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

Septimius Severus, 9 April 193 - 4 February 211 A.D.

Septimius Severus, a native of Leptis Magna, Africa was proclaimed emperor by his troops after the murder of Pertinax. He is at the same time credited with strengthening and reviving an empire facing imminent decline and, through the same policies that saved it, causing its eventual fall. Severus eliminated the dangerous praetorians, unified the empire after turmoil and civil war, strengthened the army, defeated Rome's most powerful enemy, and founded a successful dynasty. His pay increases for the army, however, established a severe burden on Rome. Future emperors were expected to increase pay as well. These raises resulted in ever-increasing taxes that damaged the economy. Some historians believe high taxes, initiated by Severus policies, played a significant role in Rome's long-term decline. In 208 A.D., he traveled to Britain to defeat a disastrous barbarian invasion. He died in York in 211 A.D and was succeeded by his sons, Caracalla and Geta.


Septimius Severus, 9 April 193 - 4 February 211 A.D., Nikopolis ad Istrum

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There are peculiarities about these Roman crescent and star reverse types that are difficult to understand. First, the crescents are almost always depicted with the horns up. The moon is never seen this way in the sky. Also, in the sky stars are never visible within the horns of the crescent moon because there they would be behind the shadowed yet solid and opaque orb. The crescent with horns up may represent a solar eclipse.
RP92881. Bronze assarion, H-H-J Nikopolis 8.14.48.37 (R2), Varbanov I 2474 var. (obv. leg.), AMNG I/I 1432, Moushmov 986, gVF, green patina, slightly off center, scratches, spot of corrosion on reverse, weight 2.928 g, maximum diameter 16.6 mm, die axis 180o, Nicopolis ad Istrum (Nikyup, Bulgaria) mint, 9 Apr 193 - 4 Feb 211 A.D.; obverse AY K Λ CEVHPOC, laureate head right; reverse NIKOΠOΛITΩN ΠPOC IC, five stars above and within crescent with horns upward; $80.00 (€70.40)
 


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The first of Herakles' twelve labors, set by his cousin King Eurystheus, was to slay the Nemean lion and bring back its skin. It could not be killed with mortal weapons because its golden fur was impervious to attack. Its claws were sharper than swords and could cut through any armor. Herakles stunned the beast with his club and, using his immense strength, strangled it to death. During the fight, the lion bit off one of his fingers. After slaying the lion, he tried to skin it with a knife from his belt but failed. Wise Athena, noticing the hero's plight, told him to use one of the lion's own claws to skin the pelt.
RS92999. Silver denarius, RIC IV 97; RSC III 212; BMCRE V p. 55, 218; Hunter III 24; SRCV II 6284, VF, nice portrait, toned, well centered on a tight flan, flow lines, reverse die wear, edge cracks, weight 2.805 g, maximum diameter 17.1 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 197 A.D.; obverse L SEPT SEV PERT AVG IMP VIIII, laureate head right; reverse HERCVLI DEFENS, Hercules standing right, naked except for lion skin draped on left shoulder and arm, resting right hand on grounded club, bow in left hand; $90.00 (€79.20)
 


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In ancient Roman religion and mythology, Liber ("the free one" also known as Liber Pater "the free Father") was a god of viticulture and wine, fertility and freedom. He was a patron deity of Rome's plebeians and was part of their Aventine Triad. His festival of Liberalia (March 17) became associated with free speech and the rights attached to coming of age. His cult and functions were increasingly associated with Romanized forms of the Greek Dionysus-Bacchus, whose mythology he came to share.
RS92845. Silver denarius, RIC IV 32 (S); RSC III 301; BMCRE V p. 31, 64; Hunter III 10; SRCV II 6307, aVF, tight flan, flow lines, scratches, edge cracks, weight 2.193 g, maximum diameter 19.0 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 194 A.D.; obverse L SEPT SEV PERT AVG IMP III, laureate head right; reverse LIBERO PATRI, Liber (Bacchus) standing half left, nude but for chlamys over shoulder, pouring wine from oenochoe in right hand for panther at feet on left, thyrsus vertical behind in left hand; scarce; $130.00 (€114.40)
 


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The reverse refers to victory over Niger. To obscure that this was a civil war, it is phrased as victory over Arabs and Adiabenians, who aided Niger's cause. This reverse was minted until 197 A.D. with the additional obverse legends ending in IMP VI (RIC IV 63A), IMP VII (RIC IV 64) and IMP VIII (RIC IV 76).
RS92846. Silver denarius, RIC IV 58; RSC III 48; BMCRE V p. 39, 107; Hunter III -, SRCV II -, VF, attractive portrait, toned, flow lines, tight flan, a few scratches, reverse die wear, weight 2.713 g, maximum diameter 17.2 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 195 A.D.; obverse L SEPT SEV PERT AVG IMP V, laureate head right; reverse ARAB ADIAB COS II P P, Victory walking left, raising wreath in right hand, trophy of arms in left hand; $120.00 (€105.60)
 


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Victory or Nike is seen with wings in most statues and paintings, with one of the most famous being the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Most other winged deities in the Greek pantheon had shed their wings by Classical times. Nike is the goddess of strength, speed, and victory. Nike was a very close acquaintance of Athena and is thought to have stood in Athena's outstretched hand in the statue of Athena located in the Parthenon. Victory or Nike is also one of the most commonly portrayed figures on Greek and Roman coins.
RS92475. Silver denarius, RIC IV 423 (S) var. (...CAE L SEV...); RSC III 696 var. (same), BMCRE V p. 98, W393 var. (same, VICT AVG); SRCV II -; Hunter III -, EF, toned, minor encrustations, die wear, some letters unstruck, edge cracks, weight 3.188 g, maximum diameter 17.5 mm, die axis 0o, Emesa (Homs, Syria) mint, 194 - 195 A.D.; obverse IMP CAE SEP SEV PERT AVG COS II, laureate head right; reverse VICTOR AVG, Victory advancing right holding trophy in both hands; extremely rare, this is the only example of this variety known to FORVM; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $300.00 (€264.00)
 


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Septimius Severus' wife, Julia Domna, was born in Emesa in 170 A.D. She was the youngest daughter of high-priest Julius Bassianus, a descendant of the Royal House of Emesa.
RS93011. Silver denarius, RIC IV 424 (S); BMCRE V p. 98, W395 and pl. 17, 4; RSC III 675a; Hunter III -; SRCV II -, VF, toned, slightly off center but full legends on a broad flan, flow lines, light marks, weight 3.546 g, maximum diameter 20.1 mm, die axis 180o, Emesa (Homs, Syria) mint, 194 A.D.; obverse IMP CAE L SEP SEV PERT AVG COS II, laureate head right; reverse VICT AVG (the victory of the Emperor), Victory walking left, wreath in right hand, palm frond in left hand; from the Jimi Berlin Collection (obtained by trade at Caesarea, Israel, 1972, find spot unknown); $110.00 (€96.80)
 


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In 209, Severus began to subdue the land in the north of Scotland, ravaging it severely. Road-building and forest-clearing, the Roman army reached Aber. Scottish tribes used guerrilla warfare tactics against the Romans.
RS91580. Silver denarius, RIC IV 226; RSC III 525; BMCRE V p. 356, 1; Hunter III 67; SRCV III 6345, Choice gVF, excellent portrait, well centered on a nice round flan, flow lines, old collection toning, weight 3.214 g, maximum diameter 18.3 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 209 A.D.; obverse SEVERVS PIVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse P M TR P XVII COS III P P, Jupiter standing slightly left between two small children (Caracalla and Geta), naked except for cloak on left shoulder, thunderbolt in right hand, scepter in left hand; from the Maxwell Hunt Collection; ex Numismatique Archeologie, M. Platt (Paris); $110.00 (€96.80)
 


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The flattering appellation "the restorer of the city" was doubtless given not for either rebuilding or embellishing Rome, but rather for restoring the honor of the "Eternal City" by avenging the death of Pertinax, securing domestic tranquility to the empire, and reestablishing respect for the Roman name by victories over the Parthians.
RS92473. Silver denarius, RIC IV 167a, BMCRE V 202, RSC III 599; Hunter III 41; SRCV II 6357, VF, old collection toning, nice portrait and choice obverse, flow lines, edge cracks, weight 3.490 g, maximum diameter 19.4 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 201 A.D.; obverse SEVERVS AVG PART MAX, laureate head right; reverse RESTITVTOR VRBIS (the restorer of the city), Severus standing left in military attire, sacrificing over flaming tripod altar from patera in right hand, inverted spear vertical behind in left hand; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $100.00 (€88.00)
 


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The estimated worldwide human population was about 257 million in 200 A.D. According to the United Nations, the worldwide human population reached 7 Billion on October 31, 2011.
RS92474. Silver denarius, RIC IV 144b, RSC III 719, BMCRE V 139, SRCV II 6381, Hunter III 37, Choice VF, old collection toning, nice portrait, well centered, flow lines, light marks, weight 3.329 g, maximum diameter 19.2 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 198 - 200 A.D.; obverse L SEPT SEV AVG IMP XI PART MAX, laureate head right; reverse VICTORIAE AVGG FEL, Victory flying left, holding wreath in both hands over shield set on low base to left; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $80.00 (€70.40)
 


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In 209, Publius Septimius Geta receives the titles of Imperator and Augustus from his father, emperor Septimius Severus.
RS92477. Silver denarius, RIC IV 228, RSC III 529, BMCRE V 3, Hunter III 69, SRCV II 6346, Choice VF, superb portrait, well centered and struck, attractive toning, tiny edge split and crack, weight 3.123 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 209 A.D.; obverse SEVERVS PIVS AVG, laureate head right, bare shoulders, from behind; reverse P M TR P XVII COS III P P, Neptune standing left, nude but for chlamys draped over left shoulder and right forearm, right hand resting on upper right leg, right foot on rock, long trident vertical in left hand; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $140.00 (€123.20)
 




  






OBVERSE| LEGENDS|

DIVOSEPTIMIOSEVEROPIO
DIVOSEVERO
DIVOSEVEROPIO
FELICITASPVBLICA
IMPCLSEPSEVERVSAVG
IMPCLSEPSEVERVSPAV
IMPCLSEPSEVERVSPAVG
IMPCLSEPTISEVERVSPPAVG
IMPCALSESEVERAGCOSII
IMPCALSEPSEVPERAVGCOSII
IMPCALSEPSEVPERTAVGOCS
IMPCAELSEPPERTAVGCOSII
IMPCAELSEPSEVPERAVGCOSII
IMPCAELSEPSEVPERTAVG
IMPCAELSEPSEVPERTAVGCII
IMPCAELSEPSEVPERTAVGCIIC
IMPCAELSEPSEVPERTAVGCOII
IMPCAELSEPSEVPERTAVGCOIII
IMPCAELSEPSEVPERTAVGCOSI
IMPCAELSEPSEVPERTAVGCOSII
IMPCAELSEPSEVPERTAVGII
IMPCAELSEPSEVPERTAVGIIC
IMPCAELSEPSEVPERTAVGIICO
IMPCAELSEPSEVPERTIAVGIIII
IMPCAELSEPTSEVPERTAVG
IMPCAELSEPTSEVPERTAVGNC
IMPCAESLSEPSEVERVSPERTAVG
IMPCAESLSEPTSEVPERTAVG
IMPCAESSEVEPERTINAXAVG
IMPLCAESSEPTSEVPERTAVGTRPVI
IMPPINVICTPIIAVGG
LSEPSEVERVSPERAVGIMIMPXI
LSEPSEVERVSPERAVGIMPXI
LSEPSEVERVSPERAVGPVIMPXIPARPM
LSEPSEVERVSPERAVGPMIMPXI
LSEPSEVERVSPERAVGPMIMPXIPARDN
LSEPTSEVAVGIMPXI
LSEPTSEVAVGIMPXIPARTMAX
LSEPTSEVPERETAVGIMPI
LSEPTSEVPERETAVGIMPII
LSEPTSEVPERTAVGIMP
LSEPTSEVPERTAVGIMPI
LSEPTSEVPERTAVGIMPII
LSEPTSEVPERTAVGIMPIII
LSEPTSEVPERTAVGIMPIIII
LSEPTSEVPERTAVGIMPV
LSEPTSEVPERTAVGIMPVI
LSEPTSEVPERTAVGIMPVII
LSEPTSEVPERTAVGIMPVIII
LSEPTSEVPERTAVGIMPVIIII
LSEPTSEVPERTAVGIMPX
LSEPTSEVPERTEAVGIMP
LSEPTSEVPERTEAVGIMPII
LSEPTSEVPRTEAVGIMPII
LSEPTSEVERPERETIMPI
LSEPTSEVERPERTAVGIMPVIII
LSEPTSEVERVSAVGPARTMAXPMTRPVIIII
LSEPTSEVERVSPERAVGPIVIMPXIPARTMAX
LSEPTSEVERVSPERAVGPMIMPXI
LSEPTSEVERVSPIVSAVG
LSEPTSEVERVSPIVSAVGBRIT
LSEPTIMIVSSEVERVSPERTINAXAVGIMPIIII
LSEPTIMIVSSEVERVSPIVSAVG
SEVERPAVGPMTRPXCOSIII
SEVERPAVGPMTRPXICOSIII
SEVERVSAVGPARTMAX
SEVERVSAVGPARTMAXPMTRPVIII
SEVERVSAVGPARTMAXPMTRPVIIII
SEVERVSPIVSAVG
SEVERVSPIVSAVGBRIT
SEVERVSPIVSAVGPMTRPVIIII
SEVERVSPIVSAVGPMTRPX
SEVERVSPIVSAVGPMTRPXI
SEVERVSPIVSAVGPMTRPXII
SEVERVSPIVSAVGVSTVS


REFERENCES|

Banti, A. & L. Simonetti. Corpus Nummorum Romanorum. (Florence, 1972-1979).
Bickford-Smith, R. "The imperial mints in the east for Septimius Severus: it is time to begin a thorough reconsideration" in RIN XCVI (1994/1995), pp. 53-71.
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).
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 Saturday, October 19, 2019.
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Roman Coins of Septimius Severus