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    Stunning Severus Aureus

    Septimius Severus (AD 193-211). AV aureus (21mm, 7.22 gm, 6h). NGC MS 5/5 - 5/5, Fine Style. Rome, AD 207. SEVERVS-PIVS AVG, laureate head of Septimius Severus right / RESTITVTOR-VRBIS, Roma seated left upon shield, holding Palladium in right hand and scepter in left. RIC IV.I 288. BMCRE 358. Calic├│ 2529. Cohen 605.

    The first Roman emperor of African descent, Lucius Septimius Severus was born on 11 April, AD 145 in the North African city of Lepcis Magna. He entered the Senate during the reign of Marcus Aurelius and also served as an officer in the army under the general Pertinax, finding the soldier's life much to his liking. Talented and hardworking, Severus rose rapidly in the Senate hierarchy, becoming consul in AD 190 and proconsul of Pannonia Superior the following year. The assassination of Commodus on January 1, AD 193 brought his patron Pertinax to the throne, but within three months Pertinax had been murdered by the Praetorians, who sold the throne to Didius Julianus. An outraged populace demanded that Pescennius Niger, governor of Syria, or Clodius Albinus, proconsul of Britain, depose Julianus. But Severus was much closer in Pannonia, and he struck first. Placating Albinus with the junior title of Caesar, Severus marched on Rome and easily disposed of Julianus. He next marched against Niger and crushed his rebel regime in a brutally efficient campaign. Returning to Rome in AD 195, he raised his elder son Caracalla to the rank of Caesar, thus severing his pact with Clodius Albinus and igniting another civil war, which ended with Severus's victory in AD 197. A bloody purge of Albinus's supporters led many to call him "the Punic Sulla," but with his position secure, he ruled with moderation. Julia Domna's patronage stimulated Rome's arts and intellectual life, but the mutual hatred of their sons, Caracalla and Geta, caused the imperial couple no end of grief. Like Hadrian, Severus traveled incessantly, but his policy was expansion through conquest, and in AD 208 he launched an invasion of Scotland. But what was supposed to be a quick conquest turned into a long, bitter slog, which took its toll on the emperor's health. On his deathbed in York, Severus begged his sons to "be good to each other, pay the soldiers well, and the rest can to go to hell." He died on February 4, AD 311, at the age of 65.

    This stunning gold aureus depicts Severus as resembling his patron god Serapis, with his beard carefully styled in long curls. The reverse legend, "Restorer of the City," refers to Severus' extensive program of construction in Rome.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2019
    6th-7th Sunday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 8
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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