Anna Perenna

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Jochen1, Sep 12, 2019.

  1. Jochen1

    Jochen1 Well-Known Member

    Dear Friends of ancient mythology!

    Sometimes I just bought a coin because of a name I couldn't get along with. That was also the case with the following coin, which I would like to introduce to you

    The Coin:
    Roman Republic, Annius T. f. T. n., gens Annia, and L. Fabius L. f. Hispania, gens Fabia
    AR - Denarius, 3.76g
    Spanish or Northern Italian Mint, 82-81 B.C.
    Obv.: C.ANNI.T.F.T.N. PRO COS EX S
    Bust of Anna Perenna, diademed and draped, r., caduceus behind, scale
    before, under the bust T
    Rev: Victoria in Biga r., Q above
    in ex. L.FABI.L.F.HISP.
    Ref.: Crawford 366/1a; BMC Spain 1-12; Sydenham 748; Annia 2a
    nice VZ

    This coin is an imperatorical coin in the fight against Sertorius in Spain. Sertorius was sent as praetor to Spain in 83 BC and established there a counter government for several years until he fell victim to a conspiracy in 72 BC. The Quaestor Fabius mentioned on the coin later ran over to Sertorius and then went under with him.

    The Ides of March, the 15th of March, were not only the famous anniversary of Julius Caesar's death, but also the feast of Anna Perenna. But who was this Anna Perenna?

    An older myth tells that Anna Perenna was an old woman from the town of Bollivae in Latium. In the year 494 BC, the plebeians moved to the Mons Sacer, about 3km northeast of Rome, because they did not want to pay more taxes and becsuse they were drafted into the army without having a vote in the Senate. They even intended to separate from Rome. As we know, they were persuaded to return when they were granted the function of a Tribune of the people, representing the interests of the people and defending their freedoms against the Patricians. The legend tells that Anna Perenna brought bread and cakes to the plebeians, saving them from starvation. For this reason she was always popular with the common people and after her death she was considered a goddess.

    A later tradition from the time of the myth of Aeneas makes Anna the sister of Dido, the queen of Carthage. After Dido had killed himself, Carthage was conquered by the natives under the leadership of Iarbas and Anna had to flee. At first she found refuge with the king of Melite, a small island off the African coast. But when Pygmalion, the king of Syria, demanded her extradition, she fled this island. She was surprised by a storm and thrown to the coast of Latium. At that time, Aeneas ruled Laurentum exactly where she has landed. Aeneas went to the beach with his friend Achates, who recognized Anna. Aeneas began to cry as he greeted her, in memory of Dido's sad end, and took Anna with him to his palace. But this did not please Lavinia, Aeneas wife, who was not happy about Anna's reunion with Aeneas. In a dream Anna was warned of the traps Lavinia had set for her, and that same night she fled the palace.

    As she roamed, she met Numicius, the god of a nearby river, who took her into his bed. The servants of Aeneas searched for Anna and followed her footsteps to the riverbank. While they were still wondering where to turn, a figure rose out of the water and revealed to them that Anna had now become a water nymph whose new name was Perenna, which meant eternity. Aeneas' servants scattered in the fields with joy and spent the day with feasts and celebrations, which then became naturalized as an annual repetition of Anna Perenna's feast. However, there is also the opinion that she drowned herself in the river Numicius out of desperation.

    In another myth she was again an old woman. The war god Mars had fallen in love with Minerva, the goddess of war and art and a sworn virgin. He asked Anna Perenna to use herself for him at Minerva. However, she knew that this was impossible, disguised herself as Minerva and came to Mars veiled. When he tried to kiss her, she lifted her veil, burst out laughing and mocking him. Minerva's main feast, the Quinquatrus, took place just 4 days after Anna Perenna's feast, so this may be the reason for this story.

    One sees that the identity of Anna Perenna is unclear. Even antiquity did not know! For example, the derivation of 'Lat. anus = old woman' can be considered. The derivation of annus (Lat.= year) and the interpretation as goddess of the ring of years is too smooth! Also the celebration in March, the 1st month of the Roman year, is not sufficient as an indication, because Mars, after which the month is named, was also not a 'God of the Year'. According to Aulus Gellius, Varro wrote always Anna et Perenna, as if they were two persons. With Ovid there are 6 variations, but all have been contradicted. It is certainly connected with earth and fertility, but not with the embodiment of Ceres.

    The river Numicius was considered sacred to Anna Perenna. At its source a temple was built to Aeneas as Jupiter Indiges, a title given to especially deified mortals. At its mouth lay Lavinium, whose name was supposed to come from Lavinia, the wife of Aeneas, who is also an ancient local deity. So Anna Perenna and Lavinia can be two aspects of the same deity. Lavinia, for example, is said to have had prophetic abilities, which was usually also a property of the water nymphs. Her father was a certain Anius, the eponym of the river Anio, whose name also sounds like Anna. One also had to cross Anio to get from Rome to Mons Sacer.

    But any etymology becomes obsolete if Anna Perenna has an unlatinic, Etruscan or pre-Indo-European root. Then Anna could be a Lallname, which became a proper name.

    What is certain is that her feast took place on March 15 and was celebrated in the goddess's grove at the first milestone of the Via Flaminia. The grove consisted of fruit-bearing trees and was in full bloom according to the season. It was visited especially by the Plebeians and Ovid describes alive in the fasting (Fasti, III. 523 foll.), how it happened there. The feast began in the evening of the 15th and was celebrated with extensive wine drinking, until all were drunk. It is said that everyone has as many years of life ahead of them as they could drink jugs of wine. There was dancing and singing, especially obscene songs. This festival united young and old. It is interesting to note that the Via Flaminia was one of the most important Roman graveyard roads. From Macrobius (Sat. I 12.6) we learn that she was sacrificed 'ut annare perannareque commode liceat', i.e. that the Ring of Years should close happily.

    In 1999 a well was unearthed in Rome dedicated to Anna Perenna. It is located at the corner of Piazza Euclide and Via G. Dal Monte in the north of Rome. The fountain dates back to the 1st century BC and was used until the 6th century AD. It contained a multitude of magical objects: Plates with incantations, lead boxes with anthropomorphic figures, countless coins and a copper kettle. These finds are now in the National Museum and the Diocletian's Museum in Rome.

    I have added a picture of the excavation site:


    (1) Ovid, Fasti 3, 517ff.
    (2) Macrob. Sat. 1, 12, 6
    (3) Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae
    (4) Der Kleine Pauly

    Best regards
    savitale, eparch, TIF and 17 others like this.
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  3. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic


    C. Annius T.f. T.n and L. Fabius L.f. Hispaniensis. (82 - 81 B.C.)
    AR Denarius
    O: C ANNI T F T N PRO COS EX S C, Draped bust of Anna Perenna right, wearing stephane; S • below neck; all within bead and reel border.
    R: L·FABI·L·F·HISP Victory driving galloping quadriga right, holding palm frond and reins; Q above horses.
    Crawford 366/2a; Sydenham 748c; Annia 3
  4. Alegandron

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

    Hey, I got one too...

    I captured this one because of Sertorius history.

    RR Annius Luscus Hispaniensis 82-81 BCE AR Den Fem scales caduceus Quadriga Q Sertorius Sear 289 Craw 366-1
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2019
    galba68, Ryro, Orfew and 5 others like this.
  5. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    I had no idea Anna Perenna was a Roman personage. I always thought she was a character in some interminable Russian novel.
  6. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I selected this one for the darker tone and carnyx under the bust.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2019
    Jochen1, galba68, Alegandron and 3 others like this.
  7. Ryro

    Ryro You'll never be lovelier than you are now... Supporter

    Oh man, I love the story of her dressing up as Minerva and then mocking Mars! Thanks so much for taking the time to share with us.
    Mine is as humble as they come...ble but as @Jochen1 has masterfully pointed out from a unique and turbulent time during the late republic.

    C. Annius T. F. T. N. and L. Fabius L. F. Hisoaniensis

    82-81 BC. Mint in northern Italy or SpainDenarius AR17mm., 3,61g.
    C ANNI T F T N PRO COS EX S C, draped bust of Anna Perenna right, wearing stephane, winged caduceus behind, scales below chin, sword (?) below neck / L FABI L F HISP, Victory driving quadriga right, holding palm branch and reins, Q above horses.fineCrawford 366/1a.

    Former Savoca
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2019
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  8. Silverlock

    Silverlock Well-Known Member

    Great write up as usual. I share a common interest and appreciate these posts.

    I chose an Anna Perenna as the coin to commemorate a milestone birthday this year because of the association with the new year. This:

    was pure lagniappe. ;)
    Jochen1 likes this.
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