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Elagabalus (Antoninus)
as Augustus  AD 218 - 222

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (earlier Varius Avitus Bassianus) (AD 203 - 222).
Son of Julia Soaemias;
Husband of Julia Paula, Aquilia Severa and Annia Faustina;
Grandson of Julia Maesa;
Nephew of Julia Mamaea;
Cousin of Severus Alexander.

Varius Avitus Bassianus, known as Elagabalus after his patron-god, El-Gabal in Emesa, whose priest he was, came to the throne thanks to the generous distribution of wealth by his grandmother, Julia Maesa to the local legions. This, Elagabalus claim to be a son of Caracala, and the unpopularity of Macrinus, rallied support for the fourteen-year old priest and won both the loyalty of the troops and the acknowledgment of the Senate after Macrinus’s assassination. The journey to Rome was an easy one, but once there in 219, the young emperor’s mentors, his grandmother and one of his Syrian henchmen, Comazon, faced a formidable task to keep Elagabal in power. The Romans were dismayed at the emperor’s strange oriental religious rites in worship of the solar deity that gave him his name, but what really put them off was the fact that he was a psychologically unstable passive homosexual with insatiable appetite for “husbands,” despite the five wives that he married and divorced in short succession. The emperor’s bizarre preferences alarmed Julia Maesa so much that she persuaded Elagabalus to give to his cousin Alexander the title of Augustus and the respective powers, so that he can devote himself to his religious duties. The young emperor complied, but then regretted and attempted to revert this decision, but it was too late. As in 218, a judicious distribution of Julia Maesa’s wealth persuaded the praetorians to assassinate him, along with his mother, in their camp in March 222.

Mints: Antioch, Rome.

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