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532429

First of the Great Syrian Empresses

532429.

Julia Domna. Augusta, AD 193-217. Æ As (25mm, 11.92 g, 6h). Rome mint. Struck under Septimius Severus, circa AD 193-196. Draped bust right / Fecunditas seated right, holding child at breast; to right, a second child standing left. RIC IV 844 (Septimius). Dark green patina, some smoothing, a few marks. VF.


Ex Phil Peck (Morris) Collection.

Julia Domna was the daughter of the hereditary high priest of Elagabal at Emesa, a wealthy caravan city in the Syrian desert. Beautiful, cultured and highly educated, she was made even more of a “prize” by a horoscope that proclaimed she would marry a king. Septimius Severus probably encountered her family while serving as a general in Syria in the AD 180s; when he learned about the girl’s horoscope, the recently widowed Severus immediately wrote to her father and secured her hand in marriage. Upon Severus’s ascension as Roman Emperor in AD 193, Julia was named Augusta and became his closest advisor and confidant. Her love of art, learning and philosophy encouraged a rebirth in all those fields in Roman society. Her influence was acknowledged with the most extensive coinage of any empress to date.