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Coinage of the Rome mint commemorating the appointment as consuls of Caracalla and Geta in AD 205.

On the first of January of AD 205, the two imperial princes, sons of Emperor Septimius Severus, Antoninus (Caracalla) and Geta, were proclaimed consuls.

This appointment, certainly important especially for the young Geta since it was his first consulate, had its reflection in the coinage of the Rome mint. There are, in effect, a couple of monetary types whose iconography clearly points in that direction. First one is RIC 87 (a, b and c) on behalf of Caracalla, the second RIC 28 in the name of Geta. Both coincide in their iconography of reverse: Caracalla / Geta guiding a quadriga as well as holding power scepter with an eagle-shaped end and legend COS II (Caracalla) / COS (Geta) whose laconicism serves to emphasize and, therefore, publicize better, the high magistracy reached by the two young princes. These types are not datable with precision in 205, although such a date is the most consistent if we accept as valid the intention to divulge the new appointments of the princes that we have just proposed. It should be pointed out, however, that the RIC 87a type exhibits an obverse head concordant with the later Caracalla types (ruling Severus, that is: bust without draping, only laureate, with adolescent features) so it may be convenient to date it in 206, what could be indicating that the three variants of type 87 are not strictly contemporary (one of them, at least, must be dated in 205, the year of the granting of the second consulate to Caracalla, if, we insist, we accept the hypothesis of the divulgation of this proclamation). It should also be noted that both RIC 87a (denarius) and RIC 28 are quite scarce types (rated R in RIC IV-1) what indicates that they were coined for a few months, probably just after the consulate's proclamation ceremony.

Geta & Caracalla Coins

PHOTO 1.- Left: RIC IV-1 87c. Caracalla guiding triumphal quadriga as well as holding scepter with eagle shaped end in left hand - COS II. Right: RIC IV-1 28. Same as RIC 87c with Geta in the place of Caracalla - COS (January - April / May of 205).

Two other monetary types, identical in Caracalla and Geta, could be related to the described above types of proclamations. We are referring to the types RIC 86 (Caracalla) and 27 (Geta) with respective legend COS II and COS around winged victory advancing left, holding palm and laurea. Indeed, the laconicity of the reverse legend invites us to think that they form part of the same commemorative emission, although it is true that its iconography looks something more genera and therefore more ambiguous. The fact that they are quinarii, not denarii, very rare the two (R2 and R3) reinforces this hypothesis because they complete the range of types ​​in precious metal (we already had the aureus and the denarius) just like can be expected from a reduced emission of commemorative issues. These two types have their parallel in the emissions on behalf of Septimius Severus: RIC 258, a very rare quinarius (quite more than the moderate "scarce" assigned by RIC IV-1) with the same reverse motif and legend COS III P P. Since the three are quinarii, which is already unusual, coincident in their reverse motives and legends, it seems a good idea to assign them the same dating in the first months of 205. Also is known a gold quinary (half aureus) with the same oberse and reverse than RIC 258. This coin is, of course, very rare (not in RIC, only one copy is known) being its more than probable function the rounding of the commemorative serie through the inclusion of the less frequent of the existing values in the contemporary Roman monetary system.

Severus coins

PHOTO 2.- Left: RIC IV-1 27 (Quinarius). Victoria advancing to left, holding laurea and palm - COS. Right: Not in RIC IV-1 (Golden Quinarius). Same as RIC 27 - COS III P P (January - April / May of 205).

The proclamation of Caracalla and Geta as consuls had to be accompanied by the delivery of a donation to the people of Rome (it was a usual practice in these cases). This affirmation allows to date in AD 205 the types RIC 277 (Septimius Severus) and 136 (Caracalla) with reverse LIBERALITAS AVGG V around allegory of the liberality carrying their typical attributes: cornucopia and abacus. Both types are quite common (the denarii), proof that there was a clear intention to divulge the generosity, it is assumed that broad, of the emperors. There is also a need to comment on a theory held by some authors according to which the emissions of quinarii described a little above were coined to cover the aforementioned donation. Of course, this is a perfectly feasible hypothesis and even compatible with our proposal both from an ideological and chronological point of view.

Septimius Severus Antoninus Coins

PHOTO 3.- Left: RIC IV-1 277. Liberalitas standing looking to left, holding abacus and cornucopia - LIBERALITAS AVG V. Right: RIC IV-1 136. Same as RIC IV-1 277. (Year 205, probably most of it.)



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