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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Roman Coins| ▸ |The Severan Period| ▸ |Severus Alexander||View 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., Nicomedia, Bithynia

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Nicomedia (Izmit, Turkey today) city of Bithynia on the Black Sea in Anatolia. It is described by ancient writers as a place of superior size and magnificence, ranking next to Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch in the splendor and beauty of its buildings; and was one which Diocletian studied to make the equal of Rome itself.
RP89882. Bronze assarion, RPC VI T3370 (same dies), SNGvA 7114, SNG Cop 576, Rec Gén 326, BMC Pontus -, F/VF, a little rough, tight flan, weight 3.704 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 225o, Nicomedia (Izmit, Turkey) mint, obverse M AVP CE AΛEΞAN∆POC AVΓ, laureate head right; reverse NIKO/MH-∆-E/Ω-N / TRPIC NEΩ/K (MH ligate), octastyle temple, pellet on pediment; $80.00 (€70.40)
 


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Mars was the god of war and also an agricultural guardian. He was the father of Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome. In early Rome, he was second in importance only to Jupiter, and the most prominent of the military gods in the religion of the Roman army. Most of his festivals were held in March, the month named for him (Latin Martius), and in October, which began and ended the season for military campaigning and farming.
RS92935. Silver denarius, RIC IV 37, BMCRE VI 163, RSC III 251, cf. SRCV II 7890 (TR P COS, 222 A.D.), Hunter III -, EF, mint luster, flow lines, nice portrait, well centered, part of edge ragged, flan cracks, weight 2.643 g, maximum diameter 20.6 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 224 A.D.; obverse IMP C M AVR SEV ALEXAND AVG, laureate and draped bust right, seen from behind; reverse P M TR P III COS P P, Mars standing half left, wearing crested helmet and military garb, olive branch in right hand, inverted spear in left hand; ex Quadriga Ancients (2002); $100.00 (€88.00)
 


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

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Thyateira (also Thyatira) is the ancient name of the modern Turkish city of Akhisar ("white castle"). It lies in the far west of Turkey, south of Istanbul and almost due east of Athens. It is about 50 miles (80 km) from the Aegean Sea.
RP92867. Bronze AE 24, BMC Lydia p. 316, 128; RPC VI online T4384; SNG München 675; SNG Cop 624; SNGvA -, F, green patina, earthen encrustations, porous, weight 6.605 g, maximum diameter 24.2 mm, die axis 180o, Thyatira (Akhisar, Turkey) mint, 13 Mar 222 - Mar 235 A.D.; obverse AYT K CE - AΛEΞAN∆POC, laureate head right; reverse ΘYATEIPH,NΩN (last three letters in exergue), she wolf right suckling twins Romulus and Remus; rare; $70.00 (€61.60)
 


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Sol Invictus ("Unconquered Sun") was the sun god of the later Roman Empire and a patron of soldiers. In 274 the Roman emperor Aurelian made it an official cult alongside the traditional Roman cults. The god was favored by emperors after Aurelian and appeared on their coins until Constantine. The last inscription referring to Sol Invictus dates to 387 and there were enough devotees in the 5th century that Augustine found it necessary to preach against them. The date 25 December was selected for Christmas to replace the popular Roman festival Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, the "Birthday of the Unconquered Sun."
RB91022. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC IV 538d, BMCRE VI 593, Hunter III 154, SRCV II 8004, Cohen IV 449 var. (bust), VF, well centered, green and red patina, earthen deposits, light marks, flow lines, weight 18.944 g, maximum diameter 30.3 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 234 A.D.; obverse IMP ALEXANDER PIVS AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from the front; reverse P M TR P XIII COS III P P, Sol advancing left, radiate, nude but for chlamys over shoulders and left arm, raising right hand commanding the sun to rise, whip in left hand, S - C across field below center; from a New England dealer, ex Eric J. Engstrom Collection; $100.00 (€88.00)
 


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In 228 A.D., Shah Ardashir I, four years after establishing the Sassanian Persian Empire, completed his conquest of Parthia.
RB91375. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC IV 626, Cohen IV 591, BMCRE VI 524, SRCV II 8023, Hunter III -, aF, green patina, tight irregularly shaped flan, rough with bumps and corrosion, weight 14.333 g, maximum diameter 30.1 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 228 A.D.; obverse IMP SEV ALEXANDER AVG, laureate bust right with slight draper on far shoulder; reverse VIRTVS AVGVSTI (to the valor of the Emperor), Severus Alexander as Romulus advancing right, transverse spear in right hand, trophy of captured arms over left shoulder in left hand; $45.00 (€39.60)
 


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Mars was the god of war and also an agricultural guardian. He was the father of Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome. In early Rome, he was second in importance only to Jupiter, and the most prominent of the military gods in the religion of the Roman army. Most of his festivals were held in March, the month named for him (Latin Martius), and in October, which began and ended the season for military campaigning and farming.
RS91592. Silver denarius, RSC III 208a, BMCRE VI 27, Hunter III 5, RIC IV 7, cf. SRCV 7890 (Antioch, star rev. field), gVF, attractive old collection toning, flow lines, off center, light marks, edge cracks, weight 2.499 g, maximum diameter 21.0 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, Mar 222 A.D.; obverse IMP C M AVR SEV ALEXAND AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse P M TR P COS P P, Mars standing facing, head left, olive branch in extended right hand, reversed spear in left hand; from the Maxwell Hunt Collection; $120.00 (€105.60)
 


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Justitia is the Roman goddess or personification of justice. She was not depicted on many Roman coin types. Perhaps this coin would make a nice gift for a lawyer or judge!
RB91594. Orichalcum sestertius, BMCRE VI 613, Hunter III 127, RIC IV 563b (S), Cohen IV 106 var. (cuirassed), SRCV II 7971 var. (no drapery), F, well centered, a little porous, a little rough, weight 20.838 g, maximum diameter 35.6 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 230 A.D.; obverse IMP SEV ALEXANDER AVG, laureate head right; reverse IVSTITIA AVGVSTI, Justitia seated left, patera in right hand, scepter in left hand, S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; from the Maxwell Hunt Collection; scarce; $45.00 (€39.60)
 


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Annona was the goddess of harvest and her main attribute is grain. When Severus Alexander was away on his Persian and German campaigns (231-235) he continuously struck Annona types to indicate his care for the grain supply despite his distance from Rome.
RB91830. Orichalcum sestertius, BMCRE VI 766, SRCV II 8000, RIC IV 520, Cohen IV 424, Hunter III -, F, dark fields with high points of types and legends rubbed brighter (old collection toning), attractive portrait for the grade, weight 14.649 g, maximum diameter 29.8 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 231 A.D.; obverse IMP ALEXANDER PIVS AVG, laureate bust right, slight drapery on left shoulder; reverse P M TR P X COS III P P (Pontifex Maximus, Tribunicia Potestate X, Consul III, Pater Patri), Annona standing slightly left, head left, two stalks of grain in right hand held over Modius at feet, anchor in left hand, S - C (senatus consulto) divided low across field; $55.00 (€48.40)
 


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

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In 231, Severus Alexander accompanied his mother Julia Mamaea to Syria and campaigned against the Persians. Military command rested in the hands of his generals, but his presence gave additional weight to the empire's policy. The Romans were defeated and withdrew to Syria. After heavy losses on both sides, a truce was signed accepting the status quo. In 233, Alexander celebrated a triumph in Rome to commemorate his "victory."
RB89054. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC IV 635, BMCRE VI 843, Cohen IV 163, Hunter III 163, SRCV II 7979, VF, dark patina, centered on an oval flan, small edge cracks, slight double strike, weight 20.911 g, maximum diameter 33.6 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 231 - 235 A.D.; obverse IMP ALEXANDER PIVS AVG, laureate,draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse MARS VLTOR (Mars the avenger), Mars advancing right in military garb, spear transverse in right hand, shield in left hand, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field; ex John Jencek; $180.00 (€158.40)
 


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In 227, Ardashir invaded Parthia and established the Sassanid Dynasty, which claimed direct descent from Xerxes and Darius. The Eastern power grew stronger and the threat to the Romans immense.
SL89802. Silver denarius, RIC IV 70 (S), RSC III 325, BMCRE VI 433, Hunter III 41, SRCV II -, NGC Ch AU, strike 5/5, surface 4/5 (4094546-001), weight 3.34 g, maximum diameter 17.7 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 227 A.D.; obverse IMP C M AVR SEV ALEXAND AVG, laureate and draped bust right; reverse P M TR P VI COS II P P, Emperor standing left, sacrificing from patera in right hand over a flaming tripod altar, scroll in left; from the Martineit Collection of Ancient and World Coins; scarce; $200.00 (€176.00)
 




  






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).
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 Sunday, October 20, 2019.
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Roman Coins of Severus Alexander