Faustina I, wife of Antoninus Pius. Diva Faustina I. Aureus after 141, AV 7.22 g. DIVA AVGVS – TA FAVSTINA Veiled and draped bust r., hair waved and coiled on top of head. Rev. Hexastyle temple surmounted by small quadriga. C 317 var. (not veiled). BMC A. Pius p. 51, ||. RIC A. Pius 406b. Beckmann, Diva Faustina: coinage and cult in Rome and the provinces, ANSNS 26, p. 118, T6/daf10, c (this coin). Calicó 1742 (this obverse die).
Extremely rare. An interesting type and an unusual portrait, light reddish tone,
several edge marks, possible traces of mounting, otherwise good very fine
Ex Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge 13-23 July, O'Hagan, 395; Merzbacher 15 November 1910, 1736; M&M 21, 1960, 53 and Gemini XII, 2015, 374 sales. From the collection of a Retired Banker.When Antoninus Pius succeeded Hadrian as emperor in AD 138, he was already married to Faustina the Elder. Upon her husband’s assumption of the purple, Faustina was immediately granted the title of Augusta by the Senate. She gained a reputation for her beauty, wisdom, and for her sponsorship of charities in support of the poor and especially young girls. Despite her stellar performance as empress, Faustina died only two years after taking up the job. Antoninus Pius was utterly devastated by the loss of his beloved wife and went to great lengths to honor her memory. He had the Senate declare her a goddess and ordered the construction of a temple to the Diva Faustina in the Forum as well as a monumental column depicting her apotheosis. Furthermore, gold and silver statues of the deified Faustina were publicly displayed at the Circus Maximus in wagons drawn by elephants. She made her ascent to the gods on an impressive funeral pyre that is sometimes depicted on coins struck to commemorate the solemn occasion.The present aureus also celebrates the apotheosis of Faustina, but instead of the pyre, its reverse depicts the temple that Antoninus Pius erected in her honor. This reverse is so wonderfully detailed and beautifully preserved that it is still possible to make out the figures on the pediment: a central figure—presumably Faustina—stands in the center distributing largesse to children standing and seated children to the left and right. This iconography was derived from and informed other depictions of Pietas and empresses in the guise of Pietas (e.g. imperial issues in the name of Matidia, Antoninus Pius, Faustina the Younger, etc.). It also firmly established the model of charity as a major virtue for empresses. At the peak of the temple’s roof a triumphal quadriga bears the image of Faustina the Elder skyward while Victories located on the cornices raise circular shields. The latter were probably inscribed with the virtues accorded to the deified empress, much as the original clupeus virtutis of Augustus was inscribed to honor his bravery, clemency, justice and piety. Curiously, while so much detail is visible on the outside of the temple, only a pellet seen through the open doorway represents the cult statue. Later aurei inscribed AETERNITAS on the reverse and probably struck on the ten-year anniversary of Faustina’s death depict a seated statue of the deified empress within the central intercolumniation. The later AETERNITAS issues also represent a type of screen across the front steps, while on the present coin all four steps of the podium are unobstructed.
|Price realized||24'000 CHF|
|Starting price||12'000 CHF|