Seleucis and Pieria. Macrinus. 217-218 AD

Seleucis and Pieria. Macrinus. 217-218 AD


AR Tetradrachm, 14.82g (25mm, 6h). AVT K M ΟΠ CЄ MAKPINOC CЄB, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right / ΔHMAPX ЄΞ VΠATO, eagle standing facing on thunderbolt with handle, head right, with wings spread, holding wreath in beak.

Pedigree: From the Michel Prieur Collection. Ex Numismatic Fine Arts Winter Mail Bid Sale (14 December 1989), lot 1161; Numismatic Fine Arts VI (27 February 1979), lot 787.

References: Prieur 1190 (this coin illustrated); Bellinger 78

Grade: Slightly porous surfaces, some crystallized surfaces and overall light wear. Attractive light cabinet toning. VF (re1086)

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The city of Seleucia Pieria was founded by Seleucus Nicator, the father of the Seleucid Empire. It is no doubt the reason why it became one of the most important Seleucid cities. It had a strong commercial center and was important militarily. 

The imagery on the coins from Antioch and the surrounding Syro-Phoenician cities show an eagle on the reverse. The reason suggested was that when Seleucus Nicator was trying determine where to install the new city he asked priests to prepare a sacrifice. During the sacrificial ceremony an eagle swooped down and took the leg of the animal that was laid there. It flew to a nearby hill, the Silpius. It was based on this event that the new city was chosen.

The emperor Macrinus was involved in the murder of his predecessor Caracalla. Strangely enough, the power of astrology greatly influenced the ensuing event. Macrinus consulted a horoscope that showed that he would become emperor which worried the Praetorian Prefect. The emperor Caracalla was to go on a military exercise and received a prediction from a “mathematician” of his murder. While traveling he stopped on the side of the road to pray at which point a centurion, likely under orders from Macrinus, killed Caracalla. The irony is that Septimius Severus, Caracalla’s father, could have easily killed Macrinus several years earlier when he had Plautianus, the father of Caracalla’s wife Plautilla, executed along with many friends of his, Macrinus being one. Instead Macrinus was spared only to later take the life of Severus’ son.