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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Roman Coins ▸ The Severan Period ▸ ElagabalusView Options:  |  |  |   

Elagabalus, 16 May 218 - 11 March 222 A.D.

Elagabalus came to power through the scheming of his grandmother Julia Maesa. Elagabalus repeatedly shocked the population with increasingly bizarre behavior including cross dressing and marrying a vestal virgin. Eventually his grandmother replaced him on the throne with Severus Alexander, and Elagabalus and his mother were murdered, dragged through the streets of Rome and dumped into the Tiber.


Elagabalus, 16 May 218 - 11 March 222 A.D., Charachmoba, Arabia

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Coins of Charachmoba (Kerak, Jordan today) were struck only for Elagabalus and are very rare. Kerak has been inhabited since at least the Iron Age. It was an important city for the Moabites. In the Bible it is called Qer Harreseth or Kir of Moab and was subject to the Assyrian empire; in the Books of Kings (16:9) and Book of Amos (1:5, 9:7), it is mentioned as the place where the Syrians went before they settled in the regions north of Palestine, and to which Tiglath-Pileser III sent the prisoners after the conquest of Damascus. It became important in the late Hellenistic Period, and eventually fell under Nabataean rule. Rome took it in 105 A.D., with support from the Arab Ghassanid tribe (who still live in there). Today Karak is best known for the crusader's Kerak Castle.
RP72143. Bronze AE 23, Spijkerman 1; Rosenberger 1; BMC Arabia p. 27, 1; Sofaer p. 157 and pl. 134, 1; Meshorer City-Coins 276 var (retrograde rev leg); SNG ANS -, VF, nice green patina, a few pits, weight 7.750 g, maximum diameter 22.9 mm, die axis 135o, Charachmoba (Kerak, Jordan) mint, 16 May 218 - 11 Mar 222 A.D.; obverse AV K M AV ANTWNINO, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right, from behind, flower (star?) in right field; reverse XAPAX MWBA, Tyche standing facing, head left, wearing kalathos, chiton, and mantle, holding rudder by tiller in right, cornucopia in left; none of the references mention the flower (or star) on the obverse, but it may have originally been present on most specimens; very rare; $550.00 (478.50)


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This type celebrated Elagabalus' victory over Macrinus. Especially in the first year of his reign, Elagabalus was dependent upon the support of the troops to maintain his rule. This reverse type was likely intended not just to increase his own prestige but also to recognize the army for supporting him and congratulate them for their victory too.
RB72368. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC IV 377 (S), BMCRE V 362, Cohen IV 297, Hunter III 96, SRCV II 7582, aF, well centered, nice portrait, lower half of reverse weakly struck, flan crack, corrosion, weight 21.835 g, maximum diameter 29.2 mm, die axis 45o, Rome mint, c. 218 - 219 A.D.; obverse IMP CAESAR AVR ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right; reverse VICTORIA ANTONINI AVG, Victory advancing right, raising wreath in right hand, palm frond in left hand over left shoulder, S C across field below center; ex Robert T. Golan (Warrenton, NC); very scarce; $270.00 (234.90)


Elagabalus, 16 May 218 - 11 March 222 A.D., Philippopolis, Thrace

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Philippopolis today is Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
RP63960. Bronze AE 28, BMC Thrace p. 167, 44; Varbanov III 1712; Moushmov 5404; SNG Cop -, F, nice green patina, weight 13.097 g, maximum diameter 27.5 mm, die axis 225o, Philippopolis (Plovdiv, Bulgaria) mint, obverse AYT K M AYPHΛ MA ANTΩNEINOC CEB, laureate bust of emperor right; reverse MHTPOΠOΛEΩC ΦIΛIΠΠOΠOΛE/ΩC NEΩKO/POY, two wrestlers grappling; USA import restricted type, ex Mark Staal Collection; scarce; $250.00 (217.50)


Elagabalus, 16 May 218 - 11 March 222 A.D., Nikopolis ad Istrum, Moesia Inferior

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Ptolemy Soter integrated Egyptian religion with that of the Hellenic rulers by creating Serapis, a deity that would win the reverence of both groups. This was despite the curses of the Egyptian priests against the gods of previous foreign rulers (i.e Set who was lauded by the Hyksos). Alexander the Great had attempted to use Amun for this purpose, but Amum was more prominent in Upper Egypt, and not as popular in Lower Egypt, where the Greeks had stronger influence. The Greeks had little respect for animal-headed figures, and so an anthropomorphic statue was chosen as the idol, and proclaimed as the equivalent of the highly popular Apis. It was named Aser-hapi (i.e. Osiris-Apis), which became Serapis, and was said to be Osiris in full, rather than just his Ka (life force). Ptolemy's efforts were successful - in time Serapis was held by the Egyptians in the highest reverence above all other deities, and he was adored in Athens and other Greek cities.
RP68722. Bronze assarion, H-H-J Nikopolis 8.26.6.6 (R2, same dies), Varbanov I 3825 (R3, same dies), AMNG I/I 2018, SNG Cop -, EF, centered, green patina with a few coppery high spots, weight 3.726 g, maximum diameter 17.8 mm, die axis 180o, Nicopolis ad Istrum (Nikyup, Bulgaria) mint, obverse AVT M AVPH - ANΩNINO-C, laureate head right; reverse NIKOΠOΛITΩN ΠPOCICTPON, draped bust of Serapis right, wearing kalathos; $195.00 (169.65)


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Providentia is the personification of the ability to foresee and to make provision for the future. This ability was considered essential for the emperor and providentia was among the embodiments of virtues that were part of the imperial cult. Cicero said that providentia, memoria (memory) and intellegentia (understanding) are the three main components of prudentia, the knowledge what is good or bad or neither.
RS69076. Silver denarius, RIC IV 23, RSC III 144, BMCRE V 102, SRCV II 7531, gVF, toned, weight 2.804 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, Jan - Jun 218 A.D.; obverse IMP ANTONINVS AVG, laureate and draped bust right, from behind; reverse PM T R P II COS II P P, Providentia standing facing, head left, legs crossed, leaning with left arm on column, rod in right over globe at feet, cornucopia in left; $180.00 (156.60)


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The star in the field, a symbol of the sun-god, stands for the mint of Rome.
RS68509. Silver denarius, RSC III 154, RIC IV 28, SRCV II 7533, gVF, toned, weight 2.681 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 220 A.D.; obverse IMP ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, laureate draped and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse P M TR P III COS III P P, Sol advancing left, radiate, nude but for chlamys over shoulders, raising right hand commanding the sun to rise, whip in left, star in left field; ex Antioch Associates (San Francisco); $165.00 (143.55)


Elagabalus, 16 May 218 - 11 March 222 A.D., Zeugma, Commagene, Syria

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Butcher notes coins of Elagabalus from Zeugma share obverse dies with his coins from Antioch and were probably struck at the Antioch mint.

Zeugma was founded by Seleucus I Nicator who almost certainly named the city Seleucia after himself. In 64 B.C. the city was conquered by Rome and renamed Zeugma, meaning "bridge of boats." On the Silk Road connecting Antioch to China, Zeugma had a pontoon bridge across the Euphrates, which was the long time border with the Persian Empire. The Legio IV Scythica was camped in Zeugma. The legion and the trade station brought great wealth to Zeugma until, in 256, Zeugma was fully destroyed by the Sassanid king, Shapur I. An earthquake then buried the city beneath rubble. The city never regained its earlier prosperity and, after Arab raids in the 5th and 6th centuries, it was abandoned again.
RY90698. Bronze AE 32, BMC Galatia p. 127, 28; Butcher 29; SNG Cop 31 var (AVT K M AV -..., and slight drapery), F, weight 18.971 g, maximum diameter 32.4 mm, die axis 315o, Antioch(?) mint, obverse AVT KAI MAP AVP - ANTΩNEINOC CE, laureate head right; reverse ZEYΓM−ATEΩN (Z reversed), tetrastyle temple of Zeus(?) with peribolos containing grove of trees, capricorn right in exergue; big 32 mm bronze!; $160.00 (139.20)


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Hilaritas, the personification of rejoicing, is usually depicted as a matron, standing with a cornucopia in her left hand and a long palm frond on the ground in her right. Green branches were a sign of gladness and for special occasions, both public and private, it was the custom in ancient times to ornament streets, temples, gates, houses, and even entire cities, with branches and leaves of trees. This tradition carries on today in the form of wreaths and Christmas trees.
RS73522. Silver denarius, RIC IV 190, RSC III 54, BMCRE V 281, Hunter III 116, SRCV II 7517, VF, exotic eastern style, weight 2.751 g, maximum diameter 18.4 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, c. 218 - 219 A.D.; obverse ANTONINVS PIVS FEL AVG, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse HILARITAS AVG, Hilaritas standing front, looking left, patera in right, long grounded palm frond in left, flanked by two nude children standing at her feet reaching up to her, the child on the right touching the palm frond; $150.00 (130.50)


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The silver content of the Roman denarius fell to 43 percent under emperor Elagabalus, down from 50 percent under Septimius Severus. He emptied the treasury with his excesses while his grandmother, Julia Maesa, ruled the Empire.
RS73531. Silver antoninianus, RSC III 289a, BMCRE V 36, RIC IV 156, cf. SRCV II 7500 (obv legend, no cuirass), Choice gVF, nice portrait, excellent centering, a little porous, weight 5.337 g, maximum diameter 22.7 mm, die axis 45o, Rome mint, 218 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES M AVR ANTONINVS AVG, laureate and draped bust right; reverse VICTOR ANTONINI AVG, Victory walking right, wreath raised in right hand, palm over shoulder in left; $150.00 (130.50)


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In July 221, Elagabalus was forced to divorce his new bride, the Vestal Virgin Aquilia Severa. He then married Annia Faustina, his third wife. After five months he returned to Severa claiming the divorce was invalid. Meanwhile, according to the historian Cassius Dio, Elagabalus had a stable homosexual relationship with his chariot driver, the slave Hierocles.
RS74521. Silver denarius, RIC IV 78, BMCRE V 201, RSC III 44, SRCV III 7514, VF, some marks, light corrosion, weight 3.019 g, maximum diameter 19.0 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 220 - 221 A.D.; obverse IMP ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, laureate and draped bust right, from behind; reverse FIDES MILITVM, aquila (legionary eagle) between two legionary standards, shield at base of each standard; $150.00 (130.50)




  



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OBVERSE LEGENDS

ANTONINVSPIVSAVG
ANTONINVSPIVSFEL
ANTONINVSPIVSFELAVG
ANTONINVSVPIVSFELAVG (ALSO USED BY CARACALLA)
IMPANTONINVSAVG
IMPANTONINVSPIVSAVG
IMPANTONINVSPIVSFELIXAVG
IMPCAESANTONINVSAVG
IMPCAESMAVRANTONINVSAVG
IMPCAESMAVRANTONINVSPIVSAVG


REFERENCES

Banti, A. & L. Simonetti. Corpus Nummorum Romanorum. (Florence, 1972-1979).
Calic, E.X. The Roman Avrei, Vol. I: From the Republic to Pertinax, 196 BC - 193 AD. (Barcelona, 2003).
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappes sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. 4: Septimius Severus to Maximinus Thrax. (Paris, 1884).
Mattingly, H.B., E.A. Sydenham & C.H.V. Sutherland. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol IV, From Pertinax to Uranius Antoninus. (London, 1986).
Mattingly, H. & R.A.G. Carson. Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum, Vol. 5: Pertinax to Elagabalus. (London, 1950).
Mouchmov, N.A. Le Tresor Numismatique De Reka-Devnia (Marcianopolis). (Sofia, 1934).
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet, University of Glasgow, Vol. III. Pertinax to Aemilian. (Oxford, 1977).
Seaby, H.A. & Sear, D.R. Roman Silver Coins, Volume III, Pertinax to Balbinus and Pupienus. (London, 1982).
Sear, D.R. Roman Coins and Their Values, Vol. II: The Accession of Nerva to the Overthrow of the Severan Dynasty AD 96 - AD 235. (London, 2002).
Vagi, David. Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. (Sidney, 1999).

Catalog current as of Tuesday, September 01, 2015.
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Roman Coins of Elagabalus