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Wars between Roma and Persia--events of 335-337


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I have a website on the coins of the wars between Rome and Persia, "Coins and History of the Roman Wars with Persia in the Second and Third Centuries"  
Today I added the following:

AD 335-337 – Constantine, by supporting Christianity in the Roman Empire, alarmed the Sasanians under Shapur II about their own numerous Christian subjects who might become a pro-Roman fifth column. As with all historical events, there are many "causes" which interacted to explain the subsequent history. [Short explanations in history books (and here) are necessarily oversimplifications.] Constantine spent two years planning a massive invasion of Persia. In 335 he appointed two οf his half-nephews (grandsons of Maximian) as additional Roman rulers. Delmatius became ruler of the lower Danube region and Hanniballianus was to be on the Persian border with the title "Rex regum," king of kings, a Persian title. Clearly he was in line to rule Persia when it was conquered. The Romans did not use the title "king" until this coin type. The type alludes to Persia in two ways--the title and the river god.

Hanniballian, 335-337
17-15 mm. 1.71 grams.
The  Euphrates 
reclining right, holding scepter with urn spilling water and a reed behind. 

RIC VII Constantinople 147.  (All his coins are from Constantinople.)

Before the invasion got underway, Constantine, on his way to the East, died in May 337 and in "the summer of blood" his three sons (especially Constantius II) arranged for all potential rivals to the throne to be eliminated. Delmatius and Hanniballian and other relatives were executed. The invasion was called off. 

The page above gives and outline of the wars between Rome and Persia. Here is the link again:

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Very nice. I've often enjoyed looking through your website.

I don't have Hanniballian, but I do have one of Delmatius.


Delmatius (nephew of Constantine I), as Caesar
Siscia, 335-336 CE
BI Nummus 1.53g, 15mm, 6h
FL DELMATIVS NOB C, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust to right /
[GLOR]IA EXERCITVS, two soldiers bearing spears and shields to either side of a standard; BSIS in exergue.
RIC VII 256.
Ex Fritz Rudolf Künker 2009

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Thanks for this. Has anyone bought the new Adrian Goldsworthy book on the general subject of Rome and Persia?


I have not, at least yet. I did just buy Mary Beard's new book, "Emperor of Rome," covering the period from Julius Caesar through Severus Alexander (whom she calls Alexander Severus; I've never understood the rationale for picking one vs. the other). It's not a series of biographies, but more a study of the Imperial role during the period.

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There are many good books from which one can learn about Rome's conflicts with Persia. For my webpages,
I used these and more:


The most illuminating was the one in the top middle compiled by Dodgeon and Lieu. It translates the relevant ancient documents. In many cases different ancient authors do not agree on what happened and when you read, say, about the death of Gordian III, or the capture of Valerian, or the death of Julian II, there are conflicting accounts. We might assume ancient observers were attempting to report the "truth," but there was "spin" then just as there is now and it can be hard (impossible) to know the basics of what happened, much less the motivations of the players.  

The coins are ancient documents. We can attempt to put them in context and scholars have done a pretty good job. We can use Roman provincial coins from Mesopotamian cities to determine, more or less, when Rome was in control in each city--something the written sources do not always tell us. But they won't tell us whether Philip arranged the murder of Gordian III. Ancient documents prove the Romans didn't know for sure. Neither do we. 

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