Here's the coin of the month...
Last month's (well, it was a little longer ago than that!) Coin of the Month was a Roman Empress, but now we're back to a Roman emperor. But one that spent little time in Rome itself.
Marcus Aurelius Probus was born in 232 in Sirmium in Illyria in the east. By the time he was 40, he was a leading Roman general under Aurelian, and had re-conquered Egypt for the Roman Empire.
In the summer of 276, the elder Senator turned Emperor, Tacitus, died and his half-brother Florian was made Emperor by his troops. Probus' troops did not approve of Florian, and from his base of power in Syria and Egypt, he was proclaimed Emperor as well. Thus another civil war was at hand, with Florian heading south to meet Probus. Florian's larger army was not used to the heat, and after a while, deposed and murdered him. Probus was now Emporer of all of Rome.
During the six years of his reign, Probus defended the empire against invasions by the Franks in the west, the Goths in the north, and the Vandals and the Getae in the east. During the course of all this, he traveled across the empire twice, and then had more trouble in Germany and Britain. In 281 he finally celebrated his triumphs with games in Rome.
While Probus was immensely successful in his defense of the Empire, and also in restoring its economic health, his troops resented being put to work on civilian projects. In 282, his troops murdered him near his birthplace.
The coin pictured here is an antoninianus, about 21mm across. and weighs 4.3g. By the late 3rd century, most Roman coins had little silver in them, and most appeared bronze, as this one does.
The obverse inscription reads IMP C M AVR PROBVS P F AVG . I guess his was a bit on the formal side. With all his battles, one wonders how he had time to pose for such an elaborate portrait.
The reverse shows the incredible detail the Roman celators were capable of. The inscription reads VIRTVS PROBI AVG the courage of the Emporer Probus.
The coin pictured is not for sale, but I do have a few that I am selling. Click here for the list.
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Last updated February 28, 2005.