Obverse: IVLIA SOAEMIAS AVG; Draped Bust of Julia Soaemias Facing Right
Reverse: VENVS CAELESTIS; Venus Standing Facing Forward, Head to the Left, Holding an Apple and a Sceptre
Julia Soaemias came from an illustrious family of powerful, influential women. She was the daughter of Julia Maesa and niece of Empress Julia Domna. She married a wealthy Senator named Varius Marcellius. Together, they had a child who would grow up to become Emperor Elagabalus. However, by the time of his ascension, Marcellius had past away, leaving Soaemias a widow. She accompanied her son to Rome when he assumed the throne. Yet Elagabalus was a weak and ineffective emperor who was morally corrupt in the eyes of the Roman people. The court had an atmosphere of revelry where every pleasure was encouraged to excess. Julia Soaemias herself was known to have taken on a string of lovers. Unfortunately, Soaemias was a victim of her powerful mother’s political ambitions and the public outrage of her son’s scandalous behavior. In 222 A.D., Maesa, worried that the public would revolt against her grandson, plotted against her daughter and Elagabalus, while paving the way for her other grandson, the more popular Severus Alexander, to seize power. On March 6, 222 A.D., Soaemias was assassinated along with her son Elagabalus, paying the ultimate price for his outrageous behavior.
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 powerful woman passed from the hands of civilization to civilization, from generation to generation that still appears as vibrant today as the day it was struck.