Faustina Friday – Aeternitas or Juno?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Roman Collector, May 7, 2021.

  1. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    I have never previously posted these coins here at CT although they not new acquisitions. Each has its faults. The artistry on the well-worn denarius is of, to put it bluntly, poor style. The middle bronze, while quite well preserved in terms of wear, does not exactly feature "5/5 surfaces." The sestertius can boast neither of complete legends nor high grade. The coins are not rare; Strack cites 524 examples of the denarius in the Reka Devnia hoard alone.

    But every coin is of interest, in this case because it sheds light on the uncertainty of the reverse figures on the great AETERNITAS issue of AD 150 to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the empress' death and consecration.

    Faustina Sr AETERNITAS Juno standing denarius.jpg
    Faustina I, AD 138-140.
    Roman AR denarius, 3.22 g, 18.6 mm, 1 h.
    Rome, AD 150 or later.
    Obv: DIVA FAVSTINA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
    Rev: AETERNITAS, Female figure (Aeternitas? Juno?) veiled and draped, standing facing, head left, raising right hand and holding scepter in left hand.
    Refs: RIC 344; BMCRE 351; Cohen 26; Strack 448; RCV 4574; CRE 103.

    Faustina Sr AETERNITAS S C Juno raising hand and holding scepter sestertius.jpg
    Faustina I, AD 138-140.
    Roman orichalcum sestertius, 23.82 g, 31.3 mm, 11 h.
    Rome, AD 150 or later.
    Obv: DIVA FAVSTINA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
    Rev: AETERNITAS S C, Female figure (Aeternitas? Juno?) veiled and draped, standing facing, head left, raising right hand and holding scepter in left hand.
    Refs: RIC 1102a; BMCRE 1480-81; Cohen 28; Strack 1263; RCV 4605.

    Faustina Sr AETERNITAS S C Juno raising hand and holding scepter dupondius.jpg
    Faustina I, AD 138-140.
    Roman Æ as or dupondius, 12.66 g, 25.5 mm, 6 h.
    Rome, AD 150 or later.
    Obv: DIVA FAVSTINA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
    Rev: AETERNITAS S C, Female figure (Aeternitas? Juno?) veiled and draped, standing facing, head left, raising right hand and holding scepter in left hand.
    Refs: RIC 1155; BMCRE 1540-41; Cohen 29; Strack 1263; RCV 4636.

    Thanks to the work of Martin Beckmann,[1] we can assign a probable date to the coin. The coin was likely part of the large issue bearing the reverse inscription AETERNITAS that commenced in AD 150 to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Faustina's death and deification. Mattingly[2] rightfully clarifies that the coins of the large series of AETERNITAS reverse types issued for Faustina cannot be taken simply as the name of a goddess, Aeternitas. He explains:

    It is ... difficult to define the character of the figures associated with the legend. They may be regarded as varying representations of the spirit of Aeternitas with emblems borrowed from the goddesses and virtues who inhabit her sphere; or, as so many goddesses, Juno, Fortuna, and the rest; or as Diva Faustina, bearing the attributes of such goddesses in Eternity. The third probably comes nearest the the exact quality of Roman thought but, in the text, we have thought it best to define the types as far as possible by their attributes -- Juno by her sceptre and Fortuna by her rudder.​

    This particular reverse type was issued multiple denominations: aureus, quinarius aureus, denarius, sestertius and middle bronze. It bears the inscription AETERNITAS and depicts a female figure in matronly attire, standing left, raising her right hand and holding a more-or-less transverse scepter in her left. The identity of the figure is a matter of some debate. Strack identifies her as Aeternitas, Cohen as "Aeternitas (or Juno)," Mattingly (in RIC and BMC) as "Juno (?)," and Sear as Juno. However, as I have previously written, Aeternitas typically appears on Faustina's coins holding a phoenix on globe or, wearing a billowing, star-spangled veil, or seated upon the celestial sphere. On this coin, she lacks these secondary attributes, giving more weight to the notion that the reverse figure is to be identified as Juno.

    Juno is, of course, the wife of Jupiter and queen of the gods. She has many guises, about which I have written previously. She is fittingly depicted as a Roman matron, holding in her left hand a scepter (specifically, the hasta pura), and in her right a patera. She is frequently accompanied by her sacred bird, the peacock, at her feet. But here, the reverse figure holds no patera, nor does a peacock accompany her. She holds only a scepter and has no secondary attribute to identify her as either Aeternitas or Juno. The figure could be either. In any event, the coin illustrates that the empress, deified ten years previously, lives in eternity.

    Please post comments, your thoughts about the identity of the reverse figure, related coins, or anything you feel is relevant!

    ~~~

    Notes:

    1. Beckmann, Martin. Diva Faustina: Coinage and Cult in Rome and the Provinces. American Numismatic Society, 2012.

    2. Mattingly, Harold, Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum, vol. IV: Antoninus Pius to Commodus. Introduction, indexes and plates. London, BMP, 1968, p. lxii.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2021
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  3. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Terrific write-up and coins as always, RC.

    And as always on Faustina Friday, I started poking through my collection to see if I have anything like the OP. I was appalled to find I have five of the RIC 1155 as/dupondius. Whenever I see a $5-$10 Roman AE I show no restraint - I think I have a problem.

    Rough surfaces, but I love the rendition of Juno on the reverse:
    Faustina I - As Aeternitas RIC 1155 Nov 2020 (0).jpg
    Faustina I Æ As
    5th Phase: Anniversary of Faustina’s Deification
    (c. 150-160 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    DIVA FAVSTINA, draped bust right / AETERNITAS SC, Juno standing left with raised r. hand, holding sceptre in left hand.
    RIC 1155; Cohen 29; Sear 4636.
    (11.37 grams / 25 mm)

    This is one of those "it's only five bucks" purchases that I come to regret. The photo is blurry, which is doing it a favor. Somebody waxed it at some point, in a futile effort to improve it - as if waxing what I scoop out of the cat's box would improve things:
    Faustina I - As Juno Dec 2019 (0).jpg
    Faustina I Æ As
    5th Phase: Anniversary of Faustina’s Deification
    (c. 150-160 A.D.) Rome Mint

    DIVA FAVSTINA, draped bust right / AETER[NIT]AS S C, Juno standing left with raised right hand and holding sceptre in left hand.
    RIC 1155; Cohen 29; Sear 4636
    (9.60 grams / 24 mm)

    Given the size, I think this one might be a dupondius. It is pretty awful too, but I am fond of the over-sized oval flan (according to my records, I paid $2.25 for this, which seems fair):
    Faustina I - Dupondius Juno Nov 2019a (0).jpg
    Faustina I Æ Dupondius
    5th Phase: Anniversary of Faustina’s Deification
    (c. 150-160 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    DIVA FAVSTINA, draped bust right / [AETER]NITAS S C, Juno standing left with raised right hand and holding sceptre in left hand.
    RIC 1155; Cohen 29; Sear 4636
    (12.78 grams / 29 x 25 mm)

    This has a "week-old bruise tone" of black/purple/green. Juno on the reverse is rather elegant, I think:
    Faustina I - As Juno standing Feb 2020 (0).jpg
    Faustina I Æ As
    5th Phase: Anniversary of Faustina’s Deification
    (c. 150-160 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    [DI]VA FAVSTINA, draped bust right / AETERNITAS SC Juno standing left with raised right hand and holding sceptre in left hand.
    RIC 1155; Cohen 29; Sear 4636
    (10.88 grams / 25 mm)

    Saving the best for last - this one is definitely a dupondius - the yellar color and weight; one of the nicest Faustina I's I have:
    Faustina I - Dupondius AETERNI Jun 2019 (0).jpg
    Faustina I Æ Dupondius
    5th Phase: Anniversary of Faustina’s Deification
    (c. 150-160 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    DIVA FAVSTINA, draped bust right / AETERNI[TAS] S C, Juno standing left with raised right hand and holding sceptre in left hand.
    RIC 1155; Cohen 29; Sear 4636
    (13.86 grams / 25 mm)

    Showing uncharacteristic restraint, I only have two RIC 1102a sestertius:

    Faustina I - Sest. Juno AETER July 2020 (0).jpg
    Faustina I Æ Sestertius
    5th Phase: Anniversary of Faustina’s Deification
    (c. 150-160 A.D.) Rome Mint

    DIVA FAVSTINA, draped bust right / AET[ERNITA]S S C, Juno standing left with raised right hand and holding sceptre in left hand.
    RIC 1102a; Cohen 28.
    (25.22 grams / 30 mm)

    This is the second one - it came in a lot with an Aelius that I really wanted, so it was not something I sought out (I say, defensively). The best thing about it is it's weight - she's a moose! 28+ grams:
    Faustina I - Sest Juno std. France lot Jun 2020 (0).jpg
    Faustina I Æ Sestertius
    5th Phase: Anniversary of Faustina’s Deification
    (c. 150-160 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    DIVA FAV[STINA], draped bust right / AE[TERNITA]S S C, Juno standing left with raised right hand and holding sceptre in left hand.
    RIC 1102a; Cohen 28.
    (28.20 grams / 30 mm)

    I will conclude with RIC 1143 showing Juno standing - there can be no doubt this is Juno because it says "IVNO" around her, or in this case, "N":
    Faustina I - Sest. IVNO Nov 2020 (0).jpg
    Faustina I Æ Sestertius
    5th Phase: Anniversary of Faustina’s Deification
    (c. 150-160 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    DIVA FAVST[INA], diademed and draped bust right / [IV]N[O] S-C, Juno standing left, holding patera and long sceptre.
    RIC 1143; Cohen 210.
    (25.07 grams / 31 x 29 mm)
     

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  4. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Wow, @Marsyas Mike, that's a regular hoard of 1155s!!! Here's my 1143. I'd tell you it looks better in hand, but I'd be lying.

    Faustina Sr IVNO S C standing sestertius.jpg
    Faustina I, AD 138-140.
    Roman orichalcum sestertius, 25.48 g, 32.1 mm, 1 h.
    Rome, AD 150 - 161.
    Obv: DIVA FAVSTINA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
    Rev: IVNO S C, Juno standing left, holding patera and scepter.
    Refs: RIC 1143; BMCRE 1531-35; Cohen 210; Strack 1276; RCV 4629.
     
  5. Ryro

    Ryro The last of the Diadochi Supporter

    Great coins and write up RC! I hope Juno how much I always enjoy your threads:)
    This goddess could be a lot of people. And like your last coin, looks exactly this good in hand:troll:
    2AA9B0B3-0F03-4A2A-A50B-889FBAF1F45B-3045-000004006B3560CA.jpg
     
  6. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks for the kind words, @Ryro!

    It could, but it's Venus standing left, holding apple and scepter.;) That coin has a lovely portrait. Think of all the transactions that coin participated in! I'm sure its surfaces have traces of gladiator blood, centurion sweat, pagan altar smoke, garum, and olive oil!
     
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