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Coins and Medals

Roman Empire, Septimius Severus for his son Geta as Caesar

Key data

Rome, denarius, ca. AD 198 200

Silver, struck

weight 3.331 g

diameter 19.1 mm

Inv. 1903.3390.

Description

Septimius Severus, who was of North African origin, was a commander in Camuntum on the Danube (about 40 km east of Vienna) when he was acclaimed Emperor in AD 193. With his Syrian wife Iulia Domna he founded the Severan dynasty, members of which held on to the throne with some interruptions until 235. When Caracalla was elevated to be joint ruler in 198 the young Geta became caesar (designated heir). The image on the coin shows him as a boy of about ten with his name and official title, L[ucius] SEPTIMIVS GETA CAES[ar], but no laurel wreath; that did not appear on images on coins until 209 when Geta was elevated to be joint ruler with the rank of Augustus. The reverse (not illustrated) shows Felicitas, the goddess of happiness, with a herald's staff and a horn of plenty: the young Caesar represented the happiness of the Empire. After his father's death Geta did not live long to enjoy his reign; the 22 year old was murdered in Rome at the end of 211 and declared a non¬person (damnatio memoriae).

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