Featured AURELIAN: Restorer of the World

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Ocatarinetabellatchitchix, Sep 9, 2020.

  1. Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

    Ocatarinetabellatchitchix Supporter! Supporter

    Today, September 9th, it's the birthday of the Emperor Aurelian. Lucius Domitius Aurelianus is probably born from modest origin in Sirmium (Serbia) around 214 AD. He had a successful military career before he became Emperor. When Gallienus was assassinated, Claudius II became Augustus and Aurelian his Commander of the Cavalry. However, his reign was very brief; in January 270 AD, he fell victim to the Plague of Cyprian and died shortly after that. Quintillus aspired to the throne, but Aurelian gained support of the army and was raised to the throne over Quintillus, who later committed suicide. Aurelian inherited a sinking Empire with enormous political and economic difficulties. Here are the challenges he faced :

    • Anarchy reigns in the capital, Rome, and the city is very poorly protected.
    • The empire is threatened in the North by Barbarians' tribes, in the East Palmyra is revolting, Gaul in under Postumus power and Tetricus was proclaimed in the West...
    • For decades the monetary system has been in ruins and inflation has reached unprecedented levels. In addition, he must take action against the monetary workshop, guilty of fraud on the issue of coins.
    • The Roman empire is completely divided, and it must find a way to unite all the provinces and territories.
    Let us now see how he settled during the five years of his reign the many problems which seemed to announce the collapse of Rome.


    • When Aurelian returned to Rome in 271 AD, he had to pacify a terrified city. He immediately stopped the rioting and restored law and order to the capital. The attacks of Barbarians had made a profound impact on the population of Rome. It was the first time in history they saw their city as being vulnerable. Aurelian thus authorized the construction of new defense walls (the Aurelian Walls) to encircle and protect Rome itself, although they were not fully completed until the reign of Probus; the great walls of Rome still remain largely intact today.
    • He managed to repel all the invaders and defeated in Pavia in 271 the Vandals and the Juthunges who were ravaging northern Italy (Battle of Pavia). A small part of Goths are allowed to settle in the Roman Empire. Aurelian then turned his attention to Thrace, which had been invaded by the Goths. He invaded with his usual determination and reconquered the region while chasing the Goths back over the Danube. Aurelian realized that the imperial frontiers were proving impossible to defend, and as a result, the province of Dacia, the conquest of Trajan, was entirely abandoned. With the northern borders reestablished, Aurelian then turned his attention to the Palmyrene Queen, Zenobia. A battle near the Orontes River ended the revolt of Palmyra. After that, Aurelian campained into Gaul to attack the usurper Tetricus and his Gallic supporters. At the battle near Chalons, Tetricus abandoned his troops and surrendered. In 274, the Emperor can celebrate a triumph in Rome, where the defeated captives appear, including Zenobia and her son, as well as Tetricus. After this demonstration, the loosers will be treated with clemency: Zenobia and her son would have lived in Tibur, the former queen would have married a Roman senator. While Tetricus himself became a senator and administrator in Italy.
    • The responsable of the mint in Rome began a revolt over the monetary reforms laid out by Aurelian. He ordered that all the debased currency be purchased back and replaced with a new currency of higher content in silver. It seems that those who had been in charge of the workshop were embezzling the intended silver and issuing the debased coinage at least in part on their own authority. Obviously, any reform to the monetary system that called for an increase in silver content would have been unprofitable for those running the mint for personal gain. In the rebellion, as many as 7,000 soldiers died when Aurelian was forced to trap and execute them and their allies, some of senatorial rank, in a terrible battle on the Caelian Hills.
    • Aurelian wanted to stabilize a decaying monetary system since the 240s, by rigorously fixing the weight and the title of the different denominations: for gold, a return to 1 / 50th of a pound established by Caracalla; for silver, an aurelianus at 1 / 80th of a pound, with 5% pure silver as indicated by the mark XX-I (or K-A in the east), associated with a fraction, a denarius, labeled VSV for VSV (alis); for bronze, two kind minted in small quantity and without mark of value, the first laureate, the second radiate weighing twice the previous one.
    • Aurelian tried to somehow unify society so he also attempted to reform religion. From the East, Aurelian's goal was to encourage religious devotion to the sun god, Sol Invictus. He wanted to develop a universal deity that would unite the pagan world. In the process he began the persecution of the Christians once again in an effort to create social unity.
    Now time to show off : please present us your Aurelian's examples !

    An example of the XX-I mark
    VIRT MILITVM Rome with a rare gamma mintmark
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2020
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  3. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Informative and well-written post, as usual, @Ocatarinetabellatchitchix !

    Here's a RESTITVTOR ORBIS of Aurelian for you:

    Aurelian, AD 270-275.
    Roman billon antoninianus, 3.94 g, 23.6 mm, 11 h.
    Cyzicus, issue 8, phase 2, spring 273 – spring 274.
    Obv: IMP C AVRELIANVS AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust, right.
    Rev: RESTITVTOR ORBIS, female, draped, standing right, presenting wreath to Aurelian, standing left, holding spear or scepter.
    Refs: MER/RIC temp 2988; RIC 437 var.; Cohen 210; La Venera 10345-46; RCV --.
    Limes, Cucumbor, octavius and 15 others like this.
  4. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & avid numismatist Moderator

    I was happy with this RESTITVTOR ORBIS for twenty bucks.

    The image was done on a flatbed scanner. The coin had some trace silvering.

    Limes, Cucumbor, octavius and 16 others like this.
  5. Shea19

    Shea19 Supporter! Supporter

    Great write-up as usual. O.

    Aurelian, Antoninianus. Rome mint. (23mm, 3.61g), IMP AVRELIANVS AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust right / ORIENS AVG / A / XXIR, Sol advancing right, holding branch and bow, trampling captive. RIC 64. Partial silvering.
    Limes, Cucumbor, octavius and 16 others like this.
  6. Justin Lee

    Justin Lee I learn by doing Supporter

    Very nice write up! Literally, just yesterday, I watched a YouTube video titled nearly the same thing, Aurelian: Emperor Who Restored the World. It was very well done:
  7. Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

    Ocatarinetabellatchitchix Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks for the link. I know what I'm gonna watch tonight after work !
    Justin Lee likes this.
  8. gogili1977

    gogili1977 Well-Known Member

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  9. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter I dig ancient coins...

    How about a Palmyra type with Aurelian and Vaballathus?

    Roman and Palmyrene Empires
    Billon Antoninianus, 20mm, 3.7g
    Antioch mint, 5th officina, AD 270-271

    Reverse: VABALATHVS V C R IM D R

    Radiate and cuirassed bust of Aurelian right
    Laureate diademed, draped and cuirassed bust of Vabalathus right


    Limes, Cucumbor, octavius and 12 others like this.
  10. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    Great write up, thanks

    P1140261ttm b.jpg P1140261ttm (6).jpg P1140261tt.jpg
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  11. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    Good write up and beautiful coins!

    I keep getting Aurelian coins in lots that are too nice to let go, so my collection keeps growing

    Pre-reform, Rome mint, Laetitia reverse
    Most likely minted under Felicissimus, shortly before the Mint Revolt
    Aurelian pre reform ant laetitia felicissimus.jpg

    Another pre-reform, Concordia, Siscia mint
    Aurelian Concordia.jpg

    First Reform, Rome mint, larger module without XXI or KA
    Aurelian 1st reform ORIENS AVG.jpg

    Antioch mint, with Vaballathus as client king
    vabalathus aurelian antoninianus.jpg

    Post-reform, Serdica, with XXI reverse
    Aurelian antoninianus oriens avg.jpg

    Aurelian also made the last circulating denarii (large number of survivors indicates practical, rather than ceremonial use)
    Aurelian AE denarius.jpg

    He also attempted to re-introduce AE coins - Asses and Dupondii by weight and size, but likely intended to be sestertii
    Aurelian AE coin sestertius or as.jpg

    Alexandrian tets!

    With Vaballathus as king, Aurelian RY1, Vaballathus RY4
    Alexandria AE tetradrachm Vabalathus Aurelian.jpg

    RY 5
    Aurelian tetradrachm alexandria year 5.jpg

    RY6, shortly before he was assassinated
    Aurelian AE tet year 6.jpg
    Limes, Cucumbor, octavius and 14 others like this.
  12. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter I dig ancient coins...

    I also saw on Facebook that it is the birthday of Honorius as well (September 9th) - couldn't find any emperors more diametrically opposed as far as effectiveness goes!
  13. Edessa

    Edessa Supporter! Supporter

    Aurelian AD 270-275 Æ Antoninianus (3.49g). Siscia mint, struck AD 272-274. Obv: IMP AVRELIANVS AVG; Radiate bust right, cuirassed. Rev: CONCORDIA MILITVM; Aurelian and Concordia clasp hands. Exe: S (star). Ref: RIC 216.

  14. philologus_1

    philologus_1 Well-Known Member

    Me too. :)
    Date: AD 270 - AD 275
    Denomination: Antoninianus
    Mint: Cyzicus
    Obverse: IMP C AVRELIANVS AVG: Bust of Aurelian, radiate, cuirassed, right
    Reverse: RESTITVT ORBIS or RESTITVTOR ORBIS: Female, draped, standing right, presenting wreath to Aurelian, standing left, holding spear. Exergue: “A” (only; no symbols or other letters).
    Diam.: 21.8 mm. Weight: 4.16 gr.
    Attribution: RIC V 347
    DonnaML, Limes, Marsyas Mike and 10 others like this.
  15. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

  16. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    Thanks for the great write up and coins, @Ocatarinetabellatchitchix .


    Long-neck Budweiser...

    RI Aurelian 270-275 CE AE Ant Concordia-Milit

    RI Aurelian 270-275 CE AE Ant receiving Globe from Jupiter
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  17. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    Amazing write up as always, and great examples from everyone.

    My best Aurelians:
    Aurelian Milan RIC 135.JPG
    This awesome Oriens example is struck on a MASSIVE flan, with nearly full beading around the obverse and reverse motifs. Amazing. Thanks, @tenbobbit

    Aurelian RIC 244.JPG
    This is a Concordia Militvm which has a bit of an antique break, but luckily it's not in a very visible place so I'm cool with it.
    DonnaML, Limes, Marsyas Mike and 5 others like this.
  18. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Supporter! Supporter

    Aurelian Av Aureus Milan. Obv. Bust of Aurelain right laureate draped and cuirassed. Rv. Victory advancing left. Estiot 422 271-272 A.D. 4.29 grms 20 mm Photo by W. Hansen aurelianav1.jpg
    Blake Davis, DonnaML, Limes and 9 others like this.
  19. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Dombes collector Supporter

    Posting something (anything) after such an aureus may be silly. Anyway, here are my Aurelianus' radiates and a scarce double sestertius (dupondius ??) featuring Aurelian and the wife

    Aurelian, Aurelianus
    IMP AVRELIANVS AVG, Radiate and cuirassed bust right
    ORIENS AVG, Sol walking left between two captives. V at exergue
    3,30 gr
    Ref : Cohen #145

    Aurelian, Aurelianus - Serdica mint, AD 274-275
    IMP AVRELIANVS AVG, Radiate and cuirassed bust of Aurelianus right
    RESTITUT OR BIS, Pax with laurel wreath she gives to Aurelian. In field *, at ex. KA.A.
    4.15 gr
    Ref : RCV #11592, Cohen #192

    Vabalathus, Antoninianus - Antioch mint, 8th officina, AD 271-272
    VABALATHVS V C R IM D R, Draped, laureate and diademed bust of Vabalathus right
    IMP C AVRELIANVS AVG, Radiate and cuirassed bust of Aurelianus right. H at exergue
    2.45 gr
    Ref : Cohen #1, RCV # 11718

    Aurelian and Severina, Double sestertius - Rome mint AD 274-275
    IMP AVRELIANVS AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust of Aurelian right
    SEVERINA AVG, diademed and draped bust of Severina right, on crescent
    11.18 gr
    Ref : Cohen # 1, RIC # 2, RCV # 11696

    Excellente presentation @Ocatarinetabellatchitchix !

    DonnaML, Limes, Finn235 and 8 others like this.
  20. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I enjoy the fact that these come with the OR repeated and also serving both as the end of the first word and the start of the second. You might say that RESTITVT(or) was just abbreviated but the spacing places the OR far separated from the BIS. Since BIS means twice in Latin, one could believe this spacing shows intentional ambiguity. "He saved us twice."
    rs2330bb1413.jpg rs2335bb2850.jpg
    gogili1977, Edessa, Bing and 6 others like this.
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