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Fausta Bronze AE3


thenickelguy

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Roman Empire, Fausta 325-6, Bronze AE3
3.11g, 18mm
Head of Fausta right "FLAV MAX FAVSTA AVG"
Salus standing, facing, holding two infants. "SALVS REIPVBLICAE" "SMTSE" in exeruge
RIC 161
Thessalonika mint

RomanEmpireFausta325-6BronzeAE3.jpg.1fbb36a02c2a337b095246776176baaf.jpg

When I first got into ancients, one of my earliest coins was a nice Crispus and when I read about him it blew my mind about family disfunction in ancient Rome. Back then I didn't know a Fausta from a Faustina.

Since then, I have read about the people on these old coins and the gods and goddesses. Murders, assassinations and persecutions seem to have been quite the way of life in the day. Just another day at the office.

I think I have correctly encapsulated the story in short order here.

Fausta was the wife of Constantine The Great. She bore him three sons and three daughters. Previously, Constantine I also had a son with Minervina named Crispus.

Whether Constantine I (The Great) was married to Minervina or not is unknown but that relationship with her ended when Constantine I married Fausta.
The popular belief is that Fausta was having an affair with her stepson Crispus and Constantine I had him executed. Shortly, he had Fausta locked in a bath that was overheated and she was kept there until she died.  :classic_ohmy: Some say scalded.

Edited by thenickelguy
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36 minutes ago, thenickelguy said:

Roman Empire, Fausta 325-6, Bronze AE3
3.11g, 18mm
Head of Fausta right "FLAV MAX FAVSTA AVG"
Salus standing, facing, holding two infants. "SALVS REIPVBLICAE" "SMTSE" in exeruge
RIC 161
Thessalonika mint

RomanEmpireFausta325-6BronzeAE3.jpg.1fbb36a02c2a337b095246776176baaf.jpg

When I first got into ancients, one of my earliest coins was a nice Crispus and when I read about him it blew my mind about family disfunction in ancient Rome. Back then I didn't know a Fausta from a Faustina.

Since then, I have read about the people on these old coins and the gods and goddesses. Murders, assassinations and persecutions seem to have been quite the way of life in the day. Just another day at the office.

I think I have correctly encapsulated the story in short order here.

Fausta was the wife of Constantine The Great. She bore him three sons and three daughters. Previously, Constantine I also had a son with Minervina named Crispus.

Whether Constantine I (The Great) was married to Minervina or not is unknown but that relationship with her ended when Constantine I married Fausta.
The popular belief is that Fausta was having an affair with her stepson Crispus and Constantine I had him executed. Shortly, he had Fausta locked in a bath that was overheated and she was kept there until she died.  :classic_ohmy: Some say scalded.

Outstanding example, well done.

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A mandatory name for people collecting imperial ladies. 

My example, same motif, but from Nicomedia. 

image.png.19808031a761bb3bb074b81f593a58e6.png

18 mm, 2,4 g.
Fausta. Augusta 324-326. Ӕ follis. Nicomedia. 325-326.
FLAV MAX FAVSTA AVG, bust of Fausta, waved hair, mantled, right / SALVS REI – PVBLICAE, Fausta, veiled, draped, standing front, head left, holding two children in her arms (Constantine II and Constantius II). Mintmark MNA.
RIC VII Nicomedia 130.

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It's not easy to get a good Fausta from London. Along with Helena, her coins were some of the last made at the mint and they're often worn. This one's not bad but not well struck.

Fausta Follis, 324-325
image.png.fd15f4ab6ff09914f7046a553789257a.png
London. Bronze, 19mm, 2.93g. Mantled bust right; FLAV MAX FAVSTA AG. Fausta standing facing, looking left, head veiled, with two children (Constantine II and Constantius II) in her arms; SALVS REIPVBLICAE; mintmark PLON (RIC VI, 300).

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Very nice!

I have one from Alexandria:

Fausta (wife of Constantine I and daughter of Maximian), Billon reduced Centenionalis, Alexandria Mint (First Officina) 326 AD. Obv. Draped bust right, FLAV MAX FAVSTA AVG / Rev. Veiled Fausta standing facing, head left, holding two small children [representing Constantine II Caesar and Constantius II Caesar?]* in her arms, SPES REIP-VBLICAE; in exergue, SMALA [Alexandria, First Officina].  RIC VII Alexandria 40 (p. 709), Sear RCV IV 16582. 19 mm., 2.92 g. Ex. Dr. Frank Sternberg Collection, Sternberg I, Zurich, Nov. 30-Dec. 1, 1973, part of Lot 524 (catalogue p. 61) (with old coin ticket).

image.jpeg.280b9a5e7517ec7df1b10038436bd5da.jpeg

 *  Sear argues (see Sear RCV V at p. 77) that the two children depicted were Constantius II and Constans, asserting that Constantine II was not Fausta’s son. This is a minority view.

A comment of mine from a post last year:  "I've always been skeptical of the story of the dire fates of Fausta and Crispus. I think it's just a bit too suspiciously close to the myth of Theseus, Phaedra, and Hippolytus."

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The trick about getting a good Fausta is letting it simmer for about 45 minutes before turning to boil. Man, Constantine was a sadistic freak. 

The fact that it wasn't until nine months after killing his first born son that he did her in, led to speculation that she was pregnant with Crispus child...

2845063_1652362115.l-removebg-preview.png.70afd567af019864acfc2ebf7c2bbe71.png.dfaa75158b6cc4f417b8e4fa6ef953a0.png

Edited by Ryro
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I did scamper around and quickly read about the Greek Phaedra story. I think this is a story told a 1000 times 1000 in many relationships. I wouldn't put it past Constantine the Great to kill Fausta if he had his own son Crispus killed. I wouldn't put anything past these ancient people we collect on these old disks of bronze and silver. I never knew how ugly history was for these ruthless characters until I started collecting ancients. 

But ya know, things are different today yet they are the same. People can be very, very ugly and will be until the end of the world.

My money is on her being tortured in a scalding bath. I don't think she slipped on a bar of soap and the story grew bigger and bigger over time,  It just seems to me that it would have been perfectly normal for that to be the way it was.

I have to say, my little world is not ugly. I live a very nice and good life. so far

 

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Nice Fausta bronzes from various mints. I picked up one from Siscia.

Fausta.jpg

Fausta, Augusta, 325 AD. Follis. Siscia mint, Δ = 4th officina.
Obv: FLAV MAX FAVSTA AVG Bare-headed and draped bust of Fausta to right.
Rev. SPES REIPVBLICAE / ΔSIS(wreath) Fausta standing left, holding two children in her arms.
RIC 197
Bronze, 20 mm, 3.66 g, 6 h
Nomos. Oct 2021

 

Edited by happy_collector
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The circumstances around Crispus' downfall and Fausta's disappearance from the public record are unclear and opaque and will probably always remain so. The story about Fausta having an affair with Crispus comes much later and is not corroborated by any contemporary evidence.

In his excellent book Constantine the Emperor, David Potter writes this:

"We will never know what happened to Crispus, or why he plummeted, in the space of just over a year - we can date his death to the first half of 326 - from glorious heir apparent to the chopping block. It is likely that he was summoned to his death from Trier and it is possible that Constantine could not bear to be present for the trial...

"A few months [after Crispus' death], Fausta vanishes from public view. Again we cannot know why, but one source tells us that she died in 328. Her sudden disappearance from the imperial record makes it very tempting now, as at the time, to link her exit from public life with that of Crispus. The fact that her actual death may have taken place a couple of years later suggests that she was sent into internal exile."

Potter goes on to demonstrate how the stories became elaborated and expanded over time, concluding: 

"...these observations are plainly wrong and simply confirm the impression that later authors were dealing with a sufficiently fluid tradition, stemming from lack of real information, that their accounts are fantasies.

"Later stories do nothing to illuminate the situation in 326. All we can know is that Crispus was executed upon his father's orders, and that Fausta was ousted from public life."

Potter also notes the unusual and significant fact that after the 326 Constantine did not remarry, nor (apparently) have any other significant relationship with a woman. He concludes the chapter thus:

"Constantine's self-imposed celibacy leaves us one final impression. However serious their [Constantine and Fausta's] quarrel, and serious it must have been, he never seems to have ceased loving his wife."

-David Potter (Constantine the Emperor, pgs. 245-247)

Fausta: (ex Dattari and in need of a better photo)

fausta.jpg.8269ac08f73e8b932c20d43249eb1e35.jpg

 

Crispus:

 

CrispusAE3Rome.jpg.c37fcd39c6a16283510d94a030ec7f57.jpg

 

Constantine:

 

ConstantineAE3VOTXXX.jpg.5b98001b82a610f141cfbf39f1385359.jpg

 

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12 hours ago, CPK said:

Potter also notes the unusual and significant fact that after the 326 Constantine did not remarry, nor (apparently) have any other significant relationship with a woman. He concludes the chapter thus:

"Constantine's self-imposed celibacy leaves us one final impression. However serious their [Constantine and Fausta's] quarrel, and serious it must have been, he never seems to have ceased loving his wife."

-David Potter (Constantine the Emperor, pgs. 245-247)

 

 

I don't think the implication is that continued to love Fausta. More likely (in my opinion) is that Constantine had to obey Christian marriage rules. Remarriage was strongly discouraged in Early Christianity, and Fausta was already Constantine's second wife. I do strongly agree with Potter's sceptical assessment of the whole debacle.

 

David Potter is an excellent historian and his book The Roman Empire at Bay was extremely formative in my passion for this period of history.

Edited by Steppenfool
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3 hours ago, Steppenfool said:

 

I don't think the implication is that continued to love Fausta. More likely (in my opinion) is that Constantine had to obey Christian marriage rules. Remarriage was strongly discouraged in Early Christianity, and Fausta was already Constantine's second wife. I do strongly agree with Potter's sceptical assessment of the whole debacle.

 

David Potter is an excellent historian and his book The Roman Empire at Bay was extremely formative in my passion for this period of history.

It was probably a mixture of both. Though Constantine's conversion to Christianity was sincere, he was still the Emperor of Rome and surely could have bent the rules a bit in his favor, if he really wanted to remarry. To say he still loved Fausta may be overstating it somewhat, but to me it does seem like he must have still harbored some feelings towards her.

Also, to be clear, remarriage in early Christianity was forbidden only as long as both spouses were alive; if one died the other was free to remarry.

I do think Potter's treatment of Constantine was much more fair and impartial than Michael Grant's book Constantine the Great. Grant seemed to have an antagonism towards Constantine from the start which lent an almost bitter tone throughout the whole book, and which surfaced at times in absurdly unfair criticisms and judgments of Constantine. It's too bad because Grant's scholarship is, as usual, excellent. Potter, on the other hand, gives all the history without the moralizing.

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Took new pictures today. Improved? I think so, but with that flat pitted brown surface (so typical of Dattari aes), it's one of my more difficult coins to photograph. Spent a long time trying to find the right light angle. And I also had trouble getting a good focus for some reason. Oh well, it's good enough for me.

Faustaae3spes.jpg.d6584bcc53c1ad237c4409f13f606e4e.jpg

 

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On 10/1/2023 at 8:18 PM, CPK said:

It was probably a mixture of both. Though Constantine's conversion to Christianity was sincere, he was still the Emperor of Rome and surely could have bent the rules a bit in his favor, if he really wanted to remarry. To say he still loved Fausta may be overstating it somewhat, but to me it does seem like he must have still harbored some feelings towards her.

Also, to be clear, remarriage in early Christianity was forbidden only as long as both spouses were alive; if one died the other was free to remarry.

I do think Potter's treatment of Constantine was much more fair and impartial than Michael Grant's book Constantine the Great. Grant seemed to have an antagonism towards Constantine from the start which lent an almost bitter tone throughout the whole book, and which surfaced at times in absurdly unfair criticisms and judgments of Constantine. It's too bad because Grant's scholarship is, as usual, excellent. Potter, on the other hand, gives all the history without the moralizing.

Perhaps! Although I don't think the re-marriage policy was as clear cut as you imply.

In his A Plea for the Christians (c. 177), Athenagoras showed that the typical resistance to remarriage was based on the church's understanding of Jesus' teaching on the matter. "Second marriage is only a specious adultery," he declared. "'For whosoever puts away his wife,' says He [meaning Jesus], 'and marries another, commits adultery."[3] Indeed, the marriage bond for many of the Ante-Nicene Fathers was so indissoluble that it continued beyond the grave. A virtually eternal relationship was established between the spouses, living or dead.

https://theologicalstudies.org.uk/article_divorce_snuth.html

There are numerous texts that testify to the use of the term “digamos” or “monogamos” to indicate the state of widows or widowers in relation to a second marriage. An example, closer to the 5th century, from the letters of St. Jerome witnesses to the technical meaning of the terms (left in the original Greek) with reference to the state of widows and widowers: “Why does a priest, who must be a monogamist (‘monogamia’), urge a widow to marry again (‘digamos’)?” (Letter 52, 16).

https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/library/divorce-and-remarriage-in-the-early-church-1819

Other reasons he may not have re-married:

1. He was 54 by the time of the execution of Crispus, any subsequent heirs could not be safeguarded by Constantine, who would be an advanced age as his son grew up. This would also present a difficult political situation for Constantine's other sons when he finally came of age.

2. He had three heirs already. Having seen the drama that successions could cause he decided not to add any fuel to that somewhat inevitable fire. This idea is further supported by the speculation that the whole Crispus and Fausta debacle was based on dynastic politics. The theory goes that both Crispus and Fausta were nervous about their position in the Imperial succession. Fausta was worried that a Crispus Augustus would rid himself of Fausta and her sons who were also heirs, and Crispus was concerned about a coup from the Faustan side of the dynasty.

What follows from this is that either Fausta falsely accused Crispus of something or another, or the two plotted to oust Constantine and (literally) marry their imperial ambitions, hence the talk of affairs. Whether any of this is true, it's impossible to say. But, if there is any truth to it, it would certainly be understandable why Constantine did not want to add another branch to his dynasty.

 

My favourite historian for Constantine is Timothy Barnes. Barnes seems to appreciate how much of a political genius Constantine was, and like Potter, also abstains from moralizing.

Edited by Steppenfool
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3 hours ago, Steppenfool said:

Perhaps! Although I don't think the re-marriage policy was as clear cut as you imply.

In his A Plea for the Christians (c. 177), Athenagoras showed that the typical resistance to remarriage was based on the church's understanding of Jesus' teaching on the matter. "Second marriage is only a specious adultery," he declared. "'For whosoever puts away his wife,' says He [meaning Jesus], 'and marries another, commits adultery."[3] Indeed, the marriage bond for many of the Ante-Nicene Fathers was so indissoluble that it continued beyond the grave. A virtually eternal relationship was established between the spouses, living or dead.

https://theologicalstudies.org.uk/article_divorce_snuth.html

There are numerous texts that testify to the use of the term “digamos” or “monogamos” to indicate the state of widows or widowers in relation to a second marriage. An example, closer to the 5th century, from the letters of St. Jerome witnesses to the technical meaning of the terms (left in the original Greek) with reference to the state of widows and widowers: “Why does a priest, who must be a monogamist (‘monogamia’), urge a widow to marry again (‘digamos’)?” (Letter 52, 16).

https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/library/divorce-and-remarriage-in-the-early-church-1819

Other reasons he may not have re-married:

1. He was 54 by the time of the execution of Crispus, any subsequent heirs could not be safeguarded by Constantine, who would be an advanced age as his son grew up. This would also present a difficult political situation for Constantine's other sons when he finally came of age.

2. He had three heirs already. Having seen the drama that successions could cause he decided not to add any fuel to that somewhat inevitable fire. This idea is further supported by the speculation that the whole Crispus and Fausta debacle was based on dynastic politics. The theory goes that both Crispus and Fausta were nervous about their position in the Imperial succession. Fausta was worried that a Crispus Augustus would rid himself of Fausta and her sons who were also heirs, and Crispus was concerned about a coup from the Faustan side of the dynasty.

What follows from this is that either Fausta falsely accused Crispus of something or another, or the two plotted to oust Constantine and (literally) marry their imperial ambitions, hence the talk of affairs. Whether any of this is true, it's impossible to say. But, if there is any truth to it, it would certainly be understandable why Constantine did not want to add another branch to his dynasty.

 

My favourite historian for Constantine is Timothy Barnes. Barnes seems to appreciate how much of a political genius Constantine was, and also abstains from moralizing like Potter.

You make great points. I can't say I disagree!

I will have to take a look at Timothy Barnes. Right now, I have a military biography of Constantine waiting for me to read - A Military Life of Constantine the Great by Ian Hughes.

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