Roman Imperial coin, bronze (orichalcum), AE sestertius. Struck during the reign of emperor Septemius Severus (Lucius Septimius Severus Augustus) 193-211 C.E. The laureate head of Septimius Severus faces right in profile, on obverse with the inscriptions "L SEPT SEV PERT AVG IMP VII" surrounding image. On reverse, the standing figure of Felicitas (the goddess and personification of the condition of divinely inspired productivity, blessedness, or happiness) faces left, her right foot on prow, and holds a caduceus in her right hand and a cornucopia against her left arm with the inscriptions "DIVI M PII F P M TR P III COS II P P" surrounding image and "S-C" on left and right of image. Reverse inscriptions based on Sear reference; inscriptions severely faded and difficult to decipher.
Date range: 195 C.E.
Remarks: Felicitas was a popular subject on coins, from 74 B.C.E. onwards, because the emperors all wished to be seen as providing a happy situation for their subjects. While the caduceus, a symbol of trade and prosperity, was traditionally an attribute of Mercury, it was appropriated by Felicitas and appeared on almost every one of her coins. Septimius Severus' coins were minted in Rome and Laodiceia ad Mare, and possibly Caesarea, Emesa, and Alexandria.
Reference: David Sear, "Roman Coins and Their Values", (Vol II, 2002), #6409, pg 471; Forum Ancient Coins, Forum Ancient Coins, Happiness, Cheerfulness and Joy (2009) and Mercury and his Magic Wand (2011).
|Credit line||Gift of Arthur G. and Roswitha Haas|