Featured February 4th: The death of the African Emperor

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Ocatarinetabellatchitchix, Feb 3, 2021.

  1. Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

    Ocatarinetabellatchitchix Supporter! Supporter

    The history
    Of African descent, Roman Emperor from 193 to 211 AD, Septimius Severus founded a personal dynasty and converted the government into a military monarchy. His reign marks a critical stage in the development of the absolute despotism that characterized the later Roman Empire. Historian Dion Cassius describes him as a "short, thin, very lively and taciturn man". A few interesting facts about his reign:

    A marble bust of Septimius Severus (sold 266,500 USD by Christie's in 2011)

    * Severus replaced the Praetorian Guard with a new 15,000-man guard from his own Danubian legions.

    * To justify his usurpation, he declared himself the adoptive son of the emperor Marcus Aurelius and claimed descent from the emperor Nerva.

    * According to Historia Augusta, Julia Domna came to Severus' attention on the back of a prophecy; he was told about a Syrian woman whose horoscope predicted that she would marry a king.

    * He won the soldiers’ support by increasing their pay and permitting them to marry. To prevent the rise of a powerful military rival, he reduced the number of legions under each general’s control. At the same time Severus ignored the Senate, which declined rapidly in power.

    * His birthplace Leptis Magna was endowed with remarkable monuments: Severus forum, Severan basilica, port facilities.

    Theatre of Leptis Magna

    Arch of Septimius Severus in Leptis Magna

    * In 208 AD, Severus, accompanied by Caracalla and his younger son, Geta, led an army to Britain to subdue the parts of the island not under Roman rule. Severus succumbed to disease at Eboracum (York, England), February 4th, at the age of 65. With the exception of the rule of Macrinus (217–218), Severus’s descendants remained in power until 235 AD.

    The coinage
    The main expenses of the budget of the Roman State remain the salary of the military and the defense. From the time of Severus, the military system is destabilized by wars, by the increase in the number of soldiers (he created 3 legions) and by the increase in the legionary pay, doubled by the same Septimius Severus around 197 AD. The only possible solution, monetary debasement, made it possible to have liquidity and a circulating monetary mass of greater value than what was possible to produce with the stock of metal available.

    Septimius Severus denarius
    201 AD Rome 19mm 2.05g

    The silver Denarius was the denomination in every day use in much of the Empire. These coins were the primary vehicles of propaganda and communication to the citizens of Rome, which explains why there are no less than 1,063 different known reverses! Some of these reverses are pompous, some elegant, some fascinating… and all very self-serving! However, while he was minting a sensational array of fascinating coins, he was also devaluing them by reducing the silver weight and purity dramatically.
    At the beginning of his reign in 193 AD, the silver denarius contained about 2.46 grams of silver. By 211, the denarius only contained about 1.82 grams of silver; this was the most important devaluation of currency since the Emperor Nero.

    Septimius Severus Ae27
    Macedon Thessalonica
    Varbanov 4341
    Ex @Theodosius Collection
    In the meantime, the production of bronze coinage (sestertii and dupondii) slows down considerably. This reduced production was sufficient to supply Italy and North Africa but no longer reaches the western provinces. In the Balkans and in the East, the relay is then ensured by the civic workshops which minted very abundant series of coins.
    I know we have many fans of Septimius Severus here on CT. So please show me your coins of the African Emperor !
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2021
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  3. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Entertaining and informative write up, @Ocatarinetabellatchitchix!

    Too many to post, so I'll post my favorite:

    Septimius Severus, AD 193-211.
    Roman AR Denarius, 3.22 g, 16.5 mm, 11 h.
    Rome Mint, AD 194.
    Obv: L SEPT SEV PERT AVG IMP III, laureate head, right.
    Rev: LIBERO PATRI, Liber standing facing, head left, cloak over left shoulder, holding oenochoe and thyrsus; at feet left, panther standing left, catching drips from the jug.
    Refs: RIC 32; BMCRE 64-65; Cohen 301; RCV 6307; Hill 84.
  4. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    I'll show my favorite, the first ancient that started it all & got me hooked.

    Second isn't shown much.


    Septimius Severus (193 - 211 A.D)
    AR Denarius
    O: SEVERVS AVG PART MAX, Laureate head right.
    R:RESTITVTOR VRBIS (Restoration of the City), Severus in military attire, spear in left, sacrificing over a tripod altar with right.
    Rome mint, 201 A.D.
    RIC 167a, RSC 599, BMCRE 202

    Septimius Severus(193 - 211 A.D)
    Æ 27
    Anchialus, Thrace.
    O: AY K L CEP CEYHROC PE, laureate, draped bust right.
    R: HG CT BABHAROY AGXIALEWN, Hygieia standing right, feeding serpent in arms, facing Asklepios standing left, resting on serpent-entwined staff.
    Moushmov 2807; Varbanov 176 AMNG II 458

    Attached Files:

  5. Mammothtooth

    Mammothtooth Stand up Philosopher, Vodka Taster

    I have no coins but greatly love this post
  6. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

    This is one of my favorite Septimius Severus coins:

    Septimius Severus
    Ephesos, Ionia
    AD 193-211
    Obverse: AY KAI Λ CEBHΡOC, laureate head right
    Reverese: EΦECIΩN above and beneath boar running right
    ex: @dougsmit
    Purchased from a @John Anthony auction
    Septimius Severus Boar.jpg
  7. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    Great post, thanks

    My favourite Septimius:

    P1160797 (2).JPG
  8. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

  9. Gavin Richardson

    Gavin Richardson Well-Known Member

    Good material from the OP. SS and Neptune:

  10. ancientone

    ancientone Well-Known Member

    Cool post! One of my favorite emperors due to the large number of provincials.

    septsevelis2.jpg Achaea. Elis, Elis. Septimius Severus AE18. Peloponnesus.
    Obv. - ΛCEPCEBHP.. Septimius Severus laureate, head rt.
    Rev. - HΛEIWΝ Zeus standing rt. holding eagle in left hand and throwing lightning bolt with rt.
  11. Shea19

    Shea19 Supporter! Supporter

    Great write-up O! Here's a recent addition that I haven't posted before...my first bronze of Septimius, a provincial AE from Marcianopolis.

    Septimius Severus, Moesia Inferior, Marcianopolis. AE Pentassarion (27mm, 9.94 g). Struck 201-202 AD. Aurelius Gallus, legatus consularis. Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust r. / Tyche Soterios (Fortuna Redux) standing l., holding rudder set on ground and cornucopia.
    From the Benito Collection.
  12. cmezner

    cmezner do ut des Supporter

    There is some disagreement as to Septimius Severus's appearance. Cassius Dio describes him as a short man as said by @Ocatarinetabellatchitchix, while the Historia Augusta says he was of huge size. Most sources however agree that he had a very nice beard. He is said to have been a small eater, and often went without meat in his meal, though once in Nicaea he craved for mullet. He was also very fond of his "native beans".
    Several authors claim Septimius Severus spoke Latin with an African accent. Anthony Birley in his book suggests that 'Sheptimiush Sheverush' is how he may have pronounced his name.

    Since the beginning of his reign the coinage in the name of Severus had his titles (IMP I to IMP X) but starting with the 8th emission it was simplified to SEVERVS AVG PART MAX when his victory over the Parthians was important. Very interesting @Andres2 denarius showing both: IMP and PART MAX

    Denarius, Rome 209 AD
    17 x 18 mm, 3.329 g
    RIC IV Septimius Severus 230; Cohen 531; RSC 531;

    Ob.: SEVERVS PIUS AVG Head of Septimius Severus, laureate, right
    Rev.: P M TR P XVII COS III P P Salus, draped, seated left, feeding out of patera in right hand snake coiled in lap

    upload_2021-2-3_19-43-35.png upload_2021-2-3_19-43-46.png
  13. LaCointessa

    LaCointessa Supporter! Supporter

    Nice write-up @Ocatarinetabellatchitchix
    Great looking coins, everyone!
    Here is mine and I am so glad to have a chance to post it again. If you do not remember (or never knew) this beauty was sent to me from a CoinTalker - I know not which one (although I have an idea). I simply love this coin. It is one with which I will never willingly part! Thank you again, to the mysterious giver of this treasure. SEPTIMIUS SEVERUS - AD 193-211 SYRIA - HELIOPOLIS.png
  14. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

    That is a great portrait of Septimius as well as Tyche!
    zumbly and LaCointessa like this.
  15. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    7Sev is interesting as he is often considered to be a "black" emperor due to his African heritage. However, being from modern-day Libya, he's about as black as Moammar Gaddhafi!

    Anyways, here's a really interesting Limes denarius which stumped me for weeks before CT members told me it was a limes item.
    Septimius Severus RIC 233 Limes Denarius.JPG
  16. Ryro

    Ryro They call me the 13th Caesar Supporter

    Great thread and wonderful coins!
    Septy is one of my favs:shame:
  17. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

    That is a beautiful beard but an even more beautiful Victory!
    LaCointessa and Ryro like this.
  18. LaCointessa

    LaCointessa Supporter! Supporter

    Yes. I agree. He is so handsome and she is beautiful!
  19. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    @cmezner quotes a few snippets of trivia about Sep Sev that I put together in this post. I guess this thread is an appropriate place to repost them all since it's been a few years :

    "1) There is some disagreement as to Septimius Severus's appearance. Cassius Dio describes him as a small man, while the Historia Augusta says he was of huge size. Most sources however will agree that he had a very nice beard.

    2) He is said to have been a small eater, and often went without meat in his meal, though once in Nicaea he craved for mullet. He was also very fond of his "native beans".

    3) During the course of his reign, he heavily debased the fineness of the denarius, from 81.5% to 56.5%. I suppose something had to pay for all those beans.

    4) He was one of the most militarily vigorous emperors, crushing the rebellious Byzantians, the Parthian empire, various Arab tribes, the Assyrians at Adiabene, the Caledonians in Britain, as well as the Roman Senate for good measure. Admittedly, his campaign-related expenses are the more likely reason for his debasement of the denarius.

    5) RIC notes that his coins prior to 200 AD were struck on "singularly small, thickish flans". Accordingly, this should be known as his Dumpy Flan period.

    6) Several authors claim Septimius Severus spoke Latin with an African accent. Anthony Birley in his book Septimius Severus: The African Emperor suggests that 'Sheptimiush Sheverush' is how he may have pronounced his name.

    7) He visited the famous Colossi of Memnon in Egypt to hear the 'singing' of the oracular "Vocal Memnon". The massive stone statue was reputed to produce a whistling song at various times of the day. Severus heard nothing.

    8) Cassius Dio records that shortly before his death, Severus sent for the urn that would contain his ashes and remarked, “Thou shalt hold a man that the world could not hold.”

    9) Muammar Gaddafi apparently did not like his fellow Libyan. He had a bronze statue of Septimius Severus which had stood in Tripoli's main square since 1933 pulled down and dumped into a rubbbish heap.

    10) The most expensive Septimius Severus coin in acsearch records is this 'Ship in Circus' aureus which sold for EUR 240,000 (approx USD 333,000) :

    Unfortunately, I don't have the aureus version of the 'Ship in Circus' type, but I did at some point manage to pick up a denarius! :)

    Septimius Severus - Den Ship Circus.jpg
    AR Denarius. 3.66g, 20.4mm. Rome mint, AD 206. RIC 274; RSC 253. O: SEVERVS PIVS AVG, laureate head right. R: LAETITIA above, TEMPORVM below, ship with mast and sail in center of circus; above, four horse quadrigae driven left; below, ostrich, lion, wild ass, lioness, gazelle, bull butting left, bear right, head left.
  20. Curtis

    Curtis Supporter! Supporter

    I knew Clodius Albinus was African, but not Septimius, interesting! These are my all-time favorite coin of SS. Priapus pointing to (!) his giant phallus, from Moesia, Nicopolis. (I love that in the obv/rev pictures it looks like SS is smiling and looking at Priapus pointing at his phallus!) I will confess that I foolishly sold both :banghead: (nowadays I'd buy them back, I only have a very low grade example now and miss them!) Septimius Severus Priapus Nikopolis AE18 Assarion CICF 2014.png
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2021
  21. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

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