Probus, 276-282. Aureus (Gold, 20 mm, 7.00 g, 6 h), Siscia, early 279. IMP C M AVR PROBVS P F AVG Laureate, helmeted and cuirassed bust of Probus to left, seen from behind, holding spear in his right hand and shield decorated with gorgoneion on aegis with his left. Rev. P - M TRI - P / COS III Probus, laureate and togate, standing in slow quadriga right, extending his right hand and holding eagle-tipped scepter in his left. Calicó -. Cohen -. Helios 3 (2009), 231 (same dies). NAC 25 (2003), 567 (same dies). RIC -. Very rare, apparently the fourth known example. A magnificent coin, lustrous, perfectly centered, and with an impressive military bust type. Very minor deposits and a few faint marks in the fields, otherwise, virtually as struck.
From the collection of a maître cuisinier, acquired before 2005.
Like lot 345 above, the striking of this magnificent aureus is connected to Probus' victories against Germanic tribes in 277-279. Unlike the more general victorious reverse type on the previous lot, here, the reverse is specifically devoted to Probus' third consulship, which he assumed on 1 January 279. We see the emperor on his processus consularis, a public parade celebrating the beginning of a new consular year and the transfer of power from one pair of consuls to the other. Naturally, by the time of Probus, the role of the consulship had long shifted away from an executive to a more ritual role, since all the emperors since Augustus based their power on the extended tribunicia potestas and the imperium proconsulare maius, granting them control over the state and effectively turning them into military rulers.
Still, the consulship remained a source of prestige well into late antiquity, with some emperors - Probus being one of them - assuming the office on a yearly basis, whereas others took a more conservative approach, thus permitting more senators to hold the honorable office. Aside from the increase in dignitas associated with the consulship, the year would also be named after the consules ordinarii, thus ensuring them and their families a touch of immortality.