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In the Roman world, the right hand was sacred to Fides, the deity of fidelity.[1] Dextrarum iunctio, the clasping of right hands, was a solemn gesture of mutual fidelity and loyalty at the conclusion of an agreement or contract[2] or the taking of an oath of allegiance.[3] The clasping of hands was therefore an important part of the Roman marriage ceremony. It was so important, in fact, that the Roman marriage ceremony itself was called dextrarum iunctio, the handshake signifying the concord of the married couple.[4]

It comes as no surprise, therefore, that many Roman coins were issued which depict the emperor and his wife performing the dextrarum iunctio
. These coins were often issued to commemorate imperial weddings, and often bear the legend VOTA PVBLICA, "public vows," but sometimes they were struck simply to illustrate the marital harmony – the concordia – of the imperial couple. Here are a few coins in my collection depicting such coins, as well as a medallion in the British Museum collection far beyond the reach of collectors of modest means.

Let's see your coins depicting married folk clasping hands!

Antoninus Pius and his Late Wife, Faustina the Elder


Faustina I, 138-141 CE.
Roman AR denarius, 3.73g, 17mm.
Rome, ca. 155-161 CE.
Obv: DIVA AVG FAVSTINA, draped bust right.
Rev: CONCORDIAE, Antoninus standing right, holding scroll, clasping right hands with Faustina I, standing left, holding scepter.
Refs: RIC 381b; BMCRE 288; RCV 4592; Cohen 159.
Note: This is a late coin type with an early obverse legend. This reverse type was also combined with obverse dies bearing the late DIVA FAVSTINA legend (BMCRE 466). These dual obverse legend types are dated to the "the later 150s AD." by Martin Beckmann.[5]

An As Issued on the Occasion of Marcus Aurelius's Marriage to Faustina the Younger


Marcus Aurelius, Caesar 139-161 CE.
Roman Æ as or dupondius, 8.74 g, 25.0 mm, 11 h.
Rome, 145 CE.
Obv: AVRELIVS CAESAR AVG PII F COS, bare head, right.
Rev: VOTA PVBLICA S C, Faustina Junior, on left, and Marcus Aurelius, on right, standing facing each other, clasping right hands; Concordia standing facing between them, her head turned to left.
Refs: RIC 1269; BMCRE 1801-02; Cohen 1023; Strack 957; RCV 4851.

A Medallion Issued on the Occasion of Commodus's Marriage to Crispina


Medallion, 59.616 g, 40 mm. BMCRM / Roman Medallions in the British Museum (1, p.31); Gnecchi 1912 Vol. II / I Medaglioni Romani: Volume Secondo: Bronzo (2, p.72). On this medallion, Commodus (161–92 CE) and his wife, Bruttia Crispina, are shown performing the dextrarum iunctio. Juno Pronuba, the divine patron of marriage,[6] taller than either of the bridal pair, stands behind them, with an outstretched arm on the shoulder of each. British Museum specimen.

The Marriage of Caracalla and Plautilla


Plautilla, 202-205 CE.
Roman AR denarius, 3.40 g, 17.80 mm, 12 h.
Rome, 202 CE.
Obv: PLAVTILLA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, right; hair firmly waved and drawn down on neck.
Rev: CONCORDIA FELIX, Caracalla, togate, standing left, clasping right hands with Plautilla, draped, standing right.
Refs: RIC 365b; BMCRE5 418; RSC 12; RCV 7066; Hill 584, 586; CRE 433.
Notes: The British Museum incorrectly cross-references 418 to RIC 365a.

The Marriage of Severus Alexander and Orbiana


Orbiana, 225-227 CE.
Roman orichalcum sestertius, 20.02 g, 28.6 mm, 12 h.
Rome, special marriage issue, 225 CE.
Obv: SALL BARBIA ORBIANA AVG, diademed and draped bust, right.
Rev: CONCORDIA AVGVSTORVM S C, Severus Alexander, togate, standing right, holding scroll in left hand and clasping right hands with Orbiana, veiled and draped, standing left.
Refs: RIC 657; BMCRE 301; Cohen 6; RCV 8194; Banti 3.



1. Livy, 23.9.3.

2. Tacitus, Annales 2.58.

3. Per G. Hamberg, Studies in Roman Imperial Art, with Special Reference to the State Reliefs of the Second Century (Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1945), 26 fig. 2.

4. Hersch, Karen K. The Roman wedding: ritual and meaning in antiquity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

5. Beckmann, Martin. Diva Faustina: Coinage and Cult in Rome and the Provinces. American Numismatic Society, 2012, p. 71 and Die Charts 2 and 7.

6. Werner Eisenhut, “Iuno,” in Der Kleine Pauly: Lexikon der Antike, ed. Konrat Ziegler and Walther Sontheimer (Stuttgart: Druckenmüller Verlag, 1967), 2:1563.

Edited by Roman Collector
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Great stuff @Roman Collector thanks for sharing and the laugh.

The image always makes my wife and I chuckle. Sometimes when she and I accomplish something together, she'll say, "Concordia." And we'll shake hands as such. 

Here's two guys that really knew how to treat a lady, Napoleon and Caracalla🤪




Edited by Ryro
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Here is my only coin with a relevant reverse, a type that's very popular judging that now it's the 3rd time in 3 posts when an example is shown.


Plautilla. Augusta AD 202-205. Rome
Denarius AR 19 mm, 3,07 g

PLAVTILLAE AVGVSTAE, bust of Plautilla, hair coiled in ridges, fastened in bun at back, draped, right /  PROPAGO IMPERI, Caracalla, togate, standing left, clasping right hands with Plautilla, draped, standing right. RIC IV Caracalla 362 (denarius); BMC 406-10; RSC 21


I liked this example, despite the wear, because of the portrait (somebody had an Asian woman in mind?)


And also the reverse looks like Caracalla and Plautilla are dwarfs or children. In both the previous examples in this thread, their proportions are normal. Wondering if this is not a contemporary imitation. 

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33 minutes ago, arizonarobin said:

Plautilla got much taller on the second coin. 😄

Or Caracalla got smaller!

I think Plautilla must be the most common of this type...

Plautilla Denarius, 202-205
Rome. Silver, 18mm, 3.39g. Bust of Plautilla, hair coiled in ridges, fastened in bun at back, draped, right; PLAVTILLAE AVGVSTAE. Caracalla, togate, standing left, clasping right hands with Plautilla, draped, standing right; CONCORDIAE AETERNAE (RIC IV, 361 (denarius)). Found in Hertfordshire.

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  • Benefactor

The only one I own is the Plautilla-Caracalla one:


On my specimen, I think that Plautilla's hairstyle resembles that of Elsa Lanchester in Bride of Frankenstein far more than any Asian hairstyle.


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