ROMAN EMPIRE Elagabalus 218-222 AD denarius


ROMAN EMPIRE, Elagabalus, 218-222 AD, denarius, no date (221 AD), Rome mint, Obverse: laureate bust R, IMP ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, Reverse: Sol advancing L holding whip, star L, P M TR P III COS III P P, silver, 17mm, 3.18g, SR7533, VF/F

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Elagabal was the local sun god in the city of Emesa. The son of a prominent Arab family there became high priest as a child. The child was a cousin to the Roman Emperor Caracalla, who was assassinated and replaced by Macrinus, who was assassinated in a coup arranged by the boy’s grandmother, Julia Maesa. The boy then became Roman Emperor and took the name Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, but there were already Emperors with those names, it’s confusing, we refer to him by the name of the god he worshipped. The kid’s conduct was scandalous and politically damaging in several ways and he was assassinated in another plot fomented by the same grandmother who put him on the throne in the first place.

In the Imperial Period Roman coinage became an engine for governmental propaganda. All of the themes of the coins are celebratory of some aspect of govermental authority or achievement.

The Roman Republic was founded in response to tyrannical kings. It functioned for several centuries in a kind of balance of rich and poor people (slaves didn’t count). The general idea was that laws would constrain personal power. During the days of Julius Caesar, et al, powerful people became too powerful, and a new system of slightly constrained autocracy, the Empire, developed. The main catalog we use on this web site for Roman coins is Roman Coins and their Values, by David Sear.

Ancient Coins includes Greek and Roman coins and those of neighbors and successors, geographically from Morocco and Spain all the way to Afghanistan. Date ranges for these begin with the world’s earliest coins of the 8th century BC to, in an extreme case, the end of Byzantine Empire, 1453 AD.