(112) Septimius Severus - AV aureus, c. A.D. 209, 7.16 g. (inv.
Obverse: Laureate bust of Septimius Severus r.; SEVERVS PIVS AVG(VSTVS): Severus Pius Augustus.
Reverse: Septimius Severus, Caracalla, and Geta seated l. on platform, officer behind; in front, Liberalitas; on steps, citizen; LIBERALITAS, in exergue, AVGG (AVGVSTORVM abbreviated) VI: sixth liberality of the Augusti.
Provenance: Abner Kreisberg, 1970.
Bibliography: H. Mattingly and E.A. Sydenham, The Coinage of the Roman Empire IV.1: Pertinax to Geta (London 1936) 279.
In A.D. 209 Septimius Severus finally elevated his second son, Geta, to the rank of Augustus (see no. 110), which provided the occasion for his sixth and last liberality or congiarium to the people of Rome. Geta served as co-emperor with Severus and his brother, Caracalla, until the death of Severus in A.D. 211, and then very briefly as co-emperor with Caracalla until Caracalla murdered him in A.D. 212.
From the beginning of his reign, Severus had been particularly careful to cater to the Romans, not only with his lavish building program but also with liberalities, celebrations, and games. The reverse of this coin depicts not only Liberalitas, the personification of the liberality (see no. 96), but also the three Augusti themselves actively supervising the distribution of their gifts to the people.
The obverse, with its Antonine-style portrait of Severus and the name Pius, adopted by Severus as a sign of his relationship to and reverence for Antoninus Pius, refers to Severus' dynastic pretensions of connection with the Antonine house.
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