Roman Empire, Caracalla, 198 - 217, AR Denarius
Obv.: Head with laurel wreath, n. right,
Rev.: various types
Caracalla (born Lucius Septimius Bassianus; * 188 in Lugdunum, modern Lyon; † 217 in Mesopotamia).
He was Roman Emperor from 211 until his death in 217. His official imperial name was - in reference to the popular emperor Marcus Aurelius - Marcus Aurel(l)ius Severus Antoninus.
Caracalla's father Septimius Severus, the founder of the Severan dynasty, elevated him to co-ruler in 197. After his father's death on 4 February 211, he succeeded him together with his younger brother Geta. He had Geta assassinated as early as December 211. He then ordered a massacre of Geta's followers throughout the empire. From then on he ruled unchallenged as sole ruler.
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.
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