Faustina Junior, AD 161-175 Roman AR denarius, 2.82 g, 17.7 mm, 2 h Rome, AD 161-175 Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, right Rev: FORTVNAE MVLIEBRI, Fortuna Muliebris enthroned left, holding rudder and cornucopiae Refs: RIC 683; BMCRE 96; Cohen 107; RCV 5253; CRE 181. Fortuna Muliebris (Womanly Fortune) is an aspect of the Roman goddess of luck and fate who cared for the well-being and luck of women, especially married women. According to a legend recorded by Plutarch (De fortuna Romanorum 5.7), worship of Fortuna Muliebris was instituted at a time when Rome was under attack in the 5th century BC by Cnaeus Marcius Coriolanus, a descendant of Ancus Marcius, an early king. Once a hero of Rome, he later led an army of Volscians against the city, and refused all the pleadings of the senators and the priests to stop the attack. Until, that is, the matrons of Rome came out to plead with him, including his own mother, Veturia, with his wife and their two young children. They managed to convince him to call it off, and on the spot where Veturia talked him out of it he dedicated a temple to Fortuna Muliebris in honor of them. This temple was at the fourth milestone of the Via Latina, one of the main roads out of Rome. Tradition has is that the temple was founded prior to the mid-4th century BC on the 6th day of July, which became its festival day. Her statue there could only be touched by matrons who had been married once, and was credited with being able to speak. After its consecration, Plutarch (ibid) reports the statue pronounced, "Women of the City, you have dedicated me by the holy law of Rome." It is likely that Fortuna was a goddess of women and childbirth from earliest times; her oldest cult-center at Praeneste was dedicated to Fortuna Primigenia (First-born Fortune), whose epithet not only referenced her ancient nature but her connection with children and birth, and the site of her oracle in a small cave connects her to the mother goddess of the earth. So, though the epithet of Muliebris may not be her oldest one, the idea of Fortuna as concerned with the fates of women is very ancient. As childbirth was a very risky undertaking in ancient times, Fortuna may have been invoked to preserve the health of the mother and newborn baby, and bring a quick, easy and (relatively) painless delivery. As the empress bears the braided hairstyle characteristic of the posthumous issues honoring her, this coin was likely issued in the final years of her reign, after Faustina Junior had delivered thirteen children in ten or eleven pregnancies (two or three sets of twins). It’s not hard to imagine that this coin may have been issued as a prayer of thanks for the health of the empress during the course of her reproductive years. Like most depictions of Fortuna, the figure of Fortuna Muliebris on this denarius of Faustina Junior is rendered as a female figure seated, which represents a wish for the stability of good fortune. She steers a rudder in her right hand, symbolizing Fate who guides, and holds a cornucopiae in her left, symbolizing the abundance that chance may bring. Faustina Junior certainly owed a great debt to this divinity, for fortune was hers; she was daughter of an emperor, married to an emperor, and survived multiple childbirths in an age when more than one out of ten births resulted in the death of the mother. As always, post anything you feel is relevant!