Roman Empire, Elagabalus, 218-222, AR Denarius, undated, barbarian imitation
Laur. bust r
Elagabal (* 204; † 222 in Rome)
He was Roman Emperor from 16 May 218 until his assassination.
His original name was Varius Avitus Bassianus. As emperor he called himself Marcus Aurel(l)ius Antoninus, to tie in with the Antonines like his alleged father Caracalla.
The name Elagabal, which was borne by the god he worshipped, was not attached to the emperor until long after his death.
Elagabal came to power through a military revolt against his predecessor Macrinus, posing as the illegitimate son of Emperor Caracalla, who had been assassinated in 217.
During his reign of around four years, he made himself unpopular in wide circles. Eventually he was politically isolated and murdered by mutinous soldiers. He had no descendants.
For ancient and modern posterity, the name Elagabal came to symbolise the depravity and decadence of the Roman imperial period as well as pernicious Oriental cultural influences. A serious conflict between conservative Romanism and the Syrian religious tradition that the youthful emperor wanted to introduce into Rome overshadowed his short reign.