About this artwork
During the period of the five “Good Emperors,” succession was not hereditary. It was instead based on merit, with the current ruler formally adopting his successor. This pattern ended with Marcus Aurelius’s son, Commodus (reigned 177–92), who inherited the crown. He promptly abused his power and died a tyrant’s death. The Severan dynasty followed with the rise to power of Septimius Severus. His two sons, Caracalla and Geta, were proclaimed co-emperors upon his death. Within a year the conflict between the brothers resulted in Caracalla (reigned 211–17) killing Geta in order to rule alone.
The front (obverse) of this coin portrays a bust of Emperor Caracalla facing right, laureate, and wearing a cuirass and paludamentum (breastplate and military cloak). The back (reverse) depicts Serapis standing to the left, wearing a polos on his head, while raising his right hand and holding a scepter.
- On View, Gallery 153
- Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium
- Ancient Roman
- Aureus (Coin) Portraying Emperor Caracalla
- Rome (Minted in)
- 216 CE
- Obverse: ANTONINVS PIVS AVG GERM Reverse: P M TR P XVIIII COS IIII P P
- Diam.: 2 cm (13/16 in.)
- Gift of Martin A. Ryerson