CARACALLA Genuine 215AD Rome Authentic Ancient Silver Roman Coin SERAPIS i66106
Item: i66106 Authentic Ancient Coin of. Silver Antoninianus 22mm (3.30 grams) Rome mint, struck 215 A. Reference: RIC 263e; RSC 295 ANTONINVS PIVS AVG GERM, radiate, draped and cuirassed bust right. P M TR P XVIII COS IIII P P, Serapis, wearing polos, standing left, raising right hand and holding transverse sceptre. Serapis (Latin spelling, or Sarapis in Greek) was a syncretic Hellenistic-Egyptian god in Antiquity. His most renowned temple was the Serapeum of Alexandria. Under Ptolemy Soter, efforts were made to integrate Egyptian religion with that of their Hellenic rulers. Ptolemy’s policy was to find a deity that should win the reverence alike of both groups, despite the curses of the Egyptian priests against the gods of the previous foreign rulers i. E Set who was lauded by the Hyksos. Alexander the Great had attempted to use Amun for this purpose, but he was more prominent in Upper Egypt, and not as popular with those in Lower Egypt, where the Greeks had stronger influence. The Greeks had little respect for animal-headed figures, and so a Greek-style anthromorphic statue was chosen as the idol, and proclaimed as the equivalent of the highly popular Apis. It was named Aser-hapi i. Osiris-Apis , which became Serapis , and was said to be Osiris in full, rather than just his Ka (life force). The earliest mention of a Serapis is in the disputed death scene of Alexander (323 BC). Here, Serapis has a temple at Babylon, and is of such importance that he alone is named as being consulted on behalf of the dying king. His presence in Babylon would radically alter perceptions of the mythologies of this era, though fortunately it has been discovered that the unconnected Babylonian god Ea (Enki) was titled Serapsi , meaning king of the deep , and it is possibly this Serapsi which is referred to in the diaries. The significance of this Serapsi in the Hellenic psyche, due to its involvement in Alexander’s death, may have also contributed to the choice of Osiris-Apis as the chief Ptolemaic god. According to Plutarch, Ptolemy stole the cult statue from Sinope, having been instructed in a dream by the unknown god , to bring the statue to Alexandria, where the statue was pronounced to be Serapis by two religious experts. One of the experts was of the Eumolpidae, the ancient family from whose members the hierophant of the Eleusinian Mysteries had been chosen since before history, and the other was the scholarly Egyptian priest Manetho, which gave weight to the judgement both for the Egyptians and the Greeks. Plutarch may not however be correct, as some Egyptologists allege that the Sinope in the tale is really the hill of Sinopeion, a name given to the site of the already existing Serapeum at Memphis. Also, according to Tacitus, Serapis i. Apis explicitly identified as Osiris in full had been the god of the village of Rhakotis, before it suddenly expanded into the great capital of Alexandria. The statue suitably depicted a figure resembling Hades or Pluto, both being kings of the Greek underworld, and was shown enthroned with the modius , a basket/grain-measure, on his head, since it was a Greek symbol for the land of the dead. He also held a sceptre in his hand indicating his rulership, with Cerberus, gatekeeper of the underworld, resting at his feet, and it also had what appeared to be a serpent at its base, fitting the Egyptian symbol of rulership, the uraeus. Osiris’ wife Isis, and their son (at this point in history) Horus (in the form of Harpocrates), Serapis won an important place in the Greek world, reaching Ancient Rome, with Anubis being identified as Cerberus. In Rome, Serapis was worshiped in the Iseum Campense , the sanctuary of the goddess Isis located in the Campus Martius and built during the Second Triumvirate. The Roman cults of Isis and Serapis gained in popularity late in the first century thanks to the god’s role in the miracles that the imperial usurper Vespasian experienced in the city of Alexandria, where he stayed prior to his return to Rome as emperor in 70 AD. From the Flavian Dynasty on, Serapis sometimes appeared on imperial coinage with the reigning emperor. The great cult survived until 385, when a Christian mob destroyed the Serapeum of Alexandria, and subsequently the cult was forbidden by the Theodosian decree. The early Alexandrian Christian community appears to have been rather syncretic in their worship of Serapis and Jesus and would prostrate themselves without distinction between the two. A letter inserted in the Augustan History , ascribed to the Emperor Hadrian, refers to the worship of Serapis by residents of Egypt who described themselves as Christians, and Christian worship by those claiming to worship Serapis, suggesting a great confusion of the cults and practices. The land of Egypt, the praises of which you have been recounting to me, my dear Servianus, I have found to be wholly light-minded, unstable, and blown about by every breath of rumour. There those who worship Serapis are, in fact, Christians, and those who call themselves bishops of Christ are, in fact, devotees of Serapis. There is no chief of the Jewish synagogue, no Samaritan, no Christian presbyter, who is not an astrologer, a soothsayer, or an anointer. Even the Patriarch himself, when he comes to Egypt, is forced by some to worship Serapis, by others to worship Christ. Sole Reign Son of Septimius Severus. Caracalla (4 April 188 – 8 April 217), formally Marcus Aurelius Severus Antoninus Augustus , was Roman emperor from AD 198 to 217. A member of the Severan Dynasty, he was the eldest son of Septimius Severus and Julia Domna. Caracalla reigned jointly with his father from 198 until Severus’ death in 211. Caracalla then ruled jointly with his younger brother Geta, with whom he had a fraught relationship, until he had Geta murdered later that year. Caracalla’s reign was marked by domestic instability and external invasions from the Germanic people. Caracalla’s reign was notable for the Antonine Constitution (Latin: Constitutio Antoniniana), also known as the Edict of Caracalla , which granted Roman citizenship to nearly all freemen throughout the Roman Empire. The edict gave all the enfranchised men Caracalla’s adopted praenomen and nomen: “Marcus Aurelius”. Domestically, Caracalla was known for the construction of the Baths of Caracalla, which became the second-largest baths in Rome, for the introduction of a new Roman currency named the antoninianus , a sort of double denarius , and for the massacres he enacted against the people of Rome and elsewhere in the empire. Towards the end of his rule, Caracalla began a campaign against the Parthian Empire. He did not see this campaign through to completion due to his assassination by a disaffected soldier in 217. He was succeeded as emperor by Macrinus after three days. Caracalla is presented in ancient sources as a tyrant and cruel leader, an image that has survived into modernity. Dio Cassius and Herodian present Caracalla as a soldier first and emperor second. In the 12th century, Geoffrey of Monmouth started the legend of Caracalla’s role as the king of Britain. Later, in the 18th century, Caracalla’s memory was revived in the works of French artists due to the parallels between Caracalla’s apparent tyranny and that of King Louis XVI. Modern works continue to portray Caracalla as a psychopathic and evil ruler. His rule is remembered as being one of the most tyrannical of all Roman emperors. Caracalla was born Lucius Septimius Bassianus. He was renamed Marcus Aurelius Antoninus at the age of seven as part of his father’s attempt at union with the families of Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. According to Aurelius Victor in his Epitome de Caesaribus , he became known by the agnomen “Caracalla” after a Gallic hooded tunic that he habitually wore and made fashionable. He may have begun wearing it during his campaigns on the Rhine and Danube. Dio generally referred to him as Tarautas, after a famously diminutive and violent gladiator of the time. Caracalla was born in Lugdunum, Gaul (now Lyon, France), on 4 April 188 to Septimius Severus and Julia Domna. He had a slightly younger brother, Geta, who would briefly rule as co-emperor alongside him. Caracalla’s father, Septimius Severus, appointed Caracalla joint Augustus and full emperor from the year 198 onwards. His brother Geta was granted the same title in 210. In 202 Caracalla was forced to marry the daughter of Gaius Fulvius Plautianus, Fulvia Plautilla, a woman whom he hated, though for what reason is unknown. By 205 Caracalla had succeeded in having Plautianus executed for treason, though he had probably fabricated the evidence of the plot himself. It was then that he banished his wife, whose later killing might have been carried out under Caracalla’s orders. Caracalla’s father, Septimius Severus, died on 4 February 211 at Eboracum (now York) while on campaign in Caledonia, north of the Roman Britannia. Caracalla and his brother, Publius Septimius Antoninus Geta, jointly inherited the throne upon their father’s death. During the journey back to Rome with their father’s ashes, Caracalla and his brother continuously argued with one another, making relations between them increasingly hostile. Caracalla and Geta considered dividing the empire in half along the Bosphorus to make their co-rule less hostile. Caracalla was to rule in the west and Geta was to rule in the east. They were persuaded not to do this by their mother. On 26 December 211, at a reconciliation meeting arranged by their mother, Caracalla had Geta assassinated by members of the Praetorian Guard loyal to himself, Geta dying in his mother’s arms. Caracalla then persecuted and executed most of Geta’s supporters and ordered a damnatio memoriae pronounced by the Senate against his brother’s memory. Geta’s image was removed from all paintings, coins were melted down, statues were destroyed, his name was struck from papyrus records, and it became a capital offence to speak or write Geta’s name. In the aftermath of the damnatio memoriae , an estimated 20,000 people were massacred. Those killed were Geta’s inner circle of guards and advisers, friends, and other military staff under his employ. The Roman Empire during the reign of Caracalla. In 213, about a year after Geta’s death, Caracalla left Rome never to return. He went north to the German frontier to deal with the Alamanni and Goths tribesmen, a confederation of migrating Germanic tribes who had broken through the limes in Raetia. During the campaign of 213-214, Caracalla successfully defeated some of the Germanic tribes while settling other difficulties through diplomacy, though precisely with whom these treaties were made remains unknown. While there, Caracalla strengthened the frontier fortifications of Raetia and Germania Superior, collectively known as the Agri Decumates, so that it was able to withstand any further barbarian invasions for another twenty years. Historian Edward Gibbon compares Caracalla to emperors such as Hadrian who spent their careers campaigning in the provinces and then to tyrants such as Nero and Domitian whose entire reigns were confined to Rome and whose actions only impacted upon the senatorial and equestrian classes residing there. Gibbon then concludes that Caracalla was “the common enemy of mankind”, as both Romans and provincials alike were subject to “his rapine and cruelty”. After Caracalla concluded his campaign against the Alamanni, it became evident that he was inordinately preoccupied with the Greek-Macedonian general and conqueror Alexander the Great. He began openly mimicking Alexander in his personal style. In planning his invasion of the Parthian Empire, Caracalla decided to equip 16,000 of his men with Macedonian-style phalanxes, despite the Roman army having made the phalanx an obsolete tactical formation. The historian Christopher Matthew mentions that the term Phalangarii has two possible meanings, both with military connotations. The first refers merely to the Roman battle line and does not specifically mean that the men were armed with pikes, and the second bears similarity to the’Marian Mules’ of the late Roman Republic who carried their equipment suspended from a long pole, which were in use until at least the 2nd century AD. As a consequence, the Phalangarii of Legio II Parthica may not have been pikemen, but rather standard battle line troops or possibly Triarii. Caracalla’s mania for Alexander went so far that Caracalla visited Alexandria while preparing for his Persian invasion and persecuted philosophers of the Aristotelian school based on a legend that Aristotle had poisoned Alexander. This was a sign of Caracalla’s increasingly erratic behaviour. But this mania for Alexander, strange as it was, was overshadowed by subsequent events in Alexandria. When the inhabitants of Alexandria heard of Caracalla’s claims that he had killed his brother Geta in self-defence, they produced a satire mocking this as well as Caracalla’s other pretensions. In 215 Caracalla travelled to Alexandria and responded to this insult by slaughtering the deputation of leading citizens who had unsuspectingly assembled before the city to greet his arrival, before setting his troops against Alexandria for several days of looting and plunder. Following the massacre at Alexandria, Caracalla moved east onto Armenia. By 216 he had pushed through Armenia and south into Parthia. During the reign of Septimius Severus, Julia Domna had played a prominent public role, receiving titles of honor such as “Mother of the camp”, but she also played a role behind the scenes helping Septimius administer the empire. Described as ambitious, Julia Domna surrounded herself with thinkers and writers from all over the empire. While Caracalla was mustering and training troops for his planned Persian invasion, Julia remained in Rome, administering the empire. Julia’s growing influence in state affairs was the beginning of a trend of emperors’ mothers having influence, which continued throughout the Severan dynasty. When Geta died in 211, her responsibilities increased because Caracalla found administrative tasks to be mundane. She may have taken upon one of the more important civil functions of the emperor; receiving petitions and answering correspondence. The extent of her role in this position, however, is probably overstated. She may have represented her son and played a role in meetings and answering queries; however, the final authority on legal matters was Caracalla. The emperor filled all of the roles in the legal system as judge, legislator, and administrator. He lavished many benefits on the army, which he both feared and admired, in accordance with the advice given by his father on his deathbed always to heed the welfare of the soldiers and ignore everyone else. Caracalla needed to gain and keep the trust of the military, and he did so with generous pay raises and popular gestures. He spent much of his time with the soldiers, so much so that he began to imitate their dress and adopt their manners. The Baths of Caracalla. Construction on the Baths of Caracalla began in 211 at the start of Caracalla’s rule. The baths are named for Caracalla, though it is most probable that his father was responsible for their planning. In 216 a partial inauguration of the baths took place, but the outer perimeter of the baths was not completed until the reign of Severus Alexander. These large baths were typical of the Roman practice of building complexes for social and state activities in large densely populated cities. The baths covered around 50 acres (or 202,000 square meters) of land and could accommodate around 1,600 bathers at any one time. They were the second largest public baths built in ancient Rome and were complete with swimming pools, exercise yards, a stadium, steam rooms, libraries, meeting rooms, fountains, and other amenities, all of which were enclosed within formal gardens. The interior spaces were decorated with colourful marble floors, columns, mosaics, and colossal statuary. At the outset of his reign, Caracalla declared divine support for Egyptian deity Serapis – a god of healing. The Iseum et Serapeum in Alexandria was apparently renovated during Caracalla’s co-rule with his father Septimius Severus. The evidence for this exists in two inscriptions found near the temple that appear to bear their names. Additional archaeological evidence exists for this in the form of two papyrii that have been dated to the Severan period and also two statues associated with the temple that have been dated to around 200 AD. Upon Caracalla’s ascension to sole ruler in 212, the imperial mint began striking coins bearing Serapis’ image. This was a reflection of the god’s central role during Caracalla’s reign. After Geta’s death, the weapon that had killed him was dedicated to Serapis by Caracalla. This was most likely done to cast Serapis into the role of Caracalla’s protector from treachery. Caracalla also erected a temple on the Quirinal Hill in 212, which he dedicated to Serapis. A fragmented inscription found in the church of Sant’ Agata dei Goti in Rome records the construction, or possibly restoration, of a temple dedicated to the god Serapis. The inscription bears the name “Marcus Aurelius Antoninus”, a reference to either Caracalla or Elagabalus, but more likely to Caracalla due to his known strong association with the god. Two other inscriptions dedicated to Serapis, as well as a granite crocodile similar to one discovered at the Iseum et Serapeum, were also found in the area around the Quirinal Hill. The Constitutio Antoniniana lit. “Constitution of Antoninus”, also called “Edict of Caracalla” or “Antonine Constitution” was an edict issued in 212 by Caracalla declaring that all free men in the Roman Empire were to be given full Roman citizenship, with the exception of the dediticii , people who had become subject to Rome through surrender in war, and certain freed slaves. Whether the dediticii were excepted from the decree is a matter of debate. Before 212 the majority of Roman citizens had been inhabitants of Roman Italia, with about 4-7% of all peoples in the Roman empire being Roman citizens at the time of the death of Augustus in 14 AD. Outside Rome, citizenship was restricted to Roman coloniae. Romans, or their descendants, living in the provinces, the inhabitants of various cities throughout the Empire – and small numbers of local nobles such as kings of client countries. Provincials, on the other hand, were usually non-citizens, although some Magistrates and their families and relatives held the Latin Right. Dio maintains that one purpose for Caracalla issuing the edict was the desire to increase state revenue; at the time, Rome was in a difficult financial situation and needed to pay for the new pay raises and benefits that were being conferred on the military. The provincials also benefited from this edict because they were now able to think of themselves as equal partners to the Romans in the empire. However, few of those that gained citizenship were wealthy, and while it is true that Rome was in a difficult financial situation, it is thought that this could not have been the sole purpose of the edict. Another purpose for issuing the edict, as described within the papyrus upon which part of the edict was inscribed, was to appease the gods who had delivered Caracalla from conspiracy. The conspiracy in question was in response to Caracalla’s murder of Geta and the subsequent slaughter of his followers; fratricide would only have been condoned if his brother had been a tyrant. The damnatio memoriae against Geta and the large payments Caracalla had made to his own supporters were designed to protect himself from possible repercussions. After this had succeeded, Caracalla felt the need to repay the gods of Rome by returning the favour to the people of Rome through a similarly grand gesture. This was done through the granting of citizenship. Another purpose for issuing the edict might have been related to the fact that the periphery of the empire was now becoming central to its existence, and the granting of citizenship may have been simply a logical outcome of Rome’s continued expansion of citizenship rights. The expenditures that Caracalla made with the large bonuses he gave to soldiers prompted him to debase the coinage soon after his ascension. At the end of Severus’ reign, and early into Caracalla’s, the Roman denarius had an approximate silver purity of around 55%, but by the end of his reign the purity had been reduced to about 51%. In 215 Caracalla introduced the antoninianus , a coin intended to serve as a double denarius. This new currency, however, had a silver purity of about 52% for the period between 215 and 217 and an actual size ratio of 1 antoninianus to 1.5 denarii. This in effect made the antoninianus equal to about 1.5 denarii. The reduced silver purity of the coins caused people to hoard the old coins that had higher silver content, making the inflation problem caused by the earlier devaluation of the denarii worse than it had been before. In 216 Caracalla pursued a series of aggressive campaigns in the east against the Parthians, intended to bring more territory under direct Roman control. He offered the king of Parthia, Artabanus V of Parthia, a marriage proposal between himself and the king’s daughter. Artabanus refused the offer, realizing that the proposal was merely an attempt to unite the kingdom of Parthia under the control of Rome. In response, Caracalla used the opportunity to start a campaign against the Parthians. That summer Caracalla began to attack the countryside east of the Tigris in the Parthian war of Caracalla. In the following winter, Caracalla retired to Edessa, modern anlurfa in south-east Turkey, and began making preparations to renew the campaign by spring. At the beginning of 217, Caracalla was at Edessa with a large army preparing to start a new invasion of Parthia. On 8 April 217 Caracalla was travelling to visit a temple near Carrhae, now Harran in southern Turkey, where in 53 BC the Romans had suffered a defeat at the hands of the Parthians. After stopping briefly to urinate, Caracalla was approached by a soldier, Justin Martialis, and stabbed to death. Martialis had been incensed by Caracalla’s refusal to grant him the position of centurion, and the Praetorian Guard Prefect Macrinus, Caracalla’s successor, saw the opportunity to use Martialis to end Caracalla’s reign. In the immediate aftermath of Caracalla’s death, his murderer, Martialis, was killed as well. Three days later, Macrinus declared himself emperor with the support of the Roman army. World-renowned expert numismatist, enthusiast, author and dealer in authentic ancient Greek, ancient Roman, ancient Byzantine, world coins & more. 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- Ancient Coins: Roman Coins
- Coin Type: Ancient Roman
- Ruler: Caracalla
- Composition: Silver