Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 111   |   24 September 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 209

Estimate: 8'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 6'400 CHF Price realized: 12'500 CHF
Diocletian, 284-305. Aureus, Cyzicus 287-290, AV 5.32 g. DIOCLETIANVS – AVGVSTVS Laureate head r. Rev. COS – II – I Emperor on horseback r., raising r. arm. C 54. RIC 287. Bastien, Donativa, p. 62. Lukanc 4 and p. 166, 17. Depeyrot 7/2. Calicó 4445.Virtually as struck and almost Fdc
Privately purchased from Vinchon in 1951. From the Pierre Bastien collection.
The reverse inscription allows this coin to be dated to a three-year period, as Diocletian entered his fourth consulship in January, 290 and his fifth in January, 293. It was an eventful period for the tireless and dutiful emperor, who devoted the summer of 290 to dealing with Bedouin and Saracen raiders who continually interrupted trade and border security by raiding the exposed settlements in Syria. He then travelled the great distance back to the Balkans where, at his palace in Sirmium, he began to work out the details of restructuring the empire. He then moved further westward, to Milan, where he discussed these plans with his co-emperor, Maximian, over the winter of 290/1. The two must have worked diligently through the early spring, as there were many reforms to implement and some pressing concerns: the attacks of Nubian raiders in the Thebaid, the separatist state of Carausius, the raids of Berber tribesmen in North Africa, and even more distressful, the prospect of a renascent Persia. Diocletian perhaps left Milan as winter ended early in 291, and returned to the Balkans. He is attested as being in Sirmium on May 13, and he may have remained in the Balkans and the north-western part of Asia Minor for the next five years. It is unfortunate that the sources are silent for the period 291 to 292, though there is good reason to believe that at least part of this time Diocletian campaigned against the Sarmatians. Since we have so little information, one can only speculate as to the occasion for this adventus type, but the most likely candidate is his arrival in Milan late in December 290. He is attested as being in Sirmium as late as December 18, which accords well with the account of a Gallic orator who, in the panegyric he delivered to Maximian on his birthday in 291 (Pan. Lat. XI(3) 10.4-5), recounted his marvel at the arrival in Milan of the two emperors – likened to their patrons Jupiter and Hercules – over snow-capped mountains so late in the year: "...when from each summit of the Alps your deity first shone forth, a clearer light spread over all Italy; wonder seized upon all who gazed up no less than uncertainty, whether some god was arising from those mountain crests, or by these steps descending to earth from heaven. But when you came closer and closer and people began to recognize you, all the fields were filled not only with men running forth to see but even with flocks of beasts leaving their distant pastures and woods; farmers rushed about among each other, told everyone what they had seen, altars were ignited, incense placed upon them, libations of wine were poured, sacrificial victims slain, everything glowed with joy, everyone danced and applauded, to the immortal gods' praises and thanks were sung: they invoked not the god transmitted by conjecture but a visible and present Jupiter near at hand, they adored Hercules not as the stranger but as the Emperor."

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