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Faustina Friday – The Empress as Eusebeia on an Alexandrian Tetradrachm

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Friday felicitations, fellow Faustina fanatics! I hope you have a great weekend. Today we're going to examine – not in a great deal of depth – a tetradrachm of Alexandria issued by Antoninus Pius in honor of his late wife, Faustina the Elder. Never before had a deified empress been depicted on the coinage of Roman Alexandria.


Antoninus Pius, AD 138-161.
Roman provincial billion tetradrachm, 11.60 g, 23.7 mm, 11 h.
Egypt, Alexandria, year 5, AD 141/2.
ΝΙΝΟϹ; laureate head of Antoninus Pius, right.
Rev: ΦΑVϹΤΙΝΑ ΘЄΑ,empress (Faustina I) as Eusebeia, veiled, standing left, dropping incense on lighted altar and holding long scepter; L-Є in lower fields.
Refs: RPC IV.4,
13464 (temporary); Dattari 2102; Milne 1686; SNG France 2205; Köln 1369; Emmett 1393.5.


There are several varieties of this tetradrachm, each struck in year 5 (AD 141/2). This coin is also known with a laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust, right (RPC IV.4,
13465). Coins with this reverse design were also issued with the obverse legend ΑΝΤΝΙΝΟϹ ϹЄΒ ЄVϹ(Є)Β, with a laureate head facing right (RPC IV.4, 13473) or left (RPC IV.4, 14243), and a laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust, right (RPC IV.4, 13474).

Eὐσέβεια (Eusebeia)/ Pietas

Eusebeia was the personified spirit of piety, loyalty, duty and filial respect. She was the wife of Nomos (Law) and her opposite spirit was Dyssebeia (Impiety). Her Roman equivalent was Pietas (Piety).[1] She is typically depicted veiled, and holds a patera, scepter, cornucopia, or flower, or is shown holding a box of incense and sacrificing over an altar.[2]

On this coin, the reverse figure is explicitly identified: ΦΑVϹΤΙΝΑ ΘЄΑ (Diva Faustina), the deified empress. She is depicted with the attributes of Eusebeia. She is veiled, dropping incense onto a lighted thymiaterion (altar), and holds a scepter. The symbolism is clear: the recently deceased and deified empress is to be identified with Eusebeia/Pietas.[3]

Coins with a similar reverse type were issued for Faustina the Elder in the imperial series. They feature the reverse inscription PIETAS AVG, and depict Pietas sacrificing over an altar or candelabrum, such as this dupondius, below.


Faustina I, AD 138-140.
Roman orichalcum dupondius, 10.26 g, 27.4 mm, 6 h.
Rome, AD 140-41.
Obv: DIVA AVGVS-TA FAVSTINA, veiled and draped bust, right.
Rev: PIETAS AVG S C, Pietas, veiled, draped, standing left, dropping incense out of right hand over lighted "candelabrum-altar," left, and holding box in left hand.
Refs: RIC
1192Ab; BMCRE 1472; Cohen 241; Strack 1241; RCV --.

We know from die-linkage studies of the corresponding aureii that these coins were part of the first phase of issues for the newly deceased Faustina and deal with her funeral and deification. An aureus with this reverse of Pietas sacrificing over a candelabrum was found muled with an aureus of Antoninus Pius bearing the inscription ANTONINVS AVG PIVS PP TR P COS III, establishing a date of AD 140-144 with certainty for these PIETAS AVG issues.[4] This comes as no surprise, and is entirely consistent with the Alexandrian coinage for Antoninus Pius discussed above, which is explicitly dated to the fifth year of his reign (AD 141/2). I have previously written elsewhere about the denarii of this reverse type.

Let's see your coins depicting Eusebeia or Pietas, of Faustina with or as Pietas, or anything you feel is relevant!



1. "Eusebeia - Greek Goddess or Spirit of Piety & Filial Respect (Roman Pietas)." Theoi Greek Mythology, Edited by Aaron J Atsma.

2. Vagi, David L. Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. Vol. 2, Coinworld, 1999, p. 72. See also Sear, David R. Roman Coins and Their Values. II, Spink, 2002, p. 40.

3. Beckmann, Martin. Diva Faustina: Coinage and Cult in Rome and the Provinces. American Numismatic Society, 2012, p. 79.

4. Ibid., p. 7.

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Interesting. I was not aware of this coin type. I have to keep an eye out for this type.

I only have an Eusebeia of her daughter:



Faustina II
Obv.: ΦAYCTIN CEBACTH (legend starting at 1 o'clock), draped bust right
Rev.: LΔWΔEKATV= year 12 of Antoninus Pius (148/149), Eusebeia seated left, holding patera over lighted altar, and long sceptre
Billon, 13.68g, 23mm
Ref.: D 3247 var., Geissen 1945 var.



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@Roman Collector RC Says "Coins with a similar reverse type were issued for Faustina the Elder in the imperial series. They feature the reverse inscription PIETAS AVG, and depict Pietas sacrificing over an altar or candelabrum" and here is one of mine . . .

141 A.D. FAUSTINA (the elder) Denarius AR19mm., 3.5 gm.

Obv: DIVA AVG FAVSTINA draped bust right

Rev: PIE-(T)AS AVG Pietas standing left, dropping incense on altar 

Ref: RIC III 394a, BMCRE 3II



Here is a one of her Sestertius,

141 A.D. FAUSTINA (the elder) Sestertius AE30 mm., 22.4 gm.

Obv: DIVA FAVSTINA  draped bust right

Rev: AETERNITAS S-C Aeternitas standing left holding phoenix on globe and holding up skirt

Ref: RIC III II05, Cohen 12, Sear5 4607


Edited by Topcat7
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I don't have any Pietas coins related to Faustina, but the first Trajan denarius I have bought individually was a Pietas coin.


Trajan AR Denarius. Rome, circa AD 112-114. IMP TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P COS VI P P, laureate bust right, slight drapery on far shoulder / SPQR OPTIMO PRINCIPI, Pietas standing left, sprinkling incense over lighted altar to left and holding sceptre. RIC 262; BMCRE 481; RSC 201. .


My favorite coin with Pietas is a RR


M. Herennius. 108-107 BC. Rome. Denarius AR .18 mm, 3,77 g
PIETAS, head of Pietas r., wearing diadem; hair twisted around lower part of diadem; single drop earring; beaded necklace; tendrils falling down the back of her neck / M•HERENNI, nude male figure bearing a man on his shoulder, r. (Aeneas and Anchises)

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