Featured Faustina Friday – Concordia and the Birth of Lucilla

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Roman Collector, Sep 3, 2021.

  1. Roman Collector

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    TGIFF! And I got ...


    Martin Beckmann's die-linkage study of the aurei of Faustina the Younger[1] has provided us with substantial clarity regarding the relative – and in this case the absolute – chronology of many coins issued for this popular empress. The sequence of die links documenting Faustina's earliest coinage ends with several examples of the VENVS reverse type depicting the goddess holding an apple and rudder, as on this denarius below.

    Faustina Jr VENVS and rudder denarius.jpg
    Faustina II, AD 147-175/6.
    Roman AR denarius, 2.64 g, 17.4 mm, 7 h.
    Rome, AD 147-149.
    Obv: FAVSTINAE AVG PII AVG FIL, bust of Faustina II, draped, right, with band of pearls round head.
    Rev: VENVS, Venus, standing left, holding apple in right hand and rudder around which is twined a dolphin in left hand.
    Refs: RIC 517c; BMCRE 1067-73; RSC 266a; Strack 495; RCV 4708; CRE 233.

    This reverse type links together the first (chain 1) and second (chain 2) phases of Faustina's aureus production. Although chain 2 uses the VENVS reverse type with which chain 1 ends, it uses a different obverse portrait, with a different hairstyle.

    Faustina Jr VENVS and rudder aureus BMC hairstyle 2.png
    Aureus (RIC 517a, BMC 1065), British Museum collection.

    Chain 2 contains only 14 total dies. It documents the introduction of two new reverse types. The first is IVNO seated left, cradling a scepter in her left arm and with two children, a larger one standing before her and a smaller child seated on her lap. Both are fully clothed, suggesting they were female (male children may – not always – be depicted nude on coins). A second reverse type appears shortly thereafter but remains in use simultaneously with the first. This second type depicts Concordia standing facing, head either right or left, raising her drapery with both arms, but also cradling an out-turned cornucopiae in her left arm.[2] The dative obverse inscription, FAVSTINAE AVG PII AVG FIL, remains in use.

    Faustina Jr VENVS to IVNO and CONCORDIA transition Beckmann.jpg
    Section of chain 2 demonstrating the transition from the VENVS reverse type to the appearance of the IVNO seated and CONCORDIA standing (head left and right) reverse types (Beckmann, p. 36).

    Faustina Jr IVNO aureus BMC.png
    Aureus (RIC 504, BMC 1043], British Museum collection.

    Similar iconography is seen on this exceedingly rare sestertius known only from the three museum specimens cited by Strack and a single coin sold at auction (this coin). I have discussed this coin previously here at CT.

    Faustina Jr PVDICITIA S C seated sestertius two children Bertolami.jpg
    Sestertius (RIC 1382; BMCRE 2142n; Cohen 188; Strack 1303). Bertolami E-Auction 59, lot 739, 20 May, 2018.

    Faustina Jr CONCORDIA standing aureus BMC.png
    Aureus (RIC 500a, BMC 1041), British Museum collection.

    Note the IVNO and PVDICITA coins depict two children. One is older and able to stand; the other is younger and merely sits on the goddess' lap. Beckmann explains the significance of the iconography, "… to any contemporary observing the coin near the time it was produced, the two children of Faustina and Marcus come to mind."[3] But which two children are these and when were the coins issued? Further study reveals that the coins were issued in AD 149 and with the likely purpose of commemorating the birth of Faustina's second child, her daughter Lucilla.

    Dating the Issue

    Iconographic elements of Faustina's IVNO and CONCORDIA coins find parallels in the coinage of Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. Beckmann explains, "This is a particularly important observation since the date of these coins can be determined by the iteration of the tribunician power of both the emperor and his designated successor (TRP XII and III respectively)."[4]

    Two reverse types on coins of Marcus Aurelius as Caesar dated TRP III (December 148 to December 149) depict two children. Bronze coins depict Pietas standing, holding an infant in her left arm while she stretches her right arm over a young girl standing beside her.

    Marcus Aurelius TR POT III COS II S C PIETAS sestertius ANS.jpg
    Sestertius of Marcus Aurelius (RIC 1274a), ANS collection (ANS 1944.100.49044).

    The second coin type, appearing on silver and gold issues of Marcus Caesar, depicts Concordia flanked by two girls, one larger than the other. Beckmann concludes the iconography must represent "children, and that one is older than the other."[5]

    Marcus Aurelius CONCORDIA TR POT III Aureus BMC.jpg
    Aureus of Marcus Aurelius (RIC 441, BMC 680), British Museum collection.

    Beckmann continues:

    These images strongly echo two of Faustina's own coin types. Her seated Juno cradles a small child in her lap while a larger child stands to the left; Marcus's Pietas holds a small child in her arm while a larger one stands on the ground. The figure of Faustina's Concordia … is an almost exact replica of the same figure on Marcus's … though without children, but with the addition of a cornucopia. It is possible that this Concordia type of Marcus Caesar was created by deliberately combining iconography drawn from two types of Faustina (Juno and Concordia), which die links show were introduced at exactly the same time. This suggests very strongly that these reverse types should be considered as contemporary, thus dating Faustina's coins with two children to ca. 149.​

    On sestertii of Antoninus Pius dated the same year (TRP XII = December 10, AD 148 to December 9, AD 149) two children's busts are shown in crossed cornuacopiae. I have discussed this issue previously here at CT.

    Antoninus Pius TEMPORVM FELICITAS Sestertius.jpg
    Antoninus Pius, AD 138-161.
    Roman orichalcum sestertius; 22.64 gm, 31.5 mm, 12 h
    Rome, AD 149.
    Obv: ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P TR P XII, laureate bust right, slight drapery on left shoulder
    Rev: TEMPORVM FELICITAS, COS IIII in exergue, S C across field, crossed cornuacopiae from which a grape bunch flanked by two grain ears hang, surmounted by confronted busts of two children.
    Refs: RIC 857; BMCRE 1827-29; Cohen 813; RCV 4236; Strack 1026; Banti 411.

    Careful examination of better struck examples and of the corresponding aurei (see my post here) demonstrates that the children depicted on the coin are girls: each wears a stephane. You can see a hint of the stephane on the girl on the right on my sestertius. The girl on the left is a newborn, whereas the one on the right is older.

    Identifying the Two Daughters

    The coins therefore depict the birth of a single female child in AD 149. Assuming the two girls on these coins of AD 149 represent Faustina and Marcus's actual daughters and not attributes of the personifications of Juno, Pudicitia, Pietas, and Concordia, we are faced with the problem of identifying them. The identity of the older girl is clear. She is Domitia Faustina, the firstborn child of the imperial couple, born on 30 November AD 147. I have discussed the circumstances surrounding her birth and the coins issued in commemoration of the event previously.

    The identity of the second child is not as clear, though numismatists have long postulated she is Lucilla. Mattingly states of the two children on the coin of Antoninus Pius, "it seems certain Lucilla was one of the two."[6] Birley[7] and Fittschen[8] have suggested purely on the basis of the crossed cornuacopiae coins of Antoninus Pius that Faustina delivered twin boys in AD 149, but this notion is without merit because the children on the coin are female and of different ages and no ancient source attests to the delivery of male twins apart from Commodus and his brother in AD 161. What I believe to be the correct chronology of Faustina's children has been deduced from ancient and numismatic sources by Ameling[9] and Levick.[10] Ameling's argument against the birth of twins in AD 149 and in favor of Lucilla being born in that year is convincing, and I believe Faustina had only 11, not 13 children.

    Ameling's reasoning is as follows: An inscription preserving a list of holidays in the city of Gortyna in Crete gives Lucilla's birthday as 7 March.[11] With her birthday as March 7, we know she could not be the firstborn child, whose birthday was 30 November (per the Fasti Ostienses). Lucilla married Lucius Verus, which meant that she was the oldest living daughter at the time; Faustina III outlived Pius, meaning that she was still alive when Lucilla and Verus married, making her younger than Lucilla or she would have been the one to marry Verus. Domitia Faustina died before Pius,[12] so she must have died before Lucilla married Verus, or she herself – as oldest daughter – would have married him. Moreover, we know from the Fasti Ostienses that a son was born in AD 152 and from a contemporary inscription excavated in Smyrna that a son was born in AD 157/8. That simply leaves no room for a son born between Domitia Faustina and Lucilla.[13]

    The conclusion is inescapable that the coins discussed above depicting two female children were issued in AD 149 and depict Domitia Faustina and her baby sister Lucilla.

    More follows …
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2021
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  3. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Faustina Friday – Concordia and the Birth of Lucilla, continued

    Further Down the Die-Link Chain: Changes in Obverse Titulature

    The next major development in the aurei of Faustina – and almost certainly paralleled in the silver and bronze issues – is a shift to a new obverse legend in the nominative case, FAVSTINA AVG PII AVG FIL. This change was not sudden or clear cut, but transpired over a period of extended coin production marked by what Beckmann describes as a "confusing array of different obverse legends, portraits, and reverse types." He further notes that this legend appeared briefly before a new obverse legend was introduced, FAVSTINA AVG ANTONINI AVG PII FIL, which was used for a somewhat longer time before it was switched back to FAVSTINA AVG PII AVG FIL.[14] Overall, this is consistent with Mattingly's dating of the FAVSTINA AVG ANTONINI AVG PII FIL legend to c. 150-152 and the FAVSTINA AVG PII AVG FIL legend to c. 152-153.[15] However, it's important to note that the situation appears to be more complicated, with overlap between the legends and possible simultaneous use on some issues. We have no similar die-linkage studies of the silver and bronze issues with these legends and their absolute dating is fraught with difficulty.

    Here are examples from my collection of the Concordia reverse type in silver depicting the various obverse legends. Though the reverse type seems to have been initially struck to commemorate the birth of Lucilla, the use of this reverse type with each of the later obverse legends suggests it was in production over a period lasting perhaps three to five years. Its theme, therefore, likely refers to the ongoing concord and marital harmony between Faustina and Marcus during the early 150s. The personification of Concordia is not limited to this reverse type, but is a recurring theme on the coinage of the empress throughout her life.

    Faustina Jr CONCORDIA standing left denarius.jpg
    Faustina II, AD 147-175.
    Roman AR Denarius, 2.84 g, 18.5 mm, 6 h.
    Rome, c. AD 150-152.
    Obv: FAVSTINA AVG ANTONINI AVG PII FIL, bare-headed and draped bust right.
    Rev: CONCORDIA, Concordia standing facing, head left, holding skirt and cornucopiae.
    Refs: RIC III 501 (Pius); BMCRE 1078 note (Pius); Cohen/RSC 46; RCV --; CRE 166; ERIC II --.

    Faustina Jr CONCORDIA standing denarius 1085.jpg
    Faustina Jr, AD 147-175.
    Roman AR denarius, 3.03 g, 17.3 mm, 7 h.
    Rome, AD 152-154.
    Obv: FAVSTINA AVG PII AVG FIL, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
    Rev: CONCORDIA standing facing, head right, gathering up skirt and holding cornucopiae.
    Refs: RIC 500b,3; BMCRE 1085; Cohen 42, CRE 164.

    I shall close with one interesting (unique) coin, known from a single example. It bears Faustina's second hairstyle and the FAVSTINA AVG PII AVG FIL obverse legend. It depicts Hilaritas standing between two girls. This composition suggests a date roughly contemporaneous with the Concordia with two girls type of Marcus Aurelius illustrated above.[16] I postulate this coin, like the others, depicts Domitia Faustina and Lucilla.

    Faustina Jr HILARITAS S C two children MB Vierordt.JPG
    Middle bronze (RIC 1397; BMCRE p.380§; Strack 1317a). Each of these references cites a single specimen, that illustrated above: Jacques Schulman B.V., Amsterdam (Auction 139, Vierordt), 5.3.1923, pl. 37, 1642.



    1. Beckmann, Martin, Faustina the Younger: Coinage, Portraits, and Public Image, A.N.S. Numismatic Studies 43, American Numismatic Society, New York, 2021.

    2. Ibid., p. 37.

    3. Ibid., p. 37.

    4. Ibid., p. 38.

    5. Ibid., p. 39.

    6. Mattingly, Harold. Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum: Antoninus Pius to Commodus. Vol. 4, British Museum, 1940, p. lxvii, n.4.

    7. Birley, Anthony R. Marcus Aurelius: A Biography. New York: Routledge, 1966, rev. 1987, pp. 206–07.

    8. Fittschen, Klaus, "Die Bildnistypen der Faustina Minor und die Fecunditas Augustae," Abhandlungen der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Göttingen, Philologisch-historische Klasse, 3rd Series, no.126, Göttingen, 1982, p. 24.

    9. Ameling, Walter. Die Kinder des Marc Aurel und die Bildnistypen der Faustina Minor. Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 90 (1992):147-166, specifically, 152-156 and n. 43; p. 161 for chronology. Available online at https://www.jstor.org/stable/20187629?read-now=1&seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

    10. Levick, Barbara. Faustina I and II: Imperial Women of the Golden Age. Oxford University Press, 2014, pp. 115-18.

    11. IGR 1509, ll.7-8, as cited by Beckmann, op. cit., p. 40.

    12. ILS 385, her funerary inscription from the Mausoleum of Hadrian, where she is named as the daughter of Marcus Caesar. Cited by Beckmann, op. cit., p. 40.

    13. Ameling, op. cit.

    14. Beckmann, op. cit., p. 42.

    15. Mattingly, op. cit., pp. xliv, lxxvi-lxvii; 158 ff.

    16. Beckmann, op. cit., pp. 45-46.
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2021
  4. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    Thanks for another nice writeup, RC. Happy Friday! :)

    I notice a similar Marcus Aurelius aureus in an upcoming auction. The auction description says that the two smaller figures are instead Marcus Aurelius and Faustina II. However, I think Beckmann's conclusion of the iconography (being children) is a better interpretation.
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2021
    Roman Collector likes this.
  5. curtislclay

    curtislclay Well-Known Member

    It seems unwise, however, to follow the ideas of Ameling, Levick, and Beckmann, given that all three of them were unaware of my proposal, since I haven't published it except online, which considerably changes our picture of the birth and death dates of the three earliest children of Marcus and Faustina.

    It is clear from the type and legend sequence of Antoninus' and Marcus' coinage that Marcus refused to advance his tribunician number between sometime in the course of 149 and March 151. Since he had received the TR P for the birth of his first child, a daughter, on 30 Nov. 147, and since he was always reluctant to accept titles or honors that he felt he didn't deserve, doesn't it seem highly likely that his reason for resigning the TR P in 149 was the death of the two children that he and Faustina had had up to then, and that he agreed to resume that power in March 151 because Faustina had given birth to another child, who can only have been Lucilla, born on 7 March 151? Can you think of any other plausible reason why Marcus might have renounced the TR P in 149 but then taken it up again in March 151? It is hardly convincing to plead that there might have been another reason which we however don't know about, when the apparently correct answer, two years of childlessness for Marcus, is so fitting and so obvious.

    What we know or can deduce about the birth and death dates of the first four children of Marcus and Faustina, then, would be as follows. Many of the relevant coin types have already been illustrated above by @Roman Collector .

    Child one, a daughter, born 30 Nov. 147, as attested by the Ostian Fasti. Commemorated on Faustina's aurei by the three types IVNONI LVCINAE, LAETITIAE PVBLICAE, and VENERI GENETRICI, as Beckmann's die links suggest. I don't think that there are any coin types showing Faustina or a goddess accompanied by just one child which relate to this first childbirth, however.

    Child 2. Birth after March 149, since commemorated both on TR P XII bronze coins and aurei of Antoninus Pius, type TEMPORVM FELICITAS, crossed cornucopias surmounted by the busts of two children; and on PIETAS TR POT III bronze coins and aurei of Marcus Caesar, type Pietas standing, young girl at feet and a second child in arms. Rare undated coins of Faustina II seem to commemorate the same event: aurei with type IVNO, Juno seated, while girl at her feet reaches grain ears to second child seated on her lap; sestertii with type PVDICITIA, similar type of Pudicitia seated, while girl stands before her and a second child sits on her knees. The sex of this second child of Marcus and Faustina still needs to be established; I tend to think male, since his birth was celebrated above all on quite common sestertii of Antoninus Pius, whose coinage had paid no attention at all to the birth of his first grandchild in Nov. 147, since that was a girl who could never become emperor. Both of these first two children had already died, however, before March 150, since by that time Marcus was no longer advancing his tribunician number.

    Child 3: Lucilla, born 7 March 151. At about the same time Marcus resumed the tribunician power and allowed his TR P number to advance first from TR POT III to TR POT IIII, then soon thereafter from TR POT IIII to TR POT VI, the number he would have reached without the interruption of his two years of childlessness. Lucilla's birth was apparently commemorated by the Ceres and Proserpina type, with legend LAETITIA, on aurei of Antoninus Pius dated TR P XIII and TR P XIIII.

    Child 4: A boy, his name missing in the fragmentary inscription, who was both born but then also died in 152, according to Strack's restoration (pp. 117-8) of the text of the Ostian Fasti for that year. No coin types seem to commemorate this birth, suggesting that the baby didn't live more than a week or two, or that he was born so sickly that his survival immediately came into doubt.
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2021
  6. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    Well, here's a pretty Lucilla!
    Lucilla RIC Rome 1742.JPG
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