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Elagabalus, Denarius, Sacrificing as Syrian Priest reverse

AR; 19mm/2.6gm        Antioch Mint: Stuck c. 222 AD

Con/ A few minor inclusions, otherwise, about Extremely Fine; magnificent portrait of the 18 year-old emperor, sharp and crisp reverse

Obv/ IMP ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, laureate and horned draped bust right

Ref/ INVICTVS SACERDOS AVG; Elagabalus standing left, in the robes of a Syrian priest, holding patera and sacrificing over a lighted altar and holding club upright, bull lying down behind the altar; Star in left field.

Ref/ RIC Vol IVb 191 (Antioch)

Seller's Note/ The reverse inscription equates to The Unconquerable Priest (of the sun god Elagabal) for whom Elagabalus was the high priest. The star is an homage to his sun deity, as well. There is not much consensus on what the “horn” on the obverse actually signifies. A popular theory from a German writer is that the “horn” might actually be a bull’s penis, which apparently was considered a sign of fertility. 

The bull's penis theory, by the way, makes some sense. From everything I've read, it's wholly consistent with ancient Eastern religious practices. And it isn't as if Romans didn't engage in lots of phallic imagery themselves, but wearing one on your head is a bit too much.

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