Roman Empire

Severus Alexander, Emperor AD 222-235

RIC 103; BMC 620; Calicó 3121 (same dies as illus.), Superb Mint State

Rome, AD 230. IMP SEV ALE-XAND AVG, laureate bust of Severus Alexander right, slight drapery on far shoulder. Reverse: P M TR P VIIII CO-S III P P, Severus Alexander, as Romulus, radiate, advancing right, holding spear and trophy.

With Elagabalus dead, the Praetorian Guard proclaimed his fifteen-year-old cousin, Gessius Alexianus Bassianus, as the new Emperor. Alexianus had been adopted by Elagabalus as Caesar in AD 221 and took the name of M. Aurelius Severus Alexander, but now he ruled as Augustus. Alexander was strongly influenced by his mother, Julia Mamaea, and a council of senators, but this was unable to counteract growing indiscipline in the army. In AD 231-233, Alexander campaigned against the new Sasanian Persian Empire with little effect and took action to defend the Danube frontier from the Alemanni in AD 235 by paying off the Germanic raiders. This policy, recommended by Mamaea, undermined Alexander’s popularity with the army and led to a military revolt and the murder of mother and son.