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Felicitas

Felicitas was the goddess or personification of good luck and success. She played an important role in Rome's state religion during the empire, and was frequently portrayed on coins. She became a prominent symbol of the wealth and prosperity of the Roman Empire.

Felicitas was unknown before the mid-2nd century BC, when a temple was dedicated to her in the Velabrum in the Campus Martius by Lucius Licinius Lucullus, using booty from his 151Ė150 BC campaign in Spain. The temple was destroyed by a fire during the reign of Claudius and was never rebuilt.

Another temple in Rome was planned by Julius Caesar and was erected after his death by Marcus Aemilius Lepidus on the site of the Curia Hostilia, which had been restored by Lucius Cornelius Sulla but demolished by Caesar in 44 BC. This temple no longer existed by the time of Hadrian, and its site probably lies under the church of Santi Martina e Luca.

The word felicitas, "luck", is also the source of the word and name felicity.


DICTIONARY OF ROMAN COINS





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FELICITAS - a symbolical divinity of the Romans, to whom, according to Pliny, Licnicius Lucullus, about 74 BC, on his return from the war against Mithradates IV, wished to raise a statue, of which Archesilas was to have been the sculptor; but both the artist and employer died before the work was completed. A temple erected to this deified protectress, in one of the public places of Rome, fell prey to a fire during the reign of Claudius.



Felicity is represented on coins of the imperial series (particularly those of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Philip I), under the figure of a woman, clothed in the stola, and exhibiting different figures and postures; sometimes standing, sometimes seated, generally she holds the caduceus in one hand, and the cornucopiae in the other: the formaer as the sign of peace, tha latter as signifying that true felicity consists in possessing the most precious gifts of providence; for what is greater happiness in this world than to enjoy peace and to possess plenty. At other times Felicitas stands holding the caduceus on a staff in her right hand, and a patera in her left, at a lighted altar, as in Julia Maesa. Again we see her with a rudder, a globe, or a ship's prow in her hand, in allusion to the naval victories gained by those princes whose coins display this allegorical type; and also in reference to the abundance which navigation procures to the state. With respect to the caduceus, Millin, in his Dictonaire des Beaux Arts, observes in the hymn to Mercury, ascribed to Homer, Apollo designates that instrument as the rod or staff of Felicity and of riches. On a medallion of Commodus FELICITAS TEMPORVM (the happiness of the times or of the age), is figured under the form of a woman sitting under a tree surrounded by children, who personify the four seasons. For othe typifications of this deity on Roman coins, see SAECVLI or TEMPORVM FELICITAS.

Felicity's image occurs on almost all the imperial series coins; because the senate professed to wish that all princes should consider it their duty to promote public happiness, and also because those princes themselves were peculiarly desirous of having it regarded as a blessing attached to their own reign. This however was ascribed to various causes, and shadowed forth under various tokens.

Jobert, in his sixth instruction observes that when (as is most frequently the case on imperial series coins) to the name of Felicitas, Securitas, Spes, Providentia, Aequitas, and other virtues, the word AVG is added, there is no doubt but that virtue or good quality in question is applied to the prince himself, as residing and shining in him, and should then be read FELICITAS AVGVSTI or FELICITATI AVGVSTI, etc. But on the other hand, when it reads AVGVSTA, is is the opinion of most numismatic antiquaries, although not yet reduced to a certanty, that by this form of expression, the virtue or divinity itself (as Augusta, that is to say, sacred), rather than the emperor, was the intended object of inscription ans honour. According to this opinion, therefore, FELICITAS AVGVSTA would not be an eulogy of the prince for rendering the state happy, but simply the proper epithet attributed to the name of the goddess. Havercamp also, adverting to this point, remarks that, when the figure of a woman occurs on a coin, holding a rudder resting on a globe, whether she be called Fortune or Felicity, it would seem to represent the golden fortune (aurea fortuna) of the imperial house, which the emperors worshipped in their bed chamber, and which, when at the point of death, they transmitted to thier successors.

Note: English translation of above paragraph: If the legend is AVG, the good fortune is claimed by the emperor; if the legend is AVGVSTA, this is a tribute to the divinity of Felicitas or Fortune.



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