From:Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities
Name/TitleCoin, bronze as, Alexander Severus
About this objectThis bronze As dates to AD 226 and features the bust of Severus Alexander (AD 222-235).
Alexander Severus, also known as Severus Alexander, was emperor of Rome from 222-235 CE. He was born in Phoenicia in 209 CE and given the birth name Gessius Bassianus Alexianus. His cousin Elagabalus (emperor from 218-222 CE) was persuaded to adopt him as son and heir by their grandmother Julia Maesa in 221 CE.
Sister-in-law to the emperor Septimius Severus, Julia Maesa became integral in the restoration of the Severan dynasty, and a major power behind the throne during the reigns of her grandsons. Alexianus quickly became more popular than his cousin, who attempted to have him assassinated. This led to the praetorian guard killing Elagabalus, and Alexianus ascended the throne, taking the name Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander to emphasise his Severan family links.
Portraits of Severus Alexander in stone, as well as on coins such as this one, show elements of what may by then have been seen as Augustan style, in marked reaction to the elaborate appearance given to his predecessors and doubtless with an attempt to imply ‘classical’ virtues. Nevertheless, the emphasis on the eyes and the thick neck seen on our coins are typical of this and the next period.
The reverse of this coin as shows Mars, the Roman god of war wearing a crested helmet and carrying a trophy over his shoulder and a spear in his right hand. This is a common representation of Mars, who is often depicted nude to differentiate him from Virtus, the personification of virtue. It is also an example of the military symbolism that became common on coins of the later Empire.
Date Made226 CE
Place NotesMint unknown
Medium and MaterialsMetal: Bronze
Style and IconographyRoman
Inscription and MarksObverse:
IMP [CAES M AVR SEV] ALEXANDER AVG
(Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander Augustus)
Emperor (Commander-in-Chief) Caesar Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander, Augustus
[P M T]R [P] V COS II PP
(Pontifex Maximus Tribunicia Potestas V Consul II Pater Patriae)
Highest Priest, Tribunician Power (authority to veto legislation) for the 5th time, Consul for the second time, Father of his Country
By decree of the Senate
Diameter ca. 24mm
Subject and Association KeywordsEmperors
Subject and Association KeywordsKings and rulers in art
Subject and Association KeywordsGods in art
Subject and Association KeywordsNumismatics
Subject and Association KeywordsInscriptions, Latin
Named CollectionThe James Logie Memorial Collection, University of Canterbury, New Zealand
Credit LineDonated by M.K. Steven, 1996.
Object TypeExchange Media
Copyright LicenceAll rights reserved