(115) Macrinus - AV aureus, A.D. 217, 6.32 g. (inv. 91.203).
Obverse: Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust of Macrinus r.; IMP(ERATOR) C(AESAR) M(ARCVS) OPEL(LIVS) SEV(ERVS) MACRINVS AVG(VSTVS): Imperator Caesar Marcus Opellius Severus Macrinus Augustus.
Reverse: Fides standing facing with head r., r. foot on helmet, standard in each hand; PONTIF(EX) MAX(IMVS) TR(IBVNICIA) P(OTESTATE) CO(N)S(VL) P(ATER) P(ATRIAE): pontifex maximus, with tribunician power, consul, father of the country.
Provenance: Ex M. Hyman Montague collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art; Sotheby's, 1972.
Bibliography: H. Mattingly, E.A. Sydenham, and C.H.V. Sutherland, The Roman Imperial Coinage IV.2: Macrinus to Pupienus (London 1938) 22.
Marcus Opellius Macrinus came from North Africa and rose to the position of praetorian prefect under Caracalla. He was involved in the conspiracy to murder the emperor and was made emperor after it succeeded. He adopted the name Severus in order to legitimize his and his son's succession. His military campaigns were unsuccessful, with the result that he had to buy peace from the Parthians and provide a donative to keep his troops loyal, but in the end they deserted him in favor of Elagabalus, and he was captured and executed.
Macrinus' coinage reveals apparent indecision about how the emperor should be portrayed, since some coins show him with the usual curly hair and long beard of the Antonine dynasty while others such as this aureus depict him as a military man in the mold of Caracalla, the second type probably an attempt to win the favor of his disaffected troops. The reverses of Macrinus' coins depict conventional types, but it may be that Fides, the personification of loyalty, here also appeals to his troops. Fides has numerous attributes, but the standards she holds in both hands here indicate that the loyalty in question is military.
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