Tacitus - nice catch on ebay

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Tejas, Apr 16, 2021.

  1. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

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  3. Tejas

    Tejas Well-Known Member

    Tacitus was awarded the honorific title "Gothicus Maximus" and, as we have seen, he minted coins celebrating a victory over the Goths. In fact, Tacitus and Florianus, who held the position of Pretorian Prefect, jointly campaigned against the Goths. The contemporary historical sources refer to these Germanic Goths as Scythian, as was customary among learned scholars at the time, but the coin evidence leaves no doubt about the real ethnic identity of the aggressors.

    In the article "Die gotischen Seezüge des 3. Jahrhunderts" (Gothic naval campaigns of the 3rd century) by Andreas Schwarcz, the author provides some detail:

    These "Scythians" (Goths) originated from the Maeotic sea (Sea of Azov) in southern Russia. Previous campaigns suggests that Goths and Heruls (another Germanic tribe) had launched a combined sea and land attack. They crossed the river Phasis and marched along the eastern shores of the Black Sea, via Kolchis and Pontus, Asia Minor to Cappadocia, Galatia and Cilicia.

    Tacitus must have won some notable victories, but he died, apparently of fever, during the campaign at Tyana in about June 276. His half-brother Florianus was proclaimed emperor. Florianus continued the campaign against the invading Goths and Heruls in June and July 276. When he heard of the usurpation of Probus, however, he broke off hostilities with the Goth and marched south to Cilicia to deal with Probus. However, his soldiers rebelled. He lost at Tarsus and was eventually murdered by his own soldiers.

    Tacitus and Florianus must have been quite effective in dealing with the Gothic threat, because the invasion of 276 was the last sea attack by the eastern Goths. In subsequent decades it it almost only the western Goths that played a role in imperial Roman politics.
  4. Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

    Ocatarinetabellatchitchix Supporter! Supporter

    Were they really half-brothers ? Many scholars questioned this idea in recent years. First, Florian's different nomen, Annius rather than Claudius, means that he cannot have been Tacitus's full brother as Historia Augusta implies; some might argue that they are in fact brothers by the same mother. But they had a difference in age of almost 35 years...which makes this hypothesis rather implausible.
    Anyway, they really look alike on these two coins, don't they ?

  5. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    It might be.

    I think there is a conflation here -- Tacitus was Gothicus Maximus before the end of 275, possibly on the account of his feats while Aurelian was Augustus against raids on the countryside in Narbonensis and then on the Rhine and in Raetia. Once declared emperor, he had to fix Aurelian's problem with the former foederati in Asia Minor, so Florian was sent there beforehand while Tacitus went to Rome -- where he received his second consulship in January 276. He then left for Asia Minor where, together with Florian, put things in order and became Germanicus Maximus on top of Gothicus Maximus which he already was.
    Claudius_Gothicus likes this.
  6. maridvnvm

    maridvnvm Well-Known Member

    wrt Double Ants....

    Here is the best of the three XI coins I have managed to get hold of....


    And my only IA coin.....

  7. Tejas

    Tejas Well-Known Member

    Hm, but in the third century, the Goths were nowhere near the Rhine, Raetia let alone the Narbonensis. Tacitus must have won the title of Gothicus Maximus at the lower Danube (ie. the western shores of the Black Sear) fighting western Goths, or repelling attacks by Eastern Goths in Asia Minor.

    I suppose it is possible, that Tacitus based his Gothicus Maximus on victories, which he helped to achieve under Aurelianus, rather than the great Gothic campaign of 276.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2021
  8. Tejas

    Tejas Well-Known Member

    Very interesting. These coins and especially the lower coin, don't look like they contain 10% of silver.
  9. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    Apparently there were troubles with some Germanic uprisings in Gaul and Raetia after Aurelian reattached the secessionist state of the Gallo-Romans, possibly older foederati of the previous emperors in Gallia. These were the issues that Aurelian left unresolved in early 275 when he again left for East and left Tacitus and Florian in the West. For the Germanic disturbances in Narbonensis I have no particular sources (other than a note by S. Estiot see here), but for eastern Gaul there is at least Zonaras which mentions the troubles -- possibly remains of the earlier invasions of 250 and/or 267/8 that had been (temporarily) pacified (in Raetia).

    Forgot to keep up with the coin game -- here is Florian PIVS from Serdica:

    florian pivs.JPG
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2021
    DonnaML, maridvnvm, Tejas and 2 others like this.
  10. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    actually the Romans looked at it as a recipe. Place 1 part silver in 20 parts copper and mix together. That makes 1/21 silver or 4.7% which is very close to what the assay at. The IA uses only 10 parts copper so it is 1/11.
  11. Tejas

    Tejas Well-Known Member

    I wonder what purpose this indication of "purity" and the distinction between 1/21 and 1/11 served in praxis. The silver content in both types seems to be too low to constitute absolute intrinsic value and relative value between the two types.
  12. Tejas

    Tejas Well-Known Member

    Here is another Tacitus Antoninian from my collection.


    Mint: Ticinium
    The coin shows a particularly nice portrait. Note the long curls that extend from the temple down to the beard in front of the ear.
    The obverse has a high relief, giving the coin a somewhat medallic appearance.

    The reverse legend is a bit odd.
    It reads: LAE SE TIA AVG instead of LAE TI TIA AVG. Maybe the reverse die was damaged.

    Screenshot 2021-04-20 at 10.05.12.png
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2021
  13. Tejas

    Tejas Well-Known Member

    This is a really good source, thanks for that.

    Germanic invaders in the Narbonensis I in the 3rd century can in my view only have been Alamanni and Juthungi, from what is now southern Germany. The Goths would not reach that far west before at least 100 years later.

    Tacitus' and Florianus' victories over the pontic Goths in 275 and 276 must have been quite decisive. Probus didn't mint any coins celebrating victories over the Goths and, as far as I know didn't assume the title of Gothicus Maximus.
    Instead, Probus was busy defending the western parts of the Empire against Alamanni, Vandals and Burgundians. He did minted large numbers of coins celebrating his Germanic victory. However, his victories may not have been decisive. When he was killed in 282, the Alamanni immediately launched an attack on Raetia and Noricum.
  14. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    You're welcome, both Estiot and Mairat are canon for the numismatics of the 270s and later. As for the conflicts in the West in 275, there might not have been actual "invasions" as there had previously been in the Lower Danube era from 250 onward, but rather revolts that were centered around former nomadic communities inside the borders of the Empire. The title Gothicus Maximus shouldn't be taken at face value as we can't be certain of the actual identity of the rebels but it is likely that at least some Gothic component had to be part of that or at least perceived as part of that.
  15. Tejas

    Tejas Well-Known Member

    According to Estiot, Tacitus assumed the title of "Gothicus Maximus" in Spring 276, after he had arrived on the scene in Asia Minor, where his army was fighting the invading Goths.
    At about the same time he also adopted the title of "Germanicus Maximus" for victories, which he had achieved in 275 invading Alamanni and Juthungi, who were ravaging Raetia at the time.

    The Romans had an interesting and multi-layered concept for ethnic names. Literary sources resorted to historical names. Hence, anybody from the lower Danube and Ponic stepps was a Scythian. While the honorific names and the numismatic evidence (as well as linguistics) confirm that the Romans were instead dealing with Germanic Goths.
    In the west, the Roman literary sources used the name Germani to denote mostly Alamanni and Franci, regardless of the fact that Goths were culturally and linguistically also Germani. The names Alamanni and Franci replaced the name Germani in the early 4th century. In fact, one Roman source notes "Alamanni, who we used to call Germani".
    An interesting exception are the Juthungi, a Germanic tribe who later joined the Alamanni. One Roman source called them "Juthungian Scyths", reflecting the fact that they had attacked Italy from the eastern Alpine region.
    The fact that the Romans had no concept of Germanic linguistics, can be seen that the east Germanic Burgundians and Vandals, whom Probus defeated in southern Germany (near Augsburg?) were collectively called Germani. In short, Roman ethnic naming practice was determined by geography and not by linguistics or culture.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2021
  16. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    So sorry, in one of my previous replies I confused Germanicus Maximus with Gothicus Maximus, affirming that Tacitus was Gothicus Maximus before being Germanicus Maximus, which is obviously wrong.
  17. maridvnvm

    maridvnvm Well-Known Member

    The Laetitia is in the style of Sisca rather than Ticinum. I suspect the the S instead of the T in the legend is the result of die clogging / die damage.
    Tejas likes this.
  18. maridvnvm

    maridvnvm Well-Known Member

    I have quite a few Florians too, primarily Lugdunum. My favourite is illustrated below.....

    Obv:– IMP C M AN FLORIANVS AVG, Radiate, draped and cuirassed bust right
    Rev:– VIRTVS AVGVSTI, Emperor advancing right, holding a shield and spear, treading down captive.
    Minted in Lugdunum (IIII in exe) Emission 3 Officina 4, from September to October A.D. 276
    Reference:– Cohen 107. Bastien 150. RIC 16 Bust type C

  19. Tejas

    Tejas Well-Known Member

    Cool, thanks for the information. That was my thinking as well. I'll change my records to Siscia.
  20. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    Serdica again, August 276:

    florian providen.JPG
  21. Tejas

    Tejas Well-Known Member

    Excellent coin. This is a great reverse type. I love the naturalistic depiction of Florianus as soldier.
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