Coins of Gallienus

Roman Emperor (AD 253-268)

Publius Licinius Egnatius Gallienus was co-emperor with his father Valerian from AD 253-260. He governed mostly in the West and prevented some of the Germanic tribes from invading the provinces around the Danube.

Gallienus was born around AD 218 and so was around forty years of age when his father was captured by Shapur I in the East in 260. Gallienus ruled as sole emperor for eight more years, but was constantly threatened by external and internal forces. He faced down revolts led by several of his generals and governors, including Ingenuus and Regalianus. However, the revolt of Postumus in Gaul was successful and Gallienus was forced in 263 to acknowledge Postumus as ruler of the West. By 268, matters were out of control and Gallienus was murdered by his own troops while trying to fight off the threat presented by Aureolus, another would-be usurper.

Gallienus’ three sons were killed by various usurpers and his remaining family were executed by the Senate in 268. However, Gallienus had made some advances during his reign. He gave command to capable men instead of to inexperienced youths of senatorial rank, developed a larger cavalry, and was tolerant of the Christian religion, all acts which helped to preserve what unity the Empire had left.

AE Sestertius, Rome
AD 256-258

Laureate head of Gallienus facing r., shoulders draped, encircled by <IMP C PVBLIVS LIC GALLIENVS P F AVG>

Liberalitas holding tessera (tablet) and cornucopia., encircled by LIBERALITAS <AVG III?>; S C to l. and r. in field.