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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., Heliopolis, Coele-Syria

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The use of perspective is rare on ancient coins!

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.
RY89044. Bronze AE 25, Sawaya series 22, 294 - 295 (D56/R118); Lindgren III 1271 (same dies); SNG Cop 429; BMC Galatia p. 290, 2; Price-Trell 702, VF, green patina, earthen deposits, weight 11.386 g, maximum diameter 25.3 mm, die axis 180o, Heliopolis (Baalbek, Lebanon) mint, emission 5, 209 - 210 A.D.; obverse L SEPTIMIVS SEVERVS AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse decastyle temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus Heliopolitanus, on a high podium, with steps in front, aerial view in perspective from above the left front corner, I O M H (Iovi Optimo Maximo Heliopolitano) above, COL HEL (Colonia Heliopolitana) below; ex John Jencek; $550.00 (484.00)


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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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Annona was the goddess of harvest and her main attribute is grain. This reverse suggests the arrival of grain by sea from the provinces (especially from Africa) and its distribution to the people. By the Code De Naviculariis, the mariners appointed to carry grain from Egypt could be executed if they did not keep the proper course; and if they did not sail in the proper season, the master of the vessel would be banished.
RB91949. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC IV 677a (S); BMCRE V p. 130, 519; Cohen IV 33 var. (cuirassed); SRCV II 6405 var. (same), gVF/aF, superb portrait, tight squared flan typical for the period cutting off much of legends, porous, Annona's head weak, weight 18.355 g, maximum diameter 26.9 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 194 A.D.; obverse L SEPT SEV PERT AVG IMP IIII, laureate head right; reverse ANNONA AVG COS II P P, Annona standing slightly left, head left, two stalks of grain in right hand, cornucopia in left hand, modius overflowing with grain at feet on left, S - C flanking low across field; scarce; $200.00 (176.00)


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Bonus Eventus, the god of good outcomes, was originally worshiped by the Romans as a deity especially presiding over agriculture and successful harvests. During the Imperial era, he was associated with other types of success. The epithet Bonus, "the Good," is used with other abstract deities such as Bona Fortuna ("Good Fortune"), Bona Mens ("Good Thinking" or "Sound Mind"), and Bona Spes ("Good Hope," perhaps to be translated as "optimism"), as well as with the mysterious and multivalent Bona Dea, a goddess whose rites were celebrated by women.
RS92309. Silver denarius, RIC IV 369; RSC III 68; BMCRE V p. 91, 343; SRCV II 6267; Hunter III 176 var. (IMP CE L..), Choice gVF, well centered and struck, toned, edge cracks, weight 3.208 g, maximum diameter 18.3 mm, die axis 0o, Emesa (Homs, Syria) mint, 194 A.D.; obverse IMP CAE L SEP SEV PERT AVG COS II, laureate head right; reverse BONI EVENTVS, Bonus Eventus standing slightly left, head left, raising a shallow basket of fruit in right hand, two heads of grain downward in left; $160.00 (140.80)


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This type refers to Severus' victories over Parthia. Severus assumed the title "Parthicus Maximus," greatest of Parthian conquerors.
SL89819. Silver denarius, RIC IV 185; RSC III 373; BMCRE V p. 232, 385; Hunter III 48; SRCV II 6323, NGC AU, strike 5/5, surface 4/5 (4094543-012), weight 3.13 g, maximum diameter 16.5 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 202 A.D.; obverse SEVERVS PIVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse PART MAX P M TR P X COS III P P, trophy of captured arms, flanked by two Parthian captives seated facing outward and wearing pointed caps; from the Martineit Collection of Ancient and World Coins; $150.00 (132.00)


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After he reestablished peace in the east by the destruction of Pescennius Niger, and with plans to march against Albinus, Severus returned to Rome. His magnificent entry was his Felicissimus Adventus, "most auspicious return." He curried favor with the mob by holding a triumph, a second liberality, and public games. He disarmed the treacherous Praetorians and banished them from Rome. But also, after praising the character of Commodus to the Senate, which had condemned his memory, he executed a number of Senators without trial. Rome was filled with bloodshed.
RB91365. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC IV 719b (R); BMCRE V p. 147, 596; Hunter III 149; Cohen II 8; SRCV II 6304, F, nice portrait, green patina, well centered, tight squared flan typical of the period, weight 20.765 g, maximum diameter 29.5 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 196 A.D.; obverse L SEPT SEV PERT AVG IMP VIII, laureate and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind; reverse ADVENTVI AVG FELICISSIMO (the most auspicious return of the Emperor), Septimius Severus on horseback pacing right, wearing military dress, cloak flying behind, raising right hand in salute, the horse led by soldier advancing right, looking left and holding a vexillum, S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; rare; $120.00 (105.60)


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In 193, Laodicea was sacked by the governor of Syria, Pescennius Niger, in his revolt against Septimius Severus. In 194, Septimius Severus reorganized Syria into five new provinces. One of these, Coele-Syria, including all of northern Syria, briefly had its capital in Laodicea before reverting to Antioch. Septimius sought to punish Antioch for having supported Pescennius Niger. Severus endowed Laodicea with four colonnaded streets, baths, a theater, a hippodrome, numerous sanctuaries and other public buildings in the city. The city was a key strategic seaport for Roman Syria.
RS92310. Silver denarius, RIC IV 492; BMCRE V p. 116, 463; RSC III 433; cf. SRCV II 6331 (Rome mint), Hunter III -, Choice gVF, well centered, nice portrait, uneven toning, light marks, tiny edge crack, weight 1.802 g, maximum diameter 18.1 mm, die axis 0o, Laodicea-ad-mare (Latakia, Syria) mint, 197 A.D.; obverse L SEPT SEV PERT AVG IMP VIIII, laureate head right; reverse P M TR P V COS II P P, Sol standing left, radiate, nude but for chlamys over shoulders and left arm, raising right hand commanding the sun to rise, whip in left hand; $120.00 (105.60)


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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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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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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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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.
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, November 20, 2019.
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Roman Coins of Septimius Severus