Ancient Coin shows Condemnation of Roman Emperor
This bronze coin from the university coin collection of Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Germany, reflects the dramatic downfall of a Roman emperor in the year AD 211: Publius Septimius Geta, son of the famous emperor Septimius Severus (r. 193–211), was assassinated upon the order of his half-brother and co-ruler Caracalla shortly after his father’s death. The bronze coin was already under circulation by the time of this political murder: It was minted at some point in the period from AD 209 to 211 in Stratonicaea in the province of Caria in modern-day Turkey. On the averse, the coin originally showed the portraits of both Caracalla and Geta as harmonious co-rulers of the Roman empire. After Geta’s death, however, the portrait of Geta has been scratched off as part of a general condemnation of Geta’s memory. This ‘damnatio memoriae’ significantly altered the meaning of the coin’s design; but the outlines of Geta’s bust can still be detected on the surface of the coin.