Roman Empire

Caracalla, Co-Emperor AD 198-217

RIC 280a; BMC 164; Calico 2745 (same dies as illus.), Superb Extremely Fine

Rome, AD 216. ANTONINVS PIVS AVG GERM, laureat, draped and cuirassed bust of Caracalla right. Reverse: P M TR P XVIIII COS IIII P P Serapis, modius on head, standing facing, head left, raising hand and holding scepter.

Ex Gemini II (11 January 2006), 497

The reverse of this aureus features the Graeco-Egyptian deity Serapis—a god who had enjoyed the favor of the Severan dynasty. The hair and beard style worn by Septimius Severus, Caracalla’s father, had featured so-called Serapis curls in emulation of the god and during their co-rule father and son had renovated the Temple of Isis and Serapis in Alexandria. After the death of Geta, Caracalla had dedicated the murder weapon to Serapis, presumably as a thank offering for the god’s protection from his brother’s “treachery.” Evidently Serapis was a deity who had some taste for irony. In AD 212, Caracalla erected an impressive temple dedicated to the god on the Quirinal Hill of Rome.