After the emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus (more commonly known as Elagabalus) was assassinated by the praetorian guard, worship of the sun god was suppressed in Rome for half a century. Why would that be? To understand, we need a little background on the nature of the cult of the sun god under Elagabalus. Elagabalus is not just the nickname of the Roman Emperor, but was first and foremost a Syro-Roman sun god. Other variations of the name include Aelagabalus and Heliogabalus. However, I shall use Elagabalus, because the god was consistently referred to by this name on Roman coin inscriptions during the reign of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus (AD 218-222), such as SACERD DEI SOLIS ELAGAB. Elagabalus is the Latinized form of the Semitic Ilāh hag-Gabal, which derives from Ilāh "god" and gabal "mountain" (compare Arabic: جبل jabal). The word means "the God of the Mountain." The god Elagabalus was highly venerated in Emesa (modern Homs), Syria, the home of Julia Domna and her sister, Julia Maesa, the grandmother of the emperor Elagabalus. In his early youth, the future emperor Elagabalus served as high-priest of the god Elagabalus in Emesa. After becoming Roman emperor at barely 14 years of age, he replaced the traditional head of the Roman pantheon, Jupiter, with the deity Elagabalus and forced leading members of Rome's government to participate in religious rites celebrating this deity, over which he personally presided. Although ancient historians characterize him as being "in every respect an empty-headed young idiot" (Herodian, V.7.1ff), and his reign is perhaps best known in modern times for its salacious sex-scandals, it was Elagabalus' impiety in elevating a foreign god above Jupiter himself that led to his assassination by the praetorian guard in AD 222 (Dio, LXXX.11.1) and for sun worship to be suppressed thereafter. Fast forward 50 years to AD 272. Engaged in the the campaign against Zenobia, an apparition of a "divine form" is said to have appeared to Aurelian's troops on the eve of the Battle of Emesa (Historia Augusta, XXV.3, 5). Having emerged from the battle victorious, Aurelian entered the city and went to the Temple of Elagabalus, where the apparition again appeared to him, with the result that Aurelian made a vow to the God in thanksgiving for his victory in battle. Aurelian triumphantly returned to Rome two years later, after recovering the Gallic Empire, and was hailed as Restitutor Orbis, "Restorer of the World." Aurelian decreed a magnificent temple to Sol Invictus ("the invincible sun") be erected in the Campus Agrippae in Rome, funded by spoils from his campaign against Palmyra, and he dedicated it on December 25, AD 274. Aurelian's vow to Sol was repeatedly celebrated in numismatic iconography and Sol Invictus appears on numerous reverse types and denominations issued during his reign. This recent addition to my collection is an example. This reformed antoninianus of the mint of Rome depicts Sol Invictus holding an olive branch and bow and treading on an enemy in Oriental costume. In the exergue, the initial R(oma) follows the mark of the reform XXI. Normally, a Greek officina letter appears before the XXIR on this issue; however, on this coin from the 9th officina, a star in the left field allows the letter Θ (= the Greek numeral for 9) to be circumvented. The letter was considered a bad omen, being the first letter of thanatos, the word for death, and which was used in funerary epigraphy. Post your Sol Invictus coins, your Aurelians, your Elagabalus coins -- anything you deem relevant! Aurelian AD 270-275. Roman silvered billon Antoninianus, 3.60 gm; 21.7 mm, 6 h. Rome mint, officina 9, issue 11, early – September AD 275. Obv: IMP AVRELIANVS AVG, radiate, cuirassed bust, right. Rev: ORIE-N-S AVG, Sol walking r., holding olive branch in r. hand and bow in l. hand, l. foot resting on a captive in oriental dress kneeling on the ground to r., head turned l., r. hand raised; * in left field, XXIR in exergue. Refs: RIC 64; MER/RIC temp 1834; RCV 11569; Hunter 23; Cohen 159; La Venera 1321-32.