Severus Alexander on a triumphal quadriga?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by expat, Nov 21, 2023.

  1. expat

    expat Remember you are unique, just like everyone else Supporter

    I received a coin this morning that the description for it states it as a triumphal Quadriga. It also states it is a scarce issue and is a special emission from Rome mint in 229AD. Unless it depicts victory over the Sassanids previously, I would have thought it is more likely to be the Emperor in a ceremonial quadriga. Either way, it appeals to me to have a horse drawn carriage that is not on a Republican coin. If anyone can shed more light on this issue, it would be fascinating to read.

    Severus Alexander. AD 222-235. Æ As (24mm, 9.34 g.)
    Rome mint, Special emission, AD 229.
    IMP SEV ALEXANDER AVG, laureate head right, / P M TR P VIII COS III P P, emperor in triumphal quadriga right, holding eagle-tipped sceptre, SC in ex. Cohen 379. RIC IV 498a, Sear 8080
    Very scarce
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  3. GinoLR

    GinoLR Well-Known Member

    There is no "ceremonial quadriga" in Rome. The only moment when the emperor is standing in such a quadriga is the triumph. Severus Alexander celebrated a triumph on the Persians, but it did not happen before 233, when the emperor was back from Orient. Your coin is dated 229 (TR P VIII). It shows an anticipated triumph, a triumph that had not actually taken place yet, but the Roman propaganda was so confident the Romans would win that these coins were minted.

    The same thing happened under Gordian III. When war was decided against the Persians, they began gathering exotic animals in Rome for the games that would be organized when the emperor would be back and celebrating his triumph. Gordian died during this campaign and was buried in Syria, Philip the Arab was proclaimed Augustus and came to Rome, and the animals prepared for Gordian's triumph were produced at the 248 AD secular games, celebrating the 1000 years of Rome.

    Here is a French newspaper of 1927, announcing that aviators Nungesser and Coli had made it, they had crossed the Atlantic and landed in New York at 5 hrs. But alas! they never made it and probably crashed in the ocean... Nothing was ever found.

    Curtis and expat like this.
  4. Mr.MonkeySwag96

    Mr.MonkeySwag96 Well-Known Member

    My Republican denarius commemorating Sulla’s triumph over Mithradates:


    Roman Republic, L. Sulla & L. Manlius Torquatus, 82 BC Silver Denarius, Military Mint Moving with Sulla, 17mm, 4.01 grams Obverse: Helmeted head of Roma right. Reverse: Sulla holding branch and reings driving triumphal quadriga right, Victory flying above crowning him with laurels. Crawford 367/5 // Manlia 4
  5. GinoLR

    GinoLR Well-Known Member

    Congratulations, this is an excellent specimen!
    This denarius minted in 82 BC is historically important. It is the first time ever that a Roman coin-type represented a living person.
    Showing a living person on a coin was a taboo in Rome: coins may only represent gods and kings. Deceased persons were acceptable too, for they were assimilated with gods. But a living person, a magistrate, never! it would mean it's a king. Our modern coinage still follows this rule. On €uro coins you can see the portrait of kings (or popes, or grand dukes), but never of presidents or prime ministers. There is some hesitation for dictators: coins of nazi Germany did not have the portrait of Hitler (who was just the Reichskanzler), but there were Spanish coins with the portrait of Franco, and the French mint under Vichy attempted to create coins with the portrait of Pétain.
    On this denarius the man in the quadriga is obviously a triumphant imperator, and it can be no other than L. Cornelius Sulla, whose name is written at the exergue. Sulla who was alive and well at the time. A taboo had been broken. At least, the figure is too small, it's not a portrait. When, later, Julius Caesar had coins minted with his portrait in 44 BC, he was assassinated for this. But it had been done, the taboo was now definitively broken and, after Caesar's assassination, even his murderer Brutus had coins minted with his own portrait...
    Mr.MonkeySwag96 likes this.
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