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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.


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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. With the legend PROVIDENTIA AVG, "The Foresight of the Emperor," he assured that, though he was away, he would be carefully monitoring Rome's grain supply!
RS79822. Silver denarius, RIC IV 250b; RSC III 501b; BMCRE VI p. 201, 875; Hunter III 74; SRCV II 7922, Superb EF, excellent centering and strike, excellent portrait, nice detailed reverse, weight 3.371 g, maximum diameter 19.7 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 231 - 235 A.D.; obverse IMP ALEXANDER PIVS AVG, laureate bust right, slight drapery on left shoulder; reverse PROVIDENTIA AVG (the foresight of the Emperor), Providentia (or Annona) standing left, grain in right hand over modius overflowing with grain at feet on left, cornucopia in left hand; $270.00 (240.30)


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

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Hercules is depicted in the same pose as the Farnese Hercules, a massive marble sculpture, which depicts a muscular yet weary Hercules leaning on his club, which has his lion-skin draped over it. He has just performed the last of The Twelve Labors, which is suggested by the apples of the Hesperides he holds behind his back. The Farnese Hercules is probably an enlarged copy made in the early third century A.D., signed by Glykon, from an original by Lysippos that would have been made in the fourth century B.C. The copy was made for the Baths of Caracalla in Rome (dedicated in 216 AD), where it was recovered in 1546. Today it is in Naples National Archaeological Museum. The statue was well liked by the Romans, and copies have been found in many Roman palaces and gymnasiums.
RP72147. Brass AE 24, Apparently unpublished, perhaps unique; Bellinger Troy -, BMC Troas -, SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, SNG Mnchen -, SNG Tbingen -, SNG Turkey -, Lindgren -, VF, well centered and struck, grainy surfaces, weight 7.816 g, maximum diameter 23.7 mm, die axis 45o, Alexandria Troas (Eski Stambul, Turkey) mint, 13 Mar 222 - Mar 235 A.D.; obverse M AV S AL-EXANDRV, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse COL AL AVG - TROAD, Hercules standing right, nude, right hand behind back presumably holding apples of the Hesperides, leaning with left hand on his club, which has the Nemean Lion's skin draped over it; the only example known to Forum; $200.00 (178.00)


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; $160.00 (142.40)


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In Roman mythology, Aequitas was the minor goddess of fair trade and honest merchants. Aequitas was also the personification of the virtues equity and fairness of the emperor (Aequitas Augusti). The scales, a natural emblem of equity, express righteousness. The cornucopia signifies the prosperity which results from Aequitas and Aequitas Augusti.
RS83526. Silver denarius, RIC IV 274; RSC III 11; BMCRE VI p. 215, 1033; SRCV 7856; Hunter III -, Choice VF, excellent portrait, well centered, coppery areas, small edge cracks, weight 2.967 g, maximum diameter 19.4 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 222 A.D.; obverse IMP C M AVR SEV ALEXAND AVG, laureate and draped bust right, from behind; reverse AEQVITAS AVG (equity of the emperor), Aequitas standing slightly left, head left, scales in right hand, cornucopia in left hand, star upper left; $160.00 (142.40)


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

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Thessalonica was founded around 315 B.C. by Cassander, King of Macedonia, on or near the site of the ancient town of Therma. He named it after his wife Thessalonike, a daughter of Philip II and a half-sister of Alexander the Great. In 168 B.C. it became the capital of the Macedonia Secunda and in 146 B.C. it was made the capital of the whole Roman province of Macedonia. Due to its port and location at the intersection of two major Roman roads, Thessalonica grew to become the most important city in Macedonia. Thessalonica was important in the spread of Christianity; the First Epistle to the Thessalonians written by Paul the Apostle is the first written book of the New Testament.
RP79950. Bronze AE 27, Touratsoglou p. 246, 5 (V6/-, unlisted rev. die); SNG Cop 422; Varbanov III 4471 (R3); BMC Macedonia p. 123, 109; SNG ANS 873 var. (bust from behind), VF, well centered and struck, nice green patina, small edge split, flan crack, light marks, weight 11.341 g, maximum diameter 26.7 mm, die axis 0o, Thessalonika (Salonika, Greece) mint, 13 Mar 222 - Mar 235 A.D.; obverse AV K M AV CEV AΛEΞAN∆POC, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from the front; reverse ΘECCAΛONIKEΩN, Nike advancing left, Kabeiros in extended right hand, palm frond in left hand; scarce; $150.00 (133.50)


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; $150.00 (133.50)


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Plutarch's Life of Romulus describes Rome's first triumph after Romulus' victory over Acron, king of the Ceninenses who attacked Rome after the rape of the Sabine Women. "...Romulus, that he might perform his vow in the most acceptable manner to Jupiter, and withal make the pomp of it delightful to the eye of the city, cut down a tall oak which he saw growing in the camp, which he trimmed to the shape of a trophy, and fastened on it Acron's whole suit of armor disposed in proper form; then he himself, girding his clothes about him, and crowning his head with a laurel garland, his hair gracefully flowing, carried the trophy resting erect upon his right shoulder, and so marched on, singing songs of triumph, and his whole army following after, the citizens all receiving him with acclamations of joy and wonder. The procession of this day was the origin and model of all after triumphs..."
RS34848. Silver denarius, RIC IV 224, RSC III 584, BMCRE VI 522, SRCV II 7933, superb EF, well centered, bold strike, a few light marks, small edge cracks, weight 3.297 g, maximum diameter 19.7 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 228 - 231 A.D.; obverse IMP SEV ALEXAND AVG, laureate head right; reverse VIRTVS AVG (the valor of the Emperor), Romulus walking right, holding spear and trophy across shoulder; ex Forum (2009); scarce; $140.00 (124.60)


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Spes was the Roman personification of Hope. In art Spes is normally depicted carrying flowers or a cornucopia, but on coins she is almost invariably depicted holding a flower in her extended right hand, while the left is raising a fold of her dress. She was also named "ultima dea" - for Hope is the last resort of men.
RS76110. Silver denarius, RIC IV 254d, RSC III 546, BMCRE VI 897, Hunter III 75, SRCV II 7927, gVF, interesting sharp portrait, toned, well centered and struck, weight 2.891 g, maximum diameter 20.1 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 231 - 235 A.D.; obverse IMP ALEXANDER PIVS AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse SPES PVBLICA (the hope of the public), Spes advancing left, flower in right hand, raising skirt with left hand; $135.00 (120.15)


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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."
RB73721. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC IV 538d, BMCRE VI 593, Hunter III 154, SRCV II 8004, Cohen IV 449 var. (bust), Choice aVF, nice portrait, well centered, nice green patina with some smoothed red areas on the reverse, light corrosion, weight 21.746 g, maximum diameter 31.7 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; $130.00 (115.70)


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In 233, Alexander celebrated a triumph in Rome to observe his "victory" the previous year over the Persians. He was forced to leave for the Rhine frontier, where the Alamanni had invaded Swabia. German tribes destroyed Roman forts and plundered the countryside at the Limes Germanicus.
RB71744. Bronze as, SRCV II 8091, RIC IV 543, BMCRE VI 966, Cohen IV 455, Choice aVF, excellent portrait and centering, Sol's head flatly struck, weight 10.435 g, maximum diameter 24.5 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 235 A.D.; obverse IMP ALEXANDER PIVS AVG, laureate and draped bust right; reverse P M TR P XIIII 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, S - C across fields; $125.00 (111.25)




  



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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).
Calic, E.X. The Roman Avrei, Vol. II: From Didius Julianus to Constantius I, 193 AD - 335 AD. (Barcelona, 2003).
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappes sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. 4: Septimius Severus to Maximinus Thrax. (Paris, 1884).
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).
Mouchmov, N.A. Le Tresor Numismatique De Reka-Devnia (Marcianopolis). (Sofia, 1934).
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet, University of Glasgow, Vol. III. Pertinax to Aemilian. (Oxford, 1977).
Seaby, H.A. & Sear, D.R. Roman Silver Coins, Volume III, Pertinax to Balbinus and Pupienus. (London, 1982).
Sear, D.R. 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 Thursday, March 23, 2017.
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Roman Coins of Severus Alexander