Roman Empire

Jovian, Emperor AD 363-364

RIC 110; Depeyrot 23/1, Mint State

Sirmium, AD 363/4. D N IOVIA-NVS P F AVG, diademed, draped and cuirassed bust of Jovian right. Reverse: SECVRITAS REIPVBLICE, emperor standing facing, head left, holding labarum; to left, bound captive seated left, looking back; *SIRM·.

Ex S. C. Markoff Collection (NAC 62, 6 October 2011), 2108

When Julian II died of his wounds in the midst of his retreat from the Persian Empire, the army elected the guard commander Jovian as the new Emperor. He attempted to lead the retreating army west acrosss the Tigris River, but when this proved impossible and rations began to fail he was forced to negotiate a humiliating peace with the Sasanian Shah Shapur II. This involved the surrender of Roman interests in Armenia, major fortresses in Mesopotamia, and the provinces east of the Euphrates that had been conquered under Diocletian and Galerius. Such disgraceful peace terms resulted in deep unpopularity for Jovian. When he stopped at Antioch on the return march he took the opportunity to undo Julian’s pagan restoration and restore Christianity as the state religion. However, he was then forced to quickly move on due to the anger of the citizenry at his Persian peace and his burning of the city’s library. Jovian pressed on through Asia Minor in order to reach Constantinople and consolidate his position but died on the way. His sudden death was variously attributed to an excess of mushrooms and wine or accidental suffocation by a charcoal fire but suspicions of foul play were raised by the lack of any investigation.