Coins of obscure figures from the past.

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by limmle, Jun 30, 2020.

  1. limmle

    limmle Active Member

    I’m often drawn to obscure or minor historical figures depicted on coins. It’s always interesting to me to conjecture their stories. There is sometimes a hint of sadness or tragedy in the early deaths of children, or wives of emperors we know little about, usurpers we know only form the numismatic record or even emperor ears whose reigns were cut short for various unfortunate reasons.
    Maybe some of you have examples of Romans (or others) that fit this category you could share. I’ll start the ball rolling with Valerius Romulus. He was the son of Emperor Maxentius and the grandson of Galerius and Maximian. We know almost nothing about him but he must have died after he shared a consulship with his father for 2 years, because suddenly Maxentius has the consulship on his own in 310. When an Emperor issues a coin in memory of the deceased son, it always evokes an emotional response, es-ecially when we know what was to happen with Maxentius
    IMG_2104.jpeg IMG_2106.jpeg

    Romulus, half follis. OstiaMint.
    Obverse: DIVO ROMV-LO N V BIS C, bare head rightReverse: AETERNAE MEMORIAE, domed shrine surmounted by eagle, MOSTP in exergue
    Reference: RIC VI 58
     
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  3. Alegandron

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

    ROMULUS

    upload_2020-6-30_21-0-41.png
    RI Romulus 310-311 CE AE25 DIVO Rome Domed Shrine doors ajar with sm Eagle R E Q


    ALEXANDER IV (son of Alexander III Megas and Roxana of Sogdiana)
    upload_2020-6-30_21-4-52.png
    Makedon
    Philip III Arrhedaeus & Alexander IV,
    323-317 BCE AR Drachm, 2.59g, 13.0mm, die axis 270o
    Amphipolis mint
    Obv: diademed head of of Apollo right
    Rev: ΦIΛIΠΠOY, naked youth pacing right on horseback, palm frond in right, reins in left, E in wreath below
    Ref: Le Rider p. 123, pl. 45, 31 - 32; SNG ANS 621, SNG Cop -, SNG Alpha Bank -,
    Comments: VF, struck with worn dies, porous, bumps and scratches
    Ex: Forum Ancient Coins
    very rare

    Struck in the name of Philip II or his bastard son Philip III Arrhidaeus. Philip III and Alexander's infant son, Alexander IV, were made joint kings after Alexander's death in 223 B.C. Alexander the Great's mother, Olympias, allegedly poisoned her stepson Philip III as a child, leaving him mentally disabled, eliminating him as a rival to Alexander. Neither Philip III nor Alexander IV was capable of actual rule and both were selected only to serve as pawns. Perdikkas held power, while Philip III was actually imprisoned. In 317, Philip III was murdered by Olympias to ensure the succession of her grandson.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020
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  4. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    When it comes to obscure figures, Rome has quite a few known as much from their coins as from any mark left on history. Romulus fits. Mine is the quarter follis (as inconsequential as you get). Ostia mint.
    ru4252rp1318.jpg
     
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  5. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    Not too obscure, but historicaly notable and quite sad in their own ways.

    Anybody have Romulus Augustulus or Julius Nepos?
     
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  6. Justin Lee

    Justin Lee I learn by doing Supporter

    I believe this is the only coin bearing the name of Nero's daughter, Claudia.

    [​IMG]
    Syria, Trachonitis. Caesarea Paneas
    AE20, Struck after 65 AD

    Diva Poppaea Sabina, with Diva Claudia, died 65 and 63 AD, this coin deified the two.
    Obverse: DIVA POP-PAEA AVG, statue of Diva Poppaea seated left within distyle temple set on high podium.
    Reverse: DIVA CLA-VD NER F, statue of Diva Claudia standing left on basis within hexastyle belvedere set on high podium.
    References: RPC I 4846, Hendin 1270
    Size: 20mm, 5.0g
     
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  7. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    I love this type for exactly that reason. Yours is a very nice example.

    The provincial below has a nice, but rather mournful portrait of little doomed Diadumenian, son of Macrinus. When Macrinus was defeated at his last battle by the armies supporting Elagabalus, he attempted to seek safety for Diadumenian at the Parthian court of Artabanus V, but the boy was caught en route and murdered, his head given to Elagabalus as a trophy. Diadumenian was about 10 years of age at the time. Macrinus, trying to make it back to Rome from Antioch, apparently learnt of his son's fate before he was himself captured and executed in Cappadocia.

    Diadumenian - Phoenicia Byblos.jpg
    DIADUMENIAN
    AE24. 11.08g, 23.6mm. PHOENICIA, Byblus, AD 217. Cf. Rouvier 699; BMC 40-3. O: M OΠ ΔIAΔVMENIANOC KAI, bareheaded and cuirassed bust right. R: BYB - ΛOV IEPAC, Astarte wearing a polos standing facing, carrying a spear, foot on prow, being crowned by Nike on short column to right; all within distyle temple with a fancy arched roof.
     
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  8. Suarez

    Suarez Well-Known Member

    Actually there's evidence Romulus was promoted from consul to caesar (apparently dying very soon after). A consulship was a highly unusual title to be featured on an obverse; especially this late into the imperial timeline. It wasn't a move meant to curry political favor. The Roman Senate had been thoroughly stripped of its powers by this time. It was instead a diplomatic bow to his rivals. What makes it strange though is why Maxentius would have felt the need to observe this formality when the kid was already dead. It's probable that there was a lot more to this.

    Rasiel
     
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  9. Suarez

    Suarez Well-Known Member

    Here's the coin that proves Romulus received full caesarship. It doesn't get any more in-your-face than this: a medal weighing a whopping 68g (published by Gnecchi from the Vienna collection.)

    0.jpg
     
  10. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    Great coin limmle, this youngster always creates a great deal of interest with collectors. 284957.l.jpg
    DIVUS ROMULUS (Died 309). Follis. Ostia.
    Obv: IMP MAXENTIVS DIVO ROMVLON V FILIO.
    Bare head right.
    Rev: AETERNA MEMORIA / MOSTT.
    Domed hexastyle temple; on roof, eagle standing right, head left.
    Weight: 6.0 g. Diameter: 25 mm.
    RIC 33. Romulus.jpg
    Divus Romulus. Died AD 309. Æ Quarter Follis (17mm, 2.01 g, 12h). Rome mint, 3rd officina. Struck under Maxentius, circa AD 310. Bare head right / Domed shine with doors ajar, surmounted by eagle; RT. RIC VI 239. VF, dark green patina, flan flaws on obverse.
     
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  11. limmle

    limmle Active Member

    And what about poor young Hostilian? His brother and father killed and a new Emperor and his son ready to take control and establish a new dynasty. Did he die of plague or was he a threat to Gallus' hopes of power for his own family. Either way he was an unfortunate young man.
    Screen Shot 2020-07-01 at 4.26.31 pm.png
    Hostilian as Augustus, antoninianus
    Antioch mint, 251 Obverse: C OVAL OSTIL MES COVINTVS AVG: Bust of Hostilian, radiate, draped, right. Reverse: VICTORIA AVG: Victory, winged, draped, running left, holding wreath in right hand and palm sloped over left shoulder in left hand. RIC 208
     
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  12. limmle

    limmle Active Member

    Wow! Ive never heard this history before. It sort of raises more questions though, as you say. Maxentius was in a bit of a strange position. Thanks for the info though, really interesting.
     
  13. limmle

    limmle Active Member

    Thanks for adding a non-Roman. Another non-Roman that fits this category is Antiochus V who became Seleucid King age 9 and due to the incompetence of his regent, ended up being executed by Demetrius I at the age of only 10 or 11.

    Screen Shot 2020-07-01 at 4.40.54 pm.png
    Antiochus V Eupator (163-161 BCE) - silver tetradrachm, Antioch mint, 163-161 BCE
    Obverse: Diademed head of Antiochos V right. Reverse: Zeus seated left, nude to the waist, himation around hips and legs, Victory in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, BAΣIΛEΩΣ right, ANTIOXOY left, EYΠATOPOΣ in exergue, monogram (appears as E downward) outer left.
    Houghton-Lorber II 1575(2), Newell SMA 75, SNG Spaer 1246
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020
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  14. gsimonel

    gsimonel Supporter! Supporter

    Here's a much more common one: Licinius II, murdered at age 11 by "the Great" Constantine I.
    [​IMG]
    Bronze Nummus
    Antioch mint, A.D. 317-320
    Obv: D N VAL LICIN LICINIVS NOB C
    Rev: IOVI CONS-ERVATORI CAESS - Jupiter, standing, facing left, chlamys hanging from shoulder, leaning on scpeter and holding Vicotry on globe; captive at feet
    SMANT in exergue; A in right field
    RIC 24
    20x18mm, 3.0g.
     
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  15. Justin Lee

    Justin Lee I learn by doing Supporter

    [​IMG]
    Seleukid Kings of Syria
    Alexander I Balas, 152-145 BC
    AR Drachm, Undated issue struck 151-149 BC, Antioch on the Orontes mint

    Obverse: Diademed head right.
    Reverse: BAΣΙΛΕΩΣ / ΑΛΕΞANΔPOY / ΘEOΠATOPOΣ / EYEPΓETOY to right and left, Apollo Delphos seated left on omphalos, testing arrow and resting hand on bow set on ground, Ѳ below.
    References: SNG Spaer -; Newell, SMA 186; SC 1785.1c; HGC 9, 887a
    Size: 18mm, 3.88g
    Ex: Pegasi Numismatics, purchased early 2000’s at NYINC
     
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  16. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Khnum-Hotep

    Valerian II was a very minor figure during the reign of his father Gallienus and his grandfather Valerian I. Unfortunately he suffered a violent end at a young age.

    Valerian II, AR antoninianus, 23 mm 4.2 grams

    Struck: 257-258, Cologne.

    Obverse: VALERIANVS CAES, radiate, draped bust right

    Reverse: IOVI CRESCENTI, the child Jupiter sitting right on the goat Amalthea, looking left, right hand raised, left hand holding the goat's horn.

    Reference: RIC 3 (Lyons); Cohen 26 (Saloninus); Elmer 67a; Goebl 0907e; Sear 10731.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  17. Alegandron

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

    ARDASHIR III

    upload_2020-7-1_11-6-36.png
    Persia Sasanian
    Ardashir III (r. AD 628-629)
    AR Drachm 36 mm x 3.85 grams
    Obverse: Crowned beardless bust of Ardashir III right.
    Reverse: Zoroastrian Fire Altar flanked by two attendents.
    Dated yr. 2 AY mint.
    ref# Gobl II/1 Downturn year 2 Delta.
    Rare

    Ardashir III was elected to succeed his father King Kavid II at the ripe old age of 7 years. His empire was controlled by his vizier Mah-Adhur Gushnasp, whom could not protect him. At the age of 9, several factions vied for control. Ultimately, Shahrbaraz captured Ctesiphon and executed Ardashir.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ardashir_III
     
  18. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    Nice coins!

    Here is my Romulus, full follis, Rome mint Divo romulo follis temple aeternae memoriae.jpg

    That's a fascinating medallion, @Suarez. Any idea if it's a unique find? Curious that he would issue a medal, but shy away from coins until after Romulus died?

    I have no shortage of obscure rulers on coins...

    Vedius Pollio, a close friend of Augustus, now known only for his excessive cruelty - feeding his slaves to ravenous eels for even the slightest of errors.
    Vedius Pollio zeus tralles.jpg

    Asinius Gallus, another of the "Augustus Posse" who is perhaps best known for marrying Livilla when Tiberius was forced to divorce her. He was also a vocal opponent of Tiberius, and ended up starving to death in a prison cell
    Asinius Gallus dionysus temnos aeolis.jpg

    Fabius Maximus, another ally of Augustus, about whom not much is known. He served as Quaestor, as Consul in 11 BC, as Proconsul of Asia, and was put to death by Augustus for visiting Agrippa Postumus without approval.
    Fabius Maximus Hierapolis Phrygia Theokritos .jpg

    Polemo II, great-grandson of Mark Antony, king of several conglomerated client kingdoms of Asia Minor (he is best known for his rule over Pontus), and a cousin of many Julio-Claudian emperors
    Marcus Antonius Polemo II high priest Cilicia Olba.jpg

    Drusus Julius Caesar and Nero Julius Caesar, older brothers of Caligula who were briefly Caesar under Tiberius, but died in exile following the machinations of Sejanus. They only appeared on a handful of Iberian bronze issues, and posthumously on imperial coins during the reign of Caligula.
    Tiberius as carthago nova Nero drusus caesares.jpg

    Tiberius Gemellus, the son of Drusus Minor and intended heir of Tiberius late in his life. He was outmaneuvered by Caligula, and put to death at the end of 37
    Tiberius gemellus AE philadelphia lydia.jpg

    Pythes, a magistrate of Laodicea from the time of Tiberius. Not otherwise attested.
    (Seller photo - still stuck in customs) 20200701_134839.jpg
     
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  19. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    The Crisis years were rife with obscure rulers

    Pupienus and Balbinus were seasoned politicians with decades under their belts, and both had previously served as consul - but what do we know about them except that they were too busy bickering to realize that the Praetorians were planning to assassinate them both?
    Pupienus antoninianus caritas mvtva avgg.jpg
    Balbinus antoninianus concordia avgg.jpg

    Even a fairly knowledgeable historian is unlikely to even name Aemilian as emperor, let alone any details of his rule
    Aemilian antoninianus iovi conservat (1).jpg

    We functionally know nothing at all about Quintillus, except that he was the brother of Claudius II, and didn't rule long
    20171204_Quintillus-Providentia.jpg

    Ditto with Marius, not mentioned outside of the Historia Augusta and his own coins.
    Marius antoninianus saec felicitas.jpg

    What did Tetricus II do? Were it not for his coins, we would have reason to doubt he existed at all.
    Tetricus II Pietas Avgg priestly implements.jpg

    Severina is not mentioned in any historical source at all
    Severina antoninianus concordiae militvm.jpg

    Ditto with Magnia Urbica
    Magnia Urbica venus.jpg

    Tacitus was an obscure man who stepped suddenly into the spotlight, led one successful campaign, and then died when a fever turned his brains into scrambled eggs
    Tacitus fides militvm.jpg

    And his brother Florian is even less well known, and accomplished nothing but losing a civil war.
    Florian antoninianus providentia deor.jpg
     
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  20. Roerbakmix

    Roerbakmix Well-Known Member

    A very Roman-oriented thread. A couple of coins with rulers depicted on them that have very little information in my usual online sources:
    [1171] Bhartdaman         - uncertain mint (AR drachm, 278-295 AD).jpg
    INDIA, WESTERN KHSATRAPAS, Bhartdaman . Denomination: AR Drachm, minted: uncertain mint; 278-295 AD
    Obv: Head of Bhartdaman, legend around is missing
    Rev: Rajno mahakshatrapasa rudrasenaputrasa rajnah kshatrapasa bhartrdamnah. ("[coin of] the sun of king and mahasatrap Rudrasena, king and satrap Bhatrdaman")
    Weight: 2.25g; Ø:1.4mm. Catalogue: not found. Provenance: Ex private collection; acq.: 07-2017
    Bhartrdāman was the second of two sons of Rudrasena II who came to the throne. He started to issue coins as kshatrapa in the year S. 200, which was the last year that his father was still in power. At the time, his brother Visvasena had been issuing coins as kshatrapa for a few years, and he continued to do so for two more years before claiming the title of mahakshatrapa in 201 or 202. Bhartrdāman issued coins as kshatrapa until 204, at which point he started issuing coins as mahakshatrapa. The mahakshatrapa series continued uninterrupted until S. 217 (= 295 CE).

    [1199] Rudrasena II - Uncertain (AR drachm, 256–278 AD).jpg
    INDIA, WESTERN KHSATRAPAS, Bhartdaman . Denomination: AR Drachm, minted: uncertain mint; 278-295 AD
    Obv: Head of Bhartdaman, legend around is missing
    Rev: Rajno mahakshatrapasa rudrasenaputrasa rajnah kshatrapasa bhartrdamnah. ("[coin of] the sun of king and mahasatrap Rudrasena, king and satrap Bhatrdaman")
    Weight: 2.25g; Ø:1.4mm. Catalogue: not found. Provenance: Ex private collection; acq.: 07-2017
    Bhartrdāman was the second of two sons of Rudrasena II who came to the throne. He started to issue coins as kshatrapa in the year S. 200, which was the last year that his father was still in power. At the time, his brother Visvasena had been issuing coins as kshatrapa for a few years, and he continued to do so for two more years before claiming the title of mahakshatrapa in 201 or 202. Bhartrdāman issued coins as kshatrapa until 204, at which point he started issuing coins as mahakshatrapa. The mahakshatrapa series continued uninterrupted until S. 217 (= 295 CE).

    Really can't find anything on this fella:
    Amdān Bayān Yahaqbiḍ.jpg
    HIMYARITE KINGDOM, Amdān Bayān Yahaqbiḍ. Denomination: AR Drachm, minted: Raydan (?); 100-120 AD
    Obv: Head right within dotted circle interrupted by monogram
    Rev: Small head right; 'scepter' to right
    Catalogue: (unsure): CAF 3.4ii, fig. 168. Raydan mint. Provenance: Ex. van Eldijk ; acq.: 10-2019

    Or on this one ...
    [1116] Phraates - uncertain mint (ae drachm, c 100 AD).jpg
    ELYMAIAN KINGDOM, Phraates. Denomination: AE Drachm, minted: uncertain mint; c 100 AD
    Obv: Bust facing left, wearing tiara; pellet in crescent above anchor with one cross bar
    Rev: Artemis standing right, holding bow and plucking arrow from quiver
    Weight: 3.51g; Ø:14mm. Catalogue: Van't Haaff 14.6; Alram 473. Provenance: Ex. van Eldijk ; acq.: 12-2019
     
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  21. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    Once you go into India and Central Asia, obscure becomes the norm, not the exception.

    Bukhara, king "Hirkod"
    1st century BC/AD - not attested in history
    Bukhara Hirkod hyrcodes hemidrachm soldier.jpg

    Chach, unnamed Tudun (Lord)
    Chach ae tudun double portrait.jpg

    Chach, Tarnvach
    Chach tarnvach lion.jpg

    Turco-Hepthalites, "Vasudeva", unattested as far as I am aware (some try to link him to other rulers of similar names, but I am not sure if the link is definite). He names himself as a Chiliarch on his coins
    Vakhu deva drachm.jpg

    Khwarezm kingdom, Sawashfan, attested only by a loan application he sent to China in the early 750s
    Khwarezm Sawashfan AR.jpg

    "Ardashir Mervshah" - a local vassal of the Sassanians in Merv
    imgonline-com-ua-twotoone-FOwOaZX9DL4f.jpg

    "Heraios", possibly the father or an early name of Kujula Kadphises
    Kushan heraios obol.jpg

    Kipunadha, the ephemeral last king of the Kushans
    Kushan Kipunadha AV stater.jpg

    AR coin of "Rana Hastin", ostensibly of the Chaulukyas of Gujarat or one of their feudatories
    20200228_205233.jpg

    Gupta Feudatories, king Prasannamitra
    Post gupta prasannamitra.jpg
     
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