Maxentius                              306 - 312


The tale of Maxentius is one of the more convoluted accounts of any Roman emperor. It all started when some years before Diocletian came up with his Tetrarchy scheme. Together with Maximian, both were to be Augusti ruling jointly with each overseeing half of the empire. Each in turn named a Caesar as right-hand-man and would succeed the emperor when the latter died. Maximian was the father of Maxentius and, in other times, would have normally been Maximian's successor but the new ruling format had no place for him. When Diocletian abdicated and forced Maximian to do likewise Maxentius lost all hope. He knew that unless he took action he would be sidelined permanently.

Taking advantage of a growing dissatisfaction within Italy, and particularly Rome, at Galerius's decision to revoke their tax-free status, Maxentius gathered an empathetic army and had himself declared Caesar. He avoided the title of Augustus because he wanted to make it clear to Constantius Chlorus and Constantine that he was revolting only against Galerius. However, when Constantine was named emperor and failed to warm up to Maxentius he decided to go against both and proclaimed himself emperor at this point.

To make himself seem more legitimate in the eyes of the Roman world he convinced his father to come out of retirement and assume joint rule with him. Galerius would be unable to defeat these forces and retreated back to the east without a conclusive battle. Attention then turned to Constantine but here their luck would turn. In poor judgment, Maximian would go at it alone and distanced himself from Maxentius only to become cannon fodder under Constantine. Maxentius then faced a revolt from the African quarters and was able to put it down but at a high cost to his own popularity. Weakened thus he still had to face Constantine and was defeated in the battle of Milvian Bridge north of Rome.


AE Follis 306--312 A.D.


25 mm.

Obv. IMP C MAXENTIVS PF AVG: Laureate bust right

Rev. AETERNITAS AVG N: The Dioscuri standing facing each other, each restraining

a horse

S 3775, Van Meter 14

AE Follis 306--312 A.D.


23 mm.

Obv. IMP C MAXENTIVS PF AVG: Laureate bust right

Rev. CONSERV VRB SVAE: Cult image of Roma seated in hexastyle temple

S 3779, Van Meter 18

AE Follis 306--312 A.D.


23 mm.

Obv. IMP C MAXENTIVS PF AVG: Laureate head right

Rev. CONSERV VRB SVAE: Cult image of Roma seated in a temple with four

columns, holding scepter and globe, behind whom is Victory,

right, with wreath

Van Meter 19v.