Maximianus, first reign, 286-305. Aureus (Gold, 20 mm, 5.39 g, 7 h), Cyzicus, 293. MAXIMIANVS AVGVSTVS Laureate head of Maximianus to right. Rev. CONCORDIAE AVGG NN Diocletian and Maximianus seated left on curule chairs, each holding globe in his right hand and parazonium in his left, being crowned by Victory flying above. Cohen 47. Calicó 4612. RIC 601/615. A superb, lustrous example, very well struck. Virtually as struck.
The reverse of this beautiful aureus praises the unity and harmony of the two Augusti Diocletian and Maximianus. It was struck in 293, when Diocletian radically changed the course of Roman history by introducing the concept of a tetrarchy, a form of government that saw the co-rule of two Augusti and two Caesares. The idea was that the Augusti would retire after twenty years of rule and be replaced by the former Caesares, who would in turn appoint new heirs to their thrones. Diocletian obviously hoped that transparent lines of succession and peaceful transitions would bring the constant civil wars of the 3rd century to an end. In reality, however, the tetarchic concept was fatally flawed from the beginning: it relied heavily on the willingness of the Augusti to retire from power, which in the case of Maximianus only worked due to heavy pressure from his co-ruler, proving that Diocletian's auctoritas far outshone that of his old companion and the two Augusti had never really been equal. In addition, the tetrarchic form of government failed to include roles for close family members of the emperors, and neither Maximian's son Maxentius nor Constantius' son Constantine were willing to be disregarded in the upcoming fight for power. It was the latter who would eventually, after almost two decades of continuous struggle, turn out to be the strongest contender and become, in 324, the first sole ruler of the Roman Empire since Diocletian in 284.