Caracalla – Denarius – Providentia

Caracalla , 210 - 213 AD , Roman Imperial Coins

Obverse: ANTONINVS PIVS AVG BRIT – Head of Caracalla, laureate, bearded, right 

The inscription reads: Antoninus Pius, Augustus, Britannicus – Antoninus Pius emperor (Augustus), conqueror of the Britons. 

Reverse: PROVIDENTIAE DEORVM – Providentia, draped, standing left, holding wand in right hand over globe and sceptre in left hand 

The Inscription reads: Providentiae Deorum –  To the foresight of the gods.

  • Caracalla
  • Rome
  • Denarius
  • Silver
  • 3.05gr
  • 19mm
  • RIC IV Caracalla 227
Providentia, the foresighted care, belonged, like for example concordia or fides, to the quality concepts of a statesman of the Roman Republic (Cicero ad Q. fr. 1,1,31; rep. 6,1 2,5). Only later, however, in the imperial period, was it perceived as divine, personified and worshiped in connection with the person of the emperor as an imperial virtue in the sense of the ruler cult. The earliest evidence of the Providentia cult is the altar of the Providentiae Augusta near the Ara Pacis Augustae. This certainly existed in 19 AD possibly as early as 14 AD in Rome. On the one hand, it was seen as the anticipatory care of the emperor over Rome and the Romans (Providentiae Augusta), on the other hand as the providence of the gods over the emperor (Providentiae deorum).
A change of generations and times was announced or had already taken place. Septimius Severus, although already ill, set out with the entire imperial family in 208 AD on the way to Britain so that his sons could celebrate the necessary military successes in order to receive the necessary support in Rome, but above all from the legions. Already 210 AD the emperor was no longer able to lead the campaign at the head of the troops, so that his son and designated successor Caracalla took over the supreme command and led further into the north of Scotland.
On February 04, 211 AD the emperor died in Eboracum (York), his son Caracalla succeeded him and the family returned to Rome. The minting of these denarii in the period 210-213 AD is in this historical context. The successor was by no means a mere formality, and the support of the Senate and the legions was by no means assured.
With this stamp, therefore, the divine providence for the new Emperor Caracalla is propagated. The symbolism of the Providentia, which points to the globe with the staff, is also intended to mark the power and wisdom of the emperor, who from then on ruled the Roman world.
From my point of view this type of denarius was minted after the death of Septimius Severus and not already from 210 AD. Another Providentia denarius from the lifetime of Severus from the year 200/201 AD (RIC IV Septimius Severus 166) honors both Augusti with the goddess and the legend PROVID AVGG on the reverse. However, on the denarius type presented here Caracalla stands out alone, so I think that Severus was already deceased and that this was the propaganda of the newly appointed emperor.

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