View Full Version : Provincials of Saloninus

Nov 16, 2009, 12:28 PM
Hi folks,

Third century provincials are not exactly familiar territory for me so perhaps I can enlist some help. Can anyone tell me how common issues of Saloninus minted at Pisidian Antioch are? I am assuming that there were some. Regarding Saloninus issues, I have been told that inscriptions are commonly blundered, and that "IMP" on coins of Saloninus signifies Saloninus as Augustus even if AVG is not on the flan. Still other sources say that there may be no more than 20 bonified Saloninus as Augustus issues and these were issued over only a few months, all coming from mints in France. Can anyone shed light on the above? Thanks in advance!


Nov 16, 2009, 12:51 PM

No Saloninus of any rank at Pisidian Antioch in Krzyzanowska's corpus, Monnaies coloniales d'Antioche de Pisidie, Warsay 1970. According to her, the latest coins of the mint show these emperors only: Valerian, Gallienus, Macrianus, Claudius II.

The Gallic Saloninus as Augustus coins you mean are a possibly unique aureus and rare antoniniani with two rev. types, obv. legend IMP SALON VALERIANVS AVG, Sear III 10779-81.

It's thought that Saloninus was only recognized as Augustus by the city of Cologne when he was besieged there by Postumus, before Postumus captured the city and executed Saloninus, so it's very unlikely that coins for Saloninus as Augustus were struck anywhere else!

Nov 16, 2009, 12:53 PM
Glad you had the corpus--I could not find my xerox copy.

Nov 16, 2009, 12:56 PM

Saloninus made himself Augustus when he was besieged by Postumus in Cologne, but was quickly defeated and executed. The fact that he only issued a very small number of coins as Augustus shows that this episod only lasted for a few weeks, if not only for some days. There are no Provincial coins that were struck for Saloninus during that short time as the news did not reach the East quickly enough.

Sometimes Saloninus gets confused with his older brother Valerianus II., not only in modern coin books but already in ancient literary sources. Also, Provincial coins from that time (after mid 3. Century AD) regularly mix up titles and attributes such as Sebastos, laurel wreath etc., which sometimes leads to confusion.

All of the Provincial coinage for Saloninus is uncommon, yet I have not seen any from Antioch in Pisidia so far, but you'd best check Krzyzanowska.


Edit: Curtis already did

Nov 16, 2009, 04:42 PM
If I am seeing IMP CAES. PAEL. LIC. SAL---- on the obverse with a radiate male head and Antioc-- SR on the reverse with eagle between 2 Roman standards---is this then referring to Syrian Antioch rather than Pisidian Antioch? Is it safe to say SAL refers to Saloninus? This is quite curious...


Nov 16, 2009, 05:59 PM

Probably Gallienus, like Krzy.'s obv. die III,


Reverses are SR, Eagle betwwen two standards as on your coin.

Antioch has lots of bungled obv. legend in this era!

Nov 16, 2009, 06:08 PM
Thanks Curtis--but what does the SAL--- refer to? If it refers to Saloninus as someone has suggested, that would be quite a bungle if the issue were from Gallienus, wouldn't it?


Nov 16, 2009, 06:12 PM
That's not SAL but GAL[LIENO], if your coin too is from obv. die III.

If you post an image I can compare the die!

Nov 16, 2009, 06:46 PM
If you are talking about this http://cgi.ebay.com/CHS*-SALONINUS,-AS-AUGUSTUS,--OF-ANTIOCHEIA,-PISIDIA_W0QQitemZ200406136405QQcmdZViewItemQQimsxZ 20091115?IMSfp=TL091115163003r16386 I would agree the coin is very curious, and comparing to this http://www.wildwinds.com/coins/greece/pisidia/antioch/t.html I think it is indeed made in the style of Pisidia, Antioch.
However, what I find extremely curious is the mistake with letters SR, so instead they look like ZЯ.

You mentioned that only Colonia Agrippina (a.k.a Cologne) minted Saloninus' coins. However, the Wildwinds shows that Lugdunum mint issued antoniani in his name as Augustus.http://www.wildwinds.com/coins/sear/s3088.html#RIC_0014 :confused:

Nov 16, 2009, 07:18 PM
That coin seems to be from new dies. SR on rev. is backwards. Obv. legend does look like SAL, but we will have to interpret it as another blundered Gallienus. That Saloninus was able to slip messengers announcing his new status through the lines of the besiegers, and then was recognized as Augustus in distant Pisidia, is so inherently unlikely, that only an undeniable coin or inscription could prove it!

Wildwinds will be following the outdated RIC, pp. 123-4, which indeed misattributes the coins of Saloninus Augustus to Lugdunum!

Nov 16, 2009, 08:22 PM
Confessing again my ignorance, what would preclude the ebay coin Flavus (and yes, that IS the one in question) cites from having been issued from Pisidian Antioch prior to the scene among the Gauls in which he assumes the title of Augustus, thus avoiding the insurmountable problems Mr. Clay points out? The coin, after all, does not bear the AVG inscription. To the uninitiated eye like mine, blundering GAL to SAL seems like an awefully ironic "accident" given the close relationship of Gallienus to Saloninus. But I could be way off and recognize that if there are no other verifiable Pisidian provincials minted under Saloninus (am I right about this?), this amounts to nothing more than an unprovable argument from silence !


Nov 16, 2009, 08:29 PM
I do agree that the dies look kind of "new" and the "SR" blunder also looks very suspicious - I can see that it's the only coin from Pisidia, Antioch which has such a strange mistake. It makes it very unique indeed.
I also agree that slipping messengers just for the sake of announcing the new status would be kind of ridiculous.
However, knowing Roman political rules it was reigning Augustus who would elevate the succesor in rank, any self-elevation was undoubtedly treated as a treason.
That's why I think it's highly improbable that a holed up boy (probably scared to death) or even one of the Gallienus' Praetorian prefects also holed up together with Saloninus in the city would come up with such initiative. They were just sitting ducks, desperately waiting to be relieved by Gallienus.
It was probably Gallienus who decided to turn such a trick on the rebelled legions in the last ditch effort to sway their loyalty back to him. And that is why I think it was Gallienus who ordered to mint the coins in Saloninus name. And it might just have indeed happened in Lugdunum before it fell to Postumus' hands.
And since the Eastern legions (or to say better, the remnants of the Eastern legions) proclaimed their own Augusti I also doubt that Pisidia, Antioch would mint anything in Saloninus name.
It's very highly improbable. And in that chaos of 260 I'd say even physically impossible.

Nov 16, 2009, 08:48 PM
So, Flavus, given the scenario suggested, ANTIOC here would or would not link the issue with the Pisidian Antioch? I'm still a bit foggy...

Nov 16, 2009, 08:55 PM
As far as I know, nobody but a reigning Augustus was allowed to be bestowed with the title of Imperator (abbreviated IMP), or Commander.
Proclaiming oneself, or technically more correct, allowing the victorious legions to proclaim oneself as Imperator would be an open challenge to the Emperor (which itself is, by the way, the Anglicized form of the title).
That is why seeing Saloninus with the title Imperator but he still being a Caesar, a rank lower than Augustus, is highly improbable.
Concerning ANTIOCH, I'd humbly say that by its style the coin looks very much like the Pisidian Antioch.

Nov 17, 2009, 02:10 AM

influenced by the advisor Silvanus (or Albanus, as some sources say), Saloninus made (or was made) himself Augustus not in order to separate from his father Gallienus, but as a counter reaction to the claim of Postumus. Surely he and his advisor hoped that the presence of an Augustus from the ruling imperial dynasty would strengthen the moral and loyalty of the troops. There is no reason to suspect that Saloninus declared himself against his father while under siege of an usurper - why should he have done so, when his only chance was to get rescued by Gallienus? Also, both the literary sources and the coins do say that Saloninus saw himself as co-Augustus of his father, not as usurper: among the types used by Saloninus as Augustus, there were FELICITAS AVGG and AEQVITAS AVGG, which can only refer to Saloninus and Gallienus.

There of course can be no doubt that the coin in question belongs to the Pisidian Antioch, as proven by style, type and legends. The reason why Curtis said that the dies of the "Saloninus" coin from Antioch in Pisidia look "new", however, is not because he thinks they look modern, but just because they are not listed in Krzyzanowska. Blundered legends are common at Antioch, which is why I would a.) prefer to see a larger pic of the coin, especially of the obverse - what comes after the "SAL"? - and b.) be careful not to overinterpret the coin. As Curtis said, it is virtually impossible that any eastern mint found the time to strike coins for Saloninus during the few days or weeks he was Augustus in Cologne (not Lugdunum!), when not even Gallienus in Northern Italy was able to react. So the other possibilities are that the coin was issued for Saloninus as Caesar, which is surely possible, or that it is just blundered or incorrectly read.


Nov 17, 2009, 08:19 AM
I think it would be a mistake to underestimate the blundering of legends that took place in the period of Gallienus at Antioch and the other Latin colonies in the region of Pisidia. Some are so extremely messed up that it is apparent the die engraver not only could not deal with latin, but he must have been entirely illiterate.

Nov 17, 2009, 09:12 AM
It has been suggested earlier that Gallienus may have proclaimed Saloninus "Augustus" for pragmatic puposes while his son and troops lay under siege too far away to help. Is this notion deduced from historical record... from coins in circulation at that time, or....?

Nov 17, 2009, 10:25 AM
I know of no source refering to any activity by Gallienus concerning the elevation of Saloninus to Augustus, which is hardly surprising as the events took place in the North, not in Italy, and it took Postumus only a very short time to capture the residence, leaving Gallienus no time to react. Naturally, the usurper did not waste any time.


Nov 17, 2009, 06:40 PM
Dear Lars,

With all my due respect here are my questions to what you wrote:

"influenced by the advisor Silvanus (or Albanus, as some sources say), Saloninus made (or was made) himself Augustus not in order to separate from his father Gallienus, but as a counter reaction to the claim of Postumus."

This is an interesting passage, but what is the source? Who claimed that Saloninus (a mere boy, let's not forget) proclaimed himself as Augustus even with advice of Sivanus or whatever his name was?

"Surely he and his advisor hoped that the presence of an Augustus from the ruling imperial dynasty would strengthen the moral and loyalty of the troops."

What's the source of this hope? Or is it just a speculation about a seemingly obvious thing? Which in this case should be indicated as such. However, if there is a source which talks about this hope I'll be more than glad to read it. I personally haven't seen one.

"There is no reason to suspect that Saloninus declared himself against his father while under siege of an usurper - why should he have done so, when his only chance was to get rescued by Gallienus?""

Absolutely agree, and that is what I'm trying to say. He was Agustus' son, a Caesar. It was quite noble and high ranking enough. My point also was that Romans had imbedded system of hierarchy in their heads, if you are number Two, you can't proclaim yourself number One even under duress. And that especially was true for Romans in father-son relationship. How can you imagine Saloninus without his father who is his Lord and Master proclaiming himself his father's equal? Let's imagine that Saloninus was relieved by Gallienus and he says to his father: "thank you Dad, and by the way in case you didn't know I'm also Augustus now, just like you." Hmm, wait a second. As far as I know such things never happened in Roman history. It was always father, biological or adopted, who would bestow the rank of Augustus on his son, and not any other way, no matter what the circumstances are.

"Also, both the literary sources and the coins do say that Saloninus saw himself as co-Augustus of his father, not as usurper: among the types used by Saloninus as Augustus, there were FELICITAS AVGG and AEQVITAS AVGG, which can only refer to Saloninus and Gallienus."

Again, dear Lars, which sources say that? And how do coins exactly say to us what kind of Agustus Saloninus view himself?

The problem as I see it is that the sources are extremely poor. Historia Augusta is only considered as a source when it is confirmed by respectable historians like Dio, or Herodian. It is a shameless bogus, a mean joke, and not a work of history. A passage about Maximinus who allegedly was collecting sweat from his body and kept it in a jar alone makes one think what kind of twisted and sick mind that writer had. Almost all other historians who wrote about the time of Gallienus lived already in medieval Byzantine and the question is what kind of sources they used? What do we know about their sources? How reliable they are? Hopefully more reliable than Historia Augusta.

You say that you don't know of no source refering to any activity by Gallienus concerning the elevation of Saloninus to Augustus. But I can also say that I know of noone who says that Saloninus elevated himself. There are actually sources that say that it wasn't Saloninus who died in Colonia Agrippina but Gallienus another son, Valerianus, and Saloninus was still alive till 261-262. http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Historia_Augusta/Tyranni_XXX*.html#note7

I am just trying to show how confused that time was and the only thing we can do is to discuss the probability of this or that event. And for exactly the same reason it is hard to discuss the coins of Saloninus. He might have struck his Imperial antoniani himself in Colonia (if those coins were found nearby) or the same chances are that his father did it for him. And maybe in Lugdunum. Or even maybe Gallienus had elevated his son to Augustus and maybe that fact itself provoked Postumus to start the rebellion. Maybe he, a seasoned soldier, was sick and tired to be subordinate to that boy, a greenhorn. We plainly don't know.

The same about this Pisidian coin. It is so unique that it changes what we know about the history of that time. That is why it should be scrutinized and untill it is studied and proved authentic I'll be cautious about it.

Nov 17, 2009, 11:50 PM
I haven't studied or collected Postumus-Gallienus in any detail, but will try to pull together a few facts about what we know and don't know.

I'm pretty sure no written source mentions Saloninus' promotion to the rank of Augustus. We know about that ONLY from the coins.

Now those coins are very rare, surely not more than a couple of weeks' worth of production, and obviously they are Saloninus' latest coins. Apparently he was Augustus, then, for about the last two weeks of his life. If we know that Postumus besieged him in Cologne, then captured and killed him, it becomes a near certainty that he assumed the title of Augustus in connection with this emergency that led to his death.

The main source for Postumus' attack of Cologne seems to be Zosimus I.38, which I find quoted in Clinton's Fasti Romani, p. 284. My rough translation from the Greek:

"When Postumus, who had been entrusted with the command of some troops in Gaul, decided to rebel, he gathered his soldiers and marched against Cologne, where he besieged Gallienus' son Saloninus. The pressure of the siege, however, made the defending soldiers betray Saloninus and Silvanus, the guardian he had been given by his father. Postumus killed them both and siezed control of the whole province."

Much less in Victor's Epitome and the Historia Augusta: all we are told there is that Postumus killed Gallienus' son and assumed power in Gaul.

The promotion of an heir was a occasion for celebration and gifts, so a good way to try to strengthen the loyalty of your troops in the face of an emergency. So when Elagabalus revolted against Macrinus in 218, "Macrinus came speedily to the Alban troops at Apamea and appointed his son Augustus, though the boy was only in his tenth year, in order that he might have this as an excuse for courting the favor of the soldiers in various ways, especially by the promise of twenty thousand sestertii apiece; and he distributed to them four thousand apiece on the spot, and also restored to the others their full rations and everything else of which he had previously deprived them, hoping to appease them by these measures" (Cassius Dio, Loeb, p. 417).

Flavus, I think you will see that these sources, sparse and late as they are, make the traditional reconstruction of events very probable, and shoot down the alternatives you were trying to launch. It must have been Postumus' siege of Cologne that made Saloninus assume the rank of Augustus, perhaps two weeks before he was betrayed and killed. The rationale was very probably the same as that for Macrinus' promotion of Diadumenian in 218: an excuse for celebration and gift-giving, in the hope of cementing the loyalty of his troops.

This single apparently blundered coin-die from Antioch in Pisidia cannot, I am afraid, "change what we know about the history of that time", as you would like!

Nov 18, 2009, 04:53 AM

Saloninus Augustus struck two reverses in silver; SPES PVBLICA, continuing the reverse type that had been employed for Saloninus Caesar, and FELICITAS AVGG. Approximately 40 SPES PVBLICA and about 12 FELICITAS AVGG are recorded, plus a solitary gold quinarius (can't remember but that too may be FELICITAS AVGG, published in Numismatic Chronicle in the early 1990's).

My example of the FELICITAS AVGG coin of Saloninus Augustus is below:


Saloninus 260 AD
AR antoninianus
Gallic mint (Trier?)
Radiate and draped bust right
Felicitas standing left holding caduceus and cornucopia
RIC -; Göbl 916

I'm fairly certain that the proclamation of Saloninus must have been a local reaction to the machinations of Postumus (who himself was probably inspired by the capture of Valerian senior). If the proclamation of Saloninus had come from Rome (or Milan where Gallienus was residing at the time?) then one would surely have seen some reflection in the coinage of either or both of those mints given their proximity to Saloninus' base in Cologne.

The entry in the Historia Augusta for Postumus does add a little more colour, although as a historical source there are issues with the text. It does note that the Gauls could not face having a boy as their emperor as a postential motive for supporting Postumus:

"This man, most valiant in war and most steadfast in peace, was so highly respected for his whole manner of life that he was even entrusted by Gallienus with the care of his son Saloninus (whom he had placed in command of Gaul) as the guardian of his life and conduct and his instructor in the duties of a ruler. Nevertheless, as some writers assert — though it does not accord with his character — he afterwards broke faith and after slaying Saloninus seized the imperial power. As others, however, have related with greater truth, the Gauls themselves, hating Gallienus most bitterly and being unwilling to endure a boy as their emperor, hailed as their ruler the man who was holding the rule in trust for another, and despatching soldiers they slew the boy. When he was slain, Postumus was gladly accepted by the entire army and by all the Gauls, and for seven years he performed such exploits that he completely restored the provinces of Gaul, while Gallienus spent his time in debauchery and taverns and grew weak in loving a barbarian woman."



Nov 18, 2009, 06:56 AM

I see that most of the questions have been answered by Curtis and Mauseus already. Let me add, again, that the message of the Augustus coinage of Saloninus is clear: AVGG must refer to two Augusti, which can only be Saloninus and Gallienus, since I doubt anyone is going to vote for a combination of Saloninus and Ingenuus or alike. So that is the source for the co-Augustus theory, which shows us what Saloninus' intention must have been (also see below).

That some literary sources confuse Saloninus with Valerianus II. is not surprising as they both were Caesars, both Gallienus' sons, both died young, and both had the same name (apart from the Saloninus). That must not lead us to make the same mistake. The rarity of Saloninus coinage, combined with the literary sources that tell us that he and his advisor Albanus or Silvanus were handed over quickly by either the inhabitants of Cologne (Zonaras), or by the soldiers defending the city (Zosimus), leaves no room for any activity by Gallienus, which also is not attested in Gallienus' imperial coinage or by any inscriptions. It is thus very unlikely that a mint as far away as Antioch in Pisidia would have had the time to issue coins for Saloninus as Augustus as a reaction to his elevation in Cologne in 260 when not even the imperial mints had, and it would need more than a single coin on eBay with small pictures to change my opinion on that.

Your argument that it is unimaginable for an Augustus' son to proclaim himself co-Augustus without the father's placet is correct for the 1. or 2. Century, but the situation was completely different for Saloninus in 260 AD. Different in general, since times had changed, and both the provincials and the army yearned for an emperor to be in place to defend them from the foreign-policy dangers (just study the time from 235 to 275 AD!), and also different because Saloninus and his entourage saw themselves trapped in an emergency situation. By appointing Saloninus to Augustus (or co-Augustus), they can only have hoped to strengthen the loyalty of the troops and the provincials, and the events taking place soon after showed that they were right to doubt the loyalty of their troops or the city inhabitants, whoever betrayed them. In such an emergency situation, there is no sense in arguing with legalistic 1. or 2. Century ideas.

I hope you don't mind me suggesting some literature to read, mainly the two most important books that discuss events around the so-called Gallic Empire in length:

John F. Drinkwater: The Gallic Empire, in: Historia Einzelschriften, Heft 52, Stuttgart 1987 (in English).
Ingemar König: Die gallischen Usurpatoren von Postumus bis Tetricus, in: Vestigia, Beiträge zur Alten Geschichte, Band 31, München 1981 (in German).

While Drinkwater discusses the literary sources in length, König compiled the epigraphic evidence and also focusses on the dating of the Gallic Empire. I recommend both books, also because the authors have some diverging ideas on the nature of the "Gallic Empire".


Nov 18, 2009, 11:59 AM
Lots of curious questions floating through my mind after having read these posts. In the mid-to-late third century, who typically made the decisions to design new provincial issues for a given municipality and to determine when they would be released? Surely no one as high on the food chain as Gallienus,his father, or his sons would have had anything to do with (or even awareness of?) the process of design or minting their namesake coinage in places like Pisidian Antioch, right? Clearly these were decisions filled with import for the empire, often filled with politically propagandistic strategy, I would think.
One would think that those who designed inscriptional content for these Antiochan issues would have been men of some significant learning, given that Antioch was apparently still a pretty notable municipality in Gallienus/ Saloninus' day and, I am told, one that could have played a very important role in the empire had events turned differently in previous centuries. Its not like we are speaking of Lystra or Derbe, Roman frontier towns of little importance and that would get little attention from the powers that be in the Imperial capital. Unless I am missing it, how does a modestly significant Latin colony like Antioch apparently so consistently and so notoriously botch its coinage? In places like Antioch, wouldn't engravers have been handed the inscriptional content of proposed provincial issues by magistrates or someone of similar qualification? Or do we even know what this process entailed?
Or is it that so many engravers in places like Pisidia were frankly illiterate (in THAT occupation, in a city of the size and lingering importance of Antioch???) or rushed and consistently failed to transpose the content given them acurately onto the dies they were crafting.
And regarding the coin in question, could the engraver hardly have "blundered" in a more intriguing way than to have chosen an S in place of a G in light of the political realities unknown to him?


Nov 18, 2009, 12:27 PM

Asia Minor experienced heavy turmoil in the 250ies and 260ies, mainly due to Gothic invasions. The dies of Pisidian Antioch often are extremely crude during that time, many of them with blundered names, some with a mix of Greek and Latin letters, some inverted or even completely illegible. We do not know the reason for that, but the connection to the political turmoils is quite plausible, I think.

I would really love to see the coin in question in flesh, or at least some larger pictures. But as it is, it would need more than an ebay coin with small pictures to assume that Antioch in Pisidia struck coins for Saloninus as Augustus.


Nov 18, 2009, 02:03 PM
Well, first of all, I want to thank all of you guys who are coming up with the evidence, ideas, and sources. By presenting what we all know here will make our understanding of that time even better and that is what is the most important I think. I hear you all, and listen carefully to all your arguments. Let me address them as much as I can and show you more of my evidence and sources to support my views.

Now, Curits, I'm not "launching any alternatives", and if anyone wants "to shoot down" what don't fit into their paradigms they can start at least with John Yonge Akerman and his passage about Saloninus in "A descriptive catalogue of rare and unedited Roman coins..." from 1834 http://books.google.com/books?id=z-NCAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=A+descriptive+catalogue+of+rare+and+unedited+Ro man+coins+By+John+Yonge+Akerman&as_brr=1#v=onepage&q=&f=false (see pages 45-48) where he suggested that Gallienus himself raised Saloninus in the rank.

As far as I get it, back in the day, it was common understanding so to say that Saloninus was elevated to Augustus by his father. See also for instance on forumancientcoins.com the entry for Saloninus in Dictionary Of Roman Coins http://www.forumancientcoins.com/Dictionary_Of_Roman_Coins/dictionaryByPage.asp?page=711

Some researchers avoided that subject (the elevation of Saloninus to Augustus) whatsoever, never even mentioned it. See for instance Lukas de Blois and his "The policy of the emperor Gallienus" from 1976. If you look at commentaries to Roman and Byzantine historians who wrote about that time I know nobody who would comment on the issue of Saloninus' self-elevation. See for instance "The History of Zonaras: From Alexander Severus to the Death of Theodosius", by Joannes Zonaras, Thomas Banchich, Eugene Lane (2009) or "Liber de Caesaribus" by Sextus Aurelius Victor translated by H. W. Bird (1994), also the commentators to Historia Augusta never mentioned this issue.

So I suspect that it was Bray's "Gallienus: a study in reformist and sexual politics" from 1997 which influenced greatly this subject. What exactly he said was (page 133): "At some stage during the siege, the mint of Cologne issued an antonianus bearing the name of Saloninus with the title Augustus. This must have been a desperate act on the part of Silvanus to rally loyalty around his ward. Probably it was done without the authority of Gallienus." Note how cautious is his choice of words (must have been, probably), because indeed, nothing is for certain, it's all only "reconstruction" and "probabilities".

Now look at what David L. Vagi suggests in his Coinage and history of the Roman Empire, c. 82 B.C.--A.D. 480, Volume 1 (published, please note, in 1999) on the page 387: "Silvanus remained loyal to Saloninus and at some point while besieged probably suggested that the boy be raised from Caesar to Augustus." He is also very cautious, he uses the word probably. Interesting enough at forumancientcoins.com where the entry for Saloninus is based on Davis L. Vagi opinion they never mention his proposition and just say that "he was made Augustus in June or autumn of 260 but within a few weeks or months of his accession he was captured and executed." http://www.forumancientcoins.com/catalog/roman-and-greek-coins.asp?vpar=987&pos=0#Crisis%20and%20Decline Note here the ambiguous construction was made which may suggest was made Augustus by someone, either by the loyal troops in Gaul or by his father. It is not specified.

Curtis, you also said that "my alternatives" would be "shot down" by all the sources. So now, let's see what evidence we have.
First of all, please allow me to quote you: "I'm pretty sure no written source mentions Saloninus' promotion to the rank of Augustus." I absolutely agree! So this is our first fact - there is no written evidence to support anything, a position for self-elevation or against.
We know about Saloninus being Augustus from his coins. There are about 20 of them. Being few in number suggests short period of issue. How short is a matter of speculation, maybe two weeks, maybe a month, maybe a little more, we plainly don't know.

There is a widely popular speculation that it will take the news too long to reach Rome about Postumus rebellion. Well, let's see facts. It is about 930 miles from Rome to Cologne, I mean going north through the Alps and then along the Rhine. Let's suppose we take a detour through Lugdunum. That adds a little less than 200 miles, so let's suppose making total 1,100 miles with the part to Lugdunum (modern Lyon) being between 600 and 650 miles. If the fastest horse can run about 40 mph, the messengers can get the news to Rome in 24-36 hours and then back in about the same time. I assume the fastest horse speed because such news as of calamity that had befallen a young Caesar, Augustus' son, is the most urgent matter of the State and the messengers (probably the best ones on such occasion) would ride day and night, as fast as they can, changing horses all the time to get the news to the Emperor. Besides the rebellion happened in summer so the passages in the Alps were open. So I don't think that the matter of the speed of the news was the issue. I think the issue was the absence of enough force to deal with Postumus.

And one more thing. Postumus didn't capture all the cities of Gaul right away, so why Gallienus couldn't send a messenger to Lugdunum with an order to strike Agustus coins for Saloninus? If physically he could do that what other facts will "shoot down" this suggestion? Just to make it clear I don't personally support it, I just want to show its theoretical possibility.

Also there is a possibility based on facts, by the way, that Gallienus would appoint his son as Augustus, which was a common practice during 3rd century (your example, Curtis, about Macrinus, then Philippus, Trajan Decius, Trebonianus Gallus, Valerian - almost all the emerors who had young sons), but that news might have started the Postumus rebellion, so that might explain the scarcity of Saloninus Augustus coins. What does it make not a possibility?

Also I want to draw your attention fellows to the interesting fact. Bray points out on the page 128 that before the capture of Valerian both Gallienus and Saloninus made Valerian a part of their name, but after his capture it was dropped. Now let's look at obverse Augustus legend of Saloninus IMPSALONVALERIANVSAVG http://www.forumancientcoins.com/catalog/roman-and-greek-coins.asp?vpar=987&pos=0#Crisis%20and%20Decline To me the presence of Valerian indicates that his elevation to Augustus was before his grandfather's capture, and implies that Postumus did not rebel because of Valerian's capture but because of his own reasons, one of them might indeed have been the Saloninus elevation which is also might be indicated by the inscription AUGG (thank you, Mauseus).

And to you Lars. I want to say thank you for your book suggestion, I always welcome new ideas and interesting books. I'll try to get them but I already see I'll have to go through the library system. I mostly agree with what you wrote except of course that the 3rd century became somehow different in this rigid father-son hierarchy. And abundance of examples of fathers promoting their young sons during the 3rd century shows how that hierarchy was still in place and was working - sons obidiently obeyed their fathers.

And in the end I also want say to Curtis that I loved your translation from the Greek. It was awesome. Here is how the same abstract about Saloninus sounds in my book: "After this, Posthumus, who commanded the Celtic army, was also inclined towards innovation, and accompanied some soldiers that revolted at the same time to Agrippina, which is the principal city on the Rhine, in which he besieged Salonius, the son of Gallienus, threatening to remain before the walls until he was given up to him. On this account the soldiers found it necessary to surrender both him and Silvanus, whom his father had appointed his guardian, both of whom Posthumus put to death, and made himself sovereign of the Celtae."

Nov 18, 2009, 04:41 PM
I've been thinking about this AUGG antoniani and realized that it could have only been struck after Valerian's capture, otherwise it should have had AUGGG inscription on it for three emperors. It looks like there is hard evidence that Valerian's debacle indeed set the motion to all the disastrous events in the West.

However, if this Pisidian coin is authentic how does it fit into this picture? If it is a fake, or a mistake, or a blunder it won't matter of course, but what if it's not? Shouldn't it be possible to explain it plausibly somehow?

Nov 18, 2009, 05:39 PM

The strongest proof that Gallienus did not promote Saloninus to the rank of Augustus has already been mentioned by Mauseus: the absence of coins of Saloninus as Augustus at all of the empire's non-Gallic mints, for example Milan, Rome, Siscia, Antioch, plus whatever provincial mints were still active, above all Alexandria.

If Gallienus had elevated Saloninus, the announcement would have gone out to every corner of the empire, and all of these mints would undoubtedly have produced coins for the new Augustus. But they did not: instead only the Gallic mint struck rare coins for Saloninus as Augustus. His elevation, in other words, has the appearance of an event that took place in Gaul, and that had already been nullified, namely by the capture and execution of Saloninus, before Gallienus could receive the news and perhaps announce the promotion of his son to the rest of the empire. This of course exactly concords with the usual reconstruction of events: Saloninus had himself proclaimed Augustus when he suddenly found himself besieged by Postumus at Cologne.

I am not arguing that we accept this reconstruction as undoubted fact, since it is nowhere explicitly attested, but is merely our deduction from the account of Postumus' siege of Cologne in the late Greek authors, and the existence of rare Gallic coins of Saloninus as Augustus. But I am saying that this reconstruction seems highly probable, and we have no reason at all to doubt it or to advance other hypotheses, unless some powerful contradictory evidence or argument unexpectedly emerges at a future date!

This is not a question that I want to discuss further here, because, as I said, I am not familiar with the very large bibliography on the subject, nor even with the relevant coinage of Gallienus and Postumus. To advance a subject, or to summarize it accurately, you've of course got to be intimately familiar with both the ancient evidence, i.e. authors, inscriptions, and coins, and the modern discussions of that evidence. I am decidedly not in that position!

Bray is I think just reproducing the accepted reconstruction of Saloninus' promotion during the siege; he is not at all a major participant in the discussion of this question. By "issued an antoninianus" he means, I think, "issued an antoninianus type", not just a single coin!

Vagi's historical accounts are nothing original, but just a compilation of what previous authors have said, with no concern whatever about the essential question: how do we know these facts, i.e. what is the ancient evidence for these assertions?

I am not familiar with the details of the evidence, but absolutely nobody today accepts RIC's outdated attribution of the coins of Saloninus as Augustus to Lugdunum!

Akerman is totally antiquated, because he still follows Eckhel's erroneous amalgamation of Valerian II and Saloninus into a single prince Saloninus. I think the definitive refutation of this idea, based mainly on the tetradrachm coinage of Alexandria, is by Kurt Regling, Nochmals die Söhne des Gallienus, Num. Zeitschrift 1908, pp. 115 ff. So the modern bibliography on this question could probably be said to begin with this article by Regling.

Nov 18, 2009, 06:23 PM
I have no doubt that the Pisidian coin is authentic, but, to quote your words, it is a mistake or blunder, so doesn't matter. It was meant to be a coin of Gallienus.

How would it fit into the picture if it were correctly and explicitly a coin of Saloninus as Augustus struck at Pisidian Antioch? Well, I suggest that we not waste our time and energy with hypotheticals. Whenever such a correct and explicit provincial coin of Saloninus as Augustus actually emerges, will be the proper time to discuss that question!

Nov 18, 2009, 07:13 PM

I have to agree that the absence of coins from non-Gallic mints is a very strong argument.
However, if the breakneck pace of those events is taken into consideration and the importance of Gallic mints, and not Italian (the eastern mints are a separate story), this absence would not be a crucial problem and can be explained.

When Valerian was captured and the news was brought to Rome, naturally like all other emperors before him Gallienus would want to elevate his son, like his own father had done before (and why not? why wouldn't he want to do it?) and in this case he would naturally send his decision to Saloninus, Postumus and Silvanus.
I would like to underline that no coins would not have been minted anywhere at this point yet, the promotion would be only under way. And when Postumus hearing this news (about Valerian's capture and Saloninus elevation) rebelled, it was NOT complete.

With this new circumstances, when his son's life was now on the line, minting the coins in other parts of the Empire (still under Gallienus control) became a secondary matter, pure formality which at that point did not matter, it would not affect anything in Gaul if he minted the coins for his son in Rome or Milan, but in Gaul where the struggle was fast and merciless minting those coins might have become a matter of life or death for his son.

I already demonstrated that the news could travel quite fast in that part of the Empire, so I don't see any problem in asserting that Gallienus could direct the actions of Silvanus and Saloninus through his able agents.

And with all my respect to you, Curtis, I still see no facts or ideas that can dispute such a course of events.

And before I finish I'd like to come back to that "single apparently blundered" Pisidian coin. If it turns to be authentic, indeed bearing Saloninus name as Augustus will it still be dismissed as worthless and won't change what we know about the history of that time?


P.S. "It was meant to be a coin of Gallienus." But the portrait is of Saloninus not Gallienus! I also thought it was a "mistake" or a "blunder" but what if it's not?

Nov 18, 2009, 07:39 PM
Here is the coin in question, so future readers of the thread can still see it after the eBay link expires.

Flavus, I think you are mistaken to assert that "the portrait is of Saloninus not Gallienus." The portraits in this issue are extremely crude, and have no portrait similarity to Gallienus, Saloninus, or anybody else!

Here are a couple of other explicit Gallienus portraits (though often with bungled legend) from Pisidian Antioch.

Nov 18, 2009, 08:01 PM
Absolutely, I agree that abilities of the artist are far from superb.
Not just the portrait is crude the whole coin is crude, no doubt!
But the poor artist as much as he sucked still managed to put, at least, the image of the boy, not of adult man, on the coin.:)
It looks like he meant to portray someone really young, and that makes me think that if we discuss who he had in mind - older Gallienus or younger Saloninus - I have to say it got to be Saloninus.
But like I said Eastern mints are a separate story. The change there also had a breakneck speed after Valerian's capture. Plus constant Gothic menace.
Maybe indeed it is just a coin of Saloninus when he still was a Caesar, and the mistake is with IMP. Who knows.
It has to be studied, definitely, to come up with any definite answers.
It was an immense pleasure to talk to you, Curtis. You are a great researcher.

P.S. I see you put more coins there. These guys are ugly. But, hey, number One and number Two are almost identical! So is it (I mean, the coin in question) Gallienus then? But why does he look so young, like a five-year-old?

P.P.S. At a closer look, as similar number Two looks to number One it still looks a bit older.

Nov 18, 2009, 11:15 PM
If one could hold that "Saloninus" in one's hand and turn it in the light, it might even turn out that the portrait is wearing a light beard, so obviously was meant as Gallienus rather that the beardless, teenage Saloninus!