Coins of Aurelian

Roman Emperor (AD 270-275)

Lucius Domitius Aurelianus was born c. AD 215 in the province of Dacia. He became a successful general under the emperor Gallienus and had a major victory against the Goths at the Battle of Naissus in AD 268. He may have conspired in the murder of Gallienus and perhaps supported Claudius Gothicus’ accession to the throne. After Gothicus’ death, both Senate and army supported Aurelian as emperor.

Aurelian reunited the former provinces of the Empire, including the Palmyrene Empire (reunified in 272) and the Gallic Empire (reunified in 274). He also had to put down several internal revolts, but was successful in retaining the support of the army throughout. But Aurelian’s victories were not solely military. He reformed the imperial coinage, introducing the antoninianus to replace the debased denarius, in order to shore up the suffering economy. He built the Wall of Aurelian around Rome so that the city would be protected from attack. He also instigated some religious reforms. In particular, he built temples to the god of the sun, Sol Invictus, beginning a trend toward monotheism which Constantine later adopted, but in the form of Christianity.

In 275, Aurelian was murdered on his way to war in Persia by officials afraid of his strict disciplinary methods. He was deified soon thereafter.

AR Antoninianus, Rome
AD 270-275 (Post-Reform)

Obverse:
Radiate and cuirassed bust of Aurelian, r.; encircled by IMP AVRELIANVS AVG

Reverse:
Sol, standing r., branch in r. hand and whip in l. hand; l. foot on captive r.; II in field to l.; encircled by ORIENS AVG; in exergue XXIR

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AE Antoninianus, Rome
AD 270-275

Obverse:
Diademed and cuirassed bust of bearded Aurelian, r.; encircled by IMP C AVRELIANVS AVG

Reverse:
Draped Fortuna, seated facing l. holding rudder in r. hand, cornucopia in l. hand; wheel below seat; encircled by FORTVNA REDVX; in exergue, Q

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AE Antoninianus, Rome
AD 270-275 (Pre-Reform)

Obverse:
Radiate and cuirassed bust of Aurelian, r.; encircled by [IMP AV]RELIANVS AVG

Reverse:
Seated Roma, at right, facing l., shield placed at r., sceptre in l. hand, holding out Victory in r. hand to Aurelian, togate, standing l. extending r. hand; encircled by ROMAE AETER; in exergue Q

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AE Antoninianus, Rome
AD 270-275 | 21mm

Obverse:
Radiate and cuirassed bust of Aurelian, r.; encircled by IMP C AVRELIANVS AVG

Reverse:
Sol radiate, naked except for cloak hanging from l. arm, advancing with r. hand raised, l. hand behind holding globe; captives on either side seated at his feet; encircled by ORIENS AVG; in exergue R S