(126) Licinius I - AV aureus, A.D. 321-322, 5.25 g. (inv. 93.021).
Obverse: Facing draped and cuirassed bust of Licinius I; LICINIVS AVG(VSTVS) OB D(IEM) V (quinquennalium) FILII SVI: Licinius Augustus on the day of the quinquennalia of his son.
Reverse: Jupiter seated facing on throne, holding Victoria on globe in r., scepter in l.; eagle with wreath on throne platform; platform inscribed in two lines SIC X/SIC XX: thus ten, thus twenty; IOVI CONS(ERVATORI) LICINI AVG(VSTI): to Jove the Protector of Licinius Augustus; in exergue, SMANE: mint mark of Antioch.
Provenance: Harlan Berk, 1990.
Bibliography: P.M. Bruun, The Roman Imperial Coinage VII: Constantine and Licinius A.D. 313-337 (London 1966) 681 no. 32.

After the breakdown of the tetrarchic system (see no. 125), Licinius, a commoner from Dacia, emerged along with Constantine (see no. 128) as co-emperors. The two former allies eventually became rivals and in A.D. 324, in the second of their wars, Licinius was defeated and exiled; Constantine initially spared his life but had him executed in A.D. 325. Licinius' son, Licinius II, was given the rank of Caesar as a child in A.D. 317. He was exiled with his father and in A.D. 335 condemned to slavery.

This coin of Licinius I celebrates the quinquennalia or fifth anniversary of Licinius II as Caesar in A.D. 321-22. On the obverse is an extraordinary facing portrait of the senior Licinius; the only earlier facing portraits of a Roman emperor occur on coins of Postumus. The head shows the stark simplification and flatness that were characteristic of most of the tetrarchic coin portraits. There may be some individualization in the round face and close-set features, but the general effect is abstract.

The reverse is the same that Licinius I had used for his own decennalia or tenth anniversary in A.D. 317. It depicts Jove the Protector, the patron god of Licinius, also facing. On the base of his throne are inscribed the vota or prayers for the tenth and the anticipated twentieth anniversaries that are carried over from the decennalia issue of Licinius I.


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