Silver Antoninianus. 4.59g, 23.7mm
MINTED: Rome mint, AD 217
REF: RIC 289d
OBVERSE: ANTONINVS PIVS AVG GERM, radiate bust, draped and cuirassed right.
REVERSE: P M TR P XX COS IIII P P, Serapis standing left holding a long transverse sceptre and corn-ears in a wreath.
Almost Very Fine. Cleaned surfaces with some porosity.
We do not know the actual name that was used for this denomination, but numismatists refer to it as the antoninianus, after Caracalla who introduced it in 215. It had a value of two denarii (the emperor's radiate crown indicating its status as a double denomination), though it in fact only contained 1.5 times the amount of silver.
Born Lucius Septimius Bassianus, the son of emperor Septimius Severus was later given the name Marcus Aurelius Severus Antoninus when his father sought to associate his family with that of the revered 2nd century emperor, Antoninus Pius. More commonly known as Caracalla (after a type of Germanic cloak that he habitually wore), the 22nd emperor of the Roman Empire was almost nothing like the enlightened Antonine rulers that he was named for, and is best remembered for his numerous ruthless and bloodthirsty acts.
Ancient sources like Herodian and Cassius Dio tell us that Caracalla successfully engineered the execution of his father-in-law, the powerful commander of the Imperial guard, Plautianus, in 205, that he later even tried to kill his own father, the emperor. Caracalla also had his own wife Plautilla, whom he loathed, exiled and subsequently strangled. His father's will had made him and his younger brother Geta co-emperors in 211, but before the end of the year, Caracalla managed to have his brother murdered in the arms of their mother, Julia Domna, and forbade her to mourn his death.
Caracalla was obsessed with emulating the achievements of Alexander the Great, whom he idolised, and he consciously cultivated a martial, soldierly persona. While the members Senate hated and feared him for his ruthlessness, Caracalla won the favour of the army with donatives, salary increases, and by acting as if he were one of them. In 217, while preparing for a huge invasion of Parthia, Caracalla was assassinated near the eastern city of Carrhae, probably on the orders the Praetorian Prefect Macrinus, who thereafter seized the throne for himself.
Most of Caracalla's adult portraits on coins show a scowling, almost brutish visage of the emperor that the 18th century historian Edward Gibbon called "the common enemy of mankind".
CARACALLA . AD 198-217 . Antoninianus . "Serapis"
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