Roman Empire, Aurelian - Restorer of the East

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In 272, Aurelian turned his attention to the lost eastern provinces of the empire, the so-called Palmyrene Empire ruled by Queen Zenobia, which encompassed Syria, Palestine, Egypt and large parts of Asia Minor. Despite a pragmatic acknowledgement of Zenobia and Vabalathus at the beginning of his reign, and having granted them both the titles they craved, Aurelian's driving ambition was to reunify and secure the sundered parts of the Roman empire.

Marching east, Asia Minor was recovered with minimal resistance. Every city but Byzantium and Tyana surrendered quickly, and having spared Tyana from sack and despoliation supposedly because Apollonius of Tyana (a first century philosopher whom he greatly admired) appeared to him in a dream and implored him to mercy, many more cities submitted peacefully knowing that they would be treated leniently. Within six months, Aurelian stood at the gates of Palmyra. Zenobia was captured while attempting to flee, and paraded in golden chains in Aurelian's triumph in Rome. The recovery of Egypt by the future emperor Probus and a return to Palmyra to deal with a Palmyrene rebel named Antiochus finally secured the eastern provinces. Aurelian was given the title of Restitutor Orientis (Restorer of the East) by the Senate, who would soon after confer upon him the title of Restitutor Orbis (Restorer of the World) when he brought the breakaway Gallic provinces back into the fold, thus reunifying the empire.

In 275, Aurelian was preparing another campaign against the Sassanids. The deaths of Shapur I and Hormizd I in quick succession (272 and 273 respectively), and the rise to power of a weaker ruler (Bahram I), set the conditions for an invasion of the Sassanid Empire. Aurelian however never reached Asia Minor. He was assassinated by officers of the Praetorian guard who had been tricked by one of the emperor's secretaries into believing Aurelius had ordered their executions. Zosimus tells us the secretary's name was Eros, and that he feared punishment because he had told a lie on a minor issue. Thus perished one of the most competent and promising emperors of the age.

Aurelian AV Binio (Double Aureus). Antioch, January-September AD 275. IMP C AVRELIANVS AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust right / RESTITVTOR ORIENTIS, Sol standing left with one hand raised and the other holding whip, chlamys over shoulder; at feet, two captives looking to left; IL in exergue. RIC -; C. -; BN -; MIR -; Calicó -; NAC 27, 12 May 2004, 479. 6.99g, 23mm, 12h.

Near Mint State. Extremely Rare, apparently the second known specimen.