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Auction 100  29-30 May 2017
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Lot 549

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Estimate: 70 000 CHF
Price realized: 85 000 CHF

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The Roman Empire

Julia Domna, wife of Septimius Severus. Aureus 201, AV 7.23 g. IVLIA – AVGVSTA Draped bust of Julia Domna r. Rev. AETERNIT IMPERI Confronted busts of Caracalla, l., laureate and draped and Geta, r., bareheaded and draped. C 1 var. (busts also cuirassed). BMC Severus and Caracalla 3 note. RIC 540. Calicó 2653c.
Very rare and among the finest specimens known. Three exquisite portraits of fine style
perfectly centred on a full flan and a superb reddish tone. Virtually as struck and Fdc

Ex Leu sale 91, 2004, 598. Possibly from the Karnak hoard of 1901.
An impressive series of dynastic coins was issued for the Severans throughout 201 and into the early part of 202, presumably marking the fifth anniversary of the dynasty that Septimius Severus had formed by early 196. After so many years of civil war, Severus must have thought it appropriate to publicise his dynasty, and to advertise the stability that it represented to the Roman people. The variety of types is considerable, with the portraits of family members being shown in many combinations. This aureus was struck in the name of Julia Domna, and on the reverse portrays her two sons, Caracalla and Geta. It is tailor-made as a dynastic type since the inscription AETERNIT IMPERI ('the eternity of the empire') equates the continuity of the empire with the continuity of the dynasty. The positioning of the boys' portraits is exactly as would be expected: the elder, Caracalla, is in the honorary position on the left wearing a laurel wreath to indicate his senior status as Augustus, and the younger, Geta, is shown bare-headed on the right to denote his lesser status as Caesar.The dynastic coins issued in the name of Julia Domna are much less common than those issued in the names of her husband and elder son. The empress hailed from Syria and was noted both for her education and her political influence. Here she is depicted as a beautiful matron with her hair pulled into a bun on the back of her head with the hair in front and sides in large curls which were the typical fashion of the day. The stately portrait hints at not only her imperial status as the wife of Septimius Severus and mother of his two sons, but also as the mother of the state or fatherland (MATER PATRIAE, a title she was accorded).

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