Roman Empire

Diocletian, Co-Emperor AD 284-305

RIC -; Depeyrot 9/1; Calicó 4473, Superb Extremely Fine

Rome mint, ca. AD 294. DIOCLETI-ANVS P F AVG, laureate head right. Reverse: IOVI C-ONSE-RVAT AVGG, Jupiter standing facing, head left, holding thunderbolt and scepter; PROM.

Ex NAC 97 (12 December 2016), 85; Virgil M. Brand Collection, pt. I (Sotheby’s, Zurich, 1 July 1982), 54; Hirsch XXXIV (5 May 1914), 1515

When Numerian was found dead in his litter in AD 284, the guard commander Diocles accused the Praetorian Prefect of murder and killed him. He was immediately proclaimed Emperor by the army and took the throne name Diocletian. After defeating Carinus at the battle of the Margus in the following year, Diocletian became sole master of the Roman Empire. His vision for a new autocratic and eastern style of imperial rule changed the image of the Roman Emperor forever and established the foundation for later Byzantine and medieval monarchs. Diocletian cast himself as an agent of the divine, if not a veritable god on earth, and gave himself the title Jovius to connect him to Jupiter, the greatest of the Roman gods. The reverse of this solidus celebrates Jupiter as the preserver of Diocletian and his colleague Maximian just as it was intended that Diocletian (aka Jovius) should be celebrated as the preserver of the Empire.