Roman Empire

Trebonianus Gallus, Emperor AD 251-253

RIC 8; Calicó 3333, Superb Mint State

Rome. IMP CAE C VIB TREB GALLVS AVG, radiate, draped and cuirassed bust of Trebonianus Gallus right. Reverse: FELICITAS PVBLICA, Felicitas standing facing, head, holding caduceus and cornucopiae.

Ex NAC 87 (8 October 2015), 331; NAC 31 (26 October 2005), 94; Leu 87 (6 May 2003), 78 (purchase by the collector in 1973)

In the aftermath of Trajan Decius’ death at Abritus in AD 251, the surviving remnants of his army proclaimed Trebonianus Gallus, the governor of Moesia Superior, as the new emperor. Gallus immediately negotiated a shameful peace with the Goths involving the payment of an annual subsidy in order to deter them from further raids. He then moved on to Rome in order to receive the recognition of the Senate and to adopt Hostilian, the young son of Decius as a means of legitimizing his reign and perhaps halting rumors that he had had a hand in Decius’ death. Hostilian died a few months later and was replaced as co-ruler by Gallus’ own son, Volusian. Although the present aureus of Gallus advertises “Public Happiness” on the reverse, this was actually somewhat of a rarity during Gallus’ reign. The repression of a rebellion in Syria and Cappadocia devolved into a major conflict with the Sasanian Persian Empire and its energetic king Shapur I. In AD 253, Shapur I destroyed a large Roman force in Armenia leaving Gallus unable to fend off the Sasanian invasion of Syria that followed. Shapur’s advance was only halted by the intervention of a locally raised army led by a priest of Emesa who immediately proclaimed himself emperor. Meanwhile, the Aemilian, the governor of Moesia Superior and Pannonia, was forced to roll back a major incursion by the Scythians with little help from the emperor. At this point the army proclaimed Aemilian emperor and began to march against Gallus and Volusian. Father and son were defeated in battle at Interamna in the summer of AD 253, after which they were murdered by their own troops.