Caracalla, with Septimius Severus and Julia Domna, 198-217. Aureus (Gold, 19 mm, 7.30 g, 7 h), Rome, 201. ANTONINVS PIVS AVG PON TR P IIII Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Caracalla to right. Rev. CONCORDIAE AETERNAE Jugate busts of Septimius Severus, radiate and draped, and Julia Domna, diademed, draped and set on crescent, to right. BMC 260. Calicó 2849. Cohen 1. Mazzini III, pl. XXXVIII, 1 (same dies). RIC 52 corr. (bust of Severus misdescribed as cuirassed). Very rare and in exceptional condition for the issue. A splendid, superb piece, sharply struck and with three extraordinary portraits. Good extremely fine.
The celebrated Severan dynastic issue of the year 201 produced some of the most impressive portraits in the whole Roman imperial series. This piece shows, on the obverse, a remarkably sensitive image of Caracalla, heir to the throne and 13 years old at the time, whereas the reverse bears the busts of his parents Septimius Severus and Julia Domna, radiate and set on a crescent, in the guise of Helios and Luna. Imperial associations with the divine were not new - Commodus, most famously, had identified himself with Hercules, Nero with Helios and Apoll - but it was the Severan iconography that laid the groundwork for the extended assimilation of the imperial domus with the world of the gods in the time of the barracks emperors, a development which would eventually culminate in Aurelian openly calling himself deo et domino nato ('born god and lord') and Diocletian and Maximian identifying themselves as descendants of Jupiter and Hercules respectively (Iovius and Herculius) at the end of the century.