Roman Emperor Trajan Decius

Gaius Messius Quintus Trajanus Decius, commonly referred to as Trajan Decius, ruled Ancient Rome from 249 to 251 AD. Roman Emperor Trajan Decius wanted to restore Rome to its former glory and ancient traditions. Therefore, he decreed the Decius’ edict. This was a proclamation for Empire-wide loyalty. The Decius’ edict meant that all Roman citizens needed to make a sacrifice to Rome’s gods or face torture, execution and seizure of assets. 

Moreover, Christian belief would not allow for them to worship any other god. As a result, Emperor Trajan Decius cracked down harshly on those he believed were undermining the ancient traditions of Rome. Consequently, they were persecuted and tortured. Even Pope Fabian was killed! By the end of Decius’ second year as Emperor, he resorted back to earlier tradition of tolerance.

The Downfall of Emperor Decius

A barbarian invasion forced Roman Emperor Trajan Decius to shift his attention away from domestic affairs. Decius needed a decisive battle win to score points with the Roman citizens. He riled his troops together and headed for Rome’s border. A battle ensued, and at first Decius seemed to have his win. He caused the Goths to flee into the marshes of Abrittus. However, it was a ruse that led him and his troops straight into an ambush. Roman Emperor Trajan Decius, and about half of his army, perished in the debacle. Instead of glorious victory, it was the first time a Roman emperor fell to a foreign enemy.

The catastrophic defeat at Abrittus accelerated the Roman Empire’s slide into anarchy. Christians claimed it was God’s revenge on their Roman persecutors.

Below – Gold Aureus coin issued during Decius’ reign. Find beautiful Roman coins like this one and many more at Austin Rare Coins. All coins offered by Austin Rare Coins are certified and graded by NGC Ancients.

What is a Gold Aureus?

A gold coin of ancient Rome

What is a Gold Aureus? The Julius Caesar Gold Aureus was a gold coin of ancient Rome originally valued at 25 pure Silver Denarii. From the 1st century BC to the beginning of the 4th century AD the aureus was commonly struck. It later was replaced by the Solidus. This gold Aureus was struck Caesar during the Roman Republican period under Julius Caesar by Praetor A. Hirtius.

The aureus was heavier than the same size denarius because gold is more dense than silver. Before Julius Caesar became emperor of Rome the gold aureus wasn’t very common. It was Caesar’s extravagant spending and trying to gain favor with the social elitist that led to the aureas becoming more popular.

Caesar becomes the first emperor

Instead of gaining favor, Caesar’s populist and authoritarian reforms angered the elites. In fact, after Caesar centralized the bureaucracy of the Republic he made sure that he would be proclaimed “dictator for life.” Not the best way to please the social elite and this of course led to the demise of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire.

It also led to Caesar’s demise in 44 BC on the 15th of March, the Ides of March. This day which was was famously dramatized in William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar. The 15th of March corresponds with the 74th day In the Roman calendar. The day that was notable as a religious observances day for Romans to settle all debts. Ironically, it became notoriously known as the date of the assassination of Julius Caesar. It was a major turning point in Roman history.

History in your hands

As you can see holding a Julius Caesar Gold Aureus is like holding a piece of history. On this Gold Aureus the head of Vesta is shown on the obverse. The priestly equipment adorns the reverse. This is a simply remarkable Julius Caesar Gold Aureus in Choice Very Fine Condition. It has also been awarded very high marks of 5 for Strike and 4 for Surfaces from NGC. This coin is hard to find in any condition!

The first Roman Emperor, Julius Caesar, is still known around the world over 2,000 years after his demise. Collecting and owning a gold stater that has seen circulation in the past makes you wonder just whose hands actually have touched it. Who knows, maybe even Julius Caesar himself. Something to ponder when you look at such a beautiful and historical remembrance of Ancient Rome. Now when someone asks, what is a Gold Aureus? You know at least one fine example with a great story!