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Maximianus, Partner In Power

CNG 111, Lot: 795. Estimate $10000.
Sold for $12000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Maximianus. First reign, AD 286-305. AV Aureus (20mm, 5.50 g, 12h). Post-reform issue. Rome mint. Struck circa AD 286. IMP M AVR VAL MAXIMIANVS P F AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right / IOVI CO NSE R VAT AVGG, Jupiter standing facing, head left, holding thunderbolt in right hand and grounded vertical scepter in left. RIC V 492; Depeyrot 2C/2; Calicó 4688; Biaggi 1796; Hunterian 2; Jameson –; Mazzini 348. EF, fully lustrous, tiny field mark on obverse. Struck from dies of excellent style.

From the Brexit Collection. Ex Numismatica Ars Classica 100 (29 May 2017), lot 614 (“from a private American collection”).

Like Diocletian, Maximian rose through the ranks of the Roman Army during the war-torn later third century. Once Diocletian was installed as emperor, he soon offered to share power with his old friend, whom he trusted implicitly. Though less of a thinker than Diocletian, Maximian was a better soldier, a fact Diocletian understood and even appreciated. Maximian thus became Hercules to Diocletian’s Jupiter, the man of action following the lead of a great planner and organizer. The partnership worked remarkably well, and in AD 293 the diarchy was expanded to a Tetrarchy with the addition of two subordinate rulers. Imperial portraiture during the early years of the joint reign, particularly at western mints, could achieve a semblance of the realism and individuality seen in previous generations, as exemplified by this handsome aureus portrait of Maximian. Within a few years, such representations were replaced by a hard “generic” look that stressed the uniformity of the four rulers making up the unique regime.