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Faustina Friday – O Fortuna

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Friday felicitations, fellow Faustina Fanatics! I hope you have a coin-filled weekend despite losing an hour of coin collecting time. Today we're going to discuss a large set of coins issued to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Faustina the Elder, the AETERNITAS with Fortuna holding a globe and rudder issue. It was struck in all metals and with a variety of bust types. I will illustrate all the various varieties. The varieties not represented in my collection are illustrated with museum specimens or auction catalogs. In such cases, the sources of the illustrations are clearly cited.

The Dating and Purpose of the Issue

Thanks to the work of Martin Beckmann, we have been able to arrange the undated coinage of Faustina I in chronological order and, in many cases, assign a rough date of issue. Beckmann accomplished this by constructing a nearly complete sequence of die-linkages for the aurei, supported by additional shorter, but corroborative, die-linkages amongst the aurei and the sestertii. Moreover, by studying hybrids of dated coins of Antoninus Pius or Aurelius Caesar which bear Faustina's reverse types, and by studying the connections of issues to other dated events, he has been able to assign actual
not just relative dates to certain issues.

Faustina's coinage is divided into five main phases commencing with the deification and funeral of Faustina. The issue I discuss today belongs to the fifth and final of these, commencing in AD 150, for the tenth anniversary of Faustina's death and deification. Because the corresponding aureus is part of Beckmann's die-linkage study, we are on firm ground in assigning a date of AD 150 to this issue, for die-linkage establishes this one as the first of the many AETERNITAS issues commemorating the death anniversary of the empress.[1] Below is the relevant section of Beckmann's Aureus Series 2.[2]


Beckmann's die-linkage study documents the transition of Faustina the Elder's aureus reverse types from the Ceres holding two torches type with the legend AVGVSTA to a variety of issues bearing the reverse legend AETERNITAS and with imagery commemorating the tenth death anniversary celebrations. Importantly, it documents the pairing of an obverse die of Faustina the Elder with a reverse type of Faustina the Younger securely dated to 150-151 CE.[3,4]

In the aureus die chain illustrated above, the AVGVSTA and figure with two torches issue ends abruptly. The reverse legend changes from AVGVSTA to AETERNITAS. Then, centered around the astonishingly long-lived obverse die df5, are the appearance of several different reverse types: a currus elephantorum type, a temple type, and two similar Fortuna types, one where the goddess holds a patera and one where she holds a globe. Note that the elephant cart and temple designs were previously used shortly after the death of the empress in autumn 140 CE but with different reverse legends. The reprisal of these types suggests they were issued to mark the 10th anniversary of Faustina's death and deification. Such a significant anniversary would presumably have been accompanied by a major celebration in Rome, likely accompanied by a distribution of money, of which these coins may have been a part.[5] This strongly suggests a date of 150 CE for these reverse types. The date is conclusively demonstrated, however, by the discovery of a hybrid specimen bearing the obverse die of Faustina the Elder (df24) with a reverse die used only for Faustina the Younger (D1). This reverse die is securely dated to 150-151 CE.[3,4,6]


Unique hybrid aureus pairing an obverse die of Faustina I with a reverse die of Faustina II dated to 150-151 CE.[6]

The Identity of the Reverse Figure

Although this type bears the reverse legend of AETERNITAS, it likely does not depict a personification of Aeternitas.[7] Rather, it almost certainly depicts Fortuna holding a globe and rudder. Mattingly[8] rightfully clarifies that the coins of the large series of AETERNITAS reverse types issued for Faustina cannot be taken simply as the name of a goddess, Aeternitas. He explains:

It is ... difficult to define the character of the figures associated with the legend. They may be regarded as varying representations of the spirit of Aeternitas with emblems borrowed from the goddesses and virtues who inhabit her sphere; or, as so many goddesses, Juno, Fortuna, and the rest; or as Diva Faustina, bearing the attributes of such goddesses in Eternity. The third probably comes nearest to the exact quality of Roman thought but, in the text, we have thought it best to define the types as far as possible by their attributes – Juno by her sceptre and Fortuna by her rudder.

Paul Dinsdale concurs with Mattingly that the reverse figure is Fortuna. He has performed a study of the attributes of the various named deities on the coinage of Faustina the Elder and has been able to identify which attributes are primary and which are secondary to the various deities. This has allowed him to identify deities depicted on the non-descriptive reverse types which bear the legends AVGVSTA, CONSECRATIO, and AETERNITAS, and those with anepigraphic reverses. This systemic and scholarly approach has called into question the opinions of previous numismatists as to the identity of the figures on these coins.[7] Dinsdale notes that a rudder is a primary attribute of Fortuna, with the globe as a secondary attribute of the goddess.[9] I find Dinsdale's study convincing and have identified the reverse figure as Fortuna as well.

Fortuna, the Roman counterpart of the Greek goddess Tyche, was the goddess of fortune and the personification of luck in Roman religion. Fortuna was capricious and might bring either good or bad luck. She was a central figure in Roman life. The Roman people adopted the goddess into their tutelaries and consecrated nearly thirty temples to her in the different districts of the city.[10]

Get on with it! Let's see the coins!

Movie gif. Ted Knight as Judge Smails in Caddyshack stands in a crowd and screams at someone offscreen, punctuating every syllable with a lot of sass. Text, "Well, We're Waiting."

Coins of the AETERNITAS/Fortuna standing left, holding globe and rudder reverse type were issued in the aureus, denarius, sestertius, and middle bronze denominations. The coins appear with bare-headed, veiled, and veiled and stephaned portraits. Below are illustrated all known varieties of this reverse type.


Aureus of Faustina the Elder with a bare-headed and draped bust, right (RIC 348(a)). Roma Numismatics, Auction 18, lot 1168, 29 September 2019.


Aureus of Faustina the Elder with a veiled, draped, and stephaned bust, left (unlisted and one of only two known specimens). Roma Numismatics, Auction 23, lot 989, 24 March 2022.


Faustina Sr, 138-140 CE.
Roman AR denarius, 3.83 g, 18.2 mm.
Rome, 150 CE.
Obv: DIVA FAVSTINA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
Rev: AETERNITAS, Fortuna standing left, holding globe and rudder.
Refs: RIC 348(a); BMCRE 360-65; Cohen 6; Strack 451; RCV 4577; CRE 96.
Note: Overstruck on an earlier issue, probably a CONCORDIA seated type of Sabina.


Faustina Sr, 138-140 CE.
Roman AR denarius, 3.23 g, 18.6 mm, 6 h.
Rome, 150 CE.
Obv: DIVA FAVSTINA, veiled and draped bust, right.
Rev: AETERNITAS, Fortuna standing left, holding globe and rudder.
Refs: RIC 348(b); BMCRE 366-67; Cohen 7; Strack 451; RCV –; CRE 97.
Rivista Italiana di Numismatica vol. 2 (1889), p. 452, no. 92 (Gnecchi coll.) reports a variant with a veiled, draped, and stephaned bust. I have not been able to confirm the existence of this bust variety and I suspect the description of the coin is in error.


Sestertius of Faustina the Elder with a bare-headed and draped bust, right (RIC 1107(a)). British Museum collection, BMCRE 1498.


Faustina Sr, 138-140 CE.
Roman orichalcum sestertius, 24.12 g, 32.6 mm, 6 h.
Rome, 150 CE.
Obv: DIVA FAVSTINA, veiled and draped bust, right.
Rev: AETERNITAS S C, Fortuna, draped, standing left, holding globe on extended right hand and long rudder, vertical in left hand.
Refs: RIC 1107(b); BMCRE 1499-1500; Cohen 8; Strack 1267; RCV –.
Notes: Obverse die-match to
BMCRE 1499.


Sestertius of Faustina the Elder with a veiled, draped, and stephaned bust (RIC 1107(c)). British Museum collection, BMCRE 1500.


Copper as of Faustina the Elder with a bare-headed and draped bust, right (RIC 1160(a)). British Museum collection, BMCRE 1557.


Faustina Sr, 138-140 CE.
Roman orichalcum dupondius, 10.62 g, 28.1 mm, 7 h.
Rome, 150 CE.
veiled, draped, and stephaned bust, right.
Rev: AETER-NITAS S C, Fortuna standing left, holding globe and rudder.
Refs: RIC 1160(b); BMCRE4 1557n.; Cohen 9 (corr.); Strack 1267; RCV –.

Notes: This coin is an obverse die match to the specimen in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Cohen 9.[11] Cohen erroneously describes the bust type as a veiled bust with no mention of a stephane or diadem. Strack cites specimens with a simple veiled bust in Berlin, Paris, and Rome, but as I previously noted, the Paris specimen has a stephane as well. While I have not been able to locate photographs of the specimens in the Staatliches Münzkabinett in Berlin or the Museo Nazionale Romano cited by Strack, I have not found a single specimen after an exhaustive internet search of the various auction and collection databases. I cannot confirm the existence of a simple veiled bust variety of this reverse type but I suspect Strack simply propagated Cohen's error.

Appendix: Don't Confuse this Issue with the Earlier AETERNITAS and Providentia Type

In 140-141 CE, a series of coins issued in all metals was issued to commemorate the death and deification of Faustina the Elder that had a similar reverse type with which the later Fortuna type might be confused. Like the Fortuna coins under discussion, this earlier issue has the AETERNITAS reverse legend and a standing female figure holding a globe. However, these earlier coins bear the longer obverse inscriptions DIVA AVGVSTA FAVSTINA or DIVA AVG FAVSTINA. Moreover, the reverse figure on this earlier issue holds a scepter, not a rudder, identifying her as Providentia, not Fortuna. I have previously written in detail about these Providentia issues.

Post your coins of Fortuna or anything you feel is relevant!



1. Beckmann, Martin. Diva Faustina: Coinage and Cult in Rome and the Provinces. American Numismatic Society, 2012, pp. 63-64.

2. Ibid, Die Chart 2.

3. Beckmann, Martin. Faustina the Younger: Coinage, Portraits, and Public Image, A.N.S. Numismatic Studies 43, American Numismatic Society, New York, 2021, pp. 42-43. See also Beckmann, Diva Faustina, p. 64.

4. Fittschen also determined a date of 150-151 CE for Faustina II's CONCORDIA and dove issue. Fittschen, Klaus, "Die Bildnistypen der Faustina Minor und die Fecunditas Augustae," Abhandlungen der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Göttingen, Philologisch-historische Klasse, 3rd Series, no.126, Göttingen, 1982, pp. 39-40.

Grant, Michael. Roman Anniversary Issues: An Exploratory Study of the Numismatic and Medallic Commemoration of Anniversary Years 49 B.C.-A.D. 375. Cambridge University Press, 2015. Cited in Beckmann, Diva Faustina, op. cit., p. 64.

Beckmann, Martin, "Intra-Family Die Links in the Antonine Mint at Rome.The Numismatic Chronicle (1966-), vol. 169, 2009, pp. 205–11. See p. 207 for dating; pl. 31, nos. 5 and 6 for the illustration of the coins.

7. Cohen identifies the figure as "L'Éternité (ou la Fortune?)" (Aeternitas (or Fortuna?)), while Strack identifies her as a hybrid goddess, Aeternitas-Fortuna. Cohen, Henry. Description historique des monnaies frappées sous l'Empire Romain, Tome II: de Nerva à Antonin (96 à 161 après J.-C.). Paris, 1882, s.v. nos. 5-9, p. 414. Strack, Paul L., Untersuchungen zur Römischen Reichsprägung des Zweiten Jahrhunderts, vol. 3, Die Reichsprägung zur Zeit des Antoninus Pius. Stuttgart 1937, s.v. nos. 451 and 1267.

8. 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. lxii.

9. Dinsdale, Paul H. Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius Caesar AD 138-161; Second Revised Edition. Leeds, Paul H Dinsdale, 2021, p. 247.

10. Stevenson, Seth William, et al. A Dictionary of Roman Coins, Republican and Imperial. G. Bell and Sons, 1889, s.v. Fortuna, p. 394.

11. Gauthier-Dussart, Roxane, et al. "Entre Rome et Alexandrie: Le Monnayage d'antonin Le Pieux (138-161), Idéologie Du Règne et Adaptations Locales." l'Université de Montréal, 2017, p. 506 and pl. 103, no. 1737.

Edited by Roman Collector
Unhealthy perfectionism
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Posted · Supporter

For Fantastic Fun, Follow Faustina Friday Fastidiously.

Another great Faustina thread, I am running out of words to fully praise their content, layout and the time you have spent in bringing us such fantastic entertaiment.

Well done

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21 hours ago, expat said:

For Fantastic Fun, Follow Faustina Friday Fastidiously.

Another great Faustina thread, I am running out of words to fully praise their content, layout and the time you have spent in bringing us such fantastic entertaiment.

Well done

Thank you for the kind words! It's always nice to know my efforts are appreciated. 

11 hours ago, rasiel said:

Damn. Word has it that that veiled Faustina wants to come join the Suarez family. Could be just rumors though 😅

Rasiel (Suarez)

Isn't that aureus a thing of beauty?? 

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