3rd Century Rome (62nd Caesar): Tacitus Billon Aurelianianus, c.275-276AD, NGC CHAU*


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Tacitus Antoninianus, struck at Lugdunum, circa 275-276 AD, 4.12g. The obverse features IMP C M CL TACITVS P F AVG with a radiated Bust, draped, cuirassed and facing right. The reverse features TEMPORVM FELICITAS with A–A on either side of Providentia standing right, holding a wand over globe and cornucopia. NGC certified as Choice About Uncirculated with a “*” for eye appeal. Perfect strike (5/5); and nearly perfect strike (4/5).

Tacitus (Marcus Claudius Tacitus Augustus, c. 200–June 276, was Roman Emperor from 275 to 276. While in power he waged war against the Goths and Heruli, for which he was given the title Gothicus Maximus. During his long life he served in various civil offices, including consul in 273. After Aurelian was murdered, the Senate chose Tacitus to succeed him. This choice was graciously ratified by the army. This was the last time that the Senate elected an emperor. There was an interregnum between Aurelian and Tacitus, and there is evidence that Aurelian’s wife, Ulpia Severina, ruled before Tacitus was elected.

Stationed at Campania when he discovered he was named emperor, he rushed to Rome. Tacitus decided to re-involve the Senate as a consultative body in the mechanisms of government. He asked the Senate to deify Aurelian, and then arrested and executed his killers. Tacitus went after barbarian mercenaries that had been hired by Aurelian to fortify Roman forces for his Eastern campaign. That was because they had plundered several towns in Eastern Roman provinces after the death of Aurelian. Tacitus, along with his half-brother, the Praetorian Prefect Florianus, won a major victory against these tribes, which included the Heruli, which resulted in the emperor being given the title Gothicus Maximus. Tacitus was heading west to deal with a Frankish and Alammanic invasion of Gaul when he died of a fever in June 276 at Tyana in Cappadocia. There were reports that he had began to act strangely, saying that he would change the names of the months in order to honor himself, before succumbing to the fever.