Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander, 222-235 AD


ID Number: AC04-0104
Category: Ancient Coins
Description: Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander
Country or State: Roman Empire
Period: Empire
Head of State/Ruler: Alexander Severus (Full Name: Marcus Julius Gessius Bassianus Alexianus (from birth to adoption), Caesar Marcus Aurelius Alexander (from adoption to accession), Caesar Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander Augustus (as emperor)), 26th Emperor of the Roman Empire
Reign: 11 March 222 – 18/19 March 235
Currency: Denarus
Face Value:  
Obverse: Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right
Obverse Legend: IMP C M AVR SEV ALEXAND AVG (Translation: “Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander Augustus”)
Obverse Designer:  
Reverse: Salus (Health) left sitted, her left arm resting on the throne,  right hand nourishing a snake rolled up around a furnace bridge
Reverse Legend: P M TR P - COS P P (Translation: “Pontifex Maximus Tribunicia Potestate iterum Consul Pater Patrae”)
Reverse Designer:  
Edge: Irregular
Note: Rome Mint
Mint Mark:  
Composition: Silver (Ag)
Diameter: 19.0 mm (irregular)
Weight: 3.2 grams
Krause & Mishler Number:  
Other Catalog Number: RIC 32; Cohen 239
State of Conservation: Extremely Fine (XF)

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Severus Alexander (Full Name: Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander Augustus) was Roman Emperor from 222 to 235. Alexander was the last emperor of the Severan dynasty. He succeeded his cousin Elagabalus upon the latter's assassination in 222, and was ultimately assassinated himself, marking the epoch event for the Crisis of the Third Century — nearly fifty years of civil wars, foreign invasion, and collapse of the monetary economy.

Alexander was the heir apparent to his cousin, the eighteen-year-old Emperor who had been murdered along with his mother by his own guards, who, as a mark of contempt, had their remains cast into the Tiber river. He and his cousin were both grandsons of the influential and powerful Julia Maesa, who had arranged for Elagabalus' acclamation as emperor by the famed Third Gallic Legion. It was the rumor of Alexander's death that triggered the assassination of Elagabalus.

As emperor, Alexander's peace time reign was prosperous. In military conflict against the rising Sassanid Empire, there are mixed accounts, though the Sassanid threat was checked; however, when campaigning against Germanic tribes of Germania, Alexander apparently alienated his legions by engaging in diplomacy and bribery, and they assassinated him.