Authentic Ancient Coin of:
Probus - Roman Emperor: 276-282 A.D. -
Silvered Bronze Antoninianus 20mm (2.31 grams) Rome mint: 280 A.D.
Victory over Germany
Reference: RIC 220F; Cohen 773
IMP PROBVS P F AVG, radiate & cuirassed bust right.
VICTORIA GERM, trophy between two captives, R-thunderbolt-A in ex.
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A trophy is a reward for a specific achievement, and serves as recognition or evidence of merit.
A tropaion (Greek: τρόπαιον, Latin: tropaeum), whence English "trophy" is an ancient Greek and later Roman monument set up to commemorate a victory over one's foes. Typically this takes the shape of a tree, sometimes with a pair of arm-like branches (or, in later times, a pair of stakes set crosswise) upon which is hung the armour of a defeated and dead foe. The tropaion is then dedicated to a god in thanksgiving for the victory.
A Roman tropaeum from the Dacian Wars (Trajan's Column 113 CE, note the tree trunk with arm-like branches)
In the Greek city-states of the Archaic period, the tropaion would be set up on the battlefield itself, usually at the site of the "turning point" (Gk. tropê) at which the routed enemy's phalanx broke, turned and ran. It would be dressed in the typical hoplite panoply of the period, including (at different times), a helmet, cuirass (either of bronze or linen), and a number of shields,etc, would be piled about the base. It remained on the battlefield until the following season's campaigns (since battles were often fought in the same, relatively few plains amid Greece's numerous mountains), where it might be replaced with a new trophy.
In later eras in the Greek world, these tropaia might be vowed at the battle-site, but in fact erected at pan-Hellenic sanctuaries such as Olympia or Delphi to further increase the prestige of the victorious state.
The significance of the monument is a ritualistic notification of "victory" to the defeated enemies. Since warfare in the Greek world was largely a ritualistic affair in the archaic hoplite-age (see Hanson, The Western Way of War for further elaboration of this idea), the monument is used to reinforce the symbolic capital of the victory in the Greek community.
Ancient sources attest to the great deal of significance that early Greek cities placed upon symbols and ritual as linked to warfare--the story involving the bones of Orestes, for example, in Herodotus 1 which go beyond the ritualistic properties to even magically 'guaranteeing' the Spartan victory, displays the same sort of interest in objects and symbols of power as they relate to military success or failure.
The tropaeum in Rome, on the other hand, would probably not be set up on the battle-site itself, but rather displayed prominently in the city of Rome. Romans were less concerned about impressing foreign powers or military rivals than they were in using military success to further their own political careers inside the city, especially during the later years of the Republic. A tropaeum displayed on the battlefield does not win votes, but one brought back and displayed as part of a triumph can impress the citizens (who might then vote in future elections in favor of the conqueror) or the nobles (with whom most aristocratic Romans of the Republican period were in a constant struggle for prestige).
The symbolism of the tropaeum became so well known that in later eras, Romans began to simply display images of them upon sculpted reliefs (see image and Tropaeum Traiani), to leave a permanent trace of the victory in question rather than the temporary monument of the tropaeum itself.
Originally the word trophy, derived from the Latin tropaion, referred to arms, standards, other property, or human captives and body parts (e.g. a title="Headhunting" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headhunting"> headhunting) captured in battle. These war trophies commemorated the military victories of a state, army or individual combatant. In modern warfare trophy taking is discouraged, but this sense of the word is reflected in hunting trophies and human trophy collecting by serial killers.
Trophies have marked victories since ancient times. The word trophy coined in English in 1550, was derived from the French trophée in 1513, "a prize of war", from Old French trophee, from Latin trophaeum, monument to victory, variant of tropaeum, which in turn is the latinisation of the Greek τρόπαιον (tropaion), the neuter of τροπαῖος (tropaios), "of defeat" or "for defeat", but generally "of a turning" or "of a change", from τροπή (tropē), "a turn, a change" and that from the verb τρέπω (trepo), "to turn, to alter".
In ancient Greece, trophies were made on the battlefields of victorious battles, from captured arms and standards, and were hung upon a tree or a large stake made to resemble a warrior. Often, these ancient trophies were inscribed with a story of the battle and were dedicated to various gods. Trophies made about naval victories sometimes consisted of entire ships (or what remained of them) laid out on the beach. To destroy a trophy was considered a sacrilege.
The ancient Romans kept their trophies closer to home. The Romans built magnificent trophies in Rome, including columns and arches atop a foundation. Most of the stone trophies that once adorned huge stone memorials in Rome have been long since stolen
Probus (Latin: Marcus Aurelius Probus Augustus; c. 19 August 232 – September/October 282), was Roman Emperor from 276 to 282.
Probus Musei Capitolini MC493.jpg
During his reign, the Rhine and Danube frontier was strengthened after successful wars against several Germanic tribes such as the Goths, Alamanni, Longiones, Franks, Burgundians, and Vandals. The Agri Decumates and much of the Limes Germanicus in Germania Superior were officially abandoned during his reign, with the Romans withdrawing to the Rhine and Danube rivers.
Born in 232 in Sirmium (modern day Sremska Mitrovica), Pannonia Inferior, the son of Dalmatius, Probus entered the army around 250 upon reaching adulthood. Appointed as a military tribune by the emperor Valerian, he later distinguished himself under the emperors Aurelian and Tacitus. He was appointed governor of the East by Tacitus, whose death in 276 prompted Probus' soldiers to proclaim him emperor.
Florianus, the half-brother of Tacitus, was also proclaimed successor by his soldiers, but he was killed after an indecisive campaign. Probus travelled west, defeating the Goths along the lower Danube in 277, and acquiring the title of Gothicus. His position as emperor was ratified by the Senate around this time.
In 278, Probus campaigned successfully in Gaul against the Alamanni and Longiones; both tribes had advanced through the Neckar valley and across the Rhine into Roman territory. Meanwhile, his generals defeated the Franks and these operations were directed to clearing Gaul of Germanic invaders (Franks and Burgundians), allowing Probus to adopt the titles of Gothicus Maximus and Germanicus Maximus.
One of his principles was never to allow the soldiers to be idle, and to employ them in time of peace on useful works, such as the planting of vineyards in Gaul, Pannonia and other districts, in order to restart the economy in these devastated lands. Of a greater and more lasting significance, Probus began the strategy of settling the Germanic tribes in the devastated provinces of the empire.
Antoninianus of Probus minted in 280. Depicts the solar divinity Sol Invictus riding a quadriga. Probus issued many different coins during his six years of rule.
In 279–280, Probus was, according to Zosimus, in Raetia, Illyricum and Lycia, where he fought the Vandals. In the same years, Probus' generals defeated the Blemmyes in Egypt. Probus then ordered the reconstruction of bridges and canals along the Nile, where the production of grain for the Empire was centered.
In 280–281, Probus put down three usurpers, Julius Saturninus, Proculus and Bonosus. The extent of these revolts is not clear, but there are clues that they were not just local problems. In 281, the emperor was in Rome, where he celebrated his triumph.
Probus was eager to start his eastern campaign, delayed by the revolts in the west. He left Rome in 282, travelling first towards Sirmium, his birth city. About Probus' death different accounts exist. According to John Zonaras, the commander of the Praetorian Guard Marcus Aurelius Carus had been proclaimed, more or less unwillingly, emperor by his troops.
Probus sent some troops against the new usurper, but when those troops changed sides and supported Carus, Probus' remaining soldiers assassinated him at Sirmium (September/October 282). According to other sources, however, Probus was killed by disgruntled soldiers, who rebelled against his orders to be employed for civic purposes, like draining marshes. Carus was proclaimed emperor after Probus' death and avenged the murder of his predecessor.
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