Featured Gaius Valens Hostilianus Quintus (Hostilian)

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Al Kowsky, Jul 29, 2020.

  1. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Hostilian was the youngest son of Emperor Trajan Decius, AD 249-251, and Herennia Etruscilla. The eldest son of Decius, Herennius Etruscus was raised to the rank of Caesar in AD 250, and Hostilian was given the title of Caesar at the same time or shortly there after. Herennius Etruscus was given the title of Augustus in AD 251. Decius and his eldest son were both killed fighting the Gothic invaders at the battle of Abrittus, in the summer of AD 251. The leading general of Decius, Trebonianus Gallus, was immediately proclaimed emperor. It had been rumored at the time that Gallus was intentionally slow getting to the battle of Abrittus, knowing that Decius & his troops would be massacred and he would be chosen as emperor. Decius and his family were held in high esteem by the Romans, so to placate the growing foment Gallus gave Hostilian the title of Augustus and made him co-emperor. To strengthen the bond even more Hostilian's sister was married to Volusian, the son of Gallus. Later in the year of AD 251 Hostilian died of the plague. All the tetradrachms of Hostilian struck at Antioch, Syria are considered rare to extremely rare, and I had been on a long quest to find a nice looking example that was affordable. Last week my quest finally paid off with the coin pictured below.

    Hostilian Tet, McAlee 1160 e, Prieur 652.jpg
    Antioch-Syria, Hostilian as Caesar, AD 251, Billon Tetradrachm: 11.74 gm, 27 mm, 8 h, 7th Officina. Obverse: Bare-headed bust of Hostilian facing right, draped, seen from the front, mintmark Z under bust. Reverse: Eagle standing right on palm branch, with wreath in beak. McAlee 1160 e (Ex. Rare), Prieur 652 (2 coins cited).

    McAlee states "All varieties are rare, and Hostilian's Antiochene provincial coins are the rarest of the emperors of the 3rd century." All his tetradrachms were struck as Caesar, but the mint at Antioch did strike antoniniani with the title of Augustus, and those coins are rare. Despite the odd shape and the porosity, my coin has an attractive dark find patina that hasn't been impaired by cleaning.

    Browsing thru Wild Winds, I found an obverse die match for my coin pictured below. It was posted by Tkalec Auctions, May 2011, lot 262, 12.52 gm, 26 mm.
    Prieur_652 image.jpg

    The coin pictured below, McAlee 1160 d, was recently auctioned by Heritage for $1,140.00, well beyond my budget.

    HA Hostilian Tet 63106, McAlee 1160 d, $1140.00.jpg

    The Coins of Roman Antioch, Richard McAlee, 2007
    The Syro-Phoenician Tetradrachms and Their Fractions, from 57 BC to AD 253, Michel and Karin Prieur, 2000
    Heritage Auctions

    CT members are welcome to post any coins of Hostilian on this thread :D.

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  3. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter I dig ancient coins...

    Very nice Antiochene tet @Al Kowsky !

    I lost out on a Hostilian tet of Alexandria in a recent auction so that one is still an open spot in my collection. Here's another figure mentioned in your story.

    Herennius Etruscus (250-251 A.D.)

    AR Antoninianus, 23mm 3.0 grams

    Obverse: Q HER ETR MES DECIVS NOB C, Bare-headed and draped bust right

    Reverse: PRINCIPI IVVENTVTIS, Herennius standing left, holding rod and spear.

    Reference: RIC 147c, RSC 26. Sear 9523


  4. octavius

    octavius Well-Known Member

    2 silver antoniniani of Hostilian....

    7jiLD82dHaQ5i6GS4RNbyq3Rc9ZPZx.jpg Jd97qTe28HZsNa7H4YcJt6SpiXs35a.jpg
  5. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    A.C.H., Nice looking antoninianus of Herennius :D. The poor kid wasn't long for this world either :(. The reverse on your coins seems to be a common design theme from the Rome mint, like the denarius pictured below of Maximus.

    Maximus as Caesar, AD 235-236, Denarius, Rome.jpg
  6. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

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  7. El Cazador

    El Cazador Active Member

  8. Julius Germanicus

    Julius Germanicus Well-Known Member

    I think it is most likely that Hostilian was raised to the purple by the Roman Senate who had Herennius Etruscus consecrated as soon as the older brother´s death became known in Rome, by public demand, and not by order of Gallus, whoose claim to the throne might not even have been known in the capital by then.
    There is no proof that Trajan Decius himself was also consecrated, so the news of the prince´s heroic death might have reached the capital before that of his father (we do not know if Herennius fell at Abritus just hours before Decius did, or up to a week before during the skirmishes that led to that battle).
    In any case the Senate likely went ahead with the orderly succession as it could hardly have known about Gallus´ imperial plans until days or weeks later.
    The Senate also certainly did not anticipate that Gallus would revoke the contemporaneous deification of Herennius a couple of months later and impose damnatio memoriae upon him and his father.

    According to Kienast, there are no references that Hostilian ever had a sister or that she was married to Volusian, by the way.

    Here is my Sestertius of Hostilian as Augustus:

    Bildschirmfoto 2019-02-14 um 13.05.00.jpg
    IMP CAE C VAL HOS MES QVINTVS AVG - Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Hostilian right
    SECVRITAS AVGG S C - Securitas standing facing, looking right, her legs crossed, placing right hand on head and resting left arm on column.
    14,69 gr / 28,37 mm
    Sestertius, Rome June-August 251
    RIC (Decius) 225; Hunter p. 254, 3 and plate 81; Cohen 60; Sear 9593; Banti 15 (7 specimens)
  9. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    I had to thumb thru my notes to find info on Hostilian's sister o_O? Martin Armstrong writing in his blog Monetary History of the World, Hostilian-251 AD, mentions Hostilian's sister having married Volusian. He doesn't quote his source, but I'm sure he didn't pull the info out of a hat. BTW, your rare sestertius is a handsome coin :D.
    DonnaML likes this.
  10. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    El Cazador, Your pair of antoniniani are handsome too :D. Your coin depicting Mars has the short inscription versus the long inscription on octavius' coin. The reverse on your other coin has a nice sharp strike for the type :).
    DonnaML and octavius like this.
  11. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    I've posted this one several times before, but like it enough (perhaps especially the very pugnacious Mars on the reverse) to post it again:

    Hostilian Caesar (son of Trajan Decius), AR Antoninianus, 251 AD, Rome Mint. Obv. Radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, C VALENS HOSTIL MES QVINTVS N C / Rev. Mars advancing right, holding spear in right hand and shield in left, MARTI PROPVGNATORI. RIC IV-3 177b, RSC IV 15, Sear RCV III 9556 (ill.). 22 mm., 3.65 g.

    Hostilian Obverse jpg version.jpg

    Hostilian Reverse jpg version.jpg
  12. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Donna, You too have a handsome, lustrous antoninianus with the Defender Mars reverse. Your Mars has a pretty nasty face :mad: that just might scare the enemy away. Hostilian's coinage as Caesar is scarce but his coinage as Augustus is rare. Considering his total output of coinage lasted only about 6 months, finding a good example of his coinage is a real challenge ;).
    DonnaML and PeteB like this.
  13. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Since so little is known about Hostilian, & his reign was so short there is a lot of misinformation about him. One example that really irks me is the attribution of the main figure on the famous Grande Ludovisi sarcophagus as Hostilian, seen below.

    Grande_Ludovisi sarcophagus, mid 3rd cen. AD.jpg
    This masterpiece of sculpture was made somewhere in the mid 3rd century AD & depicts a young emperor near the top center in the midst of a battle with Romans fighting barbarians. The likelihood of this figure being Hostilian is remote. It is more likely some other young prince who died fighting barbarians.
  14. PeteB

    PeteB Well-Known Member

    Hostilian. As Caesar, 250-251 AD. Æ Sestertius. (29mm; 19.28 gm; 6h). Rome mint, 4th officina. 5th emission of Trajan Decius, 251 AD. Obv: Bareheaded and draped bust right. Rev: Apollo seated. l. holding branch and resting elbow on lyre. RIC IV 215a.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2020
    Shea19, galba68, DonnaML and 5 others like this.
  15. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    ...nice coin(s) Al & all of a fairly hard to get(when ya lQQkin' for 1) emperor...and kool info too! :)..i have a bronze of him from Anazarbus formerly belonging to another CT member..here he is in the family portrait o coins with an Apollo reverse at 21mm 6.78gms..:) Trajan Decius family 001.JPG Trajan Decius family 002.JPG
  16. octavius

    octavius Well-Known Member

  17. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Peter, That's a lovely sestertius with an attractive patina that enhances the coin :D. I always prefer bare-headed portraits without distracting crowns & wreaths :).
  18. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    ominus1, Congrats on completing the family group :D. I'm still missing a Tet of Herennius Etruscus :(, & missed a good one last nite at the Heritage auction for $122.00 :mad:. See the pic below.
    Herennius Etruscus Tet, HA, 7-29-2020, $122.00.jpg
  19. Julius Germanicus

    Julius Germanicus Well-Known Member

    Thanks, Al :). The story of Hostilian´s sister was obviously "pulled out of the hat" by some Renaissance hobby historian. It has been indicriminately repeated over and over in coin in catalogues and on the internet without anybody being able to quote an ancient source.

    Apart from that, it would have been impossible for Gallus do condemn the memory of Decius and his sons if they were his daughter in law's family! Also it would have been unlikely that there is no numismatic or epigraphic mention of a wife of Volusian.

    I agree. It neither looks like Hostilian nor would it be likely that he is pictured due to the fact that seems to have been erased from the records by Gallus as soon as he had died.


    There is also a conflicting hypothesis that Hostilian was cremated in Viminacium where a decade ago Serbian archeologists claimed to have found his mausoleum. No result of the DNA tests that were announced then were ever published however and the current webpage of the excarvation site no longer makes such a connection even though Wikipedia still does.
  20. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    J.G., Thanks for the info & earlier thread :D.
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