Coin of Septimius Severus, Emperor of Rome from Abydos Artist: Unknown
Mint: Abydos (Troas)
Ruler: Septimius Severus, Emperor of Rome, A.D. 146–211, ruled 193–211



The portrait on this coin of Septimius Severus (ruled A.D. 193–211) is exceptional on its own, but the reverse type is what sets the coin apart. Abydus, on the Asian side of the Hellespont, was the point of departure for Leander, as he swam across to Sestos and his beloved Hero, who guides his way from her tower with a torch. In the myth, Leander drowned in the attempt, and Hero threw herself off the tower to join him in death. The myth is also the subject of a painting by Peter Paul Rubens in the collection of the Yale University Art Gallery (1962.25).




21.35 g, 12:00, 38 mm

Credit Line

Ruth Elizabeth White Fund

Accession Number



2nd–3rd century A.D.


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.


Obverse Description

Obverse Description: AVT KAI SEPTIMIOS SEOVHROS PERTIIN Bust laureate draped cuirassed r. seen from behind.

Reverse Description

Reverse Description: EPI ARCH FL BA PROKLOV araound, ABYDHN in exergue. Leander amid waves swimming r. towards tower (the lighthouse of Abydus) in which stands Hero l. holding out lighted lamp.


CNG, Lancaster, Pa., January 10–1, 2006, Triton 9, lot 1512; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.
  • Lisa R. Brody and Gail Hoffman, eds., Roman in the Provinces: Art on the Periphery of Empire (Chestnut Hill, Mass.: McMullen Museum of Art, 2014), 217, fig. 14.5
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

coins, money

Technical metadata and APIs


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