Elagabalus 218-222 AD 19mm 3gm Silver Denarius struck at Rome
Lot 193 in our Auction Saturday 8th June 2019
The reverse of this silver denarius shows Elagabalus holding a patera offering sacrifice over the sacred altar with a bull lying down behind the altar and the sacred star above.
The legend reads INVICTVS SACERDOS AVG, Invictus means the Unconquered and was seen as an aspect of Legions and the sacred Sun. Sacerdos means the sacred high priest. AVG stands for Augustus.
Varius Avitus Bassianus is the son of Julia Soaemas who is the niece of Septimius Severus. He is now the Roman Augustus taking the dynastic name of Antoninus but he still sees himself as the High Priest to Elagabalus, the Sun-God of Emesa in Syria.
Gibbon notes ” The Sun was worshipped at Emesa, under the name of Elagabalus, and under the form of a black conical stone, which, as it was universally believed, had fallen from heaven on that sacred place. To this protecting deity, Antoninus, not without some reason, ascribed his elevation to the throne. The display of superstitious gratitude was the only serious business of his reign. The triumph of the God of Emesa over all the religions of the earth, was the great object of his zeal and vanity: and the appellation of Elagabalus (for he presumed as pontiff and favourite to adopt that sacred name) was dearer to him than all the titles of Imperial greatness. “