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Faustina Junior, Princess


Faustina Junior. Augusta, AD 147-175. AV Aureus (19mm, 7.08 g, 6h). Rome mint. Struck under Antoninus Pius, circa AD 153-154. FΛVSTINΛ ΛVG VSTΛ ΛVG P II F, draped bust right, hair waved and fastened in bun on back of head / VE NVS, Venus, draped, standing left, holding apple in right hand and vertical scepter in left. RIC III 513c (Pius); Calicó 2089 (same dies as illustration); BMCRE (Pius) 1095, note; Biaggi 938 (same dies). Lustrous, lightly toned. EF.

From the Provence Collection.

This attractive aureus shows the young Faustina Junior as a “princess” during the reign of her father, Antoninus Pius. Annia Galeria Faustina the Younger was born in about AD 129 to then Senator Antoninus and his wife, Faustina the Elder. When Antoninus was adopted by Hadrian as his successor in AD 138, the emperor arranged for her betrothal to Lucius Verus, son of the “heir consumptive” Aelius Caesar, who died the same year. When Antoninus inherited the throne, he broke the engagement and instead betrothed her to his nephew and adoptive son, and favored heir, Marcus Aurelius. The couple were wed in AD 145 to great rejoicing and went on to produce up to 13 children, including two sets of twins, of which only five appear to have survived to adulthood, among them the future emperor Commodus and empress Lucilla. Faustina was named Augusta, or empress, in AD 147, after the birth of the couple’s first child. Since her husband as yet bore only the title of Caesar, for some years she technically outranked him in the Roman societal pecking order, if not in actual power.