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Thursday, 26 September 2013

Trajan Decius And The Series Of The "Divi" Honoring Deified Emperors & The Evolution Of Coins

Decio Budalia born near Sirmium (now Serbia); it would be, therefore, the first in a long line of the emperors that ruled in the Roman world. However, unlike the soldier-emperors of the last third of the third century AD, before reaching the throne, Decius had reached the highest levels of imperial society, having been consul and prefect of the city of Rome and having joined by traditional marriage with the senatorial aristocracy.

The versions that have come down to us on his accession contain, no doubt, some later elaborations as Decio trying to exculpate its liability in usurping against King Philip. Having been sent by him to Illyria to quell the revolt of Pacatiano, finished in May or June of 249, was proclaimed emperor by his troops, allegedly against his will. Decius had by then about 60 years old.

The Number of Divisions

In general, Decio policy was clearly conservative answer, apparently, to a diagnosis that adjudicated the problems of the empire to a distancing from traditional values and this was especially true in the field of religion. Decius issued an edict requiring all citizens of the empire to take part in the traditional sacrifices to the gods for the safety of the empire. The authorities would issue a certificate to each person once it had complied with the order. The refusal of Christians to participate initiated the first major systematic persecution of the church.

The reverence for the past of Rome and the insistence on the need to recover the old virtues that had brought her to greatness as the only remedy for the problems of the time is also one of the themes of the coins of Decius. This is particularly clear in the famous series of antoniniani Decio minted in Rome in honor of the "divine", eleven emperors of the past who were deified after his death, although, mysteriously, is included Alexander Severus, who had never been officially elevated to the rank of God. The other ten are commemorated emperors Augustus, Vespasian, Titus, Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius, Septimius Severus Comfortable.

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Reproduced pictures minted coins of each of these carried emperors, but, of course, provided the crown ray indicating that it is antoniniani. Only two reverse coin in this series, an altar from which rises a flame and an eagle with open wings. The obverse legend always contains some version of the name of each emperor accompanied the epithet "divo" while on the back bearing the word only consecratio, referring to the official deification process conducted by the Senate.

It is very interesting that the emperors honored in this series are not what would be expected according to the views of the past imperial senatorial historiography presents. In particular, the inclusion of a figure like Commodus (the literary sources that convey a negative unanimously) is particularly eloquent in this regard. In my opinion, this is because the antoniniani were aimed at a wide audience and included those deified rulers of the oral tradition of the people of the empire retained a positive image. Hence, the presence of the son of Marcus Aurelius, who was recalled by the Roman people as a host of wonderful shows. On the other hand, it is striking that the list of those who deified emperors Decius omitted from the series: Julius Caesar, Claudius, Lucius Verus, Pertinax and Caracalla. Consider it likely that the first was set aside because it was not considered an emperor while the other four were judged as sufficiently relevant figures.

Despite its conservative propaganda and his tribute to the virtues of the past, the reign of Decius involved no break in the deterioration of Roman coins. While paying tribute to the emperors of the past, the few that were circulating imperial denarii were simply reacuñados as antoniniani. That is, doubling its value without modifying their metal content. The introduction of a "double sestertius" by Decius appears that the price increases had reached a level that had become obsolete sestertius, a coin that more than two centuries and a half had been one of the centerpieces of the Roman monetary system.

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