Adfini, Cognat, Patri, Socero 
      under Maxentius at Rome

Read on to find out what those words mean and why they are on coins from a short series of commemorative Roman coins.

To the right is a common coin of Maxentius: IMP C MAXENTIVS PF AVG
CONSER - VRB SVAE  (Conserver/Protector of his city) Roma seated in six-column temple
25 mm. RIC Rome 210

The Background History. The first tetrachy came to an end with the retirements of Diocletian and Maximian in 305. After abolishing the Pratorian Guard, the new augusti required the inhabitants of Rome to pay taxes like the rest of the empire. This was too much for the civilians and soldiers. They revolted and declared Maxentius emperor on October, 28, 306. The claim of Maxentius was based on being the son of Maximian, one of the original tetrarchs. Being the son of the reigning ruler had, for centuries, been enough to guarantee succession, but under the new "tetrarchal" system instituted by Diocletian it carried less weight. By 308 there were so many claimants (Maxentius, Maximianus, Galerius, Maximinus II, and Constantine) that Diocletian was asked to come out of retirement to preside over the Conference at Carnuntum which was to decide who would rule where and with which title. When the decisions were made, Maxentius (who had not been not invited) was left out of approved power and, in fact, was declared a "public enemy," although he still had actual power in the city of Rome. (Maxentius survived until the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, October 28, 312 --a very important date in the history of Christianity--when he was defeated and killed in battle against the army of Constantine.)

After the Carnuntum conference of 308 Maxentius needed to hang on to the support he had and drum up more. Propaganda was promulgated. To support his claim to legitimacy one approach was to publicize his relations with recognized rulers. The words Adfini, Cognat, Patri, and Socero all indicate types of relatives. The first two of those words are on coins struck commemorating Constantius and the other two on coins commemorating Maximian and Galerius, respectively.  


The Four Words and their Types.

ADFINI  (for Constantius)

Divus Constantius, d. 306. Type struck by Maxentius, c. 310.
24-23 mm.
IMP MAXENTIVS DIVO CONSTANTIO ADFINI (3:30-5:00)
ADFINI = a relative by marriage

Constantius I had been Caesar from 293 to 305 under the Augustus Maximianus. In a dynastic marriage, Constantine, son of Constantius, married Fausta, the daughter of Maximianus and sister of Maxentius. That made Maxentius a relative of Constantius. Maxentius claimed a relationship to a legitimate emperor by issuing commemorative coins for Constantius. 

Reverse: AETERNA-MEMORIA
six-columed domed temple with doors ajar, eagle on top.
The following coins have the same reverse legend and type.
This coin, mint of Ostia:  MOSTS, RIC Ostia 29

 


COGNAT  (also for Constantius)

Divus Constantius, d. 306. Type struck by Maxentius, c. 310.
24-23 mm.
This coin is very similar to the previous coin, but uses a different term to describe the relationship of Maxentius to Constantius. 

IMP MAXENTIVS DIVO CONSTANTIO COGN  (4:00-5:00)
COGN = cognat = a kinsman


This time temple shows only four columns.

This coin, mint of Rome:  RET, RIC Rome 245
 


PATRI  (for Maximianus)

Divus Maximianus, d. 310. Struck by Maxentius, c. 310.
23 mm.
IMP MAXENTIVS DIVO MAXIMIANO PATRI  (3:30-5:00)
PATRI = father
Maximianus was the father of Maxentius. He had been Augustus for twenty years when forced into retirement upon Diocletian's retirement in 305. After a short retirement and two aborted comebacks, he was forced to commit suicide by Constantine in 310. 

Maxentius had obvious reason to claim his relationship to his father who had been Augustus for over twenty years.

This coin, mint of Ostia, MOSTT, RIC Ostia 26

 


SOCERO  (for Galerius)

Divus Galerius, d. May 311. Struck by Maxentius in 311.
25 mm. 
IMP MAXENTIVS DIVO MAXIMIANO SOCERO  (3:00-5:00)
SOCERO = father-in-law
This legend for Galerius (whose name included "Galerius Maximianus") is very much like the legend for Maximian, but the portraits are distinguishable and here the relation PATRI is replaced by SOCERO.
Maxentius, son of Maximian, was married to a daughter of Galerius in another dynastic marriage, making Galerius the father-in-law of Maxentius. When Galerius died, it was appropriate to include him in this commemorative series. It was one more connection to the legitimate emperors. 

This coin, mint of Rome, REQ, RIC Rome 248


 

Maxentius also issed DIVO commemoratives for his son Romulus who died young in 309, but those commemoratives are not from this series and did not support his claim to the throne the way the four progaganda pieces above did. 

Note for collectors:  All of these types are rare. Furthermore, when they are offered they are seldom in excellent condition. Finding all four will take years; finding them all in excellent condition might take a very long time indeed.

 


Reference:

RIC VI pages 27ff, 381ff, and 403ff.  
        [Many collectors use RIC solely to provide identification numbers, but it has far more interesting information than just that, including lots of history and chronology with relevant coin evidence.] 


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