Caracalla AD 198-217 Roman AR Denarius 3.37 g; 19.7 mm Rome mint, AD 211-213 Obv: ANTONINVS PIVS AVG BRIT, laureate head, right Rev: INDVLG FECVNDAE, Female figure (Indulgentia?), wearing veil and corona muralis, seated left on cerule chair, extending right hand and holding scepter Refs: RIC 214; BMCRE 73; RCV 6805. The iconography and inscription on this coin have long puzzled me. Part of the reason is that INDVLG is an abbreviation for indulgentia, which means clemency, lenity, grace, favor. On Roman coin inscriptions, the term typically denotes "either some permission given, some privilege bestowed, or some tribute remitted." The problem, however, is that we don't know how it is declined grammatically because, as an abbreviation, it is missing its inflectional endings. FECVNDAE, in contrast, is not an abbreviation. It is an first declension feminine adjective (matching indulgentia), meaning fertile or fruitful; productive or prolific; abundant; imaginative. The difficulty is that the term is ambiguous. The inflectional ending identifies it as either nominative plural, genitive singular or dative singular and any of these are possible. @dougsmit interprets FECVNDAE as a genitive singular in this thread from last year, implying it means something like "indulgence of the fertile one." Doug is rightfully puzzled about what this could mean, and wonders if "the fertile one" refers to his mother, Julia Domna. This meaning is possible, and certainly the grammar of the reverse inscription allows for this. Moreover, Sear overtly interprets the female figure on the reverse to represent Julia Domna. However, I'd like to argue in favor of a different interpretation, proposed by Curtis Clay. I suggest the phrase is an abbreviation of indulgentiae fecundae, a nominative plural, which would mean something like fruitful kindnesses or abundant favors. But what abundant favors might the coin refer to? As Doug notes, coins bearing the title Brittanicus appear early in his sole reign. Therefore, the coin can reasonably be dated to AD 211-213. It's important to note that in July, 212, Caracalla issued the Constitutio Antoniniana, also known as the Edict of Caracalla, which extended Roman citizenship to include all freeborn men throughout the Roman Empire and gave all freeborn women in the empire the same rights as Roman women. This was a momentous decree, which is surprisingly not overtly commemorated numismatically, unless this particular issue serves to do so. Curtis Clay feels that the mural crown is significant and notes a sestertius of Hadrian with the reverse inscription RESTITVTORI ORBIS TERRARVM, which depicts the world (the kneeling figure) wearing a mural crown: RIC 594b; BMC 1212; Cohen 1285. Photo courtesy of Hess Divo. The crown is significant because under Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Septimius Severus, Indulgentia appeared on Roman coins, depicted always as a deity seated left on a throne, bare-headed and holding scepter. Clay thus feels the coin depicts the world, sitting on the curule chair, which itself is "symbolic of the consulship, praetorship, and curule aedileship, the highest offices open to Roman citizens" and concludes this type "probably commemorates Caracalla's generosity (Indulgentia) in extending the Roman citizenship to all inhabitants of the Roman empire." I think Curtis Clay has a very plausible theory, and my proposed interpretation of the reverse inscription as a nominative plural, indulgentiae fecundae (abundant favors), certainly makes sense in that context. What do you think? And, of course, feel free to post anything you feel is relevant! ~~~ Notes: 1. John Melville Jones, Dictionary of Ancient Roman Coins, here online. 2. Wiktionary, here online. 3. ibid 4. Roman Coins and Their Values II, p. 519. It's important to note that Sear also dates the coin to AD 211, before the Constitutio Antoniniana was issued, but Sear relies heavily on Hill for dating of Severan issues and the accuracy of Hill's dating has been called into question. 5. Reply #3 on this thread at the Forum Ancient Coins discussion board. 6. Here online. 7. Auction 320, lot 342, October 26, 2011. 8. Clay, ibid.