23. A Fragmented Empire

Where present, maps are downloadable.

PostumusCoin MariusCoin Macriani LaelianusCoin DomitianusCoin VabalathusCoin ZenobiaCoin VictorinusCoin

His may have been a tearaway state, but Marcus Cassianus Latinius Postumus minted high quality coins of a better value than the debased official currency of Gallienus. Postumus’s separate Gallic empire in the West would remain unchallenged by Gallienus for nearly a decade as he contended with troubles on the eastern frontiers.

Ulpius Cornelius Laelanius headed a rebellion against Postumus in about December 268; but he wasn't the shortest-lived coiner.

The central importance of the coin to Roman political spin is never more clearly underlined than with Marcus Aurelius Marius. Even though he lasted only three days before being murdered, he managed in this time to mint some coins to legitimize his “reign.”

Marcus Piavonius Victorinus


MAPImperiumGallorum MAPImperiumGallorum2

Titus Fulvius Macrianus

Titus Fulvius Iunius Macrianus below and (right) the younger

Titus Fulvius iunius Quietus

MAPMacriani Tetrici

Gaius Pius Esuvius Tetricus and (below) his son Tetricus II. Their defeat and deposition by Aurelian ended the Imperium Gallorum of Postumus.


After the assassination of Odenath and his eldest son by his first marriage, his second wife Zenobia ruled Palmyra on behalf of her young son Vabalathus. This tomb sculpture is thought to represent the Palmyrene queen, but among the many tower tombs outside the city, archaeologists have uncoverd many similar carvings of women, usually with very similar looking faces.

Coins of Zenobia right and Vabalathus (far right). Zenobia had aspirations of empire, and in the name of her son, took advantage of the empire's disarray to take on Rome. In 271 she assumed the title of Augusta, with Vabalathus as Augustus—a step that incurred the wrath of the then enmperor, Aurelian, with dire consequences for Palmyra.

Illustrations © Oliver Frey; Maps © Roger M. Kean    © 2010–2016 Reckless Books, England