An extremely rare aureus of Licinius I
Los 303
Licinius I, 308-324. Aureus (Gold, 18 mm, 5.09 g), Siscia, circa December 312-March 313. IMP LICINI-VS P F AVG Laureate head of Licinius I to right. Rev. SECVR-I-TAS AVGG / SIS Licinius I, laureate and togate, standing in slow quadriga right, holding olive branch his raised right hand and reins in his left. Calicó 5131 (same dies as illustration). Cohen 156. Depeyrot 13/6. RIC 195 and 218A. Triton XXI (2018), 849 (same dies). Extremely rare. A lustrous and incredibly sharply struck example of this important issue. Very light deposits and with a scrape on the reverse and tiny scuffs on the edge, otherwise, virtually as struck.

In their commentary on the die-matching piece in Triton XXI (2018), 849, CNG connected this remarkable type to the conflict between Licinius I and Maximinus II. In April 313, Maximinus crossed the Bosporus with an army purportedly numbering 70,000 men, aiming to expand his territories at the cost of Licinius. Meanwhile, Licinius resided in Milan with Constantine I, where, following the defeat of Maxentius, the two allied Augusti signed the Edict of Milan, and Licinius married Constantine's half-sister, Flavia Julia Constantia. CNG suggested that our aureus was minted by Licinius on his march from Milan to the Bosporus to confront Maximinus, passing through Siscia.

However, this theory faces a challenge, as the coinage includes not only aurei for Constantine I and Licinius I, but also a victory aureus for Maximinus II (Depeyrot 13/7). This implies that the coinage must have been issued prior to the rupture between Licinius I and Maximinus II. Given that Siscia issued an emission to commemorate Licinius' Quinquennalia on 11 November 312, distinctly marked with an X symbolizing the vows for the forthcoming Decennalia ('vota suscepta'), our splendid aureus must have been struck between the Quinquennalian celebrations held in November 312 and late winter or early spring 313, when reports of Maximinus' aggression reached Licinius in Milan.

On the reverse, Licinius is depicted holding an olive palm branch while riding in a quadriga. This gesture does not symbolize a sign of peace towards Maximinus, as we now know the two were not yet in conflict at the time of the coin's issuance. Also, ancient coin iconography typically addressed the coins' recipients, primarily the military, rather than adversaries. Instead, the portrayal likely shows a processus consularis, hinting at Licinius' second consulship in 312. The olive branch, coupled with the reverse legend, praises the security ostensibly brought to the empire by the three Augusti - an ephemeral illusion of peace soon shattered by a renewed outbreak of civil strife.
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