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Didius Julianus, 28 March - 2 June 193 A.D.

Coins of Didius Julianus for sale in the Forum Ancient Coins shop.

Didius Julianus was born in 133 A.D. and followed a military career. He rose to the rank of legion commander, then Consul and Proconsul of Africa. After Pertinax was murdered, the Praetorian Guard (the emperor 's personal bodyguard force) advertised that they were offering the throne to the highest bidder. If not the richest, Didius Julianus was one of the richest men in Rome and offered 25,000 sestertii for each man! The people of Rome were, however, incensed by the auction and several provincial governors rose up against him. As Septimius Severus approached Rome, only 66 days into his reign, Didius Julianus was betrayed and beheaded by the Pretorians.


Banti, A. & L. Simonetti. Corpus Nummorum Romanorum. (Florence, 1972-1979).
Calic, E. The Roman Avrei, Vol. II: From Didius Julianus to Constantius I, 193 AD - 335 AD. (Barcelona, 2003).
Cayn, J. Los Sestercios del Imperio Romano, Vol. III: De Marco Aurelio a Caracalla (Del 161 d.C. al 217 d.C.). (Madrid, 1984).
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappes sous l 'Empire Romain, Vol. 4: Septimius Severus to Maximinus Thrax. (Paris, 1884).
Mattingly, H., E. Sydenham & C. Sutherland. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol. IV: From Pertinax to Uranius Antoninus. (London, 1986).
Mattingly, H. & R. Carson. Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum, Vol. 5: Pertinax to Elagabalus. (London, 1950).
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet, University of Glasgow, Vol. III. Pertinax to Aemilian. (Oxford, 1977).
Seaby, H. & Sear, D. Roman Silver Coins, Vol. III, Pertinax to Balbinus and Pupienus. (London, 1982).
Sear, D. Roman Coins and Their Values, Vol. II: The Accession of Nerva to the Overthrow of the Severan Dynasty AD 96 - AD 235. (London, 2002).
Vagi, D. Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. (Sidney, 1999).
Woodward, A. "The coinage of Didius Julianus and his family" in NC (1961) pp. 71 - 90, pls. VI - X.

Obverse Legends


Average well preserved denarius weight 2.99 grams.

Dictionary of Roman Coins


IVLIANVS. (Didius Severus.) The father of this emperor was Petronius Didius Severus, his mother Clara Aetnilia, and his paternal grandfather lnsuber Mediolanensis. (Spartian.) According to the calculation of Dio, whom, in the disagreement of other writers, we prefer to follow, as he lived at Rome at that period, Didius Julianus was born a.v.c. 886, at the end of January. Being advanced in due time to a share in public business, he defeated, in the reign of Marcus, the Cauci, a people living on the river Albis, and gained his Consulate; after which he succeeded Pertinax in the government of Africa. (Spartian.) Pertinax, having been put to death by the Praetorian guards, and those soldiers having fortified their camp, and from its walls proclaimed the empire open to the highest bidder, though all men of standing and integrity strove to avert such a disgrace, Julian listened to the instigation of his party, and taking his stand outside the trenches, blushed not to bid against Flavius Sulpicianus, the father-in-law of Pertinax, who within the camp offered his own price for the empire. Julian, however, made the most liberal offers, scaling ladders were let down from the walls, and he was received into the camp, acknowledged Emperor, and, escorted by a guard of Praetorians, was conducted to the Senate-house. But the people, irritated no less by the undeserved fate of Pertinax, than by the recent disgraceful sale of the empire, attacked the newly-created Emperor first with abuse, and then with a shower of stones; nor would they be satisfied without demanding as their Emperor, Pescennius Niger, the newly appointed Governor of Syria. On learning this position of affairs, Pescennius allowed himself to be declared Emperor by his friends, but neglecting to follow up his ad- vantage, Severus, the Praefect of Pannonia, in obedience to the wish of a party, put in his claim to the honors of the sovereignty, and taking all his measures, made a hasty journey to Italy. (Eckhel, vii. 148, Didius Julian.) Intelligence of this movement being received at Rome, Julianus gave orders that Severus should be declared by the Senate as the enemy of his country; but he found the army less prepared than he expected to act on the defensive; and in a state of disaffection, partly because he was dilatory in the liquidation of the sum he had agreed upon in the purchase of the empire, and partly because, from being long habituated to sloth and inactivity, they wanted the courage to cope with the hardy soldiers of Severus. Severus meanwhile threatening the city, Julian is driven to adopt milder counsels, and induces the Senate to allow him a participation in the sovereignty; but a universal turn of feeling in favor of Severus having taken place, he is deserted by all, and put to death. His body was restored by Severus to his wife Scantilla for burial, and deposited in the tomb of his great-grandfather on the Via Lavicana. According to Dio, he lived sixty years, four months, and four days, and reigned sixty-six days. It is generally admitted that he was a distinguished lawyer. Spartian speaks of his economical habits, his gentle manners, and other virtues; but Dio, his contemporary, and also Herodian, assert that his vices were numerous. Eckel, vii. 147.

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