The Coins of Carausius

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					                                The Coins of Probus (276-282)


Marcus Aurelius Probus became Roman Emperor in 276, the latter part of the turbulent "Crisis of
the Third Century (180-284)." As was common in that era, he attained the imperial throne by
civil war, defeating the Emperor Florian in battle. Much of his reign was dominated by the need
to defend the borders against attacking barbarians and numerous attempts by his generals to
usurp his throne. He primarily resided in Thrace, though he spent much of his reign with his
troops along the Rhine-Danube border. He was finally killed by his own soldiers in a coup
staged by his Praetorian Prefect.

Probus controlled eight mints throughout the Roman Empire: Lugdunum, Rome, Ticinum,
Siscia, Serdica, Cyzicus, Antioch, Tripolis (look these up in a map). Under his direct or indirect
control, these mints produced Aurei (gold coins), Denarii (silver coins), Quinarii (1/2 Denarii),
Antoniniani (copper coins with a silver coating, roughly equivalent to Denarii in value), Asses
(bronze coins), semisses (1/2 Asses); there was also a rare denomination called Dupondii (a
silver alloy). Coinage was Probus's only means of mass communication. For the purposes of
this assignment, let us assume that Probus was in control of all the messages and images that
appeared on his coins (though you might, rightly, suspect that this assumption is only partially
justified, considering issues of time, distance, and communications between Emperor and the
various mints).

Preliminary Numismatics Assignment:

Realizing that Roman Emperors had for centuries used coins to proclaim their
political/military/religious agendas, what are the three or four most important patterns you
discern among this Emperor’s coinage, and what do these patterns mean? What kinds of
messages is Probus trying to send to his subjects? Due March 11, at the beginning of class.

**On the back of this page you will find a list of vocabulary to help you decode the coins. If you
need to know any other vocabulary, don't hesitate to ask. For an online Latin dictionary, see

***The attached catalogue is taken from P.H. Webb, The Roman Imperial Coinage Vol. V.2
(London, 1962).

****Please use only material provided for your research. No secondary sources are permitted.

*****Along with your final paper, you will need to turn in a signed copy of the Academic
Integrity Statement.
Useful Vocabulary:
Abundantia = abundance
Adventus = coming
Aeterna/Aeternitas = eternal, eternity
Apolini = god, Apollo, sometimes identified with Sol
AVG = Augustus
Clementia = clemency
Comes/comiti = strong (military) companion
Concordia = personification of harmony
Cons/conser/conservat = conservator = patron deity
COS = Consul
Felicitas = personification of happiness
Fides = keeping good faith
Fortuna = goddess of luck (Greek = Tyche)
Germ = Germania
Arculi/Erculi/Herculi = god, Hercules
Hilaritas = personification of cheerfulness
Inv = invictus = unconquered
Iovi = god, Jupiter
Laetitia = personification of gladness
Leg = Legion
Marti = god, Mars
Merc = god, Mercury
Militum = soldiers
Miner = goddess, Minerva
Moneta = personification of a mint or money = prosperity?
Neptuno = god, Neptune
Orbis = the world
Oriens/ories, AVG = "Rising sun of the Augustus" = Symbol of the Emperor's unique prestige,
        genius. One of the most common legends on third century coins, accompanied usually by
Pac/pacator/pacif = peace maker
Pax/Paci = personification of peace
Perpetuo = forever
Pietas = piety, duty
PM = Pontifex Maximus = High Priest
PP = Pater Patriae
Propugnator = warrior
Providentia = caring foresight and provision
Restitut = restorer
Salus = personification of health
Soli [Invicto] = Sol [the unconquered] = the sun god
Spes = hope
Stator = supporter
Tempor = time
TRP/TriP = Tribunician Potestas = the power of a Tribune
Vbique = everywhere
Victor = victor
Virtus/Virtuti = "virtue of" = duty/character
Votis = offering

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