(123) Carinus - AV aureus, A.D. 284, 4.52 g. (inv. 91.233).
Obverse: Laureate and cuirassed bust of Carinus r.; IMP(ERATOR) CARINVS P(IVS) F(ELIX) AVG(VSTVS): Imperator Carinus, pious, fortunate Augustus.
Reverse: Nude Hercules standing r., leaning on club; VIRTVS AVG(VSTI): Virtus of the Augustus.
Provenance: Abner Kreisberg, 1960.
Bibliography: P.H. Webb, The Roman Imperial Coinage V.2 (London 1933) 233.

Marcus Aurelius Carinus, son of the emperor Carus, was made Caesar shortly after his father's accession in A.D. 282, at about the age of thirty-three. He was put in charge of the troops in the West while his father went to the East on a campaign against the Persians. In A.D. 283 he and his brother, Numerian, were elevated to the rank of Augustus, and shortly afterward their father was killed, reportedly struck by lightning. When Numerian was murdered on the way back from Persia in A.D. 284, Carinus became sole emperor. Meanwhile, Diocletian had been proclaimed emperor by his troops, and he marched against Carinus. They met in a battle at Margus in Moesia, which was won by Carinus, but he was murdered on the battlefield by one of his men whose wife he had seduced.

The portrait of Carinus on the obverse of this aureus reverts to the standard military type of the third-century emperors, with very short hair and beard, but like the portraits of Postumus (see no. 121) and Probus (see no. 122), it also depicts an elaborate cuirass. The reverse, celebrating the Virtus of the emperor, depicts Hercules with his most common attributes, the club and lionskin. These refer to one of his twelve labors, in which he killed the lion that the goddess Juno had sent to destroy him.


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