Obverse: Laureate and Draped Bust of the Emperor Facing Right
Reverse: Salus, Seated to the Left, Feeding a Snake from a Patera
Even though he was only a fourteen year old boy when he was elevated to the throne, the Senate voted him the title PATER PATRIAE, Latin for "Father of his Country" because they were so relieved to be free of the wanton depravity of his predecessor Elagabalus. Severus Alexander was a peaceful and religious man. He set up a shrine containing statues of his favorite gods and even included one of Jesus Christ. He removed some of the harsh laws discriminating against Christians, and even thought about setting up a temple for Christian worship. The women of the Severan dynasty had always wielded a great deal of power and Alexander's mother, Julia Mamaea, tightly controlled who could see her son. She urged him to govern well and give all his attention to laws and administration. Partly because he was under the control of his mother for so long, he was never popular with the legions. In A.D. 235, a popular army officer, Maximinus the Thracian, led a revolt that ended the reign and the life of Severus Alexander. With a group of army officers, he entered Alexander's tent and murdered him. His mother, Julia Mamaea, was also killed in the coup d’etat.
How many hands have touched a coin in your pocket or purse? What eras and lands have the coin traversed on its journey into our possession? As we reach into our pockets to pull out some change, we rarely hesitate to think of who might have touched the coin before us, or where the coin will venture to after it leaves our hands. More than money, coins are a symbol of the state that struck them, of a specific time and location, whether contemporary currencies or artifacts of a long forgotten empire. This stunning hand-struck coin reveals an expertise of craftsmanship and intricate sculptural detail that is often lacking in contemporary machine-made currencies. This ancient coin is a memorial an emperor’s reign passed from the hands of civilization to civilization, from generation to generation that still appears as vibrant today as the day it was struck.