This denarius featuring the grandmother of two emperors, Elagabalus and Severus Alexander, is an illustration of the imperial involvement of women in the third century. Much of the strategic elevation of male relatives to power was the result of careful coordination by these women, and most historians agree that while the men fronted the leadership, their female relations did most of the administrating behind the scenes. This was probably due in part to the youth, inexperience, and self-involvement of many emperors, but also the cleverness of the women around them. There is a notable numismatic shift that lends support to the authors who claim women like Julia Maesa became key players in imperial rule. Beginning with Septimius Severus, mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and wives emerge more prevalently on coins; in the case of Septimius, this was likely because he was projecting his vision for a new dynasty. However, this evolved into a more general emphasis on the imperial family. Certainly these women lived up to their significance on the many coins. Julia Maesa orchestrated the overthrow of the emperor Macrinus, and put her fourteen-year old grandson, Elagabalus, in the freshly vacated imperial seat. When he became too corrupt, she forced him to adopt his cousin, Severus Alexander, as Caesar. It seems likely she knew of her daughter’s plot against Elagabalus, and if so, she did nothing to stop his murder and that of his mother, Julia Maesa’s other daughter. Indeed, Julia Maesa secured Alexander’s reign, and acted as regent for him until her natural death in 226 CE. This coin was minted during that period, as she led the empire behind young Alexander. The reverse is a traditional message about Julia Maesa’s feminine virtue, modesty, though it would appear she was not as conventional as the representation implies. KHK.