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Silver Roman Denarius of Emperor Caracalla (as a Juvenile Under Emperor Septimius Severus, His Father) with the Goddess (of Happiness and Prosperity) "Felicitas"; 201-206 A.D.


OBVERSE DEPICTION: The bust of Caracalla as a YOUNG MAN, draped.


REVERSE DEPICTION: The Goddess Felicitas standing, enrobed, holding a caduceus in one hand an a cornucopiae in the other..

ATTRIBUTION: City of Rome Mint between 201 and 206 A.D.


Diameter: 20 millimeters.

Weight: 3.27 grams.

NOTE: Coin is mounted free of charge into your choice of pendant settings (shown in sterling silver pendant), and includes a sterling silver chain in your choice of 16", 18", or 20" length, (details below or click here). We can reverse coin in mounting if you prefer opposite side showing front.

IMAGES: Coins are difficult to image, especially silver ones. This coin looks just like it is supposed to, a bright silver denarius. Some of the images here are made with a digital camera, while others are made with a scanner. Hopefully between the two you can get a good idea both as to the detail and appearance (tone) of the coin. We're not really thrilled with either set of images, the coin looks much better in hand.

DETAIL: This is a very handsome, somewhat uncommon silver denarius produced in the city of Rome itself sometime between 201 and 206 A.D. when the future Emperor Caracalla was still just a young man, designed heir apparent and ruling jointly as "junior emperor" alongside his father, the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus. It is in exceptional condition, evidencing only the slightest wear from circulation in ancient Rome. It was well struck both front and back the result a little oblong, as was ordinarily the case (again, ancient Roman coins were individually hand struck). Nonetheless however the planchet (blank coin) was of very generous size, and as a result the strike uncharacteristically caught the entirety of both the thematic depictions as well as the legends. Quite extraordinary! Typically with coins of the era the planchets tending to be a bit stingy and undersized, the strike oftentimes off center, and so ordinarily one lost part of at least the legends, sometimes even the theme, which due to the combination of an undersized planchet and an off-center strike, missing. On the whole this specimen is without a doubt a superior strike, the entirety of both legends and theme in high relief and well centered on a very generous planchet.

The obverse of the coin depicts the head of the young Roman Emperor Caracalla, depicted draped and with the legend "ANTONINVS PIVS AVG". "ANTONINVS" refers to Caracalla's adoptive name, "Marcus Aurelius Antoninus". The name which he adopted thus tied him to two of the pasts greatest Roman Emperors, Marcus Aurelius and Antoninus Pius". The "PIVS" continuing the observes legend does not (also) really refer back to the Emperor Antoninus Pius, though this acclamation of "Pius" did derive from the reign of Antoninus Pius. Rather the acclamation "Pius" was a title or acclamation used in conjunction with Roman Emperors to mean that they were dutiful toward the pantheon of Roman deities, to the country (patriotic), and (perhaps) to their family. The title Pius was often times used in conjunction with "Pius Felix". Pius Felix meant quite simply fortunate, lucky, or blessed. In fact the Romans had several goddesses of good fortune including Felicitas and Fortuna, who were worshipped in various sanctuaries in Rome. Never hurts to have a leader who is both pious and lucky (blessed).

The suffix "AVG" was an abbreviation for Augustus. The term "Augustus" is Latin for "majestic" (thus the honorific salutation "your majesty"). However the term "Augustus" in the common vernacular of the Roman Empire became synonymous with the Emperor. The first "Augustus" (and first man counted as a Roman Emperor) was Octavius, Julis Caesar's nephew and heir. Octavian was given the title of Augustus by the Senate in 27 B.C. Over the next forty years, Caesar Augustus literally set the standard by which subsequent Emperors would be recognised, accumulating various offices and powers and making his own name ("Augustus") identifiable with the consolidation of these powers under a single person. Although the name signified nothing in constitutional theory, it was recognised as representing all the powers that Caesar Augustus eventually accumulated.

Caesar Augustus also set the standard by which Roman Emperors were named. The three titles used by the majority of Roman Emperors; "Imperator", "Caesar", and "Augustus" were all used personally by Caesar Augustus (he officially styled himself "Imperator Caesar Augustus"). However of the name "Augustus" was unique to the Emperor himself (though the Emperor's mother or wife could bear the name "Augusta"). But others could and did bear the titles "Imperator" and "Caesar". Later usage saw the Emperor adding the additional titles "Pius Felix ("pious and blessed") and "Invictus" ("unconquered") in addition to the title "Augustus"). In this usage, by signifying the complete assumption of all Imperial powers, "Augustus" became roughly synonymous with "Emperor" in modern language. As the Roman Empire began splintering, Augustus came to be the title applied to the senior Emperor, while the title "Caesar" came to refer to his "junior" sub-Emperors.

The obverse of the coin portrays Roman Emperor Caracalla, one of the most savage and ruthless emperors to ever sit on the throne. He was born Lucius Septimius Bassianus on April 6, 188 A.D., the eldest son of the Emperor Septimius Severus (193-211 A.D.) one of the second century's more distinguished emperors; and of Empress Julia Domna, the first of four "Syrian Princesses" who were to come to dominate Roman Politics from their vantage from "behind the throne" for the first 35 years of the third century. When he was seven years of age his name was changed to Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. The name change was a way of connecting the family of Severus to that of the Antonines. Caracalla was a nickname taken from the name of a type of hooded cloak of Gallic origin popularized by the emperor, but this nickname, originally derisive, was never used officially. In 196 A.D., at the age of 8, he was given the rank of Caesar, and in 198 A.D., he was elevated to the rank of Augustus, Septimius Severus's chosen heir, though only ten years of age. In 208 A.D. he accompanied his father and younger brother to Britain on a military expedition. Two years later in 210 A.D. he led a campaign of his own in Britain.

On the death of his father, Emperor Septimius Severus in 211 AD, Caracalla reigned jointly with his brother Geta, as his father had arranged. As soon as his father had passed, Caracalla arranged for the murder of his wife. Caracalla is best know today for arranging for the assassination of his younger brother less than a year later in 212 AD. Caracalla's reign was marked by extravagance, cruelty, and treachery. For instance, after murdering his brother Geta, Caracalla ordered the executive of thousands (perhaps tens of thousands) of Geta's supporters and sympathizers within the city of Rome. When the inhabitants of Alexandria (Egypt) heard Caracalla's claims that he had killed Geta in self-defense, they produced a satire mocking this claim, as well as Caracalla's other pretensions. Caracalla responded to this insult savagely in 215 A.D. by slaughtering the deputation of leading citizens who had unsuspectingly assembled before the city to greet his arrival, then unleashed his troops for several days of looting and plunder of Alexandria. According to one contemporary historian, Caracalla slaughtered some 20,000 people during his reign.

Caracalla spent little of his reign in the environs of Rome. In 213 A.D. he led a military campaign in Upper Germany and Raetia. The following several years he was involved in campaigns to the east in Armenia against the Parthians and in Mesopotamia. Caracalla was finally himself murdered at age 29, while traveling between his military camp in Edessa and a temple in Carrhae, on April 8th, 217, by his own praetorian guard. It was simply too much for his mother, Julia Domna. Having lost husband, daughter-in-law, and both sons, she died in the same year as Caracalla after intentionally starving herself to the death, probably aged 47. Of course the Praetorian Perfect who arranged the murder of Caracalla, M. Opelius Macrinus, became Rome's next emperor, and ruled for one year, until Caracalla's Aunt Julia Maesa (sister of his mother Julia Domna and one of the "Syrian Princesses) conspired to have the Roman troops revolt against Macrinus in favor of Julia Maesa's grandson, the (future) Emperor Elegabalus. Macrinus's army was eventually defeated, and after finding sanctuary the fleeing Macrinus was betrayed, captured, and executed. Though Caracalla was certainly noted for his savage butchery, he was also an energetic reformist and even of intellectual and spiritual character. During his reign Roman citizenship was vastly expanded, and the pay and benefits of Rome's legionnaires greatly improved. The coinage issued during Caracalla's life portrays successive portraits following his development from young boy through adolescence into manhood.

The reverse of this coin bears the legend "FELICITAS AVGG" and the depiction is of course, that of Felicitas, the deified personification of happiness and prosperity - the "good times". In fact, oftentimes when depicted on Roman coinage Felicitas would be accompanied by the legend "Felicitas Tempor", the time of happiness/prosperity. A very popular variant of this was the "Fel-Temp-Reparatio" or "Felicitas Tempor Reparatio" propagandistic coinage of the fourth century. This legend proclaimed the restoration of the times of happiness and prosperity, something which virtually every fourth century Roman Emperor acclaimed of himself. Other variations on this theme include "Felicitas Republicae" (the happiness and prosperity of the Roman Republic) and "Felicitas Avgg" (the happiness and prosperity of the emperor/emperors).

Felicitas was generally depicted in mythology and on coinage carrying a cornucopiae (symbolic of abundance and prosperity) and as a sign of peace, a cauduceus or "herald's staff" (as in the "herald of glad tidings"), though occasionally she might be depicted with a scepter in place of the cauduceus. The cauduceus was in Greek Mythology originally an attribute of Hermes ("Mercury" to the Romans), messenger of the gods of Mount Olympus. The cauduceus was originally an enchanter's wand, a symbol of the power that produces wealth and prosperity, and also an emblem of the influence over the living and the dead. But even in early times it was regarded as a herald's staff and an emblem of peaceful intercourse. It consisted of three shoots, one of which formed the handle, the other two being intertwined at the top in a knot. The place of the latter two intertwined shoots was eventually taken by serpents and was an attribute of Asclepius, the Graeco-Roman God of Medicine.

A cornucopiae of course is a "horn of plenty", a symbol of abundance generally a wicker container filled with fruits or vegetables. Used since at least the fifth century B.C., it seems to have originated in Greek mythology where Amalthea raised Zeus on the milk of a goat. In return Zeus gave her the goat's horn. It had the power to give to the person in possession of it whatever he or she wished for. This gave rise to the legend of the cornucopia. The original depictions were of the goat's horn filled with fruits and flowers. Greek and Roman deities would be depicted with the horn of plenty, which was especially associated with the Roman Goddess Fortuna (Greek Tyche). Felicitas was occasionally depicted holding an olive branch or a flower in place of the cornucopiae.

Felicitas was worshipped in various sanctuaries throughout Rome, including a temple in the Forum Romanum. Felicitas was generally depicted wearing a stola. The stola was a sleeveless outer garment worn by mature women over the tunic (or chemise). Alternate depictions of Felicitas might show her holding a patera over an altar. A "patera" was a broad, flat, round dish used for drinking (wine more often than not) and ceremonially for offering libations. At other times she was depicted holding a globe, symbolic of the peace and prosperity the empire brought to the entire world. And there were also depictions of her holding a rudder or with her foot on the prow of a ship, allegorical to Rome's merchant marine which brought prosperity and happiness in the form of grain from Africa and Egypt; and as allegory to the Roman Navy which protected those lines of commerce so ensuring that peace and prosperity.

The legend "FELICITAS AVGG" obviously refers to the name of the goddess, "Felicitas". The "AVGG" again refers to the title "Augustus", as was the case with the legend "AVG" on the front size of the coin. The difference is that whereas the front size of the coin had the abbreviation "AVG", referring specifically to Caracalla, an Augustus (singular), the reverse side of the coin bears the abbreviation "AVGG". This abbreviation is short for "AVGVSTI", or "Augusti", i.e., the plural of "Augustus". In other words, the legend refers to the fact that there are two people who hold the title of "Augustus", that being Septimius Severus and his son, Carcacalla. The legend and depiction of Felicitas are intended to convey the propagandistic message that the empire is enjoying peace (the cauduceus) and prosperity (the conucopiae) thanks to the two Augusti who are on the throne of Rome.

Your purchase includes, upon request, mounting of this coin in either pendant style "a" or "b" as shown here. Pendant style "a" is a clear, airtight acrylic capsule designed to afford your ancient coin maximum protection from both impact damage and degradation. It is the most "politically correct" mounting. Style "b" is a bezel wrap mount in either sterling silver or 14kt gold fill. Both pendant styles include a split ring for mounting your pendant onto a silver tone or gold tone chain, also included in the cost of your purchase. Upon request, there are also an almost infinite variety of other pendants which might well suit both you and your ancient coin pendant, and include both sterling silver and solid 14kt gold mountings, including those shown here. As well, upon request, we can also make available a huge variety of chains in lengths from 16 to 30 inches, in metals including sterling silver, 14kt gold fill, and solid 14kt gold. Please note, you must request and specify how you wish your coin mounted, as absent specific instructions to the contrary, the default shipment method is the unmounted coin.

HISTORY: Coins came into being during the seventh century B.C. in Lydia and Ionia, part of the Greek world, and were made from a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver. Each coin blank was heated and struck with a hammer between two engraved dies. Unlike modern coins, they were not uniformly round. Each coin was wonderfully unique. Coinage quickly spread to the island and city states of Western Greece. Alexander the Great (336-323 B.C.) then spread the concept of coinage throughout the lands he conquered. Ancient coins are archaeological treasures from the past. They were buried for safekeeping because of their value and have been slowly uncovered throughout modern history. Oftentimes soldiers the night before battle would bury their coins and jewelry, hoping and believing that they would live long enough to recover them, and to return to their family. Killed in battle, these little treasure hoards remain until today scattered throughout Western and Eastern Europe, even into the Levant and Persia.

As well, everyone from merchants to housewives found the safest place to keep their savings was buried in a pot, or in some other secretive location. If they met an unexpected end, the whereabouts of the merchants trade goods or the household's sugar jar money might never be known. Recently a commercial excavation for a new building foundation in London unearthed a Roman mosaic floor. When archaeologists removed the floor, they found 7,000 silver denarii secreted beneath the floor. Even the Roman mints buried their produce. There were over 300 mints in the Roman Empire striking coinage. Hoards of as many as 40,000 coins have been found in a single location near these ancient sites. Ancient coins reflect the artistic, political, religious, and economic themes of their times. The acquisition of ancient coins is a unique opportunity to collect art which has been appreciated throughout the centuries.

Coins of the Roman Empire most frequently depicted the Emperor on the front of the coins, and were issued in gold, silver, and bronze. The imperial family was also frequently depicted on the coinage, and, in some cases, coins depicted the progression of an emperor from boyhood through maturity. The reverse side of often served as an important means of political propaganda, frequently extolling the virtues of the emperor or commemorating his victories. Many public works and architectural achievements such as the Coliseum and the Circus Maximus were also depicted. Important political events such as alliances between cities were recorded on coinage. Many usurpers to the throne, otherwise unrecorded in history, are known only through their coins. Interestingly, a visually stunning portrayal of the decline of the Roman Empire is reflected in her coinage. The early Roman bronze coins were the size of a half-dollar. Within 100-150 years those had shrunk to the size of a nickel. And within another 100-150 years, to perhaps half the size of a dime.

One of the greatest civilizations of recorded history was the ancient Roman Empire. In exchange for a very modest amount of contemporary currency, you can possess a small part of that great civilization in the form of a 2,000 year old piece of jewelry. The Roman civilization, in relative terms the greatest military power in the history of the world, was founded in the 8th century (B.C.). In the 4th Century (B.C.) the Romans were the dominant power on the Italian Peninsula, having defeated the Etruscans and Celts. In the 3rd Century (B.C.) the Romans conquered Sicily, and in the following century defeated Carthage, and controlled the Greece. Throughout the remainder of the 2nd Century (B.C.) the Roman Empire continued its gradual conquest of the Hellenistic (Greek Colonial) World by conquering Syria and Macedonia; and finally came to control Egypt in the 1st Century (B.C.).

The pinnacle of Roman power was achieved in the 1st Century (A.D.) as Rome conquered much of Britain and Western Europe. For a brief time, the era of "Pax Romana", a time of peace and consolidation reigned. Civilian emperors were the rule, and the culture flourished with a great deal of liberty enjoyed by the average Roman Citizen. However within 200 years the Roman Empire was in a state of steady decay, attacked by Germans, Goths, and Persians. In the 4th Century (A.D.) the Roman Empire was split between East and West. The Great Emperor Constantine temporarily arrested the decay of the Empire, but within a hundred years after his death the Persians captured Mesopotamia, Vandals infiltrated Gaul and Spain, and the Goths even sacked Rome itself. Most historians date the end of the Western Roman Empire to 476 (A.D.) when Emperor Romulus Augustus was deposed. However the Eastern Roman Empire (The Byzantine Empire) survived until the fall of Constantinople in 1453 A.D.

At its peak, the Roman Empire stretched from Britain in the West, throughout most of Western, Central, and Eastern Europe, and into Asia Minor. Valuables such as coins and jewelry were commonly buried for safekeeping, and inevitably these ancient citizens would succumb to one of the many perils of the ancient world. Oftentimes the survivors of these individuals did not know where the valuables had been buried, and today, two thousand years later caches of coins and rings are still commonly uncovered throughout Europe and Asia Minor. Roman Soldiers oftentimes came to possess large quantities of "booty" from their plunderous conquests, and routinely buried their treasure for safekeeping before they went into battle. If they met their end in battle, most often the whereabouts of their treasure was likewise, unknown. Throughout history these treasures have been inadvertently discovered by farmers in their fields, uncovered by erosion, and the target of unsystematic searches by treasure seekers. With the introduction of metal detectors and other modern technologies to Eastern Europe in the past three or four decades, an amazing number of new finds are seeing the light of day 2,000 years or more after they were originally hidden by their past owners. And with the liberalization of post-Soviet Eastern Europe, new markets have opened eager to share in these treasures of the Roman Empire.

These antiquities come from a number of collections which by and large originated here in Eastern Europe. As well, additional specimens are occasionally acquired from other institutions and dealers, principally in Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. All of these artifacts are now in the United States and are available for immediate delivery via U.S. Mail. Proceeds of the sales benefit the Southern Urals State Student Association for Archaeological and Anthropological Studies in Russia; providing both postgraduate and undergraduate students with meaningful part-time employment, notebook computers, and both reference and study materials. It also supports other institutions and organizations within Russia involved in the study of anthropology and archaeology. All purchases are backed by an unlimited guarantee of satisfaction and authenticity. If for any reason you are not entirely satisfied with your purchase, you may return it for a complete and immediate refund of your entire purchase price.

SHIPPING: These antiquities come from a number of collections which by and large originated here in Eastern Europe. As well, additional specimens are occasionally acquired from other institutions and dealers, principally in Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. All of these artifacts are now in the United States and are available for immediate delivery via U.S. Mail. All purchases are backed by an unlimited guarantee of satisfaction and authenticity. If for any reason you are not entirely satisfied with your purchase, you may return it for a complete and immediate refund of your entire purchase price. A certificate of authenticity (COA) is available upon request.

Our order fulfillment center near Seattle, Washington will ship your purchase within one business day of receipt of your personal check or money order. If you wish to pay electronically, we accept PayPal. However we ask that you PLEASE WAIT before remitting until we have mutually agreed upon method of shipment and shipping charges and you understand our PayPal limitations and. We will ship within one business day of our receipt of your electronic remittance.

A certificate of authenticity (COA) is available upon request. We prefer your personal check or money order over any other form of payment - and we will ship immediately upon receipt of your check (no "holds"). Please see our "ADDITIONAL TERMS OF SALE."