- The Collaborative Numismatics Project
  Explore Our Website And Find Joy In The History, Numismatics, Art, Mythology, And Geography Of Coins!!! NumisWiki Is An Enormous Unique Resource Including Hundreds Of Books And Thousands Of Articles Online!!! The Column On The Left Includes Our "Best of NumisWiki" Menu If You Are New To Collecting - Start With Ancient Coin Collecting 101 NumisWiki Includes The Encyclopedia of Roman Coins and Historia Nummorum If You Have Written A Numismatic Article - Please Add It To NumisWiki All Blue Text On The Website Is Linked - Keep Clicking To ENDLESSLY EXPLORE!!! Please Visit Our Shop And Find A Coin You Love Today!!!

× Resources Home
New Articles
Most Popular
Recent Changes
Current Projects
Admin Discussions
How to
Index Of All Titles


Aes Formatum
Aes Rude
The Age of Gallienus
Alexander Tetradrachms
Ancient Coin Collecting 101
Ancient Coin Prices 101
Ancient Coin Dates
Ancient Coin Lesson Plans
Ancient Coins & Modern Fakes
Ancient Counterfeits
Ancient Glass
Ancient Metal Arrowheads
Ancient Oil Lamps
Ancient Pottery
Ancient Weapons
Ancient Wages and Prices
Ancient Weights and Scales
Anonymous Follis
Anonymous Class A Folles
Antioch Officinae
Armenian Numismatics Page
Augustus - Facing Portrait
Bronze Disease
Byzantine Denominations
A Cabinet of Greek Coins
Caesarean and Actian Eras
Campgates of Constantine
A Case of Counterfeits
Byzantine Christian Themes
Clashed Dies
Coins of Pontius Pilate
Conditions of Manufacture
Corinth Coins and Cults
Countermarked in Late Antiquity
Danubian Celts
Damnatio Coinage
Damnatio Memoriae
Denarii of Otho
Diameter 101
Die Alignment 101
Dictionary of Roman Coins
Doug Smith's Ancient Coins
Edict on Prices
ERIC - Rarity Tables
Etruscan Alphabet
The Evolving Ancient Coin Market
Fel Temp Reparatio
Fertility Pregnancy and Childbirth
Friend or Foe
The Gallic Empire
Gallienus Zoo
Greek Alphabet
Greek Coins
Greek Dates
Greek Coin Denominations
Greek Mythology Link
Greek Numismatic Dictionary
Hellenistic Names & their Meanings
Hasmonean Dynasty
Helvetica's ID Help Page
The Hexastyle Temple of Caligula
Historia Numorum
Holy Land Antiquities
Horse Harnesses
Illustrated Ancient Coin Glossary
Important Collection Auctions
Islamic Rulers and Dynasties
Julian II: The Beard and the Bull
Julius Caesar - The Funeral Speech
Kushan Coins
Later Roman Coinage
Latin Plurals
Latin Pronunciation
Library of Ancient Coinage
Life in Ancient Rome
List of Kings of Judea
Medusa Coins
Maps of the Ancient World
Military Belts
Military Belts
Mint Marks
Museum Collections Available Online
Nabataean Alphabet
Nabataean Numerals
The [Not] Cuirassed Elephant
Not in RIC
Numismatic Bulgarian
Numismatic Excellence Award
Numismatic French
Numismatic German
Numismatic Italian
Numismatic Spanish
Parthian Coins
Patina 101
Paleo-Hebrew Alphabet
Paleo-Hebrew Script Styles
People in the Bible Who Issued Coins
Imperial Mints of Philip the Arab
Phoenician Alphabet
Pi-Style Athens Tetradrachms
Pricing and Grading Roman Coins
Reading Judean Coins
Representations of Alexander the Great
Roman Coin Attribution 101
Roman Coin Legends and Inscriptions
Roman Keys
Roman Locks
Roman Militaria
Roman Military Belts
Roman Mints
Roman Names
Rome and China
Satyrs and Nymphs
Serdi Celts
The Sign that Changed the World
Silver Content of Parthian Drachms
Star of Bethlehem Coins
Statuary Coins
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum
Syracusian Folles
Taras Drachms with Owl Left
The Temple Tax
The Temple Tax Hoard
Test Cut
Travels of Paul
Tribute Penny
Tribute Penny Debate Continued (2015)
Tribute Penny Debate Revisited (2006)
Tyrian Shekels
Uncleaned Ancient Coins 101
Venus Cloacina
What I Like About Ancient Coins
Who was Trajan Decius
Widow's Mite

   View Menu


Please add updates or make corrections to the NumisWiki text version as appropriate.
LIBERALITAS - Liberality, being one of the princely virtues and at the same time a most popular quality, appears both as a legend and as a type on a great many Roman imperial medals. These attest the occasions when the emperors made a display of their generosity towards the people by all kinds of distributions amongst them, in money and provisions. In the earlier age this was called Congiarium (Munus), because they distributed congios oleo plenos. In the time of the free republic, the Ediles were specially entrusted with these distributions, as a means of acquiring the good will of the people. The same practice was followed under the emperors; and we occasionally find on their coins the word CONGIARIVM, but the more common term is LIBERALITAS, to which is frequently added the number of times, I. II. III. up to VII. and VIII. that such liberality has been exercised by each emperor.--On these occasions of imperial munificence, a certain sum of money was for the most part given to each person, and when grain was distributed, or bread, to prevent the evils of dearness and famine from affecting the Roman populace, it was called Annona. But when something beyond their ordinary pay was bestowed upon the soldiers, it was denominated Donativum, a word, however, not found on coins, but comprised under that of Liberalitas, or of Congiarium; and after the reign of Marcus Aurelius, CONGIARIVM is no longer found, and the expression LIBERALITAS is alone employed.

Liberality is personified by the image of a woman, holding in one hand a tessera, or square tablet, furnished with a handle on which are cut a certain number of holes.  These boards were used to quickly count the proper number of coins or other items for distribution to each person.  It appears they would be dipped into a container, covered with coins and the excess swept away back into the container.  The proper number of coins would fill the holes and then would be dumped out to the recipient.  On coins this symbol indicated the prince had given to the people money, corn, and other articles of consumption. In the other hand she holds a cornucopia, to indicate the abundance of wheat contained in the public graineries. Liberalitas is represented as presiding at all congiaria. The liberalities of the Augusti, by which the distribution of their bounties to the people is signified, were of two kinds, ordinary and extraordinary.

The first mention of Liberalitas occurs on coins of Hadrian; on those of succeeding emperors it is frequently reiterated. Indeed these instances of imperial generosity are more carefully recorded on medals than they are by history. On a coin of Hadrian, struck under his second consulate, in the year of Rome 870, we see two figures seated on a suggestum or raised platform. The genius of Liberality, with the attributes above described, stands beside or behind them; and another figure is ascending a small flight of steps, which leads to the raised platform, where the gift of the emperor is received.

On a gold coin of Antoninus Pius, and also of Philip I, the emperor sits in a curule chair, placed on a raised platform; before him stands the image of Liberalitas, pouring out from a cornucopia money into the bosom of a man, who is ascending by steps on the opposite side.

On a silver coin of Antonine we see the figure of a woman standing by herself, holding a horn of plenty in her left hand, and in her right hand a tessera, or a tablet, which specifies the quantity of wheat delivered to each person at a low price through the liberality of the emperor, or on which was inscribed what was given to each citizen.

A gold coin of Elagabalus exhibits the emperor sitting on a suggestum, with Liberality standing on one side, and the Praetorian Prefect, or a Lictor, on the other: distributing the congiarium to the Roman citizens.

In that emphatic tribute of eulogy to Hadrian 's unexampled munificence, the celebrated coin which bears the legend of LOCVPLETATORI ORBIS TERRARVM, we see that the type refers to the Liberalitates of that emperor, who, under the auspices of the goddess, is distributing his bounties with an outstretched hand. Many medals consecrated the the liberality of the emperors shew by a numerical cipher how many times that liberality has been repeated by the same prince. Thus, a coin of Antoninus Pius, struck a short time before his death, under his fourth consulate, in the year of Roma 914, bears the epigraph LIBERALITAS IX, that is to say, the ninth Liberality or distribution made by the emperor.

The medals of Commodus and Caracalla present to us eight liberalities or donations; those of Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius record seven. On the coins of Septimius Severus and Geta, we find indications of six liberalities; there are five recorded on a medal of Severus Alexander; four on coins of Elagabalus, of Gordian III, and of Gallienus; three on some of Lucius Veras; and of the two Philips (in these the emperors, father and son, are represented sitting together, without attendants or recipients).

It is, however, to be borne in mind as to the emperors of whom some medals offer us a considerable number of liberalities, that some others give us also most of the preceding liberalities. The greater part of these coins refer to the times when it was the custom to bestow on each citizen a quantity of corn from out of the public graineries.

One of the most remarkable of Hadrians 's liberalities was that of his having remitted to the people their arrears of taxes accumulated during the space of sixteen years, and of his having caused the vouchers, by which the imperial treasury could have made good its claim to fiscal dues, to be burnt in the Forum at Rome. See RELIQVA VETERA, etc

View whole page from the Dictionary Of Roman Coins
All coins are guaranteed for eternity