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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Personifications ▸ GenerosityView Options:  |  |  | 

Generosity (Liberalitas)

Liberalitas coin types attest to occasions when the emperor has displayed his generosity towards the people by a distribution to them of money, provisions, or both. The first mention of Liberalitas was on coins of Hadrian. It was a type frequently repeated by the succeeding emperors. Indeed these instances of imperial generosity are more carefully recorded on coins than they are by history. Liberality is personified by the image of a woman, holding in one hand a counting board, or square tablet 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. In the other hand she holds a cornucopia, to indicate the prosperity of the state and the abundance of wheat contained in the public graineries.


Geta, 209 - c. 26 December 211 A.D.

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Between 209 and their father's death in February 211, both brothers were shown as equally mature young men with a short full beard. Both sons were presented as equally suitable heirs to the throne, showing thus more "depth" to the dynasty. Between the death of Septimius Severus and the assassination of Geta, Caracalla's portraits did not change, while Geta was depicted with a long beard with hanging hairs much like his father, a strong indication of Geta's efforts to be seen as the "true" successor of his father.
RS86671. Silver denarius, RIC IV 88, RSC III 68, BMCRE V 65, SRCV II -, Choice EF, nearly as struck except for light toning, fantastic portrait, luster in recesses, perfect centering on a broad flan, some legend just a little weak, tiny edge cracks, weight 3.250 g, maximum diameter 20.0 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 210 - 212 A.D.; obverse P SEPT GETA PIVS AVG BRIT, laureate head right; reverse LIBERALITAS AVG V, Liberalitas standing half-left, coin counting board in right hand, cornucopia in left hand; from the Jyrki Muona Collection; $340.00 (Ä289.00)


Commodus, March or April 177 - 31 December 192 A.D.

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The reverse depicts a Commodus' forth liberalitas, a gift distribution of money to the people of Rome. A citizen is using his drapery to catch coins thrown from above - the coins are depicted by four pellets. Liberalitas holds a counting board, a money shovel with shallow holes in it, used to quickly distribute a specific number of coins to each recipient.
RB82726. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC III 310(b) (S), BMCRE IV 455, Cohen III 310 var. (no drapery), Hunter II 82 var. (same), SRCV II -, F/aF, dark brown patina, well centered, areas of corrosion, weight 25.932 g, maximum diameter 32.2 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 181 - 182 A.D.; obverse M COMMODVS ANTONINVS AVG, laureate bust right, drapery on left shoulder; reverse TR P VI IMP IIII COS III P P, Commodus seated left on platform; behind him, officer standing facing with head to left; in front of him, Liberalitas standing front, head to left, holding counting-board in her right hand and cornucopia in her left; below on steps, citizen standing right, holding up fold of toga catching coins, S - C flanking platform, LIB AVG IIII in exergue; scarce; $220.00 (Ä187.00)


Philip I the Arab, February 244 - End of September 249 A.D.

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Liberality is personified by the image of a woman, holding in one hand a counting board, or square tablet 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 were held over 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, grain, or other articles of consumption. In the other hand she holds a cornucopia, to indicate the abundance of wheat contained in the public graineries.
RS72573. Silver antoninianus, RIC IV 38b, RSC IV 87, Hunter III 21, SRCV III 8937, VF, well centered, rose gold toning, weight 4.364 g, maximum diameter 21.9 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 245 A.D.; obverse IMP M IVL PHILIPPVS AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse LIBERALITAS AVGG II, Liberalitas standing left, counting board in right hand, cornucopia in left hand; $80.00 (Ä68.00)







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Generosity