Septimius Severus (193-211) AV Aureus Rome 202/210

Septimius Severus (193-211) AV Aureus Rome 202/210
The reverse of this splendid aureus is sharply struck and shows quite clearly the individual facial features of each of the riders. Closest to the viewer is Caracalla, cloaked and wearing a military breastplate, with boyish looks and a laureate crown. Next is Severus, with much facial hair and a laureate crown. Finally there is Geta, young and slim, with smooth cheeks and lacking his crown. Each is posed with his arm extended as if receiving an ovation, and is very similar to the Adventus type with emperor on horseback which was to become very common on later coinage until the reign of Constantine the Great. The significance of the type here, though, is different, and is proclaimed in the legend, VIRTVS AVGVSTORVM, or "bravery of the emperors." This relates to Severus' campaigns in northern Britain after A.D. 209, where he took his wife and two sons to wage war against the Caledonians of northern Britain. He did so in part because of the genuine threat that these northern peoples presented, but his primary interest in doing so seems to have been to provide a constructive outlet for the near constant quarrelling of his two sons. He felt it would be better if they focused their attentions on an enemy of Rome rather than each other, and in the process gain invaluable command experience. Based at Eboracum (modern York), Severus sent his sons to lead the troops. He also used this opportunity to elevate Geta to the rank of Augustus. However, while in Britain Severus fell ill and died in A.D. 211, leaving behind two sons who were still intent on eliminating one another!

Laureate bust right, SEVERVS – PIVS AVG

Septimius Severus, Caracalla and Geta on horses prancing l., each with r. hand raised, VIRTVS AVGVSTORVM

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