(120) Gallienus - AV aureus, c. A.D. 267, 6.65 g. (inv. 91.226).
Obverse: Head of Gallienus l., wearing wreath of reeds; GALLIENAE AVGVSTAE: Gallienus Augustus.
Reverse: Victoria in biga r., holding whip in r.; VBIQVE PAX: peace everywhere.
Provenance: Münzen und Medaillen, 1971.
Bibliography: P.H. Webb, The Roman Imperial Coinage V.1 (London 1927) 121; J.P.C. Kent, Roman Coins (London 1978) 315 no. 496.

Gallienus was first co-emperor with his father, Valerian. He was put in charge of the West and initially had success dealing with German tribes at the northern frontier of the empire. In A.D. 260 Valerian, who was fighting the Persians in the East, was captured by the Persians, and Gallienus began his sole reign amid chaos, with a series of revolts in several regions and the usurper Postumus in control of much of Germany (see no. 121). Within several years he had regained control of most of the troops but had not succeeded in dislodging Postumus when he was killed by conspirators.

Gallienus' last major victory, over the Heruli in the Danube region in A.D. 266, appeared so decisive that the emperor celebrated the victory with a depiction of Victoria and a declaration of universal peace on the reverse of this coin. The puzzling image and legend on the obverse have been variously interpreted. The grammatical form of the legend has been read as feminine and as a comment on the portrait itself, in which the emperor wears a wreath of reeds usually associated with nymphs. But such a construction seems highly unlikely on official coinage, and the most probable reading of the legend is that it is a form of the vocative, an acclamation, which would normally read Galliene. The distinctive portrait shows Gallienus with much fuller hair and beard than most of his immediate predecessors, apparently an allusion to past emperors such as Hadrian, whom he admired.


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