Valerian I, 253-260.
Aureus (Gold, 21 mm, 3.57 g, 12 h), Samosata, 255-256. IMP C P LIC VALERIANVS AVG Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Valerian to right. Rev.
VICTORIAE / AVGG Victory driving galloping biga to right, holding whip in her right hand and reins in her left. Calicó 3449a. Cohen 239. MIR 1680c. RIC 276 corr. (bust also cuirassed, 'Antioch'). Rare. Lustrous, sharply struck and very well centered on an exceptionally broad and medallic flan. Very light deposits, otherwise,
virtually as struck.
From a European collection, formed before 2005.
Accounts about the ongoing Roman-Persian War in the 250s are rather confused. We hear that Shapur I renewed his invasions of Rome's eastern provinces after the death of Trajan Decius in 251, resulting in the sack of numerous cities, including - to the great shock of the Romans - the Syrian capital of Antioch, one of the empire's largest cities, which was captured and plundered at least once by the Sasanians (some sources even claim twice). Despite mounting pressure on all fronts and near constant civil wars, Rome's war machine was still potent enough to launch a counteroffensive spearheaded by Valerian himself, who spent most of his later years campaigning in the East.
Our coin commemorates one of his early victories, but his efforts proved to be short-lived, as disaster loomed on the horizon. In 260, Valerian was not only decisively defeated in battle, but personally captured, tortured, and executed by Shahpur. This was no doubt a new low point in Roman history, and the humiliated empire subsequently disintegrated, seeing the temporary breakaway of the northwestern provinces under Postumus, and of the East under Quietus and Macrianus. It would take more than two decades of internal struggles and reforms before Rome could launch another offensive against the Sasanians, and it was not until Galerius' decisive victory against Narseh in the Battle of Satala in 298 that the balance of power in the East shifted permanently in favor of Rome.