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Elagabalus/Victory, a coin and a brief description of his rise to power


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Born Sextus Varius Avitus Bassianus in 204AD, better known by his nicknames Elagabalus and Heliogabalus, was Roman Emperor from 218 to 222, while he was still a teenager. His short reign was notorious for sex scandals and religious controversy. A close relative to the Severan dynasty, he came from a prominent Arab family in Emesa (Homs), Syria, where since his early youth he served as head priest of the sun god Elagabal. After the death of his cousin, the emperor Caracalla, Elagabalus was raised to the principate at 14 years of age in an army revolt instigated by his grandmother Julia Maesa against Caracalla's short-lived successor, Macrinus. He only posthumously became known by the Latinised name of his god. Later historians suggest Elagabalus showed a disregard for Roman religious traditions and sexual taboos. He replaced the traditional head of the Roman pantheon, Jupiter, with the deity Elagabal, of whom he had been high priest. He forced leading members of Rome's government to participate in religious rites celebrating this deity, presiding over them in person. He married four women, including a Vestal Virgin, in addition to lavishing favours on male courtiers thought to have been his lovers. He was also reported to have prostituted himself.
His behavior estranged the Praetorian Guard, the Senate and the common people alike. Amidst growing opposition, at just 18 years of age he was assassinated and replaced by his cousin Severus Alexander in March 222. The assassination plot against Elagabalus was devised by Julia Maesa and carried out by disaffected members of the Praetorian Guard.

Elagabalus developed a reputation among his contemporaries for extreme eccentricity, decadence, zealotry and sexual promiscuity. This tradition has persisted; among writers of the early modern age he endured one of the worst reputations among Roman emperors. Edward Gibbon, notably, wrote that Elagabalus "abandoned himself to the grossest pleasures with ungoverned fury". According to Barthold Georg Niebuhr, "the name Elagabalus is branded in history above all others" because of his "unspeakably disgusting life".
Herodian writes that when the emperor Macrinus came to power, he suppressed the threat to his reign from the family of his assassinated predecessor, Caracalla, by exiling them—Julia Maesa, her two daughters, and her eldest grandson Elagabalus—to their estate at Emesa in Syria. Almost upon arrival in Syria, Maesa began a plot with her advisor and Elagabalus's tutor, Gannys, to overthrow Macrinus and elevate the fourteen-year-old Elagabalus to the imperial throne.

Maesa spread a rumor, which Soaemias publicly supported, that Elagabalus was the illegitimate child of Caracalla and so deserved the loyalty of Roman soldiers and senators who had sworn allegiance to Caracalla. The soldiers of the Third Legion Gallica at Raphana, who had enjoyed greater privileges under Caracalla and resented Macrinus (and may have been impressed or bribed by Maesa's wealth), supported this claim. As a tribute to the military for their support, he adopted the same name Caracalla used as Emperor, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus.
Elagabalus AR Denarius, Rome 220-222 AD
IMP ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, laureate draped bust right / VICTORIA AVG, Victory flying left, open diadem in both hands, shields to both sides, star in right field. RSC 300. RIC 161. BMC 234. 2,8 g - 18,5 mm

qJr48RtMf9QSN42xk3zKZij5L7pC6G.jpg.a0eaa3797120c9dd0f720cb19d077000.jpg

Please post your coins of Elagabalus, his Family or anything related.

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Here is the similar, dated version of the same reverse type:-

Elagabalus Denarius

Obv:- IMP ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, laureate draped bust right
Rev:- P M TRP IIII COS III P P, Victory flying left holding open wreath, star erroneously in both fields.
Minted in Rome. 
Reference:- RIC 45, RSC 195a, BMC 251

RI_071ai_img.jpg

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26 minutes ago, expat said:

Born Sextus Varius Avitus Bassianus in 204AD, better known by his nicknames Elagabalus and Heliogabalus

Very nice coin - congratulations!

A historically very interesting emperor. Unfortunately, his motives for the imperial silver issues are quite boring and monotonous - with a few exceptions. Ok - that's my subjective opinion. But it's actually a shame. Such an interesting emperor - and yet not much variety on the backs.

However, things look completely different with his provincial bronzes - in my opinion. There are really nice, varied pieces there. But as always - it's all a matter of taste, of course.

Historically as written, a very interesting emperor. Here is a coin from me - with the "Horn of the Emperor".

Here is a publication on the topic - unfortunately, as far as I know, only available in German:
https://www.academia.edu/1006502/Das_sogenannte_Horn_des_Elagabal_Die_Spitze_eines_Stierpenis_Eine_Umdeutung_als_Ergebnis_fachübergreifender_Forschung 

 

 

ELAGARIC88b.jpg.53647f8cc189723d0cebdb5f0e87fb15.jpg

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Elagabal; Denarius of the Roman Imperial Period 218/222 AD; Material: Silver; Diameter: 19mm; Weight: 2.69g; Mint: Rome; Reference: RIC IV Elagabalus 88b; Provenance: Ex Künker Numismatik Germany; Obverse: Bust of Elagabalus, usually horned, laureate, draped, right. The Inscription reads: IMP ANTONINVS PIVS AVG for Imperator Antoninus Pius Augustus; Reverse: Elagabalus, in Syrian priestly robes, standing left, sacrificing out of patera in right hand over tripod, holding club in left hand; behind tripod, bull lying down; in field, star. The Inscription reads: INVICTVS SACERDOS AVG for Invictus sacerdos Augusti (Invincible priest emperor).

 

 

Edited by YOTHR
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3 minutes ago, YOTHR said:

Very nice coin - congratulations!

A historically very interesting emperor. Unfortunately, his motives for the imperial silver issues are quite boring and monotonous - with a few exceptions. Ok - that's my subjective opinion. But it's actually a shame. Such an interesting emperor - and yet not much variety on the backs.

However, things look completely different with his provincial bronzes - in my opinion. There are really nice, varied pieces there. But as always - it's all a matter of taste, of course.

Historically as written, a very interesting emperor. Here is a coin from me - with the "Horn of the Emperor".

Here is a publication on the topic - unfortunately, as far as I know, only available in German:
https://www.academia.edu/1006502/Das_sogenannte_Horn_des_Elagabal_Die_Spitze_eines_Stierpenis_Eine_Umdeutung_als_Ergebnis_fachübergreifender_Forschung 

 

 

ELAGARIC88b.jpg.53647f8cc189723d0cebdb5f0e87fb15.jpg

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Elagabal; Denarius of the Roman Imperial Period 218/222 AD; Material: Silver; Diameter: 19mm; Weight: 2.69g; Mint: Rome; Reference: RIC IV Elagabalus 88b; Provenance: Ex Künker Numismatik Germany; Obverse: Bust of Elagabalus, usually horned, laureate, draped, right. The Inscription reads: IMP ANTONINVS PIVS AVG for Imperator Antoninus Pius Augustus; Reverse: Elagabalus, in Syrian priestly robes, standing left, sacrificing out of patera in right hand over tripod, holding club in left hand; behind tripod, bull lying down; in field, star. The Inscription reads: INVICTVS SACERDOS AVG for Invictus sacerdos Augusti (Invincible priest emperor).

 

 

I will read that publication later with interest. As my Wife is half Norwegian, half German she will translate anything I don´t fully understand. Thanks for the link.

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There are several variations of the emperor with altar type.

Elagabalus denarius 

Obv:– IMP ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, laureate, horned, draped and cuirassed bust right
Rev:– INVICTVS SACERDOS AVG, Elagabalus standing holding patera over an altar and branch. Star in right field. Horn on ground to his left
Minted in Rome. A.D. 222
Reference– BMC 209 note. RIC 87 (where it is rated Common citing Cohen). RSC III 58. Cohen 58 (illustrated with star in right field) valued at 50 Fr. No examples in RD.
ex Numismatica Ars Classica NAC AG Sale 42, Lot 379, 20th November 2007, ex Barry Feirstein Collection, previously privately purchased from Harlan J. Berk.
Described as Lightly toned and good extremely fine by NAC.
21 mm. 3.11 gms. 0 degrees.

The coin would certainly seem to be scarcer than the "Common" rating given in RIC would imply. No examples in RD, only one example on acsearch (this coin). No examples on Wildwinds (the RIC 87 there would appear to be in error

RI_071ae_img.jpg

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Here is a tet of Antioch:

(Sorry the obverse is kind of blurry, an early effort at phone photography)

 

Elagabalus, 218-222 A.D. AR Tetradrachm, struck 218-220 A.D., 25mm 12.02 grams

Obverse: Laureate head of Elagabalus right AVT K M A ANTONEINOC CEB

Reverse: Eagle standing left, wreath in beak, star between legs, delta epsilon in field DH MARC EX UPATOC TO B

Reference: Prieur 249A; McAlee 760

elag1.jpg.1c77ef8edd53e30eb0097213f79457d0.jpg

elag2.jpg.63afe747ae5793a1edda5b4db867d545.jpg

Edited by Ancient Coin Hunter
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My best Elagabal is a coin with altar reverse and a .... horn. @YOTHR might recognize it. 

image.png.a9b69b37879d970a9d43d4551361e9a3.png

19 mm, 3,34 g.
Elagabalus 218-222. AR denarius. Rome. 220-222.
IMP ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, laureate and draped bust of Elagabalus to right, wearing 'horn' over forehead / SVMMVS SACERDOS AVG, Elagabalus standing front, head to left, holding patera over lighted altar in his right hand and club in his left; in field to left, star.
BMC 231; RSC 276a; RIC 146.

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What a crazy kid!

Elagabalus sacrificing at a fire altar

normal_elagabalus.jpg.aea419cd6f93a843f6647661a8b64056.jpg

Elagabalus and his black rock on a lime issue. 

normal_IMG_6764.jpeg.4ebab064556108ac3ccf5505f0fb413d.jpeg

Elagabalus. AD 218-222. Æ ‘Limes’ Denarius 2.3 gm. Obv: Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right. Rev: SANCT DEO SOLI, ELAGABAL in exergue, quadriga right bearing stone of Emesa upon which is an eagle; four parasols around.

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I have 3 Imperial coins of Elagabalus. All 3 depict Victory in a different manner:

ElagabalusDenariusPMTRPIIICOSIIIPP.png.b85f1bf01d33ef80fccd3334cbd9e429.png

Elagabalus Denarius. IMP ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, laureate draped bust right / P M TRP IIII COS III P P, Victory flying left holding open wreath, star in right field

 

ElagabalusDenariusVictory.png.597f4a51ae0bb171014bf76d265853bd.png

Elagabalus. A.D. 218-222. AR denarius (19 mm, 2.76 g, 6 h). Rome mint, Struck A.D. 219. IMP CAES ANTONINVS AVG, laureate and draped bust right / VICTOR ANTONINI AVG, Victory advancing right, holding palm and wreath

 

ElagabalusLimesDenariusVICTORIAAVG.png.01e8d70ac8dd5b515bbf9107a2eb5e47.png

Elagabalus, Limes Denarius. 218-222 AD. IMP ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, laureate draped bust right / VICTORIA AVG, Victory flying left, diadem in both hands, shields to sides, 

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Oh, let's see what I have in the way of Elagabalus. How about the last Severan antoninianus? After Elagabalus, the denomination was no longer minted until the "year of the six emperors," AD 238, when it was reintroduced by Balbinus.

Elagabalus P M TR P II COS II P P Fortuna Antoninianus.jpg
Elagabalus, AD 218-222.
Roman AR Antoninianus, 5.17 g, 21.3 mm.
Rome, AD 219.
Obv: IMP ANTONINVS AVG, radiate and draped bust, right.
Rev: P M TR PII COSII P P, Fortuna enthroned left, holding rudder on globe and cornucopiae; wheel below seat.
Refs: RIC 18; BMCRE 94; Cohen 148; RCV 7495.

 

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Nice coins posted!

A large hoard of his Antioch tetradrachms must have hit the market a few years ago.

Elagabalus, BI tetradrachm, Antioch, 218-222 AD.

SR-2141; BMC-418.

15.13 grams

I image that if he were alive today, he'd be a big hit on TikTok!

D-CameraElagabalusBItetdrachm2Antioch218-22BCSR-2141BMC-41815.13gebay3-5-22.jpg.6758a15738770adc2653fb5037c51222.jpg

 

Here's one more tetradrachm, Antioch, with the eagle facing left.  Very crude style as well.

Elagabalus, BI tetradrachm, Antioch, 218-222 AD.

SR-2141; BMC-418.

12.88 grams

D-CameraElagabalusBItetdrachm1Antioch218-22BCSR-2141BMC-41812.88gebay3-5-22.jpg.1c103b6ff649eeac97abdfe9e00bc77d.jpg

 

Edited by robinjojo
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16 hours ago, expat said:

Born Sextus Varius Avitus Bassianus in 204AD, better known by his nicknames Elagabalus and Heliogabalus, was Roman Emperor from 218 to 222, while he was still a teenager. His short reign was notorious for sex scandals and religious controversy. A close relative to the Severan dynasty, he came from a prominent Arab family in Emesa (Homs), Syria, where since his early youth he served as head priest of the sun god Elagabal. After the death of his cousin, the emperor Caracalla, Elagabalus was raised to the principate at 14 years of age in an army revolt instigated by his grandmother Julia Maesa against Caracalla's short-lived successor, Macrinus. He only posthumously became known by the Latinised name of his god. Later historians suggest Elagabalus showed a disregard for Roman religious traditions and sexual taboos. He replaced the traditional head of the Roman pantheon, Jupiter, with the deity Elagabal, of whom he had been high priest. He forced leading members of Rome's government to participate in religious rites celebrating this deity, presiding over them in person. He married four women, including a Vestal Virgin, in addition to lavishing favours on male courtiers thought to have been his lovers. He was also reported to have prostituted himself.
His behavior estranged the Praetorian Guard, the Senate and the common people alike. Amidst growing opposition, at just 18 years of age he was assassinated and replaced by his cousin Severus Alexander in March 222. The assassination plot against Elagabalus was devised by Julia Maesa and carried out by disaffected members of the Praetorian Guard.

Elagabalus developed a reputation among his contemporaries for extreme eccentricity, decadence, zealotry and sexual promiscuity. This tradition has persisted; among writers of the early modern age he endured one of the worst reputations among Roman emperors. Edward Gibbon, notably, wrote that Elagabalus "abandoned himself to the grossest pleasures with ungoverned fury". According to Barthold Georg Niebuhr, "the name Elagabalus is branded in history above all others" because of his "unspeakably disgusting life".
Herodian writes that when the emperor Macrinus came to power, he suppressed the threat to his reign from the family of his assassinated predecessor, Caracalla, by exiling them—Julia Maesa, her two daughters, and her eldest grandson Elagabalus—to their estate at Emesa in Syria. Almost upon arrival in Syria, Maesa began a plot with her advisor and Elagabalus's tutor, Gannys, to overthrow Macrinus and elevate the fourteen-year-old Elagabalus to the imperial throne.

Maesa spread a rumor, which Soaemias publicly supported, that Elagabalus was the illegitimate child of Caracalla and so deserved the loyalty of Roman soldiers and senators who had sworn allegiance to Caracalla. The soldiers of the Third Legion Gallica at Raphana, who had enjoyed greater privileges under Caracalla and resented Macrinus (and may have been impressed or bribed by Maesa's wealth), supported this claim. As a tribute to the military for their support, he adopted the same name Caracalla used as Emperor, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus.
Elagabalus AR Denarius, Rome 220-222 AD
IMP ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, laureate draped bust right / VICTORIA AVG, Victory flying left, open diadem in both hands, shields to both sides, star in right field. RSC 300. RIC 161. BMC 234. 2,8 g - 18,5 mm

qJr48RtMf9QSN42xk3zKZij5L7pC6G.jpg.a0eaa3797120c9dd0f720cb19d077000.jpg

Please post your coins of Elagabalus, his Family or anything related.

Nice write up and coin too! 

34.1.png.b3062a334d4bcf16d3d5337f0b8d94cd.png

34.2.png.f24649f606adb8f3ba4508e4b88eed50.png

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Here is a small sample of other coins of Elagabalus that I have gathered recently.

Obv:– ANTONINVS PIVS FEL AVG, laureate draped bust right
Rev:– CON_SVL II P P, Aequitas standing left holding scales and cornucopia
Minted in Antioch, A.D. 218-219
Reference:– RIC 167. RSC 22

RI_071x_img.jpg

Obv:- IMP ANTONINVS AVG Laureate and draped bust right
Rev:- P M TR P II COS II P P Fortuna seated left on throne, holding rudder set on globe in her right hand and cornucopiae with her left; below throne, wheel.
Minted in Rome. A.D. 219
Reference:- RSC 149. RIC 19. BMCRE 96.

Weight 3.173g. 18.94mm. 180 degrees

RI_071ak_img.JPG

Obv:– IMP ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, laureate draped and cuirassed bust right
Rev:– INVICTVS SACERDOS AVG, Elagabalus standing holding a patera over an altar and a club. Star in left field. Bull behind the altar
Minted in Rome. A.D. 220-222
Reference– BMC 209-210. RIC 88. RSC III 61b

RI_071aa_img.jpg

Obv:– IMP ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, laureate, horned, draped and cuirassed bust right
Rev:– INVICTVS SACERDOS AVG, Elagabalus standing holding a patera over an altar and a club. Star in left field. Bull behind the altar
Minted in Rome. A.D. 220-222
Reference– BMC 209-210. RIC 88. RSC III 61

RI_071af_img.jpg

Obv:– IMP ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, laureate, horned, draped and cuirassed bust right
Rev:– P M TR P IIII COS III P P, Elagabalus standing holding a patera over an altar and a branch. Star in left field
Minted in Rome. A.D. 221
Reference– BMC 339. RIC 177. RSC III 196

Remanants of star in right field. The die having been re-engraved to place the star correctly in front of the emperor

RI_071ac_img.jpg

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1 hour ago, Prieure de Sion said:

I was sorting through my PDF library today and found the attached PDF. Maybe someone doesn't know the publication yet and is interested in it.

Icks Martijn - From Priest to Emperor to Priest-Emperor the failed Legitimation of Elagabalus.pdf 124.04 kB · 0 downloads

Thanks, I will download it and have a read later.

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