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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Roman Coins ▸ The Severan Period ▸ Severus AlexanderView Options:  |  |  |   

Severus Alexander, 13 March 222 - March 235 A.D.

Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander was promoted from Caesar to Augustus after the murder of his cousin, Elagabalus. His reign was marked by great economic prosperity, and he enjoyed great success against the barbarian tribes. His mother Julia Mamaea was the real power in the empire, controlling her son's policies and even his personal life with great authority. Severus had an oratory where he prayed under the edict, written on the wall, "Do not unto others what you would not have done to yourself" and the images of various prophets including Mithras, Zoroaster, Abraham, and Jesus. Mutinous soldiers led by Maximinus I murdered both Severus Alexander and his mother.


Severus Alexander, 13 March 222 - March 235 A.D.

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Victoria or Nike, the Winged Goddess of Victory, personifies victory. She was described variously in different myths as the daughter of the Titan Pallas and the goddess Styx, and the sister of Kratos (Strength), Bia (Force), and Zelus (Zeal). Nike and her siblings were close companions of Zeus. According to classical (later) myth, Styx brought them to Zeus when the god was assembling allies for the Titan War. Nike assumed the role of the divine charioteer, a role in which she often is portrayed in Classical Greek art. Nike flew around battlefields rewarding the victors with glory and fame, symbolized by a wreath of laurel leaves.
RS87304. Silver denarius, RIC IV 212, RSC III 556, BMCRE VI 700, SRCV II 7928, Hunter III -, Choice EF, excellent centering, handsome portrait, attractive toning, small edge cracks, weight 3.303 g, maximum diameter 19.6 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 228 - 231 A.D.; obverse IMP SEV ALEXAND AVG, laureate head right; reverse VICTORIA AVG (the victory of the Emperor), Victory standing half-left, wreath in right hand, transverse palm in right; ex Ancient Delights; $190.00 (€161.50)
 


Severus Alexander, 13 March 222 - March 235 A.D., Parium, Mysia

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An excellent gift for a veterinarian! The 18th-century French numismatist Belley, cited in BMC Mysia p. 105, suggested that the SVB in the reverse legend should be expanded to "subvenienti," giving the meaning "To Aesculapius, the god who helps." This extraordinary depiction of Aesculapius is the only ancient coin reverse type referring to veterinary medicine.
RP85231. Bronze AE 22, RPC Online VI temp 3871 (unpublished in refs, 4 spec. listed from auctions); SNGvA -, SNG Cop -, SNG BnF -, SNG Çanakkale -, BMC Mysia -, aVF, centered on a tight flan, marks, scratches, corrosion, weight 6.228 g, maximum diameter 21.8 mm, die axis 45o, Parium (Kemer, Canakkale, Turkey) mint, 13 Mar 222 - Mar 235 A.D.; obverse IMP CAEƧ L ƧEP ƧEV ALEXANDER, laureate and cuirassed bust, right from the front, wearing cuirass with Gorgoneion; reverse DEO AE ƧVB (Deo Aesculapius subvenienti - to Aesculapius, the god who helps), Asclepius seated right on throne, treating an injured bull standing left before him, with his right hand holding the bull's raised right foreleg, C G H I P (Colonia Gemella Iulia Hadriana Pariana) in exergue; rare; $170.00 (€144.50)
 


Severus Alexander, 13 March 222 - March 235 A.D., Parium, Mysia

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An excellent gift for a veterinarian! The 18th-century French numismatist Belley, cited in BMC Mysia p. 105, suggested that the SVB in the reverse legend should be expanded to "subvenienti," giving the meaning "To Aesculapius, the god who helps." This extraordinary depiction of Aesculapius is the only ancient coin reverse type referring to veterinary medicine.
RP85257. Bronze AE 21, RPC Online VI temp 3871 (unpublished in refs, 4 spec. listed from auctions); SNGvA -, SNG Cop -, SNG BnF -, SNG Hunt -, BMC Mysia -, Lindgren -, aVF, corrosion, marks, tight flan, weight 4.968 g, maximum diameter 21.2 mm, die axis 225o, Parium (Kemer, Canakkale, Turkey) mint, 13 Mar 222 - Mar 235 A.D.; obverse IMP CAEƧ L ƧEP ƧEV ALEXANDER, laureate and cuirassed bust, right from the front, wearing cuirass with Gorgoneion; reverse DEO AE ƧVB (Deo Aesculapius subvenienti - to Aesculapius, the god who helps), Asclepius seated right on throne, treating an injured bull standing left before him, with his right hand holding the bull's raised right foreleg, C G H I P (Colonia Gemella Iulia Hadriana Pariana) in exergue; rare; $160.00 (€136.00)
 


Severus Alexander, 13 March 222 - March 235 A.D., Parium, Mysia

Click for a larger photo
An excellent gift for a veterinarian! The 18th-century French numismatist Belley, cited in BMC Mysia p. 105, suggested that the SVB in the reverse legend should be expanded to "subvenienti," giving the meaning "To Aesculapius, the god who helps." This extraordinary depiction of Aesculapius is the only ancient coin reverse type referring to veterinary medicine.
RP85260. Bronze AE 22, RPC Online VI temp 3871 (4 spec.); SNGvA -, SNG Cop -, SNG BnF -, SNG Çanakkale -, SNG Hunt -, BMC Mysia -, aVF/F, corrosion, weight 6.926 g, maximum diameter 22.2 mm, die axis 45o, Parium (Kemer, Canakkale, Turkey) mint, 13 Mar 222 - Mar 235 A.D.; obverse IMP CAEƧ L ƧEP ƧEV ALEXANDER, laureate and cuirassed bust, right from the front, wearing cuirass with Gorgoneion; reverse DEO AE ƧVB (Deo Aesculapius subvenienti - to Aesculapius, the god who helps), Asclepius seated right on throne, treating an injured bull standing left before him, with his right hand holding the bull's raised right foreleg, C G H I P (Colonia Gemella Iulia Hadriana Pariana) in exergue; rare; $160.00 (€136.00)
 


Severus Alexander, 13 March 222 - March 235 A.D.

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RS86634. Silver denarius, RIC IV 123, RSC III 448, BMCRE VI 950, Hunter III 68, SRCV II 7916, Choice EF, excellent portrait, attractive Sol, well centered and stuck, attractive toning, some very light marks and scratches, weight 2.377 g, maximum diameter 20.1 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 234 A.D.; obverse IMP ALEXANDER PIVS AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse P M TR P XIII COS III P P, Sol advancing left, radiate, nude but for chlamys over shoulders and left arm and flying behind, raising right hand commanding the sun to rise, whip in left hand; $160.00 (€136.00)
 


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This coin is dedicated to the goddess Fides for her good quality of preserving the public peace by keeping the army true to its allegiance. Perhaps it worked for a little while but in 235, according to Aelius Lampridius: "In an open tent after his lunch, Alexander was consulting with his insubordinate troops. They compared him to Elagabalus, a divisive and unpopular Emperor whose own assassination paved the way for Alexander's reign. A German servant entered the tent and initiated the call for the Emperor’s assassination, an attack in which many of the troops joined. Alexander's attendants fought against the other troops but could not hold off the combined might of those seeking the Emperor's assassination. Within minutes, Alexander was dead.
RS87265. Silver denarius, RIC IV 193a, RSC III 51, BMCRE VI 684, SRCV II 7863, Hunter III -, Choice EF, well centered and struck on a broad flan, small edge crack, weight 2.752 g, maximum diameter 20.2 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 228 - 231 A.D.; obverse IMP SEV ALEXAND AVG, laureate head right; reverse FIDES MILITVM (the loyalty of the soldiers), Fides seated left on throne without back, standard on each side, one in each hand; $140.00 (€119.00)
 


Severus Alexander, 13 March 222 - March 235 A.D., Raphanea, Seleukis Pieria, Syria

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Josephus mentions Raphanea in connection with a stream that flowed only every seventh day (probably an intermittent spring now called Fuwar ed-Deir) and that was viewed by Titus on his way north from Berytus after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70. Near Emesa, Raphanea was the fortified headquarters of the Legio III Gallica from which in 218 A.D. 14-year-old Elagabalus launched his successful bid of to become Roman Emperor. The crusaders passed through it at the end of 1099; it was taken by Baldwin I and was given to the Count of Tripoli. It was then known as Rafania.
RY86732. Bronze AE 23, BMC Galatia p. 267, 4; Lindgren I 1210 var. (star in ex.); SNG Cop -; SNG München -, F, dark patina with red earthen highlighting, centered on a tight flan, corrosion, porosity, legend not fully struck, weight 9.155 g, maximum diameter 22.9 mm, die axis 0o, Raphanea (Rafniye, Syria) mint, as caesar, c. Summer 221 - 13 Mar 222 A.D.; obverse M AYP AΛEΞAN∆POC, bare headed, draped and cuirassed bust right; reverse PEΦ-A-NE-ΩN, turreted Genius standing half left, chest bare, himation around hips and legs and over left shoulder, patera in right hand, cornucopia in left hand, humped bull standing left at feet on left, eagles flanking left and right; ex Classical Numismatic Group, ex J.S. Wagner Collection; very rare; $130.00 (€110.50)
 


Severus Alexander, 13 March 222 - March 235 A.D., Pella, Macedonia

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Pella was founded in 399 B.C. by King Archelaus (413 - 399 B.C.) as his capital. It was the seat of Philip II and of his son, Alexander the Great. In 168 B.C., it was sacked by the Romans, and its treasury transported to Rome. Later the city was destroyed by an earthquake. By 180 A.D., Lucian could describe it in passing as "now insignificant, with very few inhabitants."
RB79934. Bronze AE 24, Varbanov III 3735 (R4), SNG ANS 633, Moushmov 6479, SNG Cop -, F, superb portrait, attractive green patina, tight flan, weight 11.112 g, maximum diameter 24.2 mm, die axis 0o, Pella mint, 13 Mar 222 - Mar 235 A.D.; obverse IMP C M AVR SEV ALEXANDER AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse COL IVL AVG PELLA, city-goddess seated left, kalathos on head, right hand raised to shoulder; $125.00 (€106.25)
 


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"Mars the Pacifier" may be seen as ironic today, but the Romans knew that victory in war (hopefully including the total destruction of your enemy) is an effective way to achieve peace.
RS87264. Silver denarius, RIC IV 23, RSC III 231, SRCV II 7895, VF, well centered, edge cracks, weight 2.792 g, maximum diameter 20.4 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 223 A.D.; obverse IMP C M AVR SEV ALEXAND AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse P M TR P II COS P P (high priest, holder of Tribunitian power for two years, consul, father of the country), Mars the Pacifier standing left, olive branch in extended right hand, reversed spear in left hand; $120.00 (€102.00)
 


Severus Alexander, 13 March 222 - March 235 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).
RP79963. Bronze AE 22, Varbanov III 3298; SNG Cop 118; BMC Macedonia p. 59, 133; SNG ANS 205 corr. (obv. leg.); AMNG III 88 var. (Tyche wears kalathos, holds scepter), VF, well centered, nice green patina, weight 5.546 g, maximum diameter 21.6 mm, die axis 0o, Amphipolis mint, 13 Mar 222 - Mar 235 A.D.; obverse AV K M AVP CEV AΛEΞAN∆POC, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse AMΦIΠOΛEITΩN, turreted city goddess enthroned left, patera in extended right hand, fish left in exergue; $110.00 (€93.50)
 




  



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OBVERSE LEGENDS

DIVOALEXANDRO
MAVRALEXANDERCAES
MAVRELALEXANDERCAES
IMPALEXANDERPIVSAVG
IMPCAEMARAVSEVALX
IMPCAESMAVRSEVALEXANDAVG
IMPCAESMAVRSEVALEXANDERAVG
IMPCAESMAVRELALEXANDERPIVSFELAVG
IMPCAESMAVRELALEXANDERPIVSFELIXAVG
IMPCMAVRSEVALEXANDAVG
IMPCMAVRSEVALEXANDERAVG
IMPMARCOAVRSEVALAV
IMPSEVALEXANDAVG
IMPSEVALEXANDERAVG


REFERENCES

Banti, A. & L. Simonetti. Corpus Nummorum Romanorum. (Florence, 1972-1979).
Calicó, E. The Roman Avrei, Vol. II: From Didius Julianus to Constantius I, 193 AD - 335 AD. (Barcelona, 2003).
Cayón, 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 frappées 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).
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 Sunday, July 22, 2018.
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Roman Coins of Severus Alexander