Author Topic: Marcus Aurelius Marius - Emperor for 72 hours  (Read 170 times)

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Offline Finn235

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Marcus Aurelius Marius - Emperor for 72 hours
« on: July 03, 2018, 10:38:48 PM »
Rome, Gallic empire
Marius, Spring(?) 269
AE Antoninianus
IMP C M AVR MARIVS AVG, Radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right
VICTORIA AVG, Victory standing left with wreath and palm
RIC 17

In 260 AD, the Roman world split into two separate entities; Rome, and the splinter state Gallic empire, headed by the usurper Postumus. Emperor Gallienus tried and failed to conquer the lost provinces of Gaul, Britannia, and Hispania; his withdrawal and cancellation of his campaign is taken as de facto acceptance of the new state.

Far from devoid of its own problems, Postumus himself was faced with the rise of a usurper Laelianus, headquartered in Mainz in present day Germany. Postumus successfully defeated Laelianus in early 269, but his weary and underpaid troops demanded a bonus - seeking to ransack the city for loot. Postumus refused, and was murdered on the spot.

In the confusion, a humble blacksmith named Marcus Aurelius Marius was somehow elevated to the purple. According to legend, he ruled just three days and was murdered with a sword of his own manufacture, clearing the way for Victorinus--Postumus' star general--to rule the Gallic empire.

Numismatically, Marius' coins encompass 17 designs from 2 mints, indicating he likely ruled at least one month.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Marcus Aurelius Marius - Emperor for 72 hours
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2018, 01:25:27 PM »
Excellent coin. Very well preserved. TFS.

The face on the coin is that of a man more at ease sitting on a barrel of beer than on a throne. He was no match for Victorinus, who had the rank and the money to buy the troops, while Marcus Aurelius Marius just had a name that sounded well to the legions.

Wiki puts his "reign" at three months.

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline Finn235

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Re: Marcus Aurelius Marius - Emperor for 72 hours
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2018, 04:01:14 PM »
Thanks, Peter.

I have always had a soft spot for these ephemeral emperors, but Quintillus and Marius in particular as they both apparently had extremely short reigns, are poorly attested by contemporary histories, and died a poetic/ironic death. Their presence on coinage marks just a thin sliver of classical antiquity in which these ill-fated men seemingly had their golden years ahead of them.