RIC V Valerian 12

Title

RIC V Valerian 12

Date

258-259 CE

Description

An Antoninianus of the Emperor Valerian

Publisher

Bethel University

Contributor

Dustin Clark

Coverage

POINT(536498.051912016 5741927.7541519)

Type

Render Unto Caesar Roman Coin project

Format

image/jpeg

Language

Latin

Mint

Lugdunum (Lyons)

Denomination

Antoninianus

Authority

Valerian (253-260 A.D.)

Deity

Sol

Portrait

Valerian

Region

Gaul

Material

Silver

Obverse Legend

VALERIANVS P F AVG

Reverse Legend

ORIENS AVG

Obverse Analysis

Publius Licinius Valerianus (Life: 193-260 CE, Reign: 253-260 CE)

Valerian was born into a noble Roman senatorial family during the reign of Septimius Severus (193-211 CE). This period in Rome was known as the Crisis of the Third century (235-284 CE). This was a period in which the Roman Empire nearly collapsed under the combined pressures of invasion, civil war, plague, and economic depression. He held a number of offices before he was named Emperor by the army, although details of his early life are elusive. He married Egnatia Mariniana, who gave him two sons: later emperor Publius Licinius Egnatius Gallienus and Valerianus Minor. Valerian was given charge of affairs in Rome after Decius left for his ill-fated last campaign in Illyrium (251 CE). After Decius died, Trebonius Gallus took over as emperor of Rome and appointed Valerian as leader of an army. During the rebellion of Aemilianus in 253 CE, Gallus called to Valerian for assistance to destroy the usurpation. Valerian headed south but was too late: Gallus was killed by his own troops, who joined Aemilianus before Valerian arrived. The Raetian soldiers then proclaimed Valerian emperor and continued their march towards Rome. Aemilianus's legions defected, killing Aemilianus and proclaiming Valerian emperor (253 CE). In Rome, the Senate quickly acknowledged Valerian, not only for fear of punishment but also because he was one of their own.
One of Valerians first acts as emperor was to appoint his son Gallienus as co-emperor. They split up the empire between them with the son taking the West, and Valerian taking the East (253 CE). The empire was currently in dismay, with external pressures that Valerian was being faced, especially the Persian threat led by Shapur I. While attempting to lead a response to the Persian threat in the East, Valerian made moves against the Christians by sending two letters to the Senate ordering that firm steps be taken against the Christians. The first, sent in 257 CE, commanded Christian priests to perform sacrifices to the Roman gods or face banishment. The second, the following year, ordered the execution of Christian leaders. It also required Christian senators to perform acts of worship to the Roman gods or lose their titles and property and directed that they are executed if they continued to refuse. In Antioch, Valerian had set up a base of operations for his campaign against the Persian threat (255 CE). His minimal success in the east would earn Valerian titles such as Restorer of the World, Restorer of the Human Race, Restorer of the Orient. Although in 260 CE Valerian would suffer a massive defeat at the Battle of Edessa and eventually be captured by Shapur I.
This capture of a Roman Emperor was a huge blow to Roman morale and Roman pride. There are many depictions of the treatment that Valerian faced when under Persian captivity. One very popular image is of Shapur I using Valerian as a stepping stool to get onto his horse. Upon his death, Valerian’s skin was removed and dyed, then shown to future temple visitors (mostly as a warning). Shapur’s Res Gestae Divi Sports or 'The Acts of the Divine Shapur' celebrated the emperor’s capture. Valerian’s death would never be avenged for Shapur would die from illness in 270 CE.

Reverse Analysis

Minted: Lugdunum
Date: 258-259 CE
Emperor: Valerian I (Reigned 253-260 CE)


Obverse Reverse

Obverse
Legend: VALERIANVS P F AVG
Translation
VALERIANVS
Valerian I (Emperor of Rome)
P+F: Pius Felix
Pious and Happy (or lucky)
AVG: Augustus
Emperor

Depictions
Bust of Valerian I
Portrait facing right
Valerian is draped


Reverse
Legend: ORIENS AVG
Translation
ORIENS: Oriens
The Rising Sun, also sometimes refers to the East
AVG: Augustus
Emperor
Depictions
Sol moving left
Raising right hand
Holding whip in left hand
Analysis and Interpretation

The obverse meaning is very straightforward. The obverse depicts a bust of Valerian I who was emperor of Rome from 253-260 CE. Valerian is depicted with a crown of spikes on his head. This radiant crown was used to distinguish the antoninianus and a variety of other denominations. The pious and happy remark was seen on many coins during the 4th century, these phrases were used to evoke affection for the emperor and create feelings of happiness while under his reign. It is also evident that Valerian's bust is draped in some type of robe. While it is obvious that we cannot see the color on the coin, the assumption is that the robe is purple. Purple was the color worn by Roman magistrates and important Roman officials.
On the reverse side of the coin,Valerians we see a depiction of what we assume to be the ancient Roman sun god Sol. The inscription of ORIENS means “The Rising Sun”, but it also sometimes refers to the east. This might be significant as one of Valerians first acts as emperor was splitting his empire in two. With his son Gallienus taking the west and Valerian taking the east. It also depicts Sol raising his right hand and holding his whip in his left hand. This whip might alsoValerian's campaign in the east against the Persian threat. His minimal success in the east earned him many titles and praise of his attempted restoration of the Roman empire in the east, before his capture and death.

Mintmark

PLG

Weight

3.50

Files

Obverse.jpg
Reverse.jpg

Citation

“RIC V Valerian 12 ,” Render Unto Caesar, accessed October 19, 2019, http://renderuntocaesar.betheldigitalscholarship.org/items/show/44.

Output Formats