Severus Alexander – Denarius – Mars

Severus Alexander , 228 AD , Roman Imperial Coins

Obverse: IMP SEV ALEXAND AVG – Draped bust of Severus Alexander facing right, wearing a laurel wreath.

The inscription reads: IMP SEV ALEXAND AVG for Imperator Severus Alexander Augustus.

Reverse: P M TR P VII COS II P P – Mars standing to the right, holding a spear in his right hand and resting his left hand on a shield.

The inscription reads: P M TR P VII COS II P P for Pontifex Maximus Tribunitia Potestas (for the seventh time) Consul (for the second time) Pater Patriae.

  • Severus Alexander
  • Rome
  • Denarius
  • Silver
  • 3.30gr
  • 19mm
  • RIC 83a

The god of war Mars would be easily recognizable as such on this denarius due to his military equipment with helmet, spear and shield even without the clear circumscription. The model for this coin motif was apparently provided by a cult image which was located in the temple of Mars built by Augustus in Rome and which he donated to the avenging Mars (Mars Ultor) after his victory over the murderers of his adoptive father Caesar. In connection with the coinage of Severus Alexander, however, another historical event plays an important role: During a war campaign against the Parthians in today's Persia in the year 53 BC, the symbolic insignia of the Roman troops were captured by the enemies, which could then, however, be retrieved by Augustus a few decades later and displayed in the Temple of Mars. Accordingly, a field sign can be seen on the coinage behind the shield of Mars. More than two hundred years later, Severus Alexander again waged war against the Parthians and on this occasion had coins minted with the Augustan Mars Ultor and the field signs kept in his temple to commemorate the past triumph over the ancient enemies of Rome, to place himself in a row with the first emperor and to request the favor of the god of war

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