(122) Probus - AV aureus, A.D. 282, 7.49 g. (inv. 91.232).
Obverse: Helmeted and cuirassed bust of Probus l., holding lance in r. and on l. arm decorated shield; IMP(ERATOR) PROBVS AVG(VSTVS): Imperator Probus Augustus.
Reverse: Draped and radiate bust of Sol r.; SOLI INVICTO COMITI AVG(VSTI): to the Invincible Sun, companion of Augustus.
Provenance: Abner Kreisberg, 1978.
Bibliography: P.H. Webb, The Roman Imperial Coinage V.2 (London 1933) 138.

Marcus Aurelius Probus was the son of a soldier and commander in the East when the emperor Tacitus was killed in a mutiny. His troops proclaimed him emperor, and he immediately set about restoring order. For much of his reign Probus travelled back and forth, successfully putting down revolts at the frontiers of the empire. He celebrated a great triumph in Rome in A.D. 282, which this coin perhaps commemorates. In the same year he was on a campaign against the Persians when the revolt of his praetorian prefect, Carus, encouraged his troops to kill him.

The gold coins of Probus feature elaborate portraits of the emperor in full military dress, emphasizing his success as a commander. On the obverse of this aureus, in addition to the decorated cuirass and helmet, he holds a shield with a relief representating the emperor on horseback pursuing an enemy. On the reverse is a bust of the sun god, Sol, wearing his usual radiate crown. Sol had become increasingly important since Septimius Severus had brought the cult of Sol Invictus, the Invincible Sun, from the East, and he appears particularly as the companion and protector of the emperor.


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