Roman Empire

Caracalla, Co-Emperor AD 198-217

RIC 174 corr. (bust; BMC 519; Calicó 2831 (this coin illus.), Superb Extremely Fine

Rome, AD 210/1. ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, laureate head of Caracalla right, slight drapery over far shoulder. Reverse: VICTORIAE BRIT, Victory seated left on shield, holding shield on knee, and palm branch.

Ex Triton XXI (9 January 2018), 792; Triton VI (14 January 2003), 1011; CNR XXVII (Summer 2002), 77; NAC 23 (19 March 2002), 1068

The eldest son of Septimius Severus was named M. Aurelius Antoninus after his father became Emperor, but was popularly known as Caracalla—the name of a hooded Gallic tunic he was accustomed to wear on campaign. Although his reign was soon sullied with the blood of his brother Geta, Caracalla gained the support of the soldiers by raising their pay, but to do so he had to take drastic financial measures: he gave Roman citizenship to almost all free males in the empire while simultaneously doubling the inheritance tax paid only by citizens and in AD 215 introduced the antoninianus a new coin tariffed at two denarii but which only had the silver content of 1.5 denarii. After campaigning to defend the northern frontiers against the Germanic Alemanni and Carpi in AD 213-214, Caracalla became obsessed with becoming a Roman incarnation of Alexander the Great and embarked upon a great Parthian campaign in AD 216. Unfortunately, while preparing for a second campaign, he was assassinated near Carrhae in Mesopotamia having fallen far short of equaling the great Macedonian conqueror.