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The Arch of Septimius Severus

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The Arch of
Septimius Severus

Arch of Septimus Severus Roman Forum 1

Dedicated 203 AD

The Arch of Septimius Severus was was erected in 203 AD in the honor of Septimius Severus for his victories. Besides depictions of enemy prisoners being escorted by legionaries, representations of the divinities of the rivers shown over the lateral arches, battle scenes and sieges and the Emperor speaking to the soldiers, etc., there is evidence of Caracalla’s rage against his brother Geta.

At the top of the arch one can notice an inscription according to which the arch was dedicated to Septimius Severus and his son Caracalla. However, one can also observe that one part of the inscription is cut over a previous version. Based upon the position of the holes left behind by the previous inscription, it is possible to determine what originally appeared – “Et Septimio Gatae Nob (ile) Caesari.” Therefore, the arch was originally dedicated to Septimius Severus and both his sons Caracalla and Geta. We know from the recorded accounts of the period that following the death of Septimius, Caracalla plotted the murder of his brother Geta. He then ordered that Geta’s name be striken from all monuments and his images destroyed. Consequently, Caracalla failed to remove his brother from posterity and the Arch of Severus stands as evidence of that fact.

Monetary System

Sepitimus Severus Arch on denarius

The Arch of Severus appears on both the silver denarius as well as the bronze sesterius.

AR Denarius

AE Sesterius

The Monetary History of the World
© Martin A. Armstrong