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Research Coins: Feature Auction

 
78001826

Issue of Aureolus

Sale: CNG 78, Lot: 1826. Estimate $500. 
Closing Date: Wednesday, 14 May 2008. 
Sold For $425. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Postumus. Romano-Gallic Emperor, AD 260-269. Antoninianus (1.87 g, 5h). Struck under Aureolus. Mediolanum (Milan) mint, 2nd officina. 5th emission, AD 268. Radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right / Hercules standing right, lion skin over left arm, leaning on club propped on rocks to right; -/-//S. RIC V 389; Mairat -; AGK 113; Elmer 620; RSC 443b corr. (bust c, not a); Cunetio 2497. Good VF, some silvering remaining. Very rare.


Aureolus was an extraordinarily capable general who served under Valerian and Gallienus. Around AD 258, Gallienus stationed a new cavalry unit at Mediolanum that was to serve as a quick reaction force against any new invasions along the frontier of the central empire. Aureolus was given command of this unit. In AD 260-261 his forces defeated the armies of the usurpers Ingenuus and Macrianus, and recovered the province of Raetia. Following these victories, Gallienus and Aureolus led a Roman army against the breakaway Gallic provinces under Postumus. Gallienus was forced to leave the field after being injured in battle, and left the campaign in the hands of Aureolus. Aureolus ended the campaign shortly thereafter, and while the reason is uncertain, the historical record suggests it was due to either his incompetence or else treachery (he had come to a secret agreement with Postumus). While the former seems unlikely, given Aureolus’ record, the latter is possible, as there are indications that he had been preparing for a revolt as early as AD 262. Regardless, at some point in AD 267, Aureolus revolted and established his base at Mediolanum, where Gallienus besieged him in AD 268. The details of the revolt are unclear, but it appears that Aureolus first appealed to Postumus for aid, and, failing to gain the Gallic Emperor’s support, declared himself emperor. About the same time, Gallienus was murdered, and was succeeded by Claudius II Gothicus, who continued to besiege Mediolanum. Soon, though, it appeared that an agreement was reached, and Aureolus emerged from the city to meet Claudius. Any such concord, however, was simply a ruse, as Aureolus was taken into custody and executed.