The Bronze coin of Lucius Verus Armeniacus

One of the most beautiful, rare and large Bronze coins of Lucius Verus I have ever seen, honoring his victory over Armenia, minted in Rome.

L AVREL VERVS AVG ARMENIACVS, laureate cuirassed bust right / TR POT V IMP II COS II, Reverse: Verus standing, head left, holding spear, two standards at each side. SC in exergue. RIC III 1426; Sear 5380

It glorifies Verus not as much in vanquishing Armenia, but rather waging war against Parthia for the purpose of re-installing a client king friendly to Rome.

King Sohaemus had been ruling Armenia for 17 years, when in 161 AD, Vologases IV of Parthia invaded Armenia and appointed his son Pacorus as King Sohaemus went into political exile.

The Roman legions stationed there belonged to the Roman governor of Cappadocia, Marcus Severianus. In a bold move, Parthian troops marched further West into Roman Syria.

Severianus had listened to a charlatan prophet named Abonotichus, who had claimed that his “cult snake” Glycon had predicted that he would have victory and glory if he took on the Parthians by himself.

Needless to say his army was annihilated, and to make matters more desperate, another Roman army in Syria was also defeated.

Back in Rome Marcus Aurelius seriously started stressing on the deteriorating situation in the East. Since he was busy dealing with impending conflicts with the Germanic tribes, his adopted brother and co-emperor Lucius Verus was appointed to lead the Parthian campaign.

Verus was young and fit but was a laid-back fun-loving person. He took his sweet time on his way to Antioch, his war headquarters in Antioch, where he stepped up some hardcore training of his legionnaries, as they had become “soft” from lack of fighting.

He was a good delegator, but never participated in the battles, which were won thanks to a few able generals. In 163 AD General Priscus led two legions on a 20-day march over 300 miles to recapture Armenia and its capital of Artaxata.

Although Lucius never set foot in Armenia, he thereupon awarded himself the honorary title of Armeniacus. In the same year King Sohaemus was re-installed as king of Armenia, and ruled successfully until his death in 180 AD.

The Armeniacus coins of various denominations minted by both Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus are prime examples of honorary titles minted on Roman coinage.

by Joseph Sarkissian

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