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Sale 46

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Lot 127

Rome. Severus Alexander, 222-235 AD. Gold Aureus (6.06 g), Rome mint, struck 230 AD. Laureate bust of Severus Alexander right, cloak at shoulder. Reverse: Severus Alexander as Romulus, founder of Rome, in military attire, walking right, holding spear and trophy; PM TR P VIIII COS III PP. RIC 103; BMCRE 620; C. --; Calicó 3121. Finely centered on spacious flan. Bold, sharp strike and fully lustrous. NGC graded Choice Uncirculated.

Alexander's reign saw the end of the Severan dynasty, which despite a brief interruption had lasted four decades. As an individual, he seems to have possessed the finest in personal qualities of all of that clan who had occupied the throne. And, if the times had been better, he might have proved himself to be another Antoninus Pius, whose unexciting reign enjoyed the fruits of the Pax Romana at its zenith. Sadly for Alexander, the times weren't.

For political reasons Alexander was made Caesar and heir to his increasingly detested and irrational cousin, the emperor Elagabalus -- Alexander's grandmother, Julia Maesa, wisely seeing that Severus would be the means for the dynasty's continued existence. He managed to survive the next nine months of his cousin's growing hostility (and occasional assassination attempts). With the demise of Elagabalus in 222 AD, the 14-year-old Alexander was proclaimed Augustus. Because of his young age, Alexander's mother took the dominant role at the initiation of his reign.

Unfortunately for Alexander, it was a position she was loathe to relinquish, even as he matured. Her ambitiousness created a schism between the government and the army, who saw their emperor as being pliant to, and perhaps subservient to, a woman. Nevertheless, while times were peaceful (for a period of about nine years). Alexander ruled wisely and well, and the empire prospered. But when rebellion and invasion flared, his less than aggressive nature (attributed to his mother's domination) was viewed by the army with suspicion. Returning his legions to Germany after fending off Persian incursions in the East, the troops mutinied and murdered Alexander and his mother. The soldiers elected one of their own to the imperial purple, Maximinus "the Thracian," and thus the model for the ascension (and demotion) of Rome's emperors was set for much of the remaining third century.
Estimated Value $5,000 - 5,500.

Realized $8,913

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