Coins of Caracalla

Roman Emperor (AD 198-217)

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, born Lucius Septimius Bassianus, but famously known by his nickname Caracalla (referring to the Gallic cloak he often wore), was the son of the emperor Septimius Severus and empress Julia Domna. He ruled as co-emperor with his father from 198-211, with his brother Geta from 211-212, and after he brutally murdered his own brother, ruled solely until his death in 217. Caracalla had always had poor relations with his younger brother which his parents had desperately tried to improve--to no avail.

Caracalla’s reign is known for two important political developments: the granting of Roman citizenship to all free men in the Empire and payment of the legions through debasement of silver coinage. Caracalla is particularly infamous for his military zeal; he was the prototype for the “soldier-emperors” who came after him. He pursued campaigns in the West against the German tribes of the Alamanni and the Cenni, and also in the East, where he planned conquests in the fashion of Alexander the Great. He managed to expand the province of Osroene to include Edessa, but failed in an attack against Armenia. While planning a more extensive campaign, he was assassinated near Carrhae in April 217. One of the conspirators, Macrinus, succeeded him.

AR Denarius, Rome
AD 207

Head of Caracalla facing r., laureate. ANTONINVS PIVS AVG

Mars helmeted, naked except for cloak, advancing r. holding spear pointing upwards to r. in r. hand; trophy over l. shoulder in l. hand. PONTIF TRP X COS II