Hilaritas versus Laetitia -- what's the difference?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Roman Collector, Oct 13, 2018.

  1. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Over the long tenure of the Roman Empire, the personifications of Hilaritas and Laetitia were standard fare on coinage, particularly on the coins of empresses. Typically, they can be easily distinguished by the reverse inscriptions, though their attributes are different: Hilaritas typically holds a cornucopiae and palm branch or scepter and may be accompanied by children, whereas Laetitia typically holds some combination of a scepter, wreath, ears of grain, or an anchor or rudder.

    Let's see your Hilaritas or Laetitias or anything you feel is relevant!

    Here are a few examples of each from my collection:

    Hilaritas:

    Domna Hilaritas Palm and scepter denarius.jpg
    Julia Domna, AD 193-217.
    Roman AR denarius, 2.25 g, 17.5 mm, 6 h.
    Rome, AD 202.
    Obv: IVLIA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
    Rev: HILARITAS, Hilaritas standing left, holding long palm branch and scepter.
    Refs: RIC 555; BMCRE 32-33; Cohen/RSC 76; RCV 6585; CRE 347.


    Tetricus I HILARITAS AVGG Antoninianus.jpg
    Tetricus I, AD 271-274.
    Roman billon antoninianus, 2.73 g, 20.3 mm, 7 h.
    Mainz or Trier, AD 273-274.
    Obv: IMP TETRICVS P F AVG, radiate, cuirassed bust right.
    Rev: HILARITAS AVGG, Hilaritas standing left, holding long palm and cornucopiae.
    Refs: RIC 80; Cohen 54; RCV 11237; Elmer 789; Hunter 16.

    Laetitia:

    Faustina Jr LAETITIA standing denarius.jpg
    Faustina II, AD 147-175.
    Roman AR denarius, 2.60 g, 17 mm, 7 h.
    Rome, under Marcus Aurelius, AD 161-175 Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, draped bust right.
    Rev: LAETITIA, Laetitia standing left, holding wreath and scepter.
    Refs: RIC 700; BMCRE --; Cohen 147; RCV 5258 var; CRE 197.


    Gallienus LAETITIA AVG V antoninianus a.jpg
    Gallienus, AD 253-268.
    Roman billon antoninianus, 3.20 g, 21.6 mm, 6 h.
    Rome, AD 262-263.
    Obv: GALLIENVS AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust, right.
    Rev: LAETITIA AVG, Laetitia standing left, holding wreath and anchor, V in right field.
    Refs: RIC 226F; Göbl 498q; Cohen/RSC 424; RCV 10250; Hunter 15.

    The difference in meaning between hilaritas and laetitia:

    Two personifications, two different sets of attributes, but what's the difference in meaning between hilaritas and laetitia? That's a little hard to answer because the difference is subtle, having more to do with connotation than denotation. It should be noted that the two words became synonymous in poetry and in later Latin prose. However, in classical Latin, hilaritas connotes a feeling of cheerfulness, gayety, joyousness, merriment, or hilarity ...
    Capture.JPG

    ... whereas laetitia connotes a feeling of joy, exultation, rejoicing, gladness, pleasure, or delight.
    Capture 2.JPG

    A helpful way to think of them is that hilaritas conveys a sense of happiness along with a sense of cheerfulness or merriment. THIS is hilaritas:



    Laetitia conveys more a sense of joy and delight. THIS is laetitia:

     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2018
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  3. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

  4. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

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  5. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

    Iit's a sestertius
     
    Roman Collector likes this.
  6. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    HILARITAS:
    RI Julia Domna 196-211 CE AE As Hilaritas cornuc RIC IVa 877.jpg
    RI Julia Domna 196-211 CE AE As Hilaritas cornuc RIC IVa 877


    LAETITIA:
    RI Pertinax 193 BC AE Sestertius rome mint LAETITIA RIC 17 C 21.jpg
    RI Pertinax 193 BC AE Sestertius rome mint LAETITIA RIC 17 C 21
     
  7. gogili1977

    gogili1977 Well-Known Member

    Hilaritas:
    050-10.jpg
    Laetitia:
    072-02.jpg
     
  8. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    It seems that Hilaritas is usually found on the reverse of issues for the royal ladies. But not always - in addition to the Tetricus in the OP, here is another masculine example on a sestertius for Commodus.

    Commodus - Sestertius Hilaritas Sep 2018 (1a).JPG

    Commodus Æ Sestertius
    (c. 186-187 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    M COMMODVS ANTP FELIX AVG BRIT, laureate head right / HILARITAS AVG P M TR P XII IMP VIII COSV PP SC, Hilaritas standing left holding branch and long palm.
    RIC 498 (or 497? HILARIT)
    (24.15 grams / 29 x 26 mm)
     
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