Master of the World: A New Denarius

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Orielensis, Apr 14, 2021.

  1. Orielensis

    Orielensis Supporter! Supporter

    Here is my latest purchase – the third ancient coin I bought this year:
    Rom – Caracalla, Denar, Rector Orbis.png
    Caracalla, Roman Empire, AR denarius, 201–206 AD, Rome mint. Obv: ANTONINVS PIVS AVG; laureate head of Caracalla r. Rev: RECTOR ORBIS, Sol or emperor standig facing, laureate, holding globe and sceptre or spear pointing down. 18mm, 3.35g. Ref: RIC IV Caracalla 141.

    I very much like the style of the portrait, but I bought this coin mostly because of its reverse. "Rector orbis," which translates to "master of the world," is as pompous a title as it gets. Two details strike me as particularly noteworthy and raise questions:

    1.) RIC describes the figure on the reverse as Sol. But while Sol is usually depicted wearing a radiate crown, the figure on my coin clearly wears a laurel wreath. The same applies to all other examples I found on acsearch. This makes me wonder whether the reverse actually shows not the deity Sol, but the young emperor Caracalla himself as "master of the world." What do you think?

    2.) RIC calls the object in the reverse figure's left hand an "inverted spear." The object on my coin, though, misses the spearpoint visible on most examples, making me assume that we rather see a sceptre. Looking at the coins on acsearch, I found multiple examples without the spearpoint struck from different dies. This implies that this is not an engraver's mistake. Should RIC Caracalla 141 thus be split into two reverse variants, one with a spear and the other with a sceptre?

    Please show your coins of Caracalla!
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2021
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  3. gogili1977

    gogili1977 Well-Known Member

    Very nice Caracalla. The spear is clearly visible on my coin.
  4. ominus1

    ominus1 When in Rome, do as the Romans do Supporter

  5. ambr0zie

    ambr0zie Dacian Taraboste

    Not as nice, but also showing Caracalla's self esteem

    Caracalla AD 198-217. RomeDenarius AR 19 mm., 2,22 g.
    Date Range: AD 210 - AD 213
    RIC IV Caracalla 227 (denarius)
    Type: Head of Caracalla, laureate, bearded, right
    Type: Providentia, draped, standing left, holding wand in right hand over globe and sceptre in left hand
  6. Alegandron

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


    RI Caracalla 198-217 AR Quinarius CE 213 1.3g 13.6mm Laureate - Victory Wreath Palm RIC IV 101 RSC 450
  7. ambr0zie

    ambr0zie Dacian Taraboste

    Not a denomination we see to often for Caracalla, @Alegandron !
    Alegandron likes this.
  8. Alegandron

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

    Thank you. It is listed as Rare. I like Quinarii, and have a few.
    ancient coin hunter and ambr0zie like this.
  9. Ryro

    Ryro The last of the Diadochi Supporter

    Umm, I'm pretty sure being master of the universe this guy is also master of the world:

    When looking at coins of young Caracalla I often think of Adam Sandler's first comedy album:
    share4007936682763126758.png share6291742438655388492.png Adam_Sandler-What_the_Hell_Happened_to_Me_(album_cover).jpg
  10. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Here's a Caracalla sestertius:

    Caracalla Sest. Asclepius RIC 538a Mar 2021 (0a).jpg
    Caracalla Æ Sestertius
    (215 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    [M AVRE]L ANTONINVS PIVS AVG GERM, laureate, draped, cuirassed bust right / [P M TR P] XVIII IMP III [COS IIII PP] SC Asclepius standing facing, resting on serpent-entwined staff, Telesphorus standing left, globe on ground to right.
    RIC 538a.
    (23.61 grams / 31 x 29 mm)
  11. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

    Neat coin @Orielensis ! It does not appear to be a spear to me, either. Also, I agree that the headdress is not a radiate crown. Therefore perhaps Caracalla is saying he is "master of the world." Judging how he turned out later as a megalomaniac who thought he was Alexander the Great reborn, I am not surprised.
    Orielensis likes this.
  12. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    Everyone knows that Geta was not "master of the world." The real master of the world was


    Didius Julianus! (for 66 days in 193)
    RECTOR ORBIS (very worn legend).
    Sestertius. 28 mm. 19.24 grams.
    RIC 16. Sear II 6077.
  13. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

    He promised 25k sesterces per man to the Praetorians. But he had trouble delivering on that promise, and the Guard was cowed by the approaching Severan legions, so....
  14. Shea19

    Shea19 Supporter! Supporter

    Nice new pickup, I like that reverse. I think you’re right that it looks more like a scepter than a spear in his hand. Here is a denarius of his father as "Restorer of the World".

    Septimius Severus, AR Denarius, 200-201 AD, (19mm., 3.23g), Laureate head of Septimius right/Rev. RESTITVTOR ORBIS, Septimius standing left, sacrificing with patera over tripod and holding spear. RIC 167
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2021
  15. FitzNigel

    FitzNigel Medievalist Supporter

    I like the coin, but I wonder if the legend and image was actually the work of Caracalla, considering his father was still alive a ruling at the time. One of my favorite young Caracalla coins was also issued by Septimus Severus:
    Anc-09b-R3-k0203-Caracalla-DE-130a.jpg Imperial Rome
    Caracalla, r. 198-217 A.D. (204 A.D.)
    Rome Mint, AR Denarius, 20.4mm x 3.21 grams
    Obv.: ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, laureate and draped bust right
    Rev.: INDVLGENTIA AVGG, IN CARTH in ex, Dea Caelestis seated facing on lion galloping right over rushing waters, holding thunderbolt and scepter
    Ref.: SRCV 6806, RIC IV-1 Caracalla 130a, p. 231.
  16. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    Great coin! I wasn't aware of that reverse type. I have a rather run-of-the-mill Venus Victrix. Not very self-aggrandizing.
    Caracalla RIC 312d (2020_11_18 03_38_31 UTC).jpeg
  17. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Here's Caracalla at his most hypochondriacal, one of many coins featuring the healing god Serapis:

    Caracalla, AD 198-217.
    Roman AR denarius, 2.9g, 19mm, 6h.
    Rome, issue 10, AD 217.
    Obv: ANTONINVS PIVS AVG GERM, laureate head right.
    Rev: P M TRP XX COS IIII PP; Serapis, wearing polos on head, standing facing, head left, holding wreath and scepter.
    Refs: RIC 289c; BMCRE 188; Cohen/RSC 382; RCV 6846; Hill 1586.
  18. Orielensis

    Orielensis Supporter! Supporter

    That coin certainly speaks of ambition! "Master of the world" is probably not what you should call yourself after barely two months at your new job...

    Are you sure the legend reads "orbis," not "vrbis" and thus means "restorer of the city"? The letter is a bit unclear on the picture of your coin. My example has a clear "v" (see below).

    Caracalla was only in his early teens when this coin was minted – so I'd assume that this reverse design wasn't his personal responsibility. Septimius Severus struck similarly eyebrow-raising types showing himself at about the same time:

    Rom – Septimius Severus, Denar, Restitutor urbis.png
    Septimius Severus, Roman Empire, AR denarius, 200–201 AD, Rome mint. Obv: SEVERVS AVG PART MAX; head of Septimius Severus, laureate, r. Rev: RESTITVTOR VRBIS; Septimius Severus, in military attire, standing l., sacrificing out of patera in r. hand over tripod and holding spear in l. hand. 20mm, 3.24g. Ref: RIC IV Septimius Severus 167A.
  19. Shea19

    Shea19 Supporter! Supporter

    Yep, you’re right, it’s VRBIS...on the reverse of mine, it looked a little more like an “O”, but it’s definitely a “V”. Your example definitely came from a fresher reverse die, makes it much easier to see. Thanks!
    Orielensis likes this.
  20. svessien

    svessien Senior Member

    I got my new Caracalla same day as you, @Orielensis
    I like yours and I like mine.
    Not sure how you feel about being shown the penis of Apollo, but I’m posting it anyway:
    Caracalla den.jpg
  21. Orielensis

    Orielensis Supporter! Supporter

    That's a very likeable coin. I have no particularly strong feelings about Apollo's crotch, but the level of detail on his face on your example is fantastic.

    Rom – Caracalla, denar, Apollo mit Leier.png
    Caracalla, Roman Empire, denarius, 215 AD, Rome mint. Obv: ANTONINVS PIVS AVG GERM; laureate head of Caracalla r. Rev: P M TR P XVIII COS IIII P P; Apollo, naked except for cloak flying behind, standing l., holding branch in extended r. hand and with l. hand lyre set on altar. 21mm, 3.04g. Ref: RIC IV Caracalla 254.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2021
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