Marcus Aurelius Probus, 276-282 AD


ID Number: AC09-0303
Category: Ancient Coins
Description: Marcus Aurelius Probus, 276-282 AD
Country or State: Roman Empire (47th Emperor of the Roman Empire)
Period: Crisis of the 3rd Century
Head of State/Ruler: Probus (Full Name: Marcus Aurelius Probus (from birth to accession); Caesar Marcus Aurelius Probus Augustus (as emperor))
Reign: 276-282 AD
Currency: AR Denarius
Face Value:  
Subject/Theme: Providentia
Obverse: Laureate and cuirassed bust right
Obverse Legend: IMP PROBVS P F AVG
Obverse Designer:  
Reverse: Providentia standing left, holding baton and cornucopiae, globe at foot
Reverse Legend: PROVIDENTIA AVG // IXI (in Ex.)
Reverse Designer:  
Edge: Irregular
Note: Rome Mint
Mint Mark:  
Composition: Bronze
Diameter: ~22.0 mm (irregular)
Weight: 3.95 grams
Krause & Mishler Number:  
Other Catalog Number: RIC 252. 2
State of Conservation: Extremely Fine (XF)
Rarity: Very Rare

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Extremely Fine (XF) € -
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Probus was Roman Emperor from 276 to 282. During his reign, the Rhine and Danube frontier was strengthened after successful wars against several Germanic tribes such as the Goths, Alamanni, Longiones, Franks, Burgundians, and Vandals. However, the Agri Decumates and much of the Limes Germanicus in Germania Superior were officially abandoned during his reign, the Romans withdrawing to the Rhine and Danube rivers.

Born in 232 in Sirmium (modern day Sremska Mitrovica), Pannonia Inferior, Probus entered the army around 250 upon reaching adulthood. Appointed as a military tribune by the emperor Valerian, he later distinguished himself under the emperors Aurelian and Tacitus. He was appointed governor of the East by Tacitus, whose death in 276 prompted Probus' soldiers to proclaim him emperor.

Florianus, the half-brother of Tacitus, was also proclaimed successor by his soldiers, but was killed after an indecisive campaign. Probus travelled west, defeating the Goths along the lower Danube in 277, and acquiring the title of Gothicus. His position as emperor was ratified by the Senate around this time.

In 278, Probus campaigned successfully in Gaul against the Alamanni and Longiones; both tribes had advanced through the Neckar valley and across the Rhine into Roman territory. Meanwhile, his generals defeated the Franks and these operations were directed to clearing Gaul of Germanic invaders, allowing Probus to adopt the titles of Gothicus Maximus and Germanicus Maximus. One of his principles was never to allow the soldiers to be idle, and to employ them in time of peace on useful works, such as the planting of vineyards in Gaul, Pannonia and other districts, in order to restart the economy in these devastated lands. Of a greater and more lasting significance, Probus began the strategy of settling the Germanic tribes in the devastated provinces of the empire.

In 279–280, Probus was, according to Zosimus, in Raetia, Illyricum and Lycia, where he fought the Vandals. In the same years, Probus' generals defeated the Blemmyes in Egypt; Probus then ordered the reconstruction of bridges and canals along the Nile, where the production of grain for the Empire was centered.

In 280–281, Probus had also put down three usurpers, Julius Saturninus, Proculus and Bonosus. The extent of these revolts is not clear, but there are clues that they were not just local problems. In 281, the emperor was in Rome, where he celebrated his triumph.

Probus was eager to start his eastern campaign, delayed by the revolts in the west.He left Rome in 282, travelling first towards Sirmium, his birth city, when the news that Marcus Aurelius Carus, commander of the Praetorian Guard, had been proclaimed emperor reached him. Probus sent some troops against the new usurper, but when those troops changed sides and supported Carus, Probus's remaining soldiers then assassinated him at Sirmium.