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5615455. SOLD $695

BITHYNIA, Nicomedia. Valerian I, with Gallienus and Valerian II Caesar. AD 253-260. Æ Tetrassarion (24mm, 8.29 g, 7h). Struck AD 256-258. Laureate, draped, and cuirassed busts of Valerian I and Gallienus vis-à-vis; below and between them, bareheaded, draped, and cuirassed bust of Valerian II to right / Two temples seen in perspective, with serpent coiled around flaming altar between; above, a third temple seen from the front, within; statue of Demeter standing left, holding grain ears and long torch. RG 407; BMC 68; SNG Copenhagen 581; SNG von Aulock 7141. Dark brown patina, minor roughness, reverse slightly off center. Good VF.

The acclamation of Valerian II as Caesar in AD 256 provided the empire with a third ruler in addition to the already existent Augusti; Valerian’s father, Gallienus, and grandfather, Valerian I. To commemorate the occasion, Nicomedia produced special coinage with the theme of “three”: three rulers on the obverse, and three civic symbols on the reverse. In both cases, the obverses show the confronted busts of the co-emperors, Valerian I and Gallienus, with the young Caesar Valerian II between them. The arrangement was carefully considered: Valerian I, as senior emperor, occupied the position of honor at the left; both he and Gallienus as Augusti are radiate, while the young Caesar remained bare-headed. The reverse follows a similar pattern of "three": three temples at Nicomedia. Provincial cities competed aggressively with each other to gain special permission from Rome to build temples dedicated to the emperor; upon earning these honors the cities attained neocorate status. The most famous and prosperous cities accumulated this honor two or more times. Nicomedia was especially fortunate, since it attained such status three times. Interestingly, Nicomedia had lost its third neocorate status under Severus Alexander, after Elagabalus’ damnatio memoriae, but regained it under Gallienus. This series commemorates the renewal of the awarding of the third neocorate.