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455 Petronius Maximus was one of the most powerful and wealthy politicians of Rome during the fifth century. Following Valentinian III's assassination there was little indication who would succeed the imperial throne. Maximus positioned himself as the likeliest candidate and probably with a fair dose of palm greasing within the Senate achieved the succession. Immediately after, he forced the marriage to Valentinian's own widow to validate his imperial claim. It proved to be political suicide. Licinia Eudoxia, a powerful and well-connected noble in her own right, harbored intense resentment over Maximus whom she had good reason of suspecting foul play in her former husband's death. And now the forced marriage was the last straw. Secretly, she appealed for help to the weakening empire's greatest adversary at the moment, the Vandals of Africa. Led by King Gaiseric, the Vandals needed little incentive to go on a looting rampage and thus set the wheels in motion for a major invasion of Italy. As the invasion became known in Rome a panic ensued and turned into a desperate mob. Unraveling what had happened and what was surely to become, they tracked down Maximus in his palace just as he was preparing to flee the city. They stoned him to death with the tiles of his own roof after a reign of only about two months. Gaiseric wasn't long in coming, pillaging Rome a second time and hauling off with whatever loot it could find including, ironically enough, Licinia Eudoxia herself. Due to the short reign the coins of Petronius Maximus rank among the greatest Roman imperial rarities.
RIC 2201, Depeyrot 48/3, Lacam 5 Solidus Obv: DNPETRONIVSMAXIMVSPFAVG - Diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right.
Rev: VICTORIAAVGGG Exe: R/M/COMOB - Petronius Maximus standing, facing, stepping on snake's head, holding cross and Victory on globe. March - May 455 (Rome). $15,000 1/13/03.
RIC 2202, Vagi 3626 Solidus Obv: DNPETRONIVSMAXIMVSPFAVG - Diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right.
Rev: VICTORIAAVGGG Exe: R/M/COMOB - Petronius Maximus standing, facing, stepping on snake's head, holding cross and Victory on globe. March - May 455 (Rome). $11,543 12/5/02.