(119) Trajan Decius - AV aureus, A.D. 249-251, 4.05 g. (inv. 91.222).
Obverse: Laureate and cuirassed bust of Trajan Decius r.; IMP(ERATOR) C(AIVS) M(ESSIVS) Q(VINTVS) TRAIANVS DECIVS AVG(VSTVS): Imperator Gaius Messius Quintus Traianus Decius Augustus.
Reverse: Abundantia standing r., emptying cornucopia held in both hands; ABVNDANTIA AVG(VSTI): Abundance of the Augustus.
Provenance: Abner Kreisberg, 1960.
Bibliography: H. Mattingly, E.A. Sydenham, and C.H.V. Sutherland, The Roman Imperial Coinage IV.3: Gordian III - Uranus Antoninus (London 1949) 10.

Gaius Messius Quintus Decius was born in Pannonia on the Danube and rose to high offices under the emperor Philip I. When the troops at the Danubian frontier revolted, Philip persuaded Decius to defend the border, and when he succeeded, his own troops proclaimed him emperor. He then marched on Italy and killed Philip in battle at Verona. He added the name Trajan, probably because of that emperor's original conquest of the Danubian area. He was called back to the area by a massive invasion of Goths, and he, his son, and a large part of his army were killed in battle there in A.D. 251.

Decius' portraits are among the most expressive of the period. He is depicted as a military man, with short, stipled hair and beard, but his face, with its deeply lined forehead and sunken eyes, conveys the strain and anxiety of the times. On the reverse, Abundantia, the personification of abundance, particularly of grain, pours grain from her cornucopia.


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