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

Caracalla, 28 January 198 - 8 April 217 A.D.

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, better known as Caracalla, was the son of Septimius Severus and Julia Domna, born in 188 A.D. He was named Caesar in 196 and Augustus in 198. Shortly before his death, Severus advised his sons, "Agree with each other, give money to the soldiers and scorn all other men." But the brothers hated each other and soon Caracalla had Geta murdered and massacred thousands suspected of supporting him. Although a capable military commander, the actual running of the government was left to his mother. He gradually slipped more and more into paranoia and delusions of grandeur before being murdered on his way to an Eastern campaign aimed at fulfilling his belief that he was the reincarnation of Alexander the Great.


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In 212 A.D. construction began on the Baths of Caracalla in Rome. These were the second largest Roman public baths, or thermae. Completed in 217 A.D. They would have had to install over 2,000 tons of material every day for six years in order to complete it in this time. Records show that the idea for the baths were drawn up by Septimius Severus, and merely completed or opened in the lifetime of Caracalla. This would allow for a longer construction time-frame. They are today a tourist attraction.
RS88434. Silver denarius, RIC IV 227, RSC III 529, BMCRE V 99, Hunter III 20, SRCV II 6879, Choice VF, excellent portrait, full borders on a broad flan, flow lines, toned, small edge splits, weight 3.641 g, maximum diameter 20.3 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 210 - 213; obverse ANTONINVS PIVS AVG BRIT, laureate head right; reverse PROVIDENTIAE DEORVM (providence of the Gods), Providentia standing half left, wand in right over globe at feet, long scepter vertical in left; ex Harlan J Berk, ex Seaby with round tag handwritten by David Sear c. 1966; $120.00 (105.60)


Caracalla, 28 January 198 - 8 April 217 A.D., Hadrianopolis, Thrace

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The figure on the reverse is sometimes identified as Eros (Cupid) or a generic winged Genius. The inverted torch represents a life extinguished, indicating the figure is Thanatos (death). By the Severan Era, there was increased hope for an afterlife in pleasant Elysium rather than in dismal Hades. Thanatos was associated more with a gentle passing than a woeful demise. Thanatos as a winged boy, very much akin to Cupid, with crossed legs and an inverted torch, became the most common symbol for death, depicted on many Roman sarcophagi.
RP89895. Bronze AE 20, Jurukova Hadrianopolis 390 (V199/R379), Varbanov II 3526 (R4), SNG Cop 571, BMC Thrace -, VF, brown tone, attractive style, slightly ragged flan with small edge splits, weight 3.986 g, maximum diameter 19.6 mm, die axis 30o, Hadrianopolis (Edirne, Turkey) mint, obverse AVT K M AVP C EV - ANTΩNEINOC, laureate head right; reverse A∆PIANOΠOΛEITΩN, Thanatos standing right, winged, legs crossed, leaning on inverted extinguished torch; $120.00 (105.60)


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Libertas (Latin for Liberty) was the Roman goddess and embodiment of liberty. The pileus liberatis was a soft felt cap worn by liberated slaves of Troy and Asia Minor. In late Republican Rome, the pileus was symbolically given to slaves upon manumission, granting them not only their personal liberty, but also freedom as citizens with the right to vote (if male). Following the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 B.C., Brutus and his co-conspirators used the pileus to signify the end of Caesar's dictatorship and a return to a Republican system of government. The pileus was adopted as a popular symbol of freedom during the French Revolution and was also depicted on some early U.S. coins.
RS89491. Silver denarius, RIC IV 161, RSC III 143, BMCRE V 511, SRCV III 6817, Hunter III -, VF, excellent portrait, well centered on a tight flan, frosty surfaces, edge cracks, weight 2.981 g, maximum diameter 19.9 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 208 - 210 A.D.; obverse ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse LIBERTAS AVG, Libertas standing half left, head left, pileus in right hand, long rod vertical behind in left hand; ex Numismatik Naumann auction 73, part of lot 970; $110.00 (96.80)


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Salus was the Roman goddess of health. She was Hygieia to the Greeks, who believed her to be the daughter of Aesculapius, the god of medicine and healing, and Epione, the goddess of soothing of pain. Her father Asclepius learned the secrets of keeping death at bay after observing one snake bringing another snake healing herbs. Woman seeking fertility, the sick, and the injured slept in his temples in chambers where non-poisonous snakes were left to crawl on the floor and provide healing.
RS89492. Silver denarius, RIC IV 82; RSC III 422; BMCRE V p. 251, 484; Hunter III 28; SRCV II 6860, Choice VF, excellent portrait, full borders centering, high points flatly struck, edge cracks, weight 3.287 g, maximum diameter 19.2 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 205 A.D.; obverse ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse PONTIF TR P VIII COS II (priest, holder of Tribunitian power for 8 years, consul for the 2nd time), Salus seated left, feeding snake coiled around altar, left arm resting on side of throne; ex Numismatik Naumann auction 73, part of lot 970; $110.00 (96.80)


Caracalla, 28 January 198 - 8 April 217 A.D., Thessalonica, Macedonia

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Thessalonica was founded around 315 B.C. by Cassander, King of Macedonia, on or near the site of the ancient town of Therma. He named it after his wife Thessalonike, a daughter of Philip II and a half-sister of Alexander the Great. In 168 B.C. it became the capital of the Macedonia Secunda and in 146 B.C. it was made the capital of the whole Roman province of Macedonia. Due to its port and location at the intersection of two major Roman roads, Thessalonica grew to become the most important city in Macedonia. Thessalonica was important in the spread of Christianity; the First Epistle to the Thessalonians written by Paul the Apostle is the first written book of the New Testament.
RP83478. Bronze AE 24, Touratsoglou 158 (V25/R55), McClean 3793, Varbanov 4416 (R6), Moushmov 6753, SNG Cop -, SNG ANS -, BMC Macedonia -, F, green patina, a few minor scratches, edge bump, weight 6.654 g, maximum diameter 23.8 mm, die axis 90o, Thessalonika (Salonika, Greece) mint, obverse AV K M AVP ANTΩNINOC, laureate head right; reverse ΘECCAΛONKEΩN, Nike standing right, left foot on helmet, shield held with both hands and resting on left knee; $80.00 (70.40)


Caracalla, 28 January 198 - 8 April 217 A.D., Amphipolis, Macedonia

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Tyche (Greek for luck; the Roman equivalent was Fortuna) was the presiding tutelary deity that governed the fortune and prosperity of a city, its destiny. Increasingly during the Hellenistic period, cities had their own specific iconic version of Tyche, wearing a mural crown (a crown like the walls of the city).
RP83502. Bronze AE 23, Varbanov III 3277 (R4); BMC Macedonia p. 59, 128; SNG Hunterian 778; SNG Cop 112 var. (obv. leg.); SNG ANS -, VF, green patina, weight 6.845 g, maximum diameter 22.8 mm, die axis 180o, Amphipolis mint, 28 Jan 198 - 8 Apr 217 A.D.; obverse AVT K - ANTΩNOINOC, laureate and draped bust right, from behind; reverse AMΦIΠOΛEITΩN, city goddess enthroned left, wearing turreted crown, patera in extended right hand, left hand at her side; $80.00 (70.40)


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In 195, Lucius Septimius Bassianus (Caracalla), age 7, changed his name to Marcus Aurelius Antoninus to reinforce his connection with the family of Marcus Aurelius and was given the title Caesar. This scarce type is from his first issue as Caesar.
RS87522. Silver denarius, RSC III 562; BMCRE V p. 50, 182; RIC IV 2; SRCV III 6678; Hunter III -, VF, toned, nice boy portrait, radiating flow lines, tight flan cutting off parts of legends, tiny edge cracks, weight 2.891 g, maximum diameter 18.1 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, as caesar, 196 A.D.; obverse M AVR ANTONINVS CAES, boy's bare-headed, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse SECVRITAS PERPETVA (everlasting security), Minerva standing slightly left, helmeted head left, aegis on breast, resting right hand on grounded shield, inverted spear vertical in left; from an American collection; scarce; $70.00 (61.60)


Caracalla, 28 January 198 - 8 April 217 A.D., Heliopolis, Coele Syria

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Heliopolis in Coele-Syria was made a colonia with the rights of the ius Italicum by Septimius Severus in 193. Work on the religious complex at Heliopolis lasted over a century and a half and was never completed. The Temple of Jupiter, the largest religious building in the entire Roman Empire, was dedicated during the reign of Septimius Severus. Today, only six Corinthian columns remain standing. Eight more were shipped to Constantinople under Justinian's orders c. 532 - 537, for his basilica of Hagia Sophia.
RY84823. Bronze AE 19, Sawaya 217 ff. (D43/R?), Lindgren III 1279, SNG Cop -, SNG Righetti -, BMC Galatia -, F, highlighting chalky deposits, centered on a tight flan, light corrosion, weight 5.631 g, maximum diameter 18.9 mm, die axis 0o, Heliopolis (Baalbek, Lebanon) mint, c. 198 A.D.; obverse ANT - AVC (starting upper right), bareheaded, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse COL / HEL in two lines between two legionary eagles, all within laurel wreath; rare; $48.00 (42.24)




  



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OBVERSE LEGENDS

ANTONINVSAVGVSTV
ANTONINVSAVGVSTVS
ANTONINVSPIVSAVG
ANTONINVSPIVSAVGBRIT
ANTONINVSPIVSAVGGERM
ANTONINVSPIVSFELAVG (ALSO USED BY ELAGABALUS)
DIVOANTONINOMAGNO
IMPCAEMAVRANTAVGPTRP
IMPCAESMAVRELANTONINVSAVG
IMPANTONINETGETACAESAVGFIL
IMPCMAVRANTONAVGPTRP
IMPCMAVRANTONINVSAVG
IMPCMAVRANTONAVGPTRP
IMPCMAVRANTONINVSAVG
IMPCMAVRANTONINVSPONTAVG
IMPMAVRANTONINVSPIVSAVGPMTRPXIII
MAVRANTCAESPONTIF
MAVRANTONCAESPONTIF
MAVRANTONINVSCAES
MAVRELANTONINVSPIVSAVG
MAVRELANTONINVSPIVSAVGBRIT
MAVRELANTONINVSPIVSAVGGERM


REFERENCES

Banti, A. & L. Simonetti. Corpus Nummorum Romanorum. (Florence, 1972-1979).
Calic, E. The Roman Avrei, Vol. II: From Didius Julianus to Constantius I, 193 AD - 335 AD. (Barcelona, 2003).
Cayn, J. Los Sestercios del Imperio Romano, Vol. III: De Marco Aurelio a Caracalla (Del 161 d.C. al 217 d.C.). (Madrid, 1984).
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappes sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. 4: Septimius Severus to Maximinus Thrax. (Paris, 1884).
Mattingly, H., E. Sydenham & C. Sutherland. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol. IV: From Pertinax to Uranius Antoninus. (London, 1986).
Mattingly, H. & R. Carson. Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum, Vol. 5: Pertinax to Elagabalus. (London, 1950).
Online Coins of the Roman Empire (OCRE) http://numismatics.org/ocre/
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet, University of Glasgow, Vol. III. Pertinax to Aemilian. (Oxford, 1977).
Seaby, H. & Sear, D. Roman Silver Coins, Vol. III, Pertinax to Balbinus and Pupienus. (London, 1982).
Sear, D. 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, D. Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. (Sidney, 1999).

Catalog current as of Wednesday, June 19, 2019.
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Roman Coins of Caracalla