Lot 261. Thrace, Serdica. Caracalla. A.D. 198-217. Æ.
Thrace, Serdica. Caracalla. A.D. 198-217. Æ (30 mm, 18.53 g, 1 h). Laureate and cuirassed bust of Caracalla right / Apollo Iatrus standing slightly left, leaning on serpent-entwined staff and resting hand on hip; behind Apollo, small figure of Aesculapius standing facing, head left, extending arm toward him. Ruzicka 172; Varbanov 2142. Rare. Nice original green patina. Nearly extremely fine.
The reverse of this rare coin of Caracalla depicts Apollo Iatrus, or Apollo in his guise as a healer (Iatrus literally means "physician"). Apollo was also the father of Aesculapius by his lover Coronis, who is shown on this coin standing to his side of his father, presenting him with an uncertain object, probably a caduceus. The staff that Apollo Iatrus rests upon is a restorative token of the serpent that entwines it and which has the ability to slough its skin. Although we know that leading up to his eastern expedition Caracalla sought the healing powers of the gods, we do not know from which illness(es) he ailed. In Germany, the emperor visited a shrine of Apollo Grannus (originally a Celtic god of healing associated with thermal and mineral springs), then visited the great shrine and medical complex of Aesculapius as he passed through Pergamum, and finally he sought relief at Alexander's tomb once he reached Alexandria.