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Post your subtly interesting coins! Severus and Jupiter with his children!


Steppenfool
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Septimus Severus Denarius. ROME 209 AD. SEVERVS PIVS AVG, laureate head right / P M TR P XVII COS III P P, Jupiter standing left, holding thunderbolt and sceptre, two children (Geta and Caracalla) to left and right.  RIC 226 RSC 525.

 

 

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My latest purchase has arrived all the way from Hungary.

I was musing over what Septimius Severus coin to buy as an improvement on my old one. I wanted something that was interesting historically and was struggling to find anything outside of references to wars! The INCARTH issues are quite interesting and were a close contender, but this one really fascinated me. Septimius Severus reign produced other Jupiter coins, but only from 209 onwards do they begin to have the two children accompanying them. These children have been identified with Caracalla and Geta, making it an important dynastic issue and an affordable way to get the father and his two sons on a single Imperial coin.

The reason for the addition of two children is probably the slightly younger Geta's promotion to Augustus that year. Interestingly, there are no Imperial issues (I think?) with a single child or two children during the ten years of Caracalla's tenure as Augustus between 198-209 with Geta accompanying as Caesar. Furthermore the sons were 21 and 20, making their representations on this coin odd.

This also raises the question why Geta had to wait so much longer for his promotion to Augustus despite only being one year younger. Was Severus aware of his upcoming death on the island of Britain in 211? The sources imply he was very unwell with Dio stating that during the 208 invasion of Britain "he actually was conveyed in a covered litter most of the way, on account of his infirmity". Why did he suddenly want another Augustus, are Dio's rumours of Severus' suspicion of Caracalla true to the point he scrambled to make Geta a co-Augustus for him instead of leaving him as mere Caesar? Dio states that "Antoninus was causing him alarm and endless anxiety by his intemperate life, by his evident intention to murder his brother if the chance should offer, and, finally, by plotting against the emperor himself". Conversely, was the promotion always planned, and did Severus' ill health serve only to hasten it?

I also wonder about the difference in Severus' eyes between issues. In my issue we have the more bulging, Marcus Aurelius style philosopher eyes, yet Severus is usually depicted with quite beady, less alert or more severe eyes as shown in the linked example below. Is there discussion of this anywhere or is it simply the whims of engravers? I believe all eye types can be found at the Rome mint.

There's a later issue of this coin with BRIT on the obverse legend from two years later (210 CE, after the British invasion concludes) that appeared on ma-shops shortly after my purchase, and this issue encapsulates the story even more satisfactorily and has a nicer obverse. I console myself with the fact it was 33% more expensive and the reverse was less detailed. I attach the link for that one here in case someone else wishes to take advantage.

Feel free to add any thoughts on this issue, or to post your subtly interesting coins!

Edited by Steppenfool
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