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Faustina Friday – Venus Genetrix? Venus Victrix?


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Friday Felicitations, fellow Faustina fanatics! Today we're going to go into depth about a frequently encountered type, the Venus standing left, holding Victory and resting hand on shield set on helmet type with the AVGVSTI PII FIL reverse inscription. I have previously written an overview of the types with this reverse inscription, so I won't review that material in depth. See that article for a detailed discussion of the dating of this issue. Rather, I am going to focus on the Venus type bearing the AVGVSTI PII FIL reverse inscription. So, get ready for some fly-specking!

This type was issued in the denarius, sestertius, and medium bronze denominations. Left-facing bust varieties are known for each of these denominations, though all of them are rare and appear only infrequently in the collectors' market. I will illustrate each variety with examples from my own collection, except for the sestertius with the left-facing bust. I illustrate that coin with a specimen acquired by the British Museum in 1978.

Denarii

FaustinaJrAVGVSTIPIIFILVenusdenarius.jpg.48c233107f22461de586b67a65e6bd73.jpg

Faustina II, 147-175 CE.
Roman AR denarius, 3.27 g, 17.8 mm, 6 h.
Rome, August 156-157 CE.
Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
Rev: AVGVSTI PII FIL, Venus standing facing, head left, holding Victory on extended right hand and resting left hand on shield, set on helmet.
Refs: RIC 495a; BMCRE 1099-1101; RSC/Cohen 15; RCV 4700; Strack 519; CRE 224.


FaustinaJrAVGVSTIPIIFILVenusdenariusleft-facingbust.jpg.35da024d2ac322d777887b5cba9a1609.jpg

Faustina II, 147-175 CE.
Roman AR denarius, 3.21 g, 17.1 mm, 5 h.
Rome, August 156-157 CE.
Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, left.
Rev: AVGVSTI PII FIL, Venus standing facing, head left, holding Victory on extended right hand and resting left hand on shield, set on helmet.
Refs: RIC 495b; BMCRE 1102; RSC 15a; Cohen --; RCV --; Strack 519; CRE 225.


Sestertii

FaustinaJrAVGVSTIPIIFILSCVenusVictrixsestertius.jpg.413eabeea21dc5aca587a1337c2ad6e3.jpg

Faustina II, 147-175 CE.
Roman orichalcum sestertius, 24.69 g, 32.3 mm, 12 h.
Rome, August 156-157 CE.
Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
Rev: AVGVSTI PII FIL S C, Venus standing facing, head left, holding Victory on extended right hand and resting left hand on shield, set on helmet.
Refs: RIC 1367; BMCRE 2195-97; Cohen 16; Sear 4709; Strack 1333.


FaustinaJrAVGVSTIPIIFILSCVenusVictrixsestertiusleft-facingBMC.png.3718a04a88b6618a8438f3bab29b65c1.png

Sestertius of the type with a left-facing portrait of Faustina. Unlisted in RIC, Cohen and BMCRE. British Museum specimen, 1978,1102.1.


Medium Bronze

The term "medium bronze" or "middle bronze" is used for the copper as and orichalcum dupondius denominations collectively. Unlike the case with emperors, for which the radiate crown indicates the dupondius, the coins of empresses and princes do not bear any design features to distinguish between the two middle bronze denominations but were distinguished in antiquity by the type of metal with which they were struck. Distinguishing the denominations on a fully patinated coin can be difficult because dupondii and asses often shared reverse types from about Hadrian on, as we can tell from the coins of the emperors themselves, whose asses are usually laureate while their dupondii are radiate. Mattingly cautions, "There is no general way of distinguishing the two denominations. For the most part they seem to be Asses. In the case of individual specimens, weight and colour usually permit of a decision."[1] Metal color is the surest criterion. Fabric can also help, for example long flan cracks suggest a dupondius, the harder of the two metals, whereas numerous small edge irregularities suggest an as. Weight is the least reliable criterion, however, since there is great overlap between the weights of the lightest dupondii and the heaviest asses.

I have two medium bronzes of this time that are so different in size that I strongly feel they represent each of the two medium bronze denominations, even though they were struck with the same obverse die. Note the differences in weight, diameter, and flan thickness.


FaustinaJrAVGVSTIPIIFILSCVenusVictrixasanddupondiusobv.jpg.b252549b24b9b5a2fe83c3e4a072fbe6.jpg"FaustinaJrAVGVSTIPIIFILSCVenusVictrixasanddupondiusedge.jpg.c0eee058884680c73c1738f706acac2f.jpg

FaustinaJrAVGVSTIPIIFILSCVenusVictrixAs.jpg.2208912a63ecd0d5f1c6c3598db1d0ea.jpg

Faustina II, 147-175 CE.
Roman Æ as (?), 6.07 g, 24.3 mm, 6 h.
Rome, August 156-157 CE.
Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
Rev: AVGVSTI PII FIL S C, Venus standing facing, head left, holding Victory on extended right hand and resting left hand on shield, set on helmet.
Refs: RIC 1389a; BMCRE 2202; Cohen 17; Strack 1333; Sear 4721.


FaustinaJrAVGVSTIPIIFILSCVenusVictrixMB.jpg.7e5ce8b2e36b714d1645fc73ba97fe06.jpg

Faustina II, 147-175 CE.
Roman orichalcum dupondius (?), 12.05 g, 25.3 mm, 12 h.
Rome, August 156-157 CE.
Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
Rev: AVGVSTI PII FIL S C, Venus standing facing, head left, holding Victory on extended right hand and resting left hand on shield, set on helmet.
Refs: RIC 1389a; BMCRE 2202; Cohen 17; Sear 4721; Strack 1333.


FaustinaJrAVGVSTIPIIFILSCVenusVictrixMBleft-facing.jpg.73fe70d34cee51596fa59232c1c3c59c.jpg

Faustina II, 147-175 CE.
Roman Æ as or dupondius, 10.34 g, 26.4 mm, 7 h.
Rome, August 156-157 CE.
Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, left.
Rev: AVGVSTI PII FIL S C, Venus standing facing, head left, holding Victory on extended right hand and resting left hand on shield, set on helmet.
Refs: RIC 1389b; BMCRE 2202n.; Cohen 18; Sear --; Strack 1333.


Who is the figure on the reverse?

As discussed in my previous essay, several different deities and personifications appear on the reverses of coins bearing the AVGVSTI PII FIL inscription. These figures are not explicitly labeled as such on the coins,[2] but are identified by their characteristic iconography and attributes. Mattingly notes the pairing of a variety of deities with a single inscription identifying the empress was a similar feature of coins for Faustina I, and suggests the "issue, perhaps, balances the AVGVSTA reverses of Diva Faustina the Elder, and, in both cases, the Empress may seem to be expressed in her true character though the divine figures associated with her name on reverse."[3]

By comparison to other Antonine coinage, we can identify the figure on this reverse as Venus, but which epithet to assign to her is absolutely unclear. We may be inclined to call her Victrix, for she holds a statuette of Victory and is accompanied by martial imagery of a shield and helmet. See, for example, this denarius of Lucilla with the same reverse iconography and the legend VENVS VICTRIX.

 

LucillaVENVSVICTRIXdenarius.jpg.91cb8221130d8abbf18fcc884fc00f08.jpg

Lucilla, 164-169 CE.
Roman AR denarius, 3.41 g, 17.3 mm, 11 h.
Rome, 166-169 CE.
Obv: LVCILLA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust right.
Rev: VENVS VICTRIX, Venus standing facing, head left, holding Victory on extended right hand and resting left hand on shield.
Refs: RIC 786; BMCRE 353; Cohen 89; RCV 5492; CRE 268.


On the other hand, such a figure is explicitly identified as VENVS GENETRIX on this denarius of Faustina the Younger.

FaustinaJrVENVSGENETRIXdenarius.jpg.cadd7290cd4e92610df99485f3ccbc92.jpg

Faustina II, 147-175 CE.
Roman AR denarius, 3.61 g, 19.7 mm, 1 h.
Rome, late 162 - early 163 CE.
Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, draped bust of Faustina, right, wearing strand of pearls around her head.
Rev: VENVS GENETRIX, Venus standing facing, head left, holding Victory on extended right hand and resting left hand on shield depicting the Dioscuri.
Refs: RIC 734 var.; BMCRE 172; RSC 280a; RCV 5268; MIR 35-4/10b; CRE 227.


Mattingly and Sydenham, writing in RIC, simply identify the figure as Venus, as do Mattingly writing alone in BMCRE, Cohen, Sear, and Temeryazev & Makarenko. Only Strack uses an epithet of Venus in his description, identifying her as Venus Genetrix.[4] I think the use of both epithets on coinage with identical iconography that circulated contemporaneously indicates that it mattered little to the ancient Romans which epithet of Venus went with which iconographic type. Religious figures and epic heroes typically had multiple titles in antiquity, which appear to have been interchangeable. The answer to the question, "Is the reverse figure on this coin Venus Genetrix or Venus Victrix?" is "Yes."

Do you have any examples of these coins? Post anything you feel is relevant!

~~~

Notes


1. Mattingly, Harold, Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum, vol. IV: Antoninus Pius to Commodus. Introduction, indexes and plates. London, BMP, 1968, p. 173†.

2. Because all coins read AVGVSTI PII FIL on the reverse.

3. Mattingly, Harold, op. cit., p. xciii.

4. Strack, Paul L., Untersuchungen zur Römischen Reichsprägung des Zweiten Jahrhunderts, vol. 3, Die Reichsprägung zur Zeit des Antoninus Pius. Stuttgart 1937, s.v. no. 1333.

Edited by Roman Collector
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What a line up if foxy VVs on this FF! Another greatly appreciated thread. Thanks @Roman Collector

i already shared this with RC, obvs. Butt couldn't resist sharing her dairy air here:

4257218_1687247632.l(1).jpg.9f524559f04a604f344ec8d0ea6eddb5.jpg

Faustina II, wife of Marcus Aurelius, 147-175. Denarius (Silver, 19 mm, 2.92 g, 6 h), Rome, 161-175. FAVSTINA AVGVSTA Draped bust of Faustina to right. Rev. VENERI VICTRICI Venus, half-draped, standing to right, leaning on column and holding spear with left and helmet with right hand. BMC 161 ( Marcus Aurelius ). RIC 723 ( Marcus Aurelius ). RSC 240. Scarce. Nearly very fine.

From a Swiss collection, acquired in Germany.

 

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Great Faustina Friday post as always, @Roman Collector

I have some!  A denarius:

FaustinaII-DenariusVenusVictrixMar2017(1).jpg.97968923ad9b658e9d6c0f4e321c741f.jpg

Faustina II  Denarius (c. 156-157 A.D.)     Rome Mint FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, bare-headed, draped bust right / AVGV[S]TI  PII FIL, Venus standing left holding Victory, resting hand on shield resting on helmet. RIC III Antoninus Pius 495a; BMCRE 1099-1101; RSC 15. (3.00 grams / 17 x 15 mm) eBay Mar. 2017   

 A sestertius:

FaustinaII-Sest.VenusshieldRIC1367Apr2018(0).jpg.ba09ed7c7730dced67a70831eb8e8ee0.jpg

Faustina II            Æ Sestertius (156-157 A.D.)        Rome Mint FAVSTINA [AVGVSTA], bear-headed draped bust right / A[V]GV[STI] P[II FI]L S-C, Venus, standing left, holding Victory and resting hand on shield set on helmet. RIC III Antoninus Pius 1367; BMCRE 2195; Cohen RSC 16. (22.92 grams / 29 x 28 mm) eBay Apr. 2018             

An as: 

FaustinaII-AsVENVSwithshieldonhelmetRIC1389a-MINEJun2018pic.jpg.bbb55407bcce20a6ba5d5b8910d3a351.jpg

Faustina II  Æ As (c. 156-157 A.D.) Rome Mint [FAVST]INA AVGVSTA, draped bust right / AVGV[STI] PII FIL, Venus standing left holding victory, leaning on shield on helmet. RIC III Antoninus Pius 1389a; BMCRE 2202; Cohen 17.  (9.24 grams / 24 x 23 mm) eBay June 2018

And that's all I have.  

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