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Object Description
Title/Object Name
Ob: IMP(erator) C(aesar) M(arcus) AVR(elius) ANTONINVS P(ius) F(elix) AVG(ustsus) | Re: RECTOR ORBIS [Ruler of the World]
218 - 222 CE
3rd century
Portfolio / Series Title
Roman Rarities in Gold
Diameter, 0.9449 In, 2.4 Cm
Weight, 0.0159 Pounds, 7.220 Grams
Elagabalus Ob: Elagabalus, laureate, draped, cuirassed (viewed from behind) left. Re: Elagabalus standing left with drapery over shoulder, holding globe and spear.
Credit Line
Gift of Wilton Jaffee to the University of Colorado Classics Department (2003), Transfer, CU Art Museum, University of Colorado Boulder
During the brief reign of Macrinus, Julia Maesa, the sister of Septimius Severus’ wife, persuaded the army that her grandson was the illegitimate child of Caracalla. This claimed connection to the Severan dynasty was enough of a foundation on which to refresh the imperial seat that the troops quickly executed Macrinus and supplanted him with the fourteen-year-old Varius Avitus Bassianus. The boy would come to be known as Elagabalus, derived from devotion to the sun god of Emesa, Elah-Gabal. While he was descended from the priest-kings of this cult, he insulted the Roman people by zealously promoting his religion outside of the confines of traditional accepted adaptation. One of his most grievous offenses was to marry a Vestal Virgin, and present himself the incarnation of Elah-Gabal himself. Eventually, the forcefulness of his fanaticism grew too oppressive, and his distraction from administration too dangerous. His mother and grandmother acted as regents, ruling from behind his farce of a principate. In 221 his grandmother forced him to adopt his cousin as Caesar, a popular move with the uneasy masses. Elagabalus’ efforts to withdraw this title by legislative means failed, as did an assassination attempt. Finally Julia Mamaea, mother of his cousin, paid the Praetorian Guard to eliminate the bizarre Elagablus along with his mother, the sister of Julia Mamaea. This coin reflects how young Elagabalus was when he became Augustus, and the reverse, RECTOR ORBIS (“Ruler of the World”), attests the disappointed hopes for his imperial leadership. KHK.
Object ID
RIC IV, 42, Part II; no. 192.



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