Valerian was an exception in the sea of emperors of the Third Century. While sometimes called the “Age of the Soldier Emperors,” and featuring many provincial men of obscure background, Valerian was of noble and traditional Roman stock. He came to power in 253, sharing power with his son Gallienus. This coin celebrates both emperors with the double G on the reverse legend (i.e., pluralizing the abbreviation for Augusti). Unlike most emperors who attempted naming their son as co-ruler, Gallienus was of age and able to actively manage one half the empire while his father focused on the other. The empire was fragmented into separatist entities, and threatened with invasions throughout. The most pressing threat was the Sasanid Persian Empire, which was highly sophisticated, and had a stable and centrally controlled government that contrasted with the disorder and division of the Roman Empire. Shapur I moved quickly and aggressively through the east, even sacking Antioch twice, and when Valerian countered by pushing into Persia, he became the only Roman emperor to ever be captured by a foreign enemy. A Sasanid rock carving at Naqsh-i e-Rustam commemorates this momentous event in three languages. Rumors circulated about Valerian’s fate, with some saying he was forced to act as the king’s footstool when Shapur mounted his horse, others claiming he asked the king his price for ransom, to which the king responded by pouring molten gold down Valerian’s throat. Still others held that he was flayed alive, skinned, then stuffed with straw as a trophy. However, some of these stories seem to be embellished by those resentful Valerian's persecution of Christians, and some modern scholars hold that he was merely enslaved. Regardless, his son Gallienus ruled until he was assassinated eight years later. KHK.