Roman Empire, Caracalla, 198-217, AE As (217)
TRP XX = 217
Obv. Laur. bust r.
Rev. Radiated lion holds thunderbolt in its maw
Caracalla (born as Lucius Septimius Bassianus; *188 in Lugdunum, modern Lyon; †217 in Mesopotamia).
He was Roman Emperor from 211 until his death in 217.
Caracalla's father Septimius Severus, was the founder of the so-called Severan dynasty and elevated his son to co-ruler in 197. After his father's death in 211, he succeeded him together with his younger brother Geta, whom he had murdered shortly afterwards. Geta's followers were persecuted and also murdered.
Caracalla was mainly concerned with military matters and favoured the soldiers. In this way he continued the course already set by his father, which pointed ahead to the era of the soldier emperors. Because of the murder of Geta and his partisans as well as the general brutality of his actions against any real or supposed opposition, he was judged very negatively by contemporary senatorial historiography. Among the soldiers, on the other hand, he apparently enjoyed great popularity, which lasted beyond his death and contributed to the failure of his successor.
While preparing a campaign against the Parthians, Caracalla was murdered by a small group of conspirators. As he was childless, the male descendants of the dynasty's founder Septimius Severus died out with him. Later, however, the emperors Elagabal and Severus Alexander were counterfactually passed off as Caracalla's illegitimate sons.
The measures with which Caracalla was primarily remembered by posterity were the construction of the Baths of Caracalla and the Constitutio Antoniniana, a decree of 212 with which he granted Roman citizenship to almost all free inhabitants of the empire. Modern research largely follows the unfavourable assessment of his reign by the ancient sources, but reckons with exaggerations in the statements of historians hostile to him.