2nd & 4th wife of Elagabalus, AD 220-222
AR Denarius. 3.86g, 20.1mm
MINTED: Rome mint, AD 220-221
REF: RIC 255; Cohen 2
OBVERSE: IVLIA AQVILIA SEVERA AVG, draped bust right, second coiffure.
REVERSE: CONCORDIA, Concordia sacrificing left at altar and holding cornucopia, star in left field.
Dark gray, slightly grainy surfaces, but with reasonably clear and complete legends and a bold portrait of this scarce empress.
A heavy weight specimen, made more interesting because of the die clashed reverse bearing an incuse of Aquilia's profile. A clashed die was the result of the obverse and reverse dies being accidentally struck without a planchet between them. In this case, a partial profile of the obverse portrait was impressed on the reverse die. The die was then used to strike this coin, transferring a negative (incuse) of the portrait onto the coin's reverse.
Ex Philip T. Ashton Collection, ex Harlan J. Berk 106 (20 Jan 1999), lot 551
In AD 220, the flamboyant teenage emperor Elagabalus took as his second wife the Vestal Virgin, Aquilia Severa, the daughter of a Roman consul. This act broke an ages old taboo and scandalized Rome, because Aquilia, like all Vestals before her, had taken a 30-year vow of chastity. In the past, Vestal Virgins who failed to keep this sacred vow were sentenced to death by being buried alive. Elagabalus, an Eastern "foreigner" from Syria and a priest of the sun god El-Gabal, envisioned that his marriage to a Vestal Virgin would unite his religion and that of the Roman pantheon. But instead, feeling the pressure from an outraged Roman public, his grandmother and mother forced him to abandon Aquilia and marry a more respectable wife, Annia Faustina, a descendant of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Elagabalus, however, would not be so easily dissuaded, and would a year later divorce Annia and re-marry Aquilia, who remained Empress until Elagabalus's assassination in AD 222.
AQUILIA SEVERA . AD 220-222 . AR Denarius . Heavy specimen . *Rare & Pedigreed*
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