Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ancient Coin Post - A Denarius of Caracalla

Obverse: Laureate and drapped bust of Caracalla facing right.

Reverse: Trophy with two captives seated at base
Inscription: PART MAX PONT TRP V

This silver coin, slightly larger than a dime, can be dated to precisely 202 AD, as Caracalla had the Tribunician Power, for the 5th time in 202 AD, hence the TRP V on the coin.

M. Aurelius Antonius, better known as Caracalla, was the son of he Emperor Septimius Severus and was Emperor from 198-217 AD. After Severus's death he ruled jointly with his brother Geta until 212 AD when Caracalla had him assassinated so he could rule alone.

The trophy shows off Caracalla's military virtues, important for the loyalty of his soldiers as well as the Praetorian Guard. Caracalla participated in campaigns against the Alamanni in Germany in 213, and two expeditions to Britain in 208 and 210 AD. He was also involved in campaigns against the Parthians, hence the PART MAX - Parthicus Maximus - on the coin inscription.

Caracallas' granting of extra pay also didn't hurt in gaining the troops loyalty either. Caracalla raised the annual pay of an average legionary to 675 denarii and he followed the lesson given him by his father Septimius Severus who had told him to always mind the soldiers and ignore everyone else.

Caracalla however didn't need too much retirement planning as in 217 AD he was assassinated by his Praetorian Guard Prefect Macrinus, which then set off further turmoil and a series of very short lived emperors.

Not until 36 years later, in 253 AD will we find a Roman Emperor that will last for 10 years on the throne. Quite a number of the short lived emperors did strike coins until they were struck down themselves and thus leave behind artifacts of their short lived reigns.

No comments: