On this day in 221 CE, Caracalla killed his brother Geta in order to gain full command of the Roman Empire. The sons of Septimius Severus, the brothers had co-ruled with their father since 209. They succeeded him on his death in February 211, but Caracalla quickly soured on sharing power. Not only did Caracalla have his brother murdered, but also he tried to erase his memory by destroying and defacing his portraits. This act, known as damnatio memoriae, can be seen in a family portrait where the young Geta has had his face scratched out while Caracalla looks the happy innocent, or the so-called Arch of the Argentarii where the figure of Geta has been removed.
Severan tondo, ca. 200, Staatliche Museum, Berlin
Portrait of the emperor Caracalla from a statue reworked as a bust, 212, Naples Archaeological Museum
Publius Septimius Geta. Marble, Roman artwork, ca. 208 CE. From Gabies. Paris, Louvre
Denarius of Geta, early 3rd century
Medallion with Roman Emperor Caracalla, early 3rd century, Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore
Arch of the Argentarii, Rome. Reliefs show family of Septimius Severus with figure of Geta destroyed