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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Roman Coins ▸ The Severan Period ▸ Julia MamaeaView Options:  |  |  | 

Julia Mamaea, Augusta 13 March 222 - February or March 235 A.D.

Julia Mamaea was the highly intelligent and capable mother of Severus Alexander. After the death of her mother Julia Maesa, Julia Mamaea was the power behind the throne and largely responsible for the impressive recovery of the Roman state that took place during her son's rule. Though popular with the population of the empire, the military was deeply offended at being controlled by a woman. In 235 A.D., Julia Mamaea and Severus Alexander were both murdered by mutinous soldiers led by the thug Maximinus I.


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Vesta was originally a household spirit. Later she was personified as the goddess of the hearth and given the stature of her Greek equivalent, Hestia. In the temple of Vesta her flame was kept alive by Vestal Virgins.
SH66879. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC IV 708, BMCRE VI 389, Cohen IV 83, SRCV II 8236, VF, weight 24.538 g, maximum diameter 30.9 mm, die axis 315o, Rome mint, 226 A.D.; obverse IVLIA MAMAEA AVGVSTA, diademed and draped bust right; reverse VESTA S C, Vesta standing half-left, veiled head left, palladium in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand; $160.00 (142.40)


Julia Mamaea, Augusta, 13 Mar 222 - Feb/Mar 235 A.D., Antioch, Seleukis and Pieria, Syria

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The Tyche of Antioch was a cult statue of the city goddess (fortune) of Antioch, venerated in a temple called the Tychaion. The statue was made by Eutychides of Sicyon (c. 335 - c. 275), a pupil of the great Lysippus. It was the best-known piece of Seleucid art, remarkable because it was sculpted to be viewed from all directions, unlike many statues from the period. Although the original has been lost, many copies exist, including the one in the photograph right, now at the Vatican. The goddess is seated on a rock (Mount Sipylus), has her right foot on a swimming figure (the river Orontes), wears a mural crown (the city's walls), and has grain in her right hand (the city's fertility).Tyche of Antioch
RY84567. Bronze 8 assaria, cf. McAlee 857(a) (scarce); Waage 665; BMC Galatia p. 209, 491; SNG Hunterian 3044; SNG Cop 257; Butcher 491b (all rev. leg. variants), aVF, broad flan, corrosion, weight 13.501 g, maximum diameter 30.9 mm, die axis 180o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, obverse IVΛ MAMAEA CEBACTH, draped bust right, wearing stephane; reverse ANTIOXE-WN MH KO, Tyche seated left on rocks, wearing turreted crown, chiton and peplos, grain ears in right hand, left hand resting on rock; ram above leaping left with head right; star inner right; river-god Orontes swimming left below; ∆ - E over S - C in two lines divided flanking across field above center; $135.00 (120.15)


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Although many coin references classify Fecunditas as a personification of fertility rather than as an actual deity, Fecunditas was recognized as a Roman divinity by Nero, who erected a statue to her. Tacitus notes that upon the birth of Claudia Neronis, the senate decreed the construction of a temple of Fertility to be built at Antium. Fecunditas is always portrayed as a female figure holding a child, or children and often a scepter, cornucopia, palm branch or caduceus. Sometimes the children are depicted standing at her feet. Coins portraying her usually advertise the fertility of the imperial family.
RB73634. Copper as, RIC IV SA669, BMCRE VI 924, Cohen IV 9, SRCV II 8241, aVF, green patina, light roughness, weight 9.921 g, maximum diameter 25.1 mm, die axis 315o, Rome mint, 15th emission, c. 232 A.D.; obverse IVLIA MAMAEA AVGVSTA, diademed and draped bust right; reverse FECVNDITAS AVGVSTAE, Fecunditas standing left, extending right hand over child standing before her with arms raised, cornucopia in left hand, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking very low in field; ex CNG e-auction 243 (27 Oct 2010), lot 385; ex J.S. Wagner Collection; $130.00 (115.70)


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The palladium, a small figure of Minerva (Pallas Athena) holding a spear and shield, had a mythological origin from Troy. Troy was believed to be safe from foreign enemies as long as the palladium remained within the city walls. But Odysseus and Diomedes stole the image and soon after the Greeks took the city. The palladium was later taken by Aeneas to Rome where for centuries it was kept in the temple of Vesta in the Forum. In Late Antiquity, it was rumored that Constantine had taken the palladium to Constantinople and buried it under the Column of Constantine.
RS77075. Silver denarius, RIC IV 360; RSC III 81; BMCRE VI p. 152, 381; SRCV II 8217, VF, well centered, light marks, weight 2.893 g, maximum diameter 19.3 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 226 A.D.; obverse IVLIA MAMAEA AVG, diademed and draped bust right; reverse VESTA, Vesta standing half-left, veiled head left, palladium in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand; $125.00 (111.25)


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After Apollo insulted him, Eros (cupid) shot Apollo with an arrow that caused him to fall in hopeless love with Daphne, a mortal woman. Eros shot Daphne with an arrow which made her incapable of loving Apollo. Nevertheless Apollo pursued her, and out of desperation Daphne escaped by having herself turned into a laurel. Ever after, winners of the games to honor Apollo wore wreaths of laurel in honor of Apollo's Daphne.
RB73718. Bronze sestertius, RIC IV SA694, BMCRE VI SA190, Cohen IV 62, SRCV II 8232, VF, excellent portrait, attractive reverse style, well centered, tiny flan crack, cleaning scratches, weight 13.843 g, maximum diameter 30.2 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 224 A.D.; obverse IVLIA MAMAEA AVGVSTA, diademed and draped bust right; reverse VENERI FELICI, Venus standing facing, head right, long scepter vertical in right hand, cupid seated facing her in her left hand, cupid is naked, winged and extends his hands toward her, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field; $100.00 (89.00)


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On 11 March 222, Elagabalus was assassinated, along with his mother, Julia Soaemias, by the Praetorian Guard. Their mutilated bodies were dragged through the streets of Rome before being thrown into the Tiber. Severus Alexander succeeded Elagabalus. He was only 13 years old, his mother, Julia Avita Mamaea, governed the Roman Empire with the help of Domitius Ulpianus and a council of 16 senators.
RS67489. Silver denarius, RIC IV 343, RSC III 35, BMCRE VI 43, Hunter III 1, SRCV II 8212, VF, toned, weight 2.552 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 11 Mar - 31 Dec 222 A.D.; obverse IVLIA MAMAEA AVG, draped bust right; reverse IVNO CONSERVATRIX, Juno standing half left, veiled, patera in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, peacock right at feet on left; $90.00 (80.10)


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Victory seems an odd attribute for the goddess of love but both Sulla and Pompey dreamed of Venus Victrix. Julius Caesar, who claimed Venus as his ancestor, sacrificed to her and she ensured he was always victorious. The use of Victrix on the reverse of Mamaea's coinage at this time, not only appealed for her aid against the Persians, but also reminded the Romans that the empress too was in Syria accompanying the legions on campaign.
RS73862. Silver denarius, RIC IV 358, RSC III 76, BMCRE VI 713, Hunter III 5, SRCV II 8216, VF, well centered on a broad slightly ragged flan, die wear, porous, bumps and scratches, weight 2.771 g, maximum diameter 21.3 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 231 A.D.; obverse IVLIA MAMAEA AVG, draped and diademed bust right; reverse VENVS VICTRIX (victorious Venus), Venus standing half left, helmet extended in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, grounded shield on left at feet against far side; ex Harlan J. Berk; $90.00 (80.10)


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After Apollo insulted him, Eros (cupid) shot Apollo with an arrow that caused him to fall in hopeless love with Daphne, a mortal woman. Eros shot Daphne with an arrow which made her incapable of loving Apollo. Nevertheless Apollo pursued her, and out of desperation Daphne escaped by having herself turned into a laurel. Ever after, winners of the games to honor Apollo wore wreaths of laurel in honor of Apollo's Daphne.
RB55439. Bronze sestertius, RIC IV SA694, BMCRE VI SA190, Cohen IV 62, SRCV II 8232, aVF, weight 20.624 g, maximum diameter 31.1 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 224 A.D.; obverse IVLIA MAMAEA AVGVSTA, diademed and draped bust right; reverse VENERI FELICI, Venus standing facing, head right, long scepter vertical in right hand, cupid seated facing her in her left hand, cupid is naked, winged and extends his hands toward her, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field; $55.00 (48.95)


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After Apollo insulted him, Eros (cupid) shot Apollo with an arrow that caused him to fall in hopeless love with Daphne, a mortal woman. Eros shot Daphne with an arrow which made her incapable of loving Apollo. Nevertheless Apollo pursued her, and out of desperation Daphne escaped by having herself turned into a laurel. Ever after, winners of the games to honor Apollo wore wreaths of laurel in honor of Apollo's Daphne.
RB73738. Bronze sestertius, RIC IV SA694, BMCRE VI SA190, Cohen IV 62, SRCV II 8232, F, well centered, cleaning scratches, weight 23.928 g, maximum diameter 32.2 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 224 A.D.; obverse IVLIA MAMAEA AVGVSTA, diademed and draped bust right; reverse VENERI FELICI, Venus standing facing, head right, long scepter vertical in right hand, cupid seated facing her in her left hand, cupid is naked, winged and extends his hands toward her, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field; $50.00 (44.50)







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OBVERSE LEGENDS

IVLIAMAMAEAAVG
IVLIAMAMAEAAVGMATAVGVSTI
IVLIAMAMAEAAVGVSTA
IVLIAMAMMAEAAVGVST


REFERENCES

Banti, A. & L. Simonetti. Corpus Nummorum Romanorum. (Florence, 1972-1979).
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).
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, April 26, 2017.
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Roman Coins of Julia Mamaea