The Roman emperor Lucius Septimius Severus was born to an equestrian family from the Roman colony of Leptis Magna in the Roman province of Africa which s now Al-Khums in Libya. Severus established his own dynasty and transformed the government into a military monarchy, making his reign as the rise of absolute despotism that shaped the Roman Empire. 

Birthplace of Septimius (Modern day Libya) | Source: Britannica

Prior to his ascension to the throne, Severus was the governor of what is now Austria and Hungary with the largest army on the Danube River under his command. He advanced through the ladder of offices during the rule of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus.  

Bust of Septimius Severus | Source: Wikipedia

Severus was a strong leader. He expanded his army, giving them higher pay and better rewards that caused problems to those who were next in line. Yet, he broadened the extent of his reign to more than 5 million square kilometers. 

Roman Empire 210 AD From Conquests of Emperor Septimius Severus | Source: Wikipedia

Severus’ ambition of conquering Caledonia was cut short when he suffered from an infectious disease in late 210. After his death in early 211 his son ascended to the throne and the Severan dynasty comes to fruition. It is the last Roman Empire dynasty before the Crisis of the Third Century occurred. 


Septimius Severus’ Debasement of the Roman Currency 

In his attempt of maintaining a large army, Septimius Severus devalued the imperial currency, reducing the silver purity of the denarius coin. The following year, the denarius was debased again dropping the silver purity from 78.5% to 64.5%. It followed another decline of silver purity to 54%. The devaluation of the currency was the largest in the Roman Empire since the reign of the fifth emperor Nero. 

Silver Denarius coin of Emperor Septimius Severus

Septimius Severus Coins 

Septimius Severus produced several currencies during his reign such as the aureus, sestertius, and the denarius.  

War & Peace in Ancient Rome: Roman Gods of Battle Box | Source: Banknote World

In this coin box are three silver Denarii coins that depict Emperor Septimius Severus in profile on one side. The other side of these coins illustrates religious and military scenes that reflect Severus’ military expansion policy.  

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