Featured Maximinus Thrax

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Tejas, Jun 9, 2021.

  1. Tejas

    Tejas Well-Known Member

    Maximinus Thrax is one of those emperors, who, despite of a rather short reign of 3 years (235-238) left us with large quantities of high quality coins. Nevertheless, I have only four denari of Maximinus Thrax in my collection. The last one of which I bought just recently, to complete the series of different bust styles.

    Maximinus Thrax is particularly interesting to me. I am from northern Germany and Maximinus Thrax appears to have been the last emperor to make it to my home region, where he fought the fabled battle in the bog (proelium in palude) in which he is said to have personally distinguished himself. There is a lot of controversy regarding the significance and size of this battle. Some think that it was little more than a skirmish, with farmers who tried to defend their homes and families against pillaging Roman troops. Indeed, the whole campaign was a retaliation for a large scale Germanic attack on the Limes in the years 231 to 234, in which numerous Roman settlement and military camps were overrun.

    In any case, after harrowing the region, his troops returned south. The army that consistent of vexilliations of different legions including legio IIII Flavia Felix, legio II Parthica, legio XXII Primigenia, legio XXX Ulpia Victrix, legio I Minerva and legio VIII Augusta) must have been quite large. Nevertheless, in the meantime sufficient numbers of Germanic warriors had gathered to attempt an ambush in the hills of the Harzhorn. The ambush failed, the Romans made it back home and Maximinus Thrax was awarded the title of Germanicus Maximus.

    He may have been of barbarian stock himself. Later, but not particularly reliable sources, stated that his father was a Goth named Micca and his mother was an Alan named Ababa. Whatever the matter, he was an able soldier and apparently of great physical strength. He is often considered the first of the soldier emperors. He never visited Rome, which may explain the very different portrait styles on his coins.

    So here is my new acquisition. I was after this particular portrait for a very long time. My very rough estimate based on acsearch suggest that only about 1% of his denari show this type of facial features. Hence, even though his denari are mostly common, this portrait style is quite scarce.

    The reverse FIDES MILITVM is well suited for a military man like Maximinus Thrax. I am not sure, but I think the coin dates to the beginning of his reign, i.e. 235. In my view, artistically this is his best portrait.

    Screenshot 2021-06-09 at 09.46.33.png

    Next up is Maximiuns Thrax' most common portrait - more prominent chin and straight nose. The picture is bad, I find it difficult to photograph silver coins. However, the coin is in EF condition. The coin dates to 236, i.e. the year when his son Maximus was named caesar - PAX AVGVSTI

    Screenshot 2021-06-09 at 10.08.30.png

    Finally, this is what I think is the last stage in the development of Maximinus Thrax' facial features - prominent bend nose and very prominent chin. The reverse celebrates his Germanic victory - VICT ORIA GERM. The coin is in lustrous EF. The battle in the bog was apparently fought in 235, but the Germanic campaign ended in 236 .I guess the date of this coin is 236 or 237.

    Screenshot 2021-06-09 at 10.11.41.png
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2021
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  3. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    Congrats Tejas, here's my colorfull FIDES MILITUM:

  4. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Tejas, Excellent article & coins illustrating the progression of portrait styles :happy:! Attached below is a denarius I sold last year; the same type as the coin Andres posted. For comparison I'm also posting a sestertius of his son Maximus.

    NGC 2491170-011 Ex Al Kowsky Coll..jpg

    AE Sestertius 31 mm, 26.39 gm, 12 h, RIC 13 (5).jpg
    Maximus as Caesar, AD 236-238, Rome Mint. AE Sestertius: 26.39 gm, 31 mm, 12 h. RIC 13.
  5. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Very nice example, @Tejas! Here's my latest Max Thrax:

    Maximinus I, AD 235-238.
    Roman AR denarius, 3.13 g, 19.2 mm, 6 h.
    Rome, 2nd emission, AD 236.
    Obv: IMP MAXIMINVS PIVS AVG, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust, right.
    Rev: PROVIDENTIA AVG, Providentia standing left, holding baton and cornucopiae; globe at feet.
    Refs: RIC 13; BMCRE 86-88; Cohen 77; RSC 77a; RCV 8315; MIR 11-3.
  6. Spaniard

    Spaniard Well-Known Member

    Nice coins!....For me, along with Philip I, his coins have a good cost/detail/quality ratio....
    Maximinus I Denarius. AD 235-238...3.18gr
    Obverse..IMP MAXIMINVS PIVS AVG, laureate, draped bust right.
    Reverse..FIDES MILITVM, Fides standing left, a standard in each hand.
    RIC 7A Minted AD 235-236

  7. Tejas

    Tejas Well-Known Member

    I once owned a Maximinus Thrax Sestertius with VICTORIA GERMANICA Reverse. However, the coin was stolen from me in a burglary some 20 years ago. Here is the picture (note the prices are still in French Francs):

    Screenshot 2021-06-09 at 14.44.37.png
  8. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    Here is Maximinus combined with "Pax." Some how one does not think of Maximinus and peace going together unless it's in the context that he has killed everyone around him.

    Maximinus Thrax All.jpg

    Denarius of Maximinus I or Thrax, Obverse: IMP MAXIMINUS PIVS AVG “Emperor Maximinus dutiful, patriotic, Augustus.” Reverse: PAX AVGVSTI “Dedicated to the peace provided by the emperor” Pax standing, holding a branch Sear 8310, Ric 312, RSC 31, 31a, Year 235
  9. Tejas

    Tejas Well-Known Member

    That is true, but I think the Romans' view of peace was slightly different to our understanding. PAX ROMANA or PAX AVGVSTA referred to internal peace in the form of the absence of civil war, which had brought down the Roman Republic and which was to be avoided at all costs. This Pax Augusta could well be achieved or maintained through military means. PAX AVGVSTA is similar to TRANQILITAS, SECVRITAS, CONCORDIA etc.
  10. Tejas

    Tejas Well-Known Member

    This is a fantastic Sestertius!
    Orielensis and Roman Collector like this.
  11. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    Maximinus 1.jpg
    AR Denarius
    OBVERSE: Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right
    REVERSE: VICTORIAAVG - Victory advancing right, holding wreath and palm
    Struck at Rome, 235-236 AD March - January
    2.8g, 21mm
    RIC 16, BMC 25, C 99
    Maximinus 3.jpg
    AE Sestertius
    OBVERSE: IMP MAXIMINVS PIVS AVG, laureate, draped & cuirassed bust right
    REVERSE: FIDES MILITVM S-C, Fides standing left, standard in each hand
    Struck at Rome, 235-236
    16.3g, 30mm
    RIC 43
    Maximinus 2.jpg
    AE Sestertius
    OBVERSE: IMP MAXIMINVS PIVS AVG - Laureate, draped bust right.
    REVERSE: SALVS AVGVSTI - Salus seated left, feeding snake on altar
    Struck at Rome, 235-236 AD March - January
    20.7g, 29.5mm
    RIC 85
  12. Orielensis

    Orielensis Supporter! Supporter

    I had the chance to admire the archeological finds from the Harzhorn battlefield in the context of the wonderful "Bewegte Zeiten" exhibition in Berlin in 2018, and subsequently also visited the battlefield near Northeim. Since then, a Maximus Thrax with a "VICTORIA GERM" similar to @Tejas terrific example ranks high on my wish list, but so far I have been outbid.

    For the time being, I thus have to put up with these two examples:

    Rom – Maximinus Thrax, Denar, Providentia.png
    Maximinus Thrax, Roman Empire, denarius, 236–238 AD, Rome mint. Obv: MAXIMINVS PIVS AVG GERM, bust of Maximinus Thrax, draped and laureate, r. Rev: PROVIDENTIA AVG, Providentia standing l., holding wand pointing at globe in r. hand and cornucopia in l. 20.4mm, 3.5g. Ref: RIC IV.2 Maximinus Thrax 20.

    Rom – Maximinus Thrax, denar, Pax, RIC 26.png
    Maximinus Thrax, Roman Empire, AR denarius, 235–236 AD, Rome mint. Obv: IMP MAXIMINVS PIVS AVG; bust of Maximinus I, laureate, draped, cuirassed, r. Rev: PAX AVGVSTI; Pax, draped, standing l., holding branch in extended r. hand and transverse sceptre in l. hand. 21mm, 2.78g. Ref: RIC IV Maximinus Thrax 12 (denarius).
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2021
  13. Ignoramus Maximus

    Ignoramus Maximus Nomen non est omen.

    I have no coins a Maximinus T. As a matter of fact I knew very little about the man until earlier this morning, when I found myself immersed in part one of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, more precisely the chapter on Thrax.
    Ugly man, as it turns out, even by Roman standards.

    Interestingly, Gibbon writes (also, the point of my post):

    'Every city of the empire was possessed of an independent revenue, destined to purchase corn for the multitude, and to supply the expences of the games and the entertainments. By a single act of authority, the whole mass of wealth was at once confiscated for the use of the Imperial treasury. The temples were stripped of their most valuable offerings of gold and silver, and the statues of gods, heroes, and emperors were melted down and coined into money'. (chapter VII, The oppression of the provinces).

    How fascinating it would be to own a coin struck from one of those statues! (although you obviously couldn't possibly hope to prove that any one coin came from that event). But the idea alone, that the coin you hold may have that origin, is enough to want to buy one... Despicable though the man was, it certainly adds to the drama of his coinage!
  14. gogili1977

    gogili1977 Well-Known Member

  15. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

  16. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Supporter! Supporter

    Maximinus I Thrax Ar Denarius 235-236 AD Obv Bust right laureate draped seen from back Rv Salus seated left. RIC 14 3.22 grms 18 mm Photo by w. Hansen thraxd9.jpg He does not appear to have made it to the city of Rome for his entire reign thus creating a problem for the die cutters at the mint of Rome as they seem to have no prototype to create a portrait of their new emperor. Initially they employed an image that looked very much like a more mature version of Severus Alexander. However over time this image mutated as they got better information on the appearance of their emperor.
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  17. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    @Ignoramus Maximus wrote:

    "Despicable though this man was, it certainly adds to the drama of his coinage."

    Isn't it odd how the worst of them were the most interesting?

    These comments about the confiscation of wealth remind me of the reason why Gordian I and Gordian II were declared emperors by the wealthy people in North Africa. Maximinus T was taking their wealth. It shows how much of a dumb brute he was. If you want to hold power, you need to keep the army and the wealthy and influential people on your side.
    Ignoramus Maximus likes this.
  18. ominus1

    ominus1 When in Rome, do as the Romans do Supporter

    nice denarius...i only have a sestertius like you had(and @Bing has:)), altho not quite as sharp on details.. IMG_0394.JPG IMG_0397.JPG Max Thrax(235-238AD), Victory standing over captive reverse, 30mm, 19.05gms, RIC 90
  19. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    While this thread shows many nice Imperial coins, we might mention that Maximinus has a nice group of Provincials as well.
    Anchialus Thrace / Apollo

    Ninica Claudiopolis, Cilicia /wolf and twins

    Of course, we can not forget Alexandria:
    Sol tetradrachm year 3

    Less common are Provincials of Maximus.
    Tomis 4 assaria / Hygeia
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  20. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Ah yes, the guy who killed Severus Alexander. Not my fave. ;) The portrait style you just obtained is sometimes described as being based on Sev Alex, but personally I think that's a stretch. Very loosely based, that's for sure!

    I have an OK denarius, the Max Thrax coin I like best is this As:
    max thrax as.JPG

    The denarius:
    max thrax denarius.jpg

    Son Maximus:
    maximus denarius.jpg

    Harry Sidebottom does a good job of fictionalizing this period in his series Throne of the Caesars. It goes from the death of Sev Alex, through Max Thrax and the Gordians.
    ominus1, Andres2, ambr0zie and 7 others like this.
  21. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    Here is the last issue of Maximinus, from 238.


    PM TRP IIII COS PP. TRP IIII dates it to year 4, 238 before April [BMC]
    BMC 219
    Sear 8314 (no photo)
    22-19 mm. 2.25 grams.

    This issue is very small. Maximinus lost control of the Rome mint when the Gordians were proclaimed emperors at Rome in the beginning of April, 238. BMC suggests the mint had been preparing even before that by not issuing many coins in the name of Maximinus in 238. TRP III is scarce (11 in BMC hoards, among 1855 denarii of Maximinus, page 88). TRP IIII is rare (only 1 of 1855 in BMC hoards).

    For a discussion of his portraits and coinage, see:
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