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Felicitas! Happiness for all Forum Users


Prieure de Sion

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Felicitas

Felicitas was the Roman personification of good fortune and happiness. Her cult penetrated only very slowly into the consciousness of the Romans.  She was depicted as a Roman matron holding a cornucopia in one hand and a luck-giving caducaeus (herald's staff) in the other. She liked to wear a fruit mass on her head. As an epithet with other deities, such as Venus, it is not Felicitatis that appears, but the adjective Felix. This term includes not only happiness alone, but also success, prosperity and fertility.

She appears on coins for the first time and singularly under Caesar on a quinarius of Lollius Palicanus. However, her image was not minted until the imperial period in connection with the ruler's will. Apart from the coins, there are only a few mentions - both on inscriptions and in poetry - and they are connected with a practice that does not go hand in hand with the official cult: good fortune in the area of sexuality and erotic happiness.

Felicitas received an official place of worship in Rome relatively late. After 146 BC, L. Licinius Lucullus consecrated a temple to her in the Velabrum (a marshy area near the Field of Mars at that time) on the occasion of his military successes in Spain in 151/150 BC. In addition, L. Mummius gave him some valuable Greek art treasures to decorate the building. Lucullus' grandson commissioned a cult statue from the famous sculptor Arkesilaos, which, however, was not completed due to both their deaths. Under Claudius, the building fell victim to a fire and was not rebuilt. The veneration of Felicitas thus remained limited to a small circle of the population in the following decades.

It was not until the reign of Sulla that Felicitas was accorded greater honours and thus veneration on a wider scale. He called himself Felix and his personal patron goddess Venus Felix. The stone theatre consecrated by Pompeius during his second consulate in 55 BC housed a sanctuary of Venus Victrix as well as cult sites for Honos, Virtus and Felicitas with foundation day 12 August. A cult community between Venus Victrix and Felicitas since Sulla seems probable. Finally, Caesar also made use of Felicitas, who had used her name as a slogan in the battle of Thapsos and had a temple built for her post mortem by M. Aemilius Lepidus on the site of the Curia Hostilia, which had been demolished for this purpose. At the latest in Hadrianic times, this temple no longer existed - perhaps it fell victim to urban development measures - and any remains may lie under the present church of Santi Martina e Luca.

With regard to the official rites on the Capitol Hill, the ancient annals contain contradictory information. Both 1 July and 9 October are mentioned. How both dates are connected is unknown. However, the second date refers to a celebration in the cult community of Genius publicus, Faustus, Felictas and Venus Victrix, whereas only Felicitas is mentioned on the July date and thus perhaps has to be seen separately. In addition to the sanctuary on the Capitol Hill, there also seems to have been one on the Field of Mars - including festivities. Unfortunately, no date has been handed down for this.

Felicitas only attained supra-regional importance in the early imperial period. On 17 January, the day Tiberius dedicated an altar to the numen Augusti in Rome, a sacrifice was made to Felicitas. In Cumae, a supplicatio Felicitati imperii (here: a celebration of joy arranged by the state) was celebrated on 16 April, the day on which Augustus was proclaimed emperor. A statue of Felicitas Tiberii with the same inscription on a shield was erected at the birthplace of Tiberius. In addition to Salus, Felicitas was now also honoured both officially and privately in the imperial house (source: imperium-romanum.com). 

 

 

Commodus, Felicitas and the surname Felix
 

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Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius Commodus Antoninus Augustus
Reign: Commodus; Mint: Rome; Date: 183/184 AD
Nominal: Denarius; Material: Silver; Diameter: 17.8mm; Weight: 2.88g

Reference Yothr CRI.183.4a
Reference: RIC III Commodus 74
OCRE Online: http://numismatics.org/ocre/id/ric.3.com.74
Provenance: Comptoir des Monnaies Anciennes Lille, France; Rare: R1

Obverse: Head of Commodus, laureate, right; Inscription: M COMMODVS ANTON AVG PIVS; Translation: Marcus Commodus Antoninus Augustus Pius; Reverse: Felicitas, draped, standing left, holding short caduceus in right hand and cornucopia in left hand; at feet, modius; Inscription: P M TR P VIIII IMP VI COS IIII P P; Translation: Pontifex Maximus, Tribunicia Potestate Nona, Imperator Sextum, Consul Quartum, Pater Patriae; Translation: High priest, holder of tribunician power for the ninth time, Imperator for the sixth time, consul for the fourth time, father of the nation

 

Commodus promised the people an unprecedented age of happiness, prosperity and abundance – as also propagated on the coin presented here. The caduceus shown here on the denarius as an attribute stands as a symbol for economy and trade. The cornucopia, in turn, is a mythological symbol of luck. It is filled with flowers and fruits and stands for fertility, generosity, wealth and abundance. The modius standing at the bottom was a wooden vessel with staves and fittings among the Romans; in connection with annona, ears of corn often protrude from the top of the vessel. The modius was a motif frequently used for annona coinage (annona civica). The Roman emperors minted these coins to indicate their services to the grain supply of the city of Rome by securing deliveries from the provinces. In this way, the emperors, who since Augustus were ultimately responsible for the annona civica, allowed themselves to be celebrated as benefactors and providers of the city of Rome.

By the way; Commodus was the first of all emperors to adopt the surname Felix in 185 AD. At first Felix was simply placed behind Britannicus, i.e. separated from Pius (Pius Britannicus Felix; Cohen 49f. 112. 139f. 480f. 666f. etc.). But already from the year 185 AD onwards Pius Felix is also found as Augustus Britannicus (Cohen 147. 328. 663 etc.) - and later Felix is regularly connected with Pius. Indeed, on coins in the years 186-191 AD Pius Felix regularly comes before Augustus and only in the last years 191-192 AD, after the change of name to Lucius Aelius Aurelius Commodus Augustus, Pius Felix comes after Augustus. The same arrangement is generally found on the inscriptions, but not as regularly (cf. the indices of the CIL).

 

 

Feel free to show your Felicitas coins - or if you think there is any reference to them. Looking forward to seeing your coins!

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Not so lucky for whatever Felicitas is sacrificing.

Julia Maesa Denarius, 220-222
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Rome. Silver, 17mm, 1.52g. Draped bust right; IVLIA MAESA AVG. Felicitas standing left holding staff and sacrificing over altar before; SAECVLI FELICITAS (RIC IV 2, 271). Found in Essex.

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This was my first Felicitas coin and my first Sestertius. I really like this coin. 

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33 mm, 24 g. Ӕ Sestertius, Titus 79-81AD. Stuck 80-81 AD, Rome 
IMP T CAES VESP AVG P M TR P P P COS VIII, head of Titus, laureate, right / FELICIT PVBLIC S C, Felicitas standing left, holding sceptre and cornucopiae
RIC II, Part 1 (second edition) Titus 143. Old RIC II Titus 89
 

I also have a Maesa denarius that is very similar - in fact, also with a chunk missing

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Julia Maesa (grandmother of Elagabalus) AR Denarius Rome, ca 218-222. 20 mm, 2,27 g 
IVLIA MAESA AVG - draped bust right / SAECVLI FELICITAS - Felicitas standing to left, holding long caduceus and sacrificing over lighted altar; in left field, star. 
RIC IV 272 (Elagabalus); BMCRE 81-82 (Elagabalus); RSC 45b
 

@John Conduitt - I think your Maesa is also RIC IV 272 as it has a star in the reverse left field

 

Last one is the best condition Felicitas coin I have, a young Geta 

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Geta, as Caesar AD 198-209. Rome Denarius AR 20 mm, 3,11 g. AD 200-202
P SEPT GETA CAES PONT, bare-headed and draped bust to right / FELICITAS PVBLICA, Felicitas standing to left, holding caduceus and cornucopia. RIC IV 9a; BMCRE 220; RSC 38a.
 

Edited by ambr0zie
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12 minutes ago, ambr0zie said:

I think your Maesa is also RIC IV 272 as it has a star in the reverse left field

Yes indeed, thank you. The position of the star turns out to be important. Although on Ocre, the ANS example that pops up in the search for 272 is also 271!

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My contribution to this thread...

Volusian (251-253 A.D.) AE Sestertius, 26mm 16 grams, Rome mint

Obverse: IMP CAE C VIB VOLVSIANO AVG, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right

Reverse: FELICITAS PVBLICA S-C, Felicitas standing left, leaning on column, holding caduceus and sceptre.

Reference: RIC 251a, Cohen 35, Sear 9786. 

volusian.jpg.e1ee010aa558b44ad9cb623b75c6a2da.jpg

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8 minutes ago, ambr0zie said:

OCRE is incorrect with these. 271 is without star, 272 has it. The description and examples in OCRE make no sense. 

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Doesn't this mean 270 has a star in right field; 271 is the same (with star in right field); and 272 and 273 the same except star in left field?

Edited by John Conduitt
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This is correct, I misread OCRE, as I thought in their description both the versions have the star in LEFT field. 

Still, as you noticed, the OCRE main coin for 272 is in fact a 271 (star in RIGHT field). 

My coin and your coin are 272. 

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Nice coin @Prieure de Sion! Great Felicitas coins all.

Here is one of mine.

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Roman Empire
Aelius as Caesar (AD 136-138)
AR Denarius, Rome mint, struck AD 137
Dia.: 17 mm
Wt.: 3.24 g
Obv.: L AELIVS CAESAR Bare head right
Rev.: TR POT COS II Felicitas standing left holding caduceus and cornucopia
Ref.: RIC II 430 (Hadrian)
Ex Pars Sale 3, lot 357 (Oct. 2019), Ex Numismatik Naumann 75, lot 643 (Mar. 2019), Formerly slabbed by NGC

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Vespasian, AD 69-79. Æ Dupondius (27mm, 12.30g, 7h). Rome mint. Struck AD 73. Obv: IMP CAES VESP AVG P M T P COS IIII CENS; Radiate head of Vespasian left. Rev: FELICITAS PVBLICA; Felicitas standing facing, head left, caduceus in right hand, cornucopia in left; S-C across fields. Ref: RIC II 581; BMCRE 661. NGC Choice Fine. Ex CNG e230 (24 Mar 2010), Lot 288. Ex Heritage Weekly Auction (30 May 2019), Lot 65085.

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Nice denarius and write-up, @Prieure de Sion 

Here's another Commodus Felicitas type, this a sestertius.  This one has the full FELIX.  He issued a lot of these types, making attributing the lower-grade examples (like mine) somewhat of a challenge - my best guesses below:

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Commodus Æ Sestertius (c. 186-187 A.D.) Rome Mint M COMMODVS AN[T P] FELIX AVG BRIT, laureate head right / [PVB]L[ICA] FE[L P M TR P XII IM]P VIII [CO]S V P P, S-C, Felicitas standing left holding patera and sceptre RIC III 503 (see notes). (19.50 grams / 28 x 24 mm) eBay July 2018 

Attribution: Reverse hard to see; three possibilities; RIC 503 seems most likely:

RIC III 467 (186 A.D.) FEL PVBLICA P M TR P XI

RIC III 495  (186-187 A.D.) FEL PVBLICA P M TR P XII

RIC III 503 (186-187 A.D.) PVBLICA FEL P M TR P XII

And here is a crusty as of Commodus, but identifiable:

Commodus-AsFelicitasJune2019(0).jpg.aaaba7ee089aa0a9c04a15972610f629.jpg

Commodus    Æ As (181 A.D.) Rome Mint M COMMODVS ANTONINVS AVG, laureate head right / FEL AVG TR P VI IMP IIII COS III PP S-C, Felicitas, draped, standing left, holding caduceus in right hand and sceptre in left. RIC 320; BMC 112; RSC 905. (11.57 grams / 25 mm) eBay June 2019 

 

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I have half a dozen coins depicting Felicitas; I would have guessed I had more.

Aelius Caesar AR Denarius, 137 AD. Obv. AELIVS CAESAR, bare head right / Rev. TR POT COS II, Felicitas standing left, holding caduceus and cornucopiae. RSC II 50, RIC II Hadrian 430 (1926 ed.), Sear RCV II 3973.18 mm., 2.70 g.

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Faustina II (wife of Marcus Aurelius & daughter of Antoninus Pius), AE Sestertius, ca. 161 AD, Rome Mint. Obv. Draped bust right, low chignon at back of head, FAVSTINA AVGVSTA / Rev. Felicitas (or Faustina as Fecunditas) standing left, between four girls (two standing at each side) [representing Annia Faustina (a/k/a Faustina III), Lucilla, Fadilla, and Cornificia], holding two infants in her arms [representing the twins Titus Aurelius Fulvus Antoninus and Commodus], each with a star over its head (representing the Dioscuri), TEMPOR FELIC [-IC almost entirely worn off], S - C across fields. RIC III 1673 (at p. 147), var. [no stars above infants’ heads]; BMCRE MA 949 var [same]; Cohen 222; Dinsdale 006760 & n. 1 [Dinsdale, Paul H., The Imperial Coinage of the Middle Antonines: Marcus Aurelius with Lucius Verus and Commodus, Ch. 4, Faustina II - Undated, 158-176 (http://romanpaulus.x10host.com/Marcus/04 - Faustina II - Undated, 158-176 (med_res).pdf) at p. 70] (“Minor rev. variation: sometimes each infant held in arms has star above head”). 31 mm., 24 gm. Purchased from Victor’s Imperial Coins, March 2021. Ex. CNG E-Auction 476, 9/09/2020, part of Lot 762; ex. BLS Collection.* [Footnote omitted.]

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Caracalla (son of Septimius Severus) AR Denarius. Obv. Laureate, youthful draped bust right, ANTONINVS PIVS AVG/ Rev. Felicitas standing left holding caduceus & cornucopiae, FELICITAS AVGG. RIC IV-1 127, RSC III 64, Sear RCV II 6799, BMCRE 276. 19 mm., 3.2 g.

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Trebonianus Gallus, AR Antoninianus. 251-253 AD, Rome Mint. Obv. Radiate, draped and cuirassed bust right, IMP CAE C VIB TREB GALLVS AVG/ Rev. Felicitas standing left, leaning against column, holding short caduceus and transverse scepter, FELICITAS PVBLICA. RIC IV-3 34a, RSC IV 41. 22 mm., 3.46 g.

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Tacitus, silvered billon Antoninianus, Lugdunum [Lyons] Mint, First Officina, 275-276 AD. Obv. Radiate, draped and cuirassed bust right, IMP C L TACITVS AVG / Rev. Felicitas standing left, holding long caduceus upright in left hand and cornucopiae in right hand, TEMPORVM FELICITAS, A [First Officina] in left field, star [*] in right field. RIC V-1 65, Sear RCV III 11817 (ill.), Cohen 144. 23 mm., 3.4 g.

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Carinus, AE Antoninianus, Feb/Mar 283 [promotion to Augustus] - Spring 285 [death of Carinus], Ticinum Mint [now Pavia, Italy] (3rd Officina). Obv. Radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, IMP CARINVS P F AVG / Rev. Felicitas standing facing, head left, left elbow resting on column, holding caduceus with raised right hand, FELICIT PVBLICA; in exergue, TXXI [3rd Officina, 20/1 copper/silver ratio of alloy]. RIC V-2 295, Sear RCV III 12343 (ill.), Cohen 24, Pink [Karl Pink 1949] p. 29, Series 4. 23.6 mm., 3.83 g. [For dating, see http://augustuscoins.com/ed/Carus/.]

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