RIC VI Thessalonica 30b


RIC VI Thessalonica 30b


308 - 310 CE


An AE2 of the emperor Galerius


coin, Galerius, Licinius, Genius


Bethel University


Angie Pedersen


POINT(2554782.31335 4958407.87595731)


Render Unto Caesar Coin Project








Thessalonica (Thessaloniki)




Galerius (305-311 A.D)









Obverse Legend


Obverse Type

Head of Licinius, laureate, right

Reverse Legend


Reverse Type

Genius, wearing modius, sometimes radiate, nude, chlamys draped over left shoulder, standing left, pouring liquid from patera in right hand and holding cornucopiae in left hand

Obverse Analysis

Around the year of 250 CE, Gaius Galerius Valerius Maximianus (Galerius) was born to a peasant family and received no formal education. Given his social status at birth, it would be thought that he would not amount to much. However, he joined the army and was able to work his way up in the ranks to become Diocletian’s right-hand man. This new status opened a large amount of doorways for Galerius’ future. Working alongside Emperor Diocletian, Galerius gained enough of his trust to be entrusted with the title of Caesar in 293 CE. Along with this title, he married Diocletian’s daughter, Valeria, and gained power in the East. During his time serving as Caesar under Diocletian’s rule, Galerius fought both the Sarmatians and the Carpi successfully. Additionally, wars with Persia persisted. Around the year 295 CE, Sasanian King Narseh declared war on Rome, thus Galerius began another dreadful fight. The Battle of Carrhae resulted in a massive defeat, leaving Galerius to take the blame for the entirety of the incident.

Eventually, Galerius was able to come to a peace agreement, or negotiation, with King Narseh in 299 CE. The conditions of this negotiation were as follows: Persia gave up Roman territory, Armenia was given back to Rome, Rome got control over the provinces between the Tigris and Armenia, and so forth.

Once Diocletian stepped down from power, Galerius gained the position of Augusti along with Constantius I. They then named their two Caesar as Maximinus Daia and Severus. However, when Constantius I died, Constantine was named his successor. Following this event, Galerius then sent Severus to fight Maximian with no success in the end.

In 307 CE, Galerius called the Carnumtum conference where he named Valerius Licinianus Licinius (Licinius) the Augusti of the West, but also named Maximinus his successor. Almost immediately, Licinius set out against Maximinus for the purpose of gaining the power he felt was rightfully his. Similar to Galerius, Licinius came from a poor family and had to work his way up through the ranks to reach a higher social status. Prior to being named Augustus, Licinius worked as Caesar over the province of Pannonia.

Additionally, Galerius ruled during a time before Christianity had become a legally tolerated religion. With this being said, under his rule there were Christian persecutions happening across the empire. However, when nearing his death in 311 CE, Galerius issued an edict of toleration for the Christians in connexion with Constantine and Licinius. It was commonly called the Edict of Toleration by Galerius, but formally the Edict of Serdica. In the end, Galerius died around April or May of 311 CE due to an unknown disease. The disease was speculated to be possible a form of bowel cancer, gangrene, or fournier gangrene.

Reverse Analysis

On the obverse we see the inscription of the phrases Valerius Licinius, pius felix, and Augustus. Relating back to the authority of the coin, we have Galerius despite Licinius being the portrait on the obverse of the coin. With this concept, tied together with the inscription, we can deduce that the coin was created during the more narrowed time frame of 308-311 CE as that was a time when both Galerius and Licinius were reigning as emperors/augusti. Additionally, the obverse we see Licinius wearing a laureate, which has historically represented the god Apollo in addition to being a common head-dress for emperors before the late Roman period. Having been tied to Apollo through the laureate, the message of crop and herd prosperity is clear. When looking at the inscriptions, it is clear Galerius is working towards creating a positive image for Licinius in the times of disagreement.

The inscription reads the following phrase: pius felix, or in other words, pious and happy (or lucky). During Galerius’ reign, there was controversy over whether Licinius or Maximinus was the rightful successor of Galerius as he had named them both successor. In one interpretation, it can be said that having Licinius’ portrait on the coin is reaffirmation of Licinius’ victory over Maximinus in becoming the next successor and emperor.

On the reverse, the deity Genius being depicted wearing a radiate in addition to holding a cornucopia and pouring liquid out of a patera, a common way to depict genius. In Roman culture, having a cornucopia depicted is a sign of prosperity, a common theme about the coin RIC VI Thessalonica 30b. Additionally, the overarching idea of having Genius depicted on the reverse points out the act of working towards unity in the Roman Empire through the translation as “spirit of the roman people”. Overall, the common theme of this particular coin seems to be one of prosperity and happiness.










“RIC VI Thessalonica 30b,” Render Unto Caesar, accessed May 22, 2024, https://renderuntocaesar.betheldigitalscholarship.org/items/show/42.

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