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XXI

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PROVIDENTIA

Providentia is the personification of foresight. Used on coinage to advertise emperor is aware of the needs of the empire and its population and is taking the proper measures to meet them, usually refering to the grain supply or sometimes the birth of imperial children.


DICTIONARY OF ROMAN COINS





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    Providentia.    (Providence).----With all their vices, follies, and gross superstitions (indeed, in spite of them), the Romans still appear to have cherished a belief in the perpetual and direct interposition of the gods with respect to human affairs.----Among the various monuments which attest this religious feeling, or at leas this profession of religion, on the part of both princes and people, none are more conspicuous than those to be found on their imperial coins, for it is to be observed that previous to the substitution of the monarchical for the republican form of government, that allegorical divinity whose name is derived from providere (to foresee) is not seen either on metal or on marble.----The first coin on which the name of Providence appears is a unique one of small brass, having on one side a radiate head surrounded with the inscription DIVOS IVLIVS CAESAR, and on the other an altar lighted, with PROVID. S. C.----From the commencement of the reign of Augustus and afterwards, the words Providence and Providence of the Gods came very frequently into use, and the accompanying symbols were greatly multiplied, insomuch that  Ant. Augustino, in his second Dialouge exhibits twelve varieties of types, taken from reverses of different emperorsí coins, for adulation soon proceeded to lavish upon princes all the attributes of divinity.----Providence (PROVIDENTIA DEORVM) however, is most often depicted under the form of a female, clothed in a matronís gown, holding in her left hand a cornucopiae, or the hasta pura, and in her right a short wand, with which she either touches or points to a globe. Sometimes she holds this globe in her right hand, at others it lies at her feet. This type is intended to mark the power and wisdom of the emperor, who ruled the Roman world.----On a first brass of Severus Alexander, inscribed PROVIDENTIA AVG., is a woman resting her right hand on an anchor, and holding two corn-ears over an altar.----On a second brass of Numerianus the Providence of the Emperor holds a cornucopiae in her right hand.----Other types, peculiar to certain emperors and events, will be found described below.
   
    PROVIDENTIA.----Seguin in his Selecta Numismata Impp. (p. 148) has given us the engraving of a beautiful gold coin, on the obverse of which is the head of Septimius Severus, with the epigraph SEVERVS PIVS AVG., and on the reverse a head similar to that of Medusa, with the word PROVIDENTIA.----In reference to this remarkable medal, both Seguin and Vaillant consider it to mean, in an allegorical sense, that Minerva is the Goddess of Prudence or of Providence, which is indicated by the head of the Medusa, sacred to her, and which she bore affixed to her aegis.----Eckhel appears to be of the same opinion, and refers to other medals of Severus in confirmation thereof.

    Providentia.----Besides the instances which have been already noticed, showing the various modes of typifying Providence, whether in praise of an emperorís care and foresight, or in acknowledgment of a divine superintendence, the following, among many others, appear in the Roman series:----A thunderbolt as in Antoninus Pius----the Emperor addressing his soldiers on large bronze of Marcus Aurelius----on coins of Gallienus, Mercury with his usual attributes appears, accompanied by the legend of PROVIDENTIA AVG.----the Providence of the Gods is symbolized by a thunderbolt, on gold and silver coins of Antoninus Pius----on a second brass of Aurelian, the same legend is accompanied by the figure of a woman holding two military ensigns, opposite whom stands the Sun, with radiate head, uplifted right hand, and globe in his left----on coins of Postumus the same legend has for its type a woman leaning on a column. The type of Providence, as applied to an Emperorís acts, assumes the form of some edifice, such as a temple, an altar, or the castra praetoria, frequently with a star above, on medals of Constantius I Chlorus, Licinius I and Licinius II, and Constantine the Great and his family.


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