Five numismatic lives of Maximian: Ancients Today

Coins trace life stages of man who shared leading empire
By , Coin World
Published : 10/17/15
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In November of 308, Maximian attended a conference at Carnuntum in the Balkans, at which a variety of political problems were discussed. While there, Diocletian insisted that Maximian abdicate once again, after which Maximian returned to his only safe haven, the court of Constantine.

Thus began Maximian’s fourth numismatic life. Most of his coins in this period were of the “abdication” type similar to those from his first retirement, in 305. Also in this period, some rare issues of Antioch and Alexandria make it appear as though Maximian was still an active emperor.

In the summer of 310, after having been powerless under Constantine for more than two years, Maximian staged a revolt. Through trickery he gained control of part of Constantine’s army, which he led to the south of Gaul (modern France). 

Soon, however, he was trapped by Constantine. Maximian was allowed the dignity of committing suicide, thus ending the life of one of Rome’s most fascinating emperors. Unfortunately, no coins are known from his ephemeral “third reign” as a rebel against Constantine.

But one chapter was still left for Maximian, who now entered his fifth numismatic life. 

Despite the shameful manner of his final days, Maximian benefited from long-established tradition, in which most deceased emperors were deified. Coins were struck in his posthumous honor by his son Maxentius, his son-in-law Constantine, and by another emperor, Licinius I (308 to 324). 

All of them recognized that no matter how badly things had ended, a connection to Maximian’s “royal” heritage was still a valuable commodity. 

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