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    Stone of Emesa Aureus

    Elagabalus (AD 218-222). AV aureus (21mm, 6.89 gm, 1h). NGC AU★ 5/5 - 4/5, Fine Style. Antioch, AD 218-219. IMP CAES M AVR ANTONINVS P F AVG, laureate, cuirassed bust of Elagabalus left, seen from front / SANCT DEO SO-LI / ELAGABAL, slow quadriga right pulling cart containing the Stone of Emesa decorated with eagle, surrounded by four parasols. RIC IV.II 196a (this coin). BMC 273 note (this coin). Calicó 3034 (this coin). Evans, NC 1902, pages 353-354 and plate 18, 11 (this coin). An excessively rare variety of an extremely rare type.

    From the Morris Collection. Ex NAC 38 (21 March 2007), lot 121; Leu 38, (13 May 1986), lot 320; Sir Arthur Evans Collection (Naville III, 1922), lot 107.

    Without doubt, the four-year reign of Elagabalus stands as the strangest interlude in all Roman history. His rise to power was engineered by his grandmother, Julia Maesa, the sister of the powerful Roman empress, Julia Domna. Maesa, determined to restore the Severan-Emesan dynasty to power, seized upon her 13-year-old grandson, Varius Avitus Bassianus, as the means. The boy, who was the hereditary high priest of the god Elagabal, greatly resembled a young Caracalla, and Maesa had it put about to the soldiers that he was the emperor's natural son and true successor. That, plus a liberal sprinkling of gold, induced the troops to revolt and proclaim Avitus (now renamed Antoninus, but widely known as Elagabalus after his god) as emperor. Improbably, Macrinus was defeated and killed, and Elagabalus and his retinue made their way to Rome, where the people greeted their new ruler with mixed bafflement, amusement, and horror. Elagabalus was also what would today be called transgendered and totally committed to the orgiastic rites of his cult. He married three times in rapid succession, including a scandalous union with a Vestal Virgin. The populace and soldiery soon became disgusted with this un-Roman behavior. Maesa finally decided that he must be replaced to save the dynasty. She persuaded Elagabalus to adopt his more docile cousin Severus Alexander as Caesar, then cooly arranged for the Praetorians to murder their oddball emperor along with his mother, Julia Soaemias, in March, AD 222.

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2019
    6th-7th Sunday-Monday
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