Sestertius, Annia Galeria Faustina Maior


Annia Galeria Faustina, also known as Faustina Maior or Faustina the Elder, was the daughter of Marcus Annius Verus. She married Antoninus Pius and they had four children. In AD 138 she received the title Augusta. Not much is known about Faustina, but monumental inscriptions and evidence on coins suggest that she was involved in charitable works within the Roman community. Antoninus, for instance, named a charity after her for the maintenance of poor children. On Faustina's death in AD 141, Antoninus Pius had her consecrated, and all coins struck posthumously bearing her portrait, bore legends reading DIVA FAVSTINA. Broken coin legends (a split anywhere depending on design elements), usually a split between words were considered as an indication of higher respect. Coin portraits of Faustina are usually in high relief, emphasising her strong features and elegant posture.

Obv. Faustina Maior facing right, draped bust, DIVA FAVSTINA. Here she is portrayed as a young mature woman with a very elaborate hairstyle: the wavy tied locks and 'bun' on top of her head became the fashion of the period. This hairstyle, with a double tiara of pearls, hair entwined with more pearls, distinguishes Faustina from all other empresses. Most coins of Faustina the Elder can be identified by this distinctive feature as shown on the denarius below.
Rev. Ceres standing left, holding corn-ears and a torch, AVGVSTA S. C.

AR denarius, Annia Galeria Faustina Maior


Obv. Faustina Maior, draped bust, facing right, DIVA FAVSTINA. This commemorative coin, struck under Antoninus Pius, shows Faustina in middle-age: a dignified Roman matron with no hint of frivolity. Her softened features still display an ever charming empress.
Rev. Vesta, veiled, seated left, holding a patera and a short sceptre, AVGVSTA.


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