reverse CONCORDIA MILITVM (harmony with the soldiers), Diocletian on left, standing right, wearing military garb, baton (or parazonium) in left hand, receiving from Victory from Jupiter with right hand, Victory standing on globe and offering wreath, Jupiter on right, standing left, nude but for paludamentum over shoulders, long scepter vertical in left hand, A in low center, XXI• in exergue; from the Ray Nouri Collection; $60.00 SALE PRICE $54.00
 


|Diocletian|, |Diocletian,| |20| |November| |284| |-| |1| |May| |305| |A.D.||post-reform| |radiate|
In 296, Diocletian dispatched his son-in-law Galerius with a large army to Armenia. Galerius then invaded Mesopotamia, but outside Ctesiphon he suffered a complete defeat against the Persian king Narseh. He was forced to retreat across the Euphrates into Syria where he joined Diocletian at Antioch. In 297, Galerius prepared to attack again by recruiting veterans from Illyria and Moesia, and he also strengths his bodyguard with Gothic auxiliaries. In 298, with an army of 25,000 men, Galerius invaded again. At the Battle of Satala, Galerius decisively defeated King Narseh and captured the Persian camp, including Narseh's family, harem and treasure.
RL94839. Copper post-reform radiate, RIC VI Alexandria 47, SRCV IV 12836, Cohen VI 34, Hunter V 116 var, (1st officina), VF, well centered on a tight flan, attractive dark patina with highlighting earthen deposits (desert patina), slight porosity, weight 3.999 g, maximum diameter 21.0 mm, die axis 0o, 4th officina, Alexandria mint, 296 - 297 A.D.; obverse IMP C C VAL DIOCLETIANVS P F AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from front; reverse CONCORDIA MILITVM (harmony with the soldiers), Diocletian on left, standing right, wearing military garb, baton (or parazonium) in left hand, receiving from Victory from Jupiter with right hand, Victory standing on globe and offering wreath, Jupiter on right, standing left, nude but for paludamentum over shoulders, long scepter vertical in left hand, ∆ low in center, ALE in exergue; from the Ray Nouri Collection; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00
 


|Diocletian|, |Diocletian,| |20| |November| |284| |-| |1| |May| |305| |A.D.||antoninianus|
Diocletian, called himself Jovius, after Jupiter, and Maximianus, assumed the name of Herculius, after Hercules. This connection between gods and emperors helped to legitimize the emperors' claims to power and tied imperial government closer to the traditional cult.
RL94841. Billon antoninianus, RIC V-2 323, SRCV IV 12654, Hunter IV 72 var. (3rd officina), Cohen VI 146 corr. (laureate), VF, broad flan, dark patina with highlighting earthen deposits, slightly off center, weight 4.768 g, maximum diameter 22.5 mm, die axis 180o, 6th officina, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 285 A.D.; obverse IMP C C VAL DIOCLETIANVS P F AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from the front; reverse IOV ET HERCV CONSER AVGG, Jupiter on left, standing right, nude but for chlamys over shoulders, globe in right hand, long scepter vertical in left hand, Hercules on right, standing left, nude, Victory in right hand, club in left hand, Nemean lion's skin over left arm, crescent over ς in center, XXI in exergue; from the Ray Nouri Collection; $70.00 SALE PRICE $63.00
 


|Diocletian|, |Diocletian,| |20| |November| |284| |-| |1| |May| |305| |A.D.||antoninianus|
In theory, the Roman Empire was not divided by the dual imperium of Diocletian and Maximian. Each emperor had his own court, army, and official residences, but these were matters of practicality, not substance. Imperial propaganda insisted on a singular and indivisible Rome, a patrimonium indivisum. Legal rulings were given and imperial celebrations took place in both emperors' names, and the same coins were issued in both parts of the empire. Diocletian sometimes issued commands to Maximian's province of Africa; Maximian could presumably have done the same for Diocletian's territory.
RL94842. Billon antoninianus, RIC V-2 330 (R), Cohen VI 276, SRCV IV -, Hunter V -, VF, well centered, dark patina, light marks, light earthen deposits, reverse die wear, weight 4.525 g, maximum diameter 21.2 mm, die axis 180o, Tripolis (Tripoli, Lebanon) mint, c. 276 A.D.; obverse IMP C C VAL DIOCLETIANVS P F AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from the front; reverse IOVI CONSERVATORI AVG (to Jove the protector of the Emperor), Victory on left, walking right, palm in left hand over left shoulder, presenting wreath in right hand to emperor, emperor on right, standing left, globe in right hand, long scepter vertical in left hand, TR in low center, XXI exergue; from the Ray Nouri Collection; rare; $50.00 SALE PRICE $45.00
 


|Diocletian|, |Diocletian,| |20| |November| |284| |-| |1| |May| |305| |A.D.||post-reform| |radiate|
In theory, the Roman Empire was not divided by the dual imperium of Diocletian and Maximian. Each emperor had his own court, army, and official residences, but these were matters of practicality, not substance. Imperial propaganda insisted on a singular and indivisible Rome, a patrimonium indivisum. Legal rulings were given and imperial celebrations took place in both emperors' names, and the same coins were issued in both parts of the empire. Diocletian sometimes issued commands to Maximian's province of Africa; Maximian could presumably have done the same for Diocletian's territory.
RL94844. Copper post-reform radiate, RIC VI Antiochia 62a, SRCV IV 12835, Cohen VI 34, Hunter V -, VF, well centered, heavy earthen deposits, weight 3.169 g, maximum diameter 20.4 mm, die axis 180o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, c. 297 A.D.; obverse IMP C C VAL DIOCLETIANVS P F AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from the front; reverse CONCORDIA MILITVM (harmony with the soldiers), Diocletian holding scepter, standing left, receiving Victory on globe from Jupiter holding spear, crescent over S in center, ANT in exergue; from the Ray Nouri Collection; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00
 


|Diocletian|, |Diocletian,| |20| |November| |284| |-| |1| |May| |305| |A.D.||antoninianus|
In late summer 285, Diocletian defended the Danube against Sarmatian raids. He transferred his capital to Nicomedia (in Turkey).
RT97854. Billon antoninianus, RIC V-2 325, Cohen VI 280, SRCV IV 12671, Hunter IV 71 var. (9th officina), aVF, dark brown patina with highlighting red earthen deposits, nearly centered, weight 3.895 g, maximum diameter 21.1 mm, die axis 0o, 3rd officina, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 285 A.D.; obverse IMP C C VAL DIOCLETIANVS P F AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse IOVI CONSERVATORI AVGG (to Jove the protector of the two Emperors), Emperor (on left) and Jupiter standing confronted, Emperor holding short scepter (or parazonium?), Jupiter presenting Victory on a globe offering wreath in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, crescent over Γ in low center, XXI in exergue; from a Norwegian collection; $45.00 SALE PRICE $40.50
 










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).
Cloke, H. & L. Toone. The London Mint of Constantius & Constantine. (London, 2015).
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. & D. Sear. Roman Silver Coins, Volume V, Carausius to Romulus Augustus. (London, 1987).
MANTIS the American Numismatic Society Collections Database - http://numismatics.org/search/
Mattingly, H., E. Sydenham & P. Webb. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol. V, Part II, Probus to Amandus. (London, 1933).
Paolucci, R. & A. Zub. La monetazione di Aquileia Romana. (Padova, 2000).
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. 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. & C. Carson. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol VI, From Diocletian's reform to the death of Maximinus. (London, 1967).

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