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First issues of the Rome mint introducing Caracalla as heir to the imperial throne. 195 and 196 AD.

July 15, 2019

The young Basiano, firstborn son of Septimius Severus, was named Caesar (that is, heir to the imperial throne) in mid-April 195, in the context of the first Eastern campaign of the North African emperor, just after the reconquest of the strategic stronghold of Nisibis, which had been occupied by Arabs and Adiabenans troops a short time ago.

 

At first the Rome mint did not struck coins on behalf of the young Caesar, having to wait until September 195 (post-quem date) to see Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (the new name of Basiano) appear in the Roman coinage. We are referring to the type RIC IV-1 72: a magnificent aureus with bare (not laureated) and draped bust of Caracalla on reverse, surrounded by the eloquent legend: SEVERI AVG PII FIL (Son of the Emperor Severus Pius) and his father on obverse accompanied by the contemporary issues typical legend: L SEPT SEV PERT AVG IMP VII. This is a very rare aureus, R3 according to RIC, coined to be distributed among the highest personalities of the Roman Empire.

 

Fig.1.- RIC IV-1 72. Bare and draped bust of Caracalla – SEVERI AVG PII FIL (September 195 – January 196).

 

Back the imperial family in Rome (early summer of 196) Caracalla was formally introduced to the Senate and the People as heir of Septimius Severus. The type RIC IV-1 92 (Severus), PROVIDENTIA AVG, alludes precisely to the decision (that is, the Providence) of Septimius Severus by which Caracalla was proclaimed Caesar. Likewise, the mint of the Vrbs was ordered to divulge the identity of the new Caesar throughout the Roman Empire. Five issues were the response of the veteran monetary institution: the first five types on behalf of the young Caesar Antoninus, the future Caracalla. These are the types RIC IV-1 (Caracalla) 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. The five have the same obverse legend: M AVR ANTONINVS CAES, abbreviation of MARCVS AVRELIVS ANTONINVS CAESAR, around a bare bust of Caracalla: without wreath as corresponds to his condition of Caesar. The presentation itself was carried out by the types RIC 3 (aureus) and RIC 4 (denarius) with the eloquent reverse legend SEVERI AVG PII FIL (Son of the Emperor Severus Pius) around a set of priestly instruments, symbolism that attests the admission of Caracalla in the select elite of the imperial cult priests. The types SPEI PERPETVA (the Perpetual Hope - RIC 5) and SECVRITAS PERPETVA (the Perpetual Security - RIC 2) indicate the confidence in the good work of the new Caesar as right hand and future successor of his father, the emperor. It is worth noting the presence of Minerva on the reverse of the latter type instead of an allegory of security. Its symbolic meaning was to establish a relationship of parallelism between Septimius Severus and his second, the Caesar Caracalla, and Jupiter and his daughter, the goddess Minerva: the second most important figure of the Roman pantheon, only overcome by his father in the devotion of the Romans. The presentation series closes with the type RIC 1: reverse legend FELICITATEM PVBLICAM, alluding to the alleged happiness experienced by the Roman world as a result of the appointment of the new César.

 

Fig.2.- Up-Left: RIC IV-1 4. Priestly implements – SEVERI AVG PII FIL. Up-Right: RIC IV-1 5. Spes holding flower and raising a fold of her dress – SPEI PERPETVA. Down-Left. RIC IV-1 2. Minerva armed with hemet, shield and spear – SECVRITAS PERPETVA. Down-Right. RIC IV-1 1. Fortune holding caduceus and scepter – FELICITATEM PVBLICAM. (July 196 – February 197).