Dumb and dumber: How to wreck the Roman Empire

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Sallent, Oct 11, 2018.

  1. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper Supporter

    I think you all probably remember my thread on how Valens was the emperor most responsible for the beginning of the end of the Roman Empire. After all, after the collapse of the Eastern Roman army at Adrianople, the Visigoths and other barbarian tribes were able to pierce the fronteers of the empire permanently and eventually make their way west, where they would bring about the total collapse of the much poorer western half of the empire in less than 100 years.

    valens k.jpg
    Valens, AD 364-378.
    AR Siliqua, Treveri, 367-378.
    Obv.: D N VALEN-S P F AVG; Pearl-diademed, draped, cuirassed bust right.
    Rev.: VRBS ROMA; Roma seated left on cuirass, holding Victory set on globe in her right hand and spear in her left // TRPS•
    Reference: RIC IX 27b and 45a.

    If you don't rememner the thread or want to re-read it, here is a link for you to review it at your own leisure: https://www.cointalk.com/threads/cr...-collapse-of-the-western-roman-empire.295027/

    However, if Valens was the Dumber of this story, with his bad battlefield tactics and poor leadership decisions which turned a relatively easy to win battle into an empire crippling dissaster the Romans would never recover from, then his Dumb counterpart in this whole tragedy is definitely Gratian.

    Here is my new Urbs Roma matching coin of Gratian, from JA's auction.

    Gratian, AD 367-383. AR Siliqua, 16mm, 2.2g, 12h; Trier mint, 367-378. Obv.: DN GRATIANVS P F AVG; Pearl diademed draped cuirassed bust right. Rev.: VRBS - ROMA; Roma seated left, holding Victory on globe and sceptre // TRPS•Reference: RIC IX 27f Trier.

    So what exactly did Gratian do to deserve the title of dumb? When he received Valens' pleas for help, Gratian headed instead for Gaul to deal with a Germanic incursion of his own, telling Valens to wait a few months for assistance from the west before engaging in battle. This in itself was not a bad decision as Gratian really did have a terrible problem in Gaul that needed urgent attention. The dumb decision came later.....after wiping the invading Germanic forces, Gratian decided not to stop at the fronteer and go help Valens in the east, but instead launched a questionable invasion of Germania which in all honestly could have waited a year or two. This left Valens desperate to deal with the Goths, and not seeing the much promised help from the western empire that Gratian had promised for months would be arriving any day now.... Seeing that the pledged help was not arriving despite Gratian's promises, and finding himself pressured to engage in battle, Valens took the field at Adrianople and started the downward slide that would end with the western half of the empire collapsing in less than 100 years, with the eastern half barely surviving to eventually become the Greek-centered Byzantine Empire.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
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  3. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    Great silvers, mine are just bronzes.

    Valens (364 - 378 A.D.)
    O: DN VALENS PF AVG , Pearl - diademed , draped bust right .
    R: SECVRITAS REIPVBLICAE,Victory advancing left holding wreath and palm .D over Symbol in left field. F in right field. ASISCV in Exe.
    RIC IX Siscia 15(b), xliii

    Gratian (367- 383 A.D.)
    Æ 21
    O: D N GRATIA-NVS P F AVG, Pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right.
    R: VIRTVS ROMANORVM, Roma seated facing, head left, holding globe and spear,Θ and Φ at sides, anta in ex.
    theta and phi officina
    Antioch Mint
    RIC 50b(2)
  4. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper Supporter

    Nice ones @Mat. I was going to go bronze for Gratian too, but $75 for a siliqua, and a matching one from the same mint as my Valens, was simply irresistible. I think these two Emperors deserve matching coins given how intertwined their story is.
  5. ValiantKnight

    ValiantKnight I AM the Senate! Supporter

    Here's my very rare usurper Jovinus, who was supported and ultimately ended by the barbarians.

    Jovinus, Western Roman Empire
    AR siliqua
    Obv: D N IOVIN-VS P F AVG, Pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right
    Rev: VICTOR-IA AVGG, Roma seated left on stylized cuirass, holding Victory on globe and reversed spear
    Mint: Lugdunum
    Mintmark: SMLDV
    Date: 411-413 AD
    Ref: RIC X 1717

  6. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    Cool, my only late Roman silver is this siliqua of Arcadius (383-408):
  7. Jwt708

    Jwt708 Well-Known Member

    Great score Sallent, I was tempted also.
    ancient coin hunter likes this.
  8. green18

    green18 Sweet on Commemorative Coins Supporter

    That John Denver is full of........ devil.gif
    Jwt708 likes this.
  9. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper Supporter

    I think at $75, a VF Gratian siliqua is a no-brainer. I would expect it to go for $100 at auction, and I think at $125 it would be competitively priced on vcoins. It's probably not the most artistic or pretty portrait of his, but it is still a pretty decent coin.

    I was very surprised no one else bid on it. I told JA that all I was bidding was the opening price and if anyone else been higher they could have it, even it the additional bid was only $1 higher. I did not expect to win this coin at all as I was convinced someone else would make another bid.
  10. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Just a guy making his way in the universe

    Good pick up @Sallent! I was going to bid on it but my astronomy hobby has taken up my spare cash the last couple of months! Congrats...
    Sallent likes this.
  11. dadams

    dadams Well-Known Member

    That's a nice addition and goes well with your Valens. I'll be missing @John Anthony's auctions but hope we see him posting more here in the future.
    Pellinore, TheRed and Sallent like this.
  12. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper Supporter

    Yeah, I tapped my astronomy funds yet again for this coin. I swear I would have had a killer solar telescope by now if I didn't keep doing that.

    At some point I will make the sacrifice and hold off buying coins for 3 to 6 months to finally get the solar telescope and a good refractor telescope. I feel bad that I keep tapping those astronomy funds for coins all the time.
    ancient coin hunter likes this.
  13. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Same here.

    I'll show this one that just arrived, of Gratian's hapless half-brother Valentinian II.

    29937_0 Valentinian II siliqua.jpg VALENTINIAN II
    AR Siliqua. 2.11g, 17mm. Aquileia mint, circa AD 375-378. RIC 15d; Cohen 76. O: DN VALENTINIANVS IVN P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right. R: VRBS ROMA, Roma seated left on cuirass, holding Victory on globe and inverted spear; star in right field.
  14. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Dombes collector Supporter

    I was tempted too, since the starting price was very attractive, but had already a couple

    Valens, Siliqua Treveri mint
    DN VALENS PF AVG, diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right
    VRBS ROMA, Roma seated left, holding victory and sceptre, TRPS at exergue
    2.15 gr
    Ref : Cohen # 109, Roman coins # 4113

    Gratianus, Siliqua Treveri mint
    DN GRATIANVS PF AVG, Diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right
    VRBS ROMA, Roma seated left, holding victory and sceptre, TRPS at exergue
    2.13 gr
    Ref : Cohen # 86, Roman coins # 4133

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