Legends on Roman Coins
Here is a silver coin (denarius) of Caracalla, Roman
Obverse legend: ANTONINVS
PIVS AVG BRIT
The legend gives the Roman name he used (beginning at 6:00).
ANTONINUS PIVS = Antoninus Pius (There were four emperors who used
name. We call him by his nickname, Caracalla)
It gives two of his titles
AVG = Augustus = emperor
BRIT = Britannicus = conqueror of the Britains
PM = Pontifex Maximus = high priest
TR P = power of the tribune
XVI = 16 (in Roman numerals), meaning it was now the 16th time he
power, that is, the 16th year of his reign. Year 1 = 198 AD, so
= 213 AD.
COS = Consul, a high Roman office
IIII = 4 in Roman numerals, meaning he had held the office of
P P = Pater Patriae = father of his country (like George
The reverse legend has more titles.
PM TRP XVI COS IIII PP
The type is Liberty holding a (triangular) cap of liberty
and a sceptre. It probably refers to Caracalla's granting of Roman
to all inhabitants of the Empire.
The Roman emperor Septimius Severus,
A.D, on a common silver coin (a
denarius) the size of a dime struck,
SEVERVS (They used a "V" for our "U"), and three of his titles:
"AVG" abbreviates "Augustus", the Roman term for "emperor".
[again, a "V"
for our "U"].
"PART" abbreviates "Parthicus" (conqueror of the Parthians, who
what is now Iraq and Iran).
"MAX" abbreviates "Maximus" (the greatest).
The legend reads "SEVERVS AVG PART MAX"
(beginning at 6:30 on the coin, and without spaces to conveniently
It gives part of his name,
RESTITVTOR = Restorer
VRBIS = City [again note the use of "V" for "U"] "Urb" is seen in
words for city like "urban" and "suburb."
The reverse has a legend too.
It reads "RESTITVTOR VRBIS".
So the reverse legend is "Restorer of the city (Rome)."
The picture shows the emperor in military gear at a religious
pouring from a bowl over a sacred fire in a tripod. His spear is
(point down) to symbolize the peace resulting from his victories.
to his restoring of the city (Rome), presumably by building and
For an excellent page (off site) on reading Roman coin legends see here
(and, remember to come back!)
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