Trajan Decius. 249-251 AD. Rome, 5th officina. 2nd-3rd emissions, AD 249-250

Trajan Decius. 249-251 AD. Rome, 5th officina. 2nd-3rd emissions, AD 249-250


AE Double Sestertius, 44.62g (37mm, 1h). IMP C M Q TRAIANVS DECIVS AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust r. / VICT ORIA AVG, Victory advancing l., holding wreath in r. hand and palm frond in l.; S C across field.

Pedigree: Ex Sternberg XXVIII (30 October 1995), lot 264; Numismatic Fine Arts XXIX (13 August 1992), lot 416; Sir Arthur J. Evans Collection (Ars Classica XVII, 3 October 1934), lot 1685 (small deposit below bust removed since); Sir John Evans Collection.

References: Banti 29 (this coin illustrated); Gnecchi III 6, pl. 161, 4; RCTV 9397 (this coin illustrated)

Grade:  A pleasant strike with wonderful centering. Very minor wear. Good VF (re1053)

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Trajan Decius has the distinction to be the first Roman emperor to die on the battlefield. The battle of Abritus took place in Moesia Inferior, which is in modern day Bulgaria. Decius, inherited the name Trajan from his predecessor Trajan (ruled 98-117 AD) who took the boundaries of the Roman empire to its capacity. The Battle of Abritus pitted the Romans against the territory-infringing Goths, headed by Cniva. Essentially the Goths were in a losing battle but in an astounding turn of events, this final battle took the lives of both Trajan Decius and his son Herennius Etruscus. Some sources say Herennius died by an arrow at the very beginning of the battle which demoralized the army. To reignite the fight in his soldiers, Trajan Decius proclaimed that no one should mourn one soldier and that it would ultimately not effect the Republic. 

According to ancient sources, Cniva was very tactical in his approach and positioned one part of his army behind a marsh. This effectively crippled Trajan Decius and his army as they got trapped and were at a disadvantaged state in the boggy area. 

This coin was in the collection of the famous Sir Arthur John Evans (1851-1941), an English archaeologist who was also known for his excavations at Knossos. Previous to Sir Arthur J. Evans, the coin was in the collection of his father, Sir John Evans (1823-1908), a noted archaeologist, as well as a numismatist, himself being president of the Numismatic Society.