To the Fortune that brings back Septimius Severus from Britain

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Justin Lee, Aug 10, 2018.

  1. Justin Lee

    Justin Lee I learn by doing

    Last month I purchased this Septimius Severus AE As and have recently been doing some searching and reading about it and the time it was struck.

    Septimius Severus, Ruled 193-211 AD, AE As
    Struck 211 AD, Rome Mint

    Obverse: SEVERVS PIVS AVG BRIT, laureate head right.
    Reverse: FORT RED P M TR P XIX COS III P P, Fortuna seated left, holding rudder on globe and cornucopiae; wheel under seat. SC in exergue.
    References: RIC IV Septimius Severus 810, Cohen 155.
    Size: 24.4mm, 11.9g

    During the later part of his reign (beginning in 208 AD), Septimius Severus was military campaigning in Britain, rebuilding Hadrian's Wall and the Roman forts from earlier campaigns, seeking to bring the whole of the Britain isle under the Roman rule—until his death in early 211 AD. In looking at some similar coins on acsearch, the historical description for this coin type by CGB.FR shared a translation of the reverse legend:

    The reverse legend reads...
    Fortuna Reduci Pontifex Maximus Tribunicia Potestate undevicesimum Consul tertium Pater Patria
    ...and translates to...
    To the Fortune that brings back, great pontiff holder of the tribunic power for the nineteenth time, consul three times, father of the fatherland.

    With Septimius having been hard at work in battling in Roman Britain (reflected in the BRIT addition to the legend), this coin minted in Rome seems to be infused with wishful thinking and possibly captures the empire's desire (and possibly the Senate's) for the emperor to return to Rome during his end of days. Sadly, this wasn't so and Septimius died February 4, 211 AD in Eboracum, modern day York in England, evidently succumbing to the effects of a long-term battle with gout.

    As described in Historia Augusta, Life of Septimius Severus, p22 1-3:
    "The death of Severus was foreshadowed by the following events: he himself dreamed that he was snatched up to the heavens in a jewelled car drawn by four eagles, whilst some vast shape, I know not what, but resembling a man, flew on before. And while he was being snatched up, he counted out the numbers eighty and nine, and beyond this number of years he did not live so much as one, for he was an old man when he came to the throne. And then, after he had been placed in a huge circle in the air, for a long time he stood alone and desolate, until finally, when he began to fear that he might fall headlong, he saw himself summoned by Jupiter and placed among the Antonines. Again, on the day of the circus-games, when three plaster figures of Victory were set up in the customary way, with palms in their hands, the one in the middle, which held a sphere inscribed with his name, struck by a gust of wind, fell down from the balcony in an upright position and remained on the ground in this posture; while the one on which Geta's name was inscribed was dashed down and completely shattered, and the one which bore Bassianus' [Caracalla] name lost its palm and barely managed to keep its place, such was the whirling of the wind."​

    Do you have more to add to this story? Do you have a correction to the above? Do you have similar coins from the end of SS's life?
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  3. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Redditor Lucis Aeternae

    Great coin and interesting write-up @Justin Lee - thanks!
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  4. paschka

    paschka Well-Known Member

    Very beautiful Coin.Thank you very much
  5. Adam95

    Adam95 Active Member

    Very nice especially to see a Roman coin with brit on it.

    I wonder where he is buried, just think somewhere in Yorkshire there might be a Roman emperor buried.
    benhur767, Justin Lee and paschka like this.
  6. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    Great coin Justin, well centred with a fantastic portrait.
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  7. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    nice coin Justin and superb write-up :)
    Justin Lee likes this.
  8. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    That's a lovely bronze, I like it.
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  9. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Nice coin, great pictures, wonderful writeup. Very enjoyable, @Justin Lee! :)
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  10. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Great write-up Justin. Earlier this year I got a dupondius that is very similar to your as - Roma seated rather than Fortuna (and issued early in his reign). The thing that concerns me about mine is it is light - lighter than your as, but mine has the radiate crown. I know weights were a bit wobbly then, but I just don't know:
    Sept Sev. Dupond. May 2018 (1).jpg

    Septimius Severus
    Rome Mint - Æ Dupondius
    (c. 195 A.D.)

    L SEPT SEV PERT [AVG IMP V], radiate head right / [ROMAE AETERN]AE C, Roma seated left on shield, holding Victory in right hand, spear in left hand.
    RIC 697; BMC/RE 139.
    (8.97 grams / 24 mm)
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  11. Justin Lee

    Justin Lee I learn by doing

    Could it be a small flan? Missing a gram or two off the sides? Maybe 1/2 a gram from being well worn?
    Marsyas Mike likes this.
  12. jamesicus

    jamesicus pachydermicus Supporter

    Very nice write-up Justin - thank you.

    I am sure by now most here have seen my following Severan “Victory over Britannia” denarii, but I post them as a tribute to Justin’s write up:

    RIC Vol. IV, SEPTIMIUS SEVERUS, Denarius, No. 335
    Obverse: Septimius Severus,, Laureate head facing right
    Inscription clockwise from bottom: SEVERVS PIVS AVG BRIT
    Reverse: Victory (Britannia?) seated left writing on shield
    Inscription: VICTORIAE BRIT

    RIC Vol. IV, CARACALLA, Denarius, No. 231a
    Obverse: Caracalla, Laureate head facing right
    Inscription clockwise from bottom: ANTONINVS PIVS AVG BRIT
    Reverse: winged Victory advancing right holding trophy
    Inscription: VICTORIAE BRIT

    RIC Vol. IV, GETA, Denarius, No. 91
    Obverse: Geta, Laureate head facing right
    Inscription clockwise from bottom: P SEPT GETA PIVS AVG BRIT
    Reverse: Victory standing left holding wreath and palm branch
    Inscription: VICTORIAE BRIT
  13. Justin Lee

    Justin Lee I learn by doing

    Beautiful set and tribute! All three struck starting in 210 AD and ending in 211, 213, and 212 AD respectively, so quite relevant to that last year of Septimius and a little beyond (the inner-family drama). Great @jamesicus!
    Marsyas Mike likes this.
  14. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Dombes collector Supporter

    Very intersting write up and coin @Justin Lee

    To follow @jamesicus here's my example of a Victoriae Brit denarius (incidentally, this was the first roman denarius I ever bought, as far back as 1983)

    Septimius Severus, Denarius - Rome mint AD 210
    SEVERVS PIVS AVG BRIT, Laureate head of Sevrus right
    VICTORIAE BRIT, Victory facing, holding palm and attaching shield to palm tree
    2.72 gr
    Ref : RCV #6384, Cohen #729

  15. benhur767

    benhur767 Sapere aude

    Nice acquisition of a very historical coin @Justin Lee ! Here's the same type on a denarius of his son Geta: get_mk_2015_0310_01.jpg
    Geta. AR denarius, Rome, 211 CE; 3.35g. BMCRE G118, Hill 1199 (R2), RIC 75, RSC 51. Obv: P SEPT GETA PIVS AVG BRIT; man’s laureate head r., bearded. Rx: FORT RED T R P III COS II; Fortuna seated l. on wheel, holding rudder and cornucopia. EF.
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  16. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I don't have a TRP XIX AE but have a XVIII sestertius with Annona.

    ...and a dupondius with Roma. Mine is 10.5g but the patina keeps you from seeing the yellow brass color as on the sestertius that makes it worth twice your as. Still yours is a heavier than average one, I believe.
  17. Justin Lee

    Justin Lee I learn by doing

    Very nice coins @dougsmit!

    Interestingly, the British Museum lists 2 examples on OCRE, one being slightly less than mine at 11.26g but one much heavier at a whopping 15.4g!!

    And in acsearch, most appear to be in the 9s, 10s, and 11s, with one being in the 12s and another one in the 14s. So you're right, it's on the heavier side of average, but certainly not the weightiest of the type.
    Marsyas Mike likes this.
  18. Justin Lee

    Justin Lee I learn by doing

    A great denar to start with? How many more have you gotten since? :hilarious::smuggrin:

    Great coin and contribution, @benhur767!
    I had read that the two sons were campaigning with Septimius in Britain but were left on the south side of Hadrian's wall and took care of administrative duties of the area. So Rome still seeked good fortune for their return. I assume (don't have time at the moment to look it up) the two brothers returned to Rome from Britain after the death of their father? And it was in Rome in that Geta was murdered in 212?
    Cucumbor likes this.
  19. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Dombes collector Supporter


    I don't know exactly, having never counted them as such. I could at least pay 30 denarii for the treason of Jesus I guess :D


  20. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Enjoyed the article. I recently finished reading the book "Septimius Severus the African Emperor", by Anthony Birley, Revised edition, 1988, Yale University Press, & highly recommend the book to all Severus enthusiasts.
  21. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Prieur 1141 obv..JPG

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