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Roman Augusta from the second row

Prieure de Sion

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Today I treated myself to a Venus denarius of Crispina for the weekend for my own private collection. Something has fascinated me about the style for weeks - but no one else bought this coin, so I grabbed it today. 




Bruttia Crispina
Reign: Marcus Aurelius or Commodus; Mint: Rome; Date: 178/182 AD; Nominal: Denarius; Material: Silver; Diameter: 17mm; Weight: 2.80g; Reference: RIC III Commodus 286a; OCRE Online: http://numismatics.org/ocre/id/ric.3.com.286A_denarius; Rare: R1; Provenance: Sebastian Sänn Numismatik Grasbrunn, Germany; Pedigree: –

Obverse: Bust of Crispina, draped, hair in round coil at back, right; Inscription: CRISPINA AVGVSTA; Translation: Crispina Augusta; Translation: [Bruttia] Crispina, the venerable; Reverse: Venus, draped, standing left, holding apple in right hand and drawing robe over her left shoulder with left hand; Inscription: VENVS; Translation: Venus; Translation: Goddess of love, erotic desire and beauty


Comment: Bruttia Crispina, the daughter of C. Bruttius Praesens and Valeria Marcia Hostilia Crispina Moecia Cornelia, the sister of L. Bruttius Quintius Crispinus, was married by Emperor Marcus Aurelius to his son, the future Emperor Commodus, before he left for the Sarmatian campaign, from which he did not return (Cass. Dio LXXI 33, 1. Hist. Aug. Marc. 27, 8). She finds her death, after Commodus has come to the government, on Capri, where she was banished for adultery by her husband – probably around the year 182 AD. However, it is not likely that her banishment and her death falls before the consulate year of her brother (187 AD), whom then the emperor would not have honored with the consulate. Ultimately, the exact year of Crispina’s death remains hidden in the darkness of history – as well as the exact dating of her coins. One of the last coinages is probably from Alexandria with 181/182 AD as the year. Thus, the issues of the empress can be roughly narrowed down to the period 178-182 AD.

Under Commodus, her role as empress wife was presented on numerous coin types. Among others, she was associated with Ceres (fertility), Juno (Goddess of birth, marriage and care), Pudicitia (chastity), Concordia (unity and harmony), the dis coniugalibus (the gods of marriage) and also – as on the denarius presented here – with Venus (Goddess of love, erotic desire and beauty). These types of reverence refer to what was expected of an exemplary empress wife: Beauty, fertility, chastity and fidelity. We can hardly say anything about Crispina’s political role – but her later banishment and execution, allegedly for adultery, suggests that at some point she had at least become inconvenient for the emperor and his entourage.

Part of my private collection: klick here



Crispina, like many other Augusta before and after her, was also one of the many unfortunate female creatures who, through patriarchal planning, was only a small piece of the puzzle in the great game of the Roman rulers. She also belongs to the ranks of the emperor's wives, who were never really able to assert themselves and had no chance to set their own accents from the very beginning.

On the one hand, there were women who played an active role in the political intrigues of the powerful - such as Livia, Antonia, the Faustinas or Julia Domna. Crispina, however, belonged to the ranks of Plautilla, Julia Paula, Tranquillina and others who were no match for this game.

So this thread belongs to the Augusta from the second row! The women who were not as strong or could not be as strong as other famous women of Rome. The women who were a pawn of the powerful, who could not assert themselves, who often found a cruel death or banishment. 


Show me your coins of these unfortunate women - and let us thereby commemorate them.


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Crispina (178 - 182 A.D.)

AR Denarius
O: CRISPINA AVGVSTA, Draped bust right.
R: HILARITAS, Hilaritas standing left, holding palm and cornucopiae.
RIC III 282 (Commodus); RSC 18


Lucilla (164 - 182 A.D.)

AR Denarius
O: LVCILLA AVGVSTA, draped bust right.
R: IVNONI LVCINAE Juno seated left, holding flower and infant.
RIC M. Aurelius 770. C. 36. BMC M. Aurelius 342

Ex. Goldberg Auctions, Sept. 22, 2013, Sale 75 Lot 2706 (part of)


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Silver Coin (AR Denarius) minted at Rome for PLAUTILLA, Wife of CARACALLA, between 202 - 212 A.D. Obv. PLAVTILLA.AVGVSTA.: dr. bust r. with hair in nearly vertical waves and drawn into coiled plait on neck. Rev. VENVS.VICTRIX.: Venus, naked to waist, stg. half left, holding apple and palm; at side, shield before, cupid stg., holding helmet at her feet. RCS #2003. RSCIII #25. RICIV #369. DVM #9.


Silver Coin (AR Denarius) minted for JULIA PAULA, first wife of ELAGABALUS, between 219 - 220 A.D. Obv. IVLIA.PAVLA.AVG.: dr. bust r. Rev. CONCORDIA.: Concordia seated l., holding patera and resting l. arm on arm rest, star in l. field. RCS #2149. RSCIII #6. DVM #1/1.


Silver Coin (AR Denarius) minted for AQUILA SEVERA, second wife of ELAGABALUS, between 220 - 222 A.D. 
Obv. IVLIA.AQVILIA.SEVERA.AVG.: dr. bust r. Rev. CONCORDIA.: Concordia standing left by altar, holding patera and double cornucopiae; 
star in left field. RCS #2158. RSCIII #2a. RICIV #225. DVM #1.



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A great idea for a thread. These "second rows Augustas" did not have a joyful life. Political influence was at minimum and most likely they were just puppets for the tyrants ...
Since coins with empresses are an important area in my collection, I have quite a few.

Here is my Crispina Denarius. 


Crispina. Augusta AD 178-191. Rome. Denarius AR. 16 mm, 3,17 g. AD 178 - AD 191
CRISPINA AVGVSTA, bust of Crispina, draped, hair in round coil at back, right / IVNO, Juno, draped, standing left, holding patera in extended right hand and sceptre in left hand; at left, peacock
RIC III Commodus 283; RSC 21

Her relative, Lucilla, also a denarius (and one of my favorite coins in my collection because of the style) 



Lucilla AD 164-182. Rome Denarius AR 18 mm, 2,89 g. AD 164 - AD 180
Daughter of Marcus Aurelius and Faustina II, wife of Lucius Verus, sister of Commodus.
LVCILLA AVGVSTA, bust of Lucilla, bare-headed, hair waved and fastened in a bun on back of head, draped, right / VENVS VICTRIX, Venus, draped with right breast bare, standing left, holding Victory in extended right hand and resting left hand on shield set on ground
RIC III Marcus Aurelius 786, Sear 5492, RSC 89     

20 hours ago, Prieure de Sion said:

! The women who were not as strong or could not be as strong as other famous women of Rome. The women who were a pawn of the powerful, who could not assert themselves, who often found a cruel death or banishment. 


The best example I can think of is ....


Julia Titi AD 80-81. Rome. Dupondius Æ. 28 mm, 11,55 g
Obv: IVLIA IMP T AVG F AVGVSTA, Bust of Julia Titi, draped, right; hair bundled high in front and wrapped in bun (sometimes small bun) in back / Rev: CERES AVGVST S C, Ceres standing left, holding corn-ears and torch
RIC II, Part 1 (second edition) Titus 392

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Silver coin (AR Denarius) minted at Rome for CRISPINA, Wife of COMMODUS in 177 A.D. Obv. CRISPINA.AVGVSTA.: dr. bust r. Rev. VENVS.FELIX.: Venus seated l., holding Victory and sceptre. RCS #1686. RICIII #288 pg.399 RSCII #39a. DVM #9. RCSVII #6003.



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Here is my only Orbiana. 


Orbiana AD 227. Rome

Denarius AR

17 mm, 2,68 g

SALL BARBIA ORBIANA AVG, bust of Orbiana, diademed, draped, right / CONCORDIA AVGG, Concordia, draped, seated left, holding patera in right hand and double cornucopiae in left hand

RIC IV Severus Alexander 319; BMC 287-290; RSC 1

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