AR Denarius. 3.11g, 20.2mm
MINTED: Rome mint, AD 221
REF: RIC IV 40; BMC 244; Cohen 184
OBVERSE: IMP ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, laureate and draped bust right, seen from behind.
REVERSE: P M TR P IIII COS III P P, Sol advancing left, raising his right hand in salute and holding whip in his left; in field to left, star.
Extremely Fine/Very Fine.
An interesting coin, exhibiting the results of a reverse die clash. Die clashes were produced when the dies were accidentally struck without a planchet between them. In this instance, the outline of the portrait from the obverse die was impressed onto the reverse die because of the force of the dies being struck against each other. We can thus see on the reverse of this coin the ghostly mirror image of the Elagabalus's head superimposed over the figure of Sol.
Elagabalus was a 14-year-old youth living in Emesa in Syria when his grandmother, the powerful noblewoman Julia Maesa, successfully engineered the downfall of Emperor Macrinus and the restoration of the Severan dynasty. Elagabalus was made the new emperor and would go on to become one of Rome's most luridly colourful and notorious emperors. He would scandalize his subjects with one outrageous act after another, and apart from openly having a string of male lovers (and declaring himself the wife of a charioteer named Hierocles), he also broke religious taboo by marrying a sacred vestal virgin, Aquilia Severa.
In Emesa, Elagabalus had been the high priest of the sun god, El-Gabal, and when he arrived in Rome, he made the god, renamed Deus Sol Invictus (God the Undefeated Sun), the head of the Roman pantheon of deities. This did not sit well with the largely conservative aristocrats of Rome, and in March 222, having ruled for less than four years, Elagabalus was assassinated by members of the Praetorian Guard, who had themselves grown weary of the emperor's many un-Roman eccentricities.
ELAGABALUS . AD 218-222 . AR Denarius. Sol . *Interesting reverse die clash*
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