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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.
Also see ERIC - Caracalla
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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. 6: Severus Alexander to Pupienus. (London, 1963).
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CARACALLA, Emperor, was the eldest son of Septimius Severus. His mother was Julia Domna. The surname of Caracalla, by which he is commonly denominated by historians, does not appear on any coins or other public monuments. It was in fact only a nickname (like that of Caligula given to Caius
952 (A.D. 199). Caracalla was this year with his father in the East. The following year he was present at the Parthian campaign with Severus.
The titles of PART. MAX. begin at this date to appear on his coins.
954 (A.D. 201). Returning with his father to Antioch, he assumed the toga virilis, and was nominated consul for the year ensuing. Accordingly in A.D. 202, he proceeded consul, in Syria, Severus himself being his colleague. He accompanied his father into Egypt, and thence returned with him to Rome, where he married Plautilla. - In the same year the title PIVS begins to appear on obverses.
956 (A.D. 203). - The titles of PART. MAX. now cease on his coins. For the occurrences of this and four consecutive years, including the celebration of the Secular Games, 957 (A.D. 204), see biographical notice and coinage of Severus.
691 (A.D. 208). Caracalla, after having this year celebrated his Decennales, set out with his father for the campaign in Britain, where he was also present during the two following years of the war's continuance.
964 (A. D. 211). - In the preceding year he began to be styled BRIT. on his coins. On the death of his father, which took place this year at York, on the 4th of February, Caracalla, after duly sole using the obsequies of Severus, hastened to conclude a peace with the Caledonians. At the same time, he endeavored to induce the army to acknowledge him as sole emperor, to the exclusion of Geta. Failing in that attempt, he feigned amity towards his brother. A pretended reconciliation took place; and Geta and he returned to Rome together with the ashes of their parent. Yet even on their journey homeward, Caracalla indulged in frequent designs on his brother's life, but refrained to put them into execution, partly through fear of the soldiers and partly through the watchful precautions of Geta, who was apprised of his own danger.
965 (A.D. 212). The two brothers entered the city together - together bestowed donatives on the troops, and distributed largesses to the people. But in the midst of negotiations commenced for peaceably dividing the empire between them, Caracalla murdered Geta in the very arms of their mother. The soldiers though at first exasperated by the atrocity of the act were at length appeased by extravagant bribes, and thus enriched with the wealth accumulated during the reign of Severus, they unscrupulously pronounced Geta a public enemy. To the senate he boldly justified his crime and fratricide, on the alleged plea that Geta had been engaged in plots against his life. He then put to death all those who known, or suspected, to have favored the cause of his brother, whose name was from that moment erased from the public monuments. (See a remarkable instance cited in p. 79). Many thousand persons are said to have fallen victims on this occasion to the cupidity and blood thirstiness of the imperial despot: among these were Papinius, prefect of the praetorian guard, and a distinguished lawyer; together with other men, as well as women, of rank.
966 (A. D. 213). Remorse at having committed these dreadful crimes pursued him everywhere; but abandoned to the torrent of his brutal passions, he never ceased to perpetrate cruelties and to inflict oppression. In the vain endeavor to banish the terrors of an evil conscience, he addicted himself still more eagerly than ever to amusements which, measured by the Roman standard of public morals, might under other circumstances have found excuse in the desire to gratify the dissolute and inhuman taste of corrupt people. Chariot racing, combats of gladiators, and hunting of wild animals, at once served to divert the enslaved multitude, and to satiate his own savage nature. On a large brass, the reverse legend of which ( P. M. TR. P. XVI. IMP. II. COS. IIII. P. P. S. C.) shows it to have been minted in this year - the type ( as will be seen by the subjoined cut from a well preserved and genuine specimen), exhibits a grand edifice, composed of arcades, temples walls, and portals, forming the outer enclosure; and a lofty obelisk, metae, and statues, constituting the interior objects of the Circus Maximus, at Rome, as it existed in the beginning of the third century.
On comparing this type with that on the large brass coin of Trajan, it is evidently intended to represent the same magnificent building erected by that great emperor; and to the repairs of, or additions to, which Caracalla probably contributed some portion of those immense sums, he was in the habit of grinding out of the citizens in the shape of taxes, or of seizing as military plunder from the whole world besides. - See CIRCUS MAXIMUS.
4th and lastly. Caracalla, in his 5th tribunate, (the epoch when he perished), was consul for the first time. Therefore every record of the tribunitian power marked by a number exceeding V. can apply only to the son of Severus, etc.
The following are among the rarest and most remarkable reverses: -
GOLD AND SILVER MEDALLIONS.- TR. P. XVIII. COS. IIII. The moon (or Diana) in a car drawn by two bulls. (gold, valued by Mionnet at 400 fr.) - VENVS VICTRIX, holding a victriola and hasta, (gold valued by Mionnet at 400 fr.) - Young beardless head of Caracalla laureated, with reverse of VICTORIA AVGVSTA. (Silver, valued at 200 fr.)
GOLD of common size. - ADVENTVS. Three figures on horseback. - FELICITAS SAECVLI. Severus seated between his two sons. (Valued by Mionnet at 200 fr.) - LAETITIA TEMPORVM. Galley, cars, and animals. - PLAVTILLAE AVGVSTAE. Head of the empress. - TR. P. XIII. COS. IIII. Several figures sacrificing. - TR. P. XVII. COS. IIII. The circus, with chariots. - P. SEPT. GETA CAES. etc. Bare head of Geta. - Obverse. Bust of Caracalla. (a very fine specimen of this rare type, in a high state of preservation, brought £11 at Pembroke sale). - AVGVSTI COS. Severus and Caracalla seated on an estrade, and two figures standing. - CONCORDIAE AETERNAE. Heads of Severus and Julia Domna. - CONCORDIA FELIX. Severus and Plautilla joining hands. - COS. LVDOS. SAECVL. FEC. The four Seasons. - P. M. TR. P. XVIII. etc. Esculapius in a temple; two figures sacrificing at an altar. (Brought £16 16s. at the Thomas sale). - VICTORIAE BRIT. Victory seated on bucklers, with palm and shield. (A very fine specimen brought £16 at Thomas sale).
SILVER. - Head of Plautilla, as in gold. - AETERNIT. IMPERI. Heads of severus and Caracalla. - ARCVS AVGG. Arch of Severus. (See engraving, p. 78). - CONCORDIAE. Heads of Severus and Julia. - DIVO. ANTONINO MAGNO. Consecration medal. - IMP. ET CAESAR. Three figures seated. - LIBERALITAS. Two emperors seated, two figures standing. - Heads of Caracalla and Geta.
BRASS MEDALLIONS. - CONCORDIAE AVG. Caracalla and Geta, each crowned by Victory. (Valued by Mionnet at 200 fr.) - IMP. II. COS. IIII. Emperor in a quadriga. - TR. P. XVI. IMP. II. COS. IIII. Grand circus, in which are an obelisk and chariot races. - SEVERI. AVG. PH. PIL. Sacrificial instruments. (Valued by Mionet at 250 fr.)-TRAIECTVS. Emperor and soldiers crossing a river on a bridge of boats.
FIRST BRASS. -DIVO. ANTONINO MAGNO. Bare head. - Rev. CONSECRATIO. Funeral pile. - COS. LVD. SAEC. FEC. A sacrifice: six figures. - PONTIF. Caracalla and Geta, with three soldiers. - SAECVLARIA SACRA. Several figures sacrificing. - VIRTVS AVGG. The emperor standing near a trophy. - AEQVITATI PVBLICAE. The three Monetae. - Pontiff. etc. Severus and Caracalla. - COS. III.