Jump to content

Faustina Friday –Ceres Standing, Holding Long Torch and Lifting Up Fold of Stola

Recommended Posts


Friday felicitations, fellow Faustina fanatics! I hope you have a wonderful, coin-filled weekend ahead. Today's installment will feature a reverse type of Faustina the Elder that only appears in the denarius denomination. It bears the reverse inscription AVGVSTA and depicts a veiled Ceres, standing facing, head left, holding a long torch in her right hand and lifting the hem of her stola with the left hand.

The reverse type appears paired with either a bare-headed or veiled bust of the empress. The bare-headed bust type is common, whereas the veiled bust variety is quite rare. The Reka Devnia hoard, for example, contained 309 specimens of the bare-headed variety, but only two specimens of the veiled bust variety. The bare-headed version of this coin was the first coin of Faustina the Elder I ever acquired for my collection, some 35 years ago. It wasn't until last year, however, that I was able to acquire the variety with the veiled bust.


Faustina I, 138-140 CE.
Roman AR denarius, 3.17 g, 18.2 mm, 5 h.
Rome, 145-147 CE.
Obv: DIVA FAVSTINA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
Rev: AVGVSTA, Ceres standing facing, head left, holding long torch and lifting up fold of skirt.
Refs: RIC 362; BMCRE 421-427; Cohen 104; Strack 468; RCV 4584; CRE 85.


Faustina I, 138-140 CE.
Roman AR denarius, 3.07 g, 16.5 mm, 6 h.
Rome, 145-147 CE.
Obv: DIVA FAVSTINA, veiled and draped bust, right.
Rev: AVGVSTA, Ceres standing facing, head left, holding long torch and lifting up fold of skirt.
Refs: RIC –; BMCRE 421n.; Cohen –; Strack 468; RSC 104a; RCV –; CRE –.
Notes: Rare. Known specimens: Strack cites specimens in Berlin, Vienna, and Sofia (the two from Reka Devnia); see also
Wildwinds (Sphinx Numismatics); Naumann Auction 75, lot 647, 3 March 2019; Peus 426, lot 269, 16 June 2020. This coin and all specimens illustrated online were struck with the same obverse die.

Dating the Issue

Martin Beckmann's Diva Faustina: Coinage and Cult in Rome and the Provinces, has greatly clarified the dating and arrangement of the Diva Faustina coinage. Beckmann identified an almost complete sequence of die-linkages for the aurei, supported by additional shorter, but corroborative, die-linkages among the sestertii. In addition, he discovered several mules with reverse die-linkages to dated coins of Antoninus or Aurelius Caesar, which connected certain issues to other dated events. These studies enabled Beckman to produce a comprehensive and reliable sequence of relative dating.

You'll note the denarii of this type bear the obverse legend DIVA FAVSTINA. Beckmann's die studies demonstrate that the obverse inscription on the coinage of Diva Faustina changed from DIVA AVG[VSTA] FAVSTINA to DIVA FAVSTINA immediately after the marriage of Faustina II to Marcus Aurelius in AD 145, moving Faustina I's title of AVGVSTA to the reverse of her coins.[1] The coinage of the period following the imperial wedding is dominated by the figure of Ceres holding a torch and scepter on the aurei and grain ears and torch or scepter on the silver and bronze coinage.

There are a disproportionate number of coins depicting Ceres that were issued for Faustina and this is not coincidental. Andreas Alföldi argues that the connection between the empress and Ceres goes beyond mere concern over the grain supply or her devotion to the goddess.[2] It is more personal; Antoninus Pius was devoted to the sanctuary at Eleusis,[3] which had a temple where Faustina was worshiped as the new Demeter (Ceres) and had her own hierophant.[4]

There were several types issued for the empress bearing the AVGVSTA reverse legend and depicting Ceres holding a single torch or scepter. These
single-torch or single-scepter types are securely dated to AD 145-150,[5] but it appears these coins were produced before the Ceres type with two torches was introduced in December AD 147 with the birth of Faustina the Younger's first child.[6] I therefore date the Ceres standing, holding long torch and lifting up fold of stola type to AD 145-147, though I acknowledge that it is not possible to securely date this denarius because it falls outside of the purview of Beckmann's die-linkage study of the aurei and sestertii of the empress.

Do you have any coins of this issue? Let's see them! As always, post comments, coins, and anything you feel is relevant!



1. Beckmann, Martin. Diva Faustina: Coinage and Cult in Rome and the Provinces. American Numismatic Society, 2012, p. 55.

2. Alföldi, Andreas. "Redeunt Saturnia Regna. VII : Frugifer-Triptolemos Im Ptolemaïsch -Römischen Herrscherkult." Chiron, vol. 9, 1979, pp. 552–606, specifically pp. 586-589.

3. Eleusis, in the outskirts of Athens, of Eleusian mysteries fame. These mysteries involved elaborate rituals devoted to the worship of Demeter (Ceres).

4. Mylonas, George E. Eleusis and the Eleusian Mysteries. Princeton University Press, 1961, pp 155, 179.

5. Beckmann, op. cit., pp. 51 ff.

6. Dinsdale, Paul H. Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius Caesar AD 138-161; Second Revised Edition. Leeds, Paul H Dinsdale, 2021, p. 232. See also Beckmann, op. cit., p. 59.

  • Like 9
  • Clap 3
  • Heart Eyes 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great write up and coins as always, my man!

I am really enjoying Mary Beard's new book, but man did she do Faustina I dirty...by talking about how everyone talked about her doing the dirty!

My best Faustina I is with the Aeternitas reverse:


Diva Faustina I AR Denarius. Struck under Antoninus Pius, Rome, AD 141. DIVA FAVSTINA, draped bust left / AETERNITAS, Juno standing left, raising right hand and holding sceptre. Reference:RIC 344 Very Fine, 2,8 gr, 17 mm Purchased from NBS Aug 2021 

  • Like 10
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Happy Faustina Friday!

Interesting and helpful post -- especially in combination with the linked CT post from early 2022.

No veiled specimens yet (congratulations on that find!) But below are two of mine that are relevant, both with the obv/rev titles DIVA FAVSTINA / AVGVSTA.
- Denarius, RIC 362. As your first, I think. (Old photo, but pretty sure I still have that one.)
- Sestertius, RIC 1117. Ceres standing with grain ears and short torch. (Newer one, in a CNG group lot of previously unsold coins.)

Assuming I'm reading these posts correctly, I've changed the dating in my notes for both to: "prob. 145-147 (145-150, securely, based on Beckman)."

(Incidentally -- wow, just noticed that most of those "Five Good Emperors" [except Nerva] had quite long reigns. Marcus Aurelius as Caesar under Antoninus Pius for like twenty years, then another 20 as Augustus! Given such long stretches of time, it's nice to be able to put these coins into a relatively narrow range.)



Diva Faustina I Æ Sestertius (32.5mm, 25.50 g, 11h), struck in Rome, c. 145-147 (securely, 145-50).
Obv: DIVA FAVSTINA. Draped bust right, wearing tutulus of pearls.
Rev: Ceres standing left, holding two grain ears and short torch.
Ref: RIC III 1117 (Ant. Pius); Banti 33.
Prov: WRG Collection, CNG.
Notes: Dating per Beckmann, following marriage of Faustina II & Marcus Aurelius, Caesar, as reported by Roman Collector: NF (19 Jan 24) 5782-f & CT (25 Feb 22) 393534.
Any further information re: WRG (beyond coll. at CNG e-auctions from 2018-)?

Edited by Curtis JJ
  • Like 11
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another great Faustina Friday supplement. Fantastic reading and great coins. I have a different Faustina I denarius with Ceres reverse

Faustina Sr AR Denarius, RIC 361, RSC 101a, BMC 417, SEAR 4583. DIVA FAVSTINA, with elaborate hairstyle and draped bust right / AVGV-STA, Ceres standing left, long hair tied behind, raising right hand & holding long torch with left.
Rome mint, A.D. Date ?.  3,0 g - 15 mm


Edited by expat
  • Like 10
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...