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Faustina Friday – The CONSECRATIO and Eagle Issue of Faustina the Elder

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TV gif. In a scene from Big Zuu's Big Eats, an excited woman with curly hair proclaims to us: Text, "It's Friday, baby!"

Friday felicitations, fellow Faustina Fanatics! Today we're going to explore this early posthumous issue of Faustina the Elder, one of which is a new acquisition to my numophylacium. It's a scarce type, but the Faustina enthusiast shouldn’t have much trouble acquiring a specimen for their collection.

It comes in two bust varieties, bare-headed and veiled. The bare-headed variety is the scarcer of the two. I recently purchased one from a Spanish auction, but I'm still waiting for an export permit to be issued. Therefore, I use the dealer photo to illustrate it. 


Faustina I, 138-140 CE.
Roman AR denarius, 2.63 g, 18 mm, 6 h.
Rome, 140-141 CE.
Obv: DIVA AVG FAVSTINA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
Rev: CONSECRATIO, eagle standing right, head left.
Refs: RIC 387(a); BMCRE 303-304; Cohen 180; Strack 413; RCV 4595; CRE 94.
Notes: Reverse die match to
BMCRE 303.


Faustina I, 138-141 CE.
Roman AR denarius, 2.84 g, 17.9 mm, 6 h.
Rome, 140-141 CE.
Obv: DIVA AVG FAVSTINA, veiled and draped bust, right.
Rev: CONSECRATIO, Eagle standing right, head left.
Refs: RIC 387(b); BMCRE 305; Cohen 181;
Strack 413; RCV –; CRE 95.

The Fasti Ostienses for A.D. 140 records:

On October 23(?) Faustina Augusta died and on the same day was named diva by the Senate and a senatorial decree was made awarding her a state funeral. Games and circus-races were offered. [Some unknown number of days before] November 13 Faustina's state funeral was celebrated, gold and silver statues were set up(?), and a senatorial decree.[1]

Soon after, Antoninus Pius began issuing coinage in her honor, a practice he continued until the end of his reign. This coin was among the first. One important aspect of Roman religion, particularly for the imperial family, was the concept of consecration, the process by which a deceased person became a divine being and was transported to the divine realm to join the pantheon of gods. The eagle of Zeus or the peacock of Juno carried the departed to the heavens.

The inscription CONSECRATIO makes its first appearance in Roman numismatics on the coinage of Marciana, and thereafter became the standard employed for issues of the divae and divi for centuries. Interestingly, the earliest Roman consecration issues depict eagles, even for the women of the imperial family.


Marciana, Augusta, c. 105-112 CE, sister of Trajan.
Roman AR Denarius, 2.72 g, 19 mm.
Rome, 112 CE.
Obv: DIVA AVGVSTA MARCIANA, diademed and draped bust right.
Rev: CONSECRATIO, eagle standing left, head right.
Refs: RIC II 743 (Trajan); BMC 650 (Trajan); Hill 562; RSC 4; RCV 3328.

Coins of similar designs, depicting an eagle and bearing the reverse legend CONSECRATIO were also issued for Matidia (RIC 425-426), Sabina (RIC 420-421). It comes, therefore, as no surprise to see similar iconography on the coins issued for Diva Faustina. The eagle on the reverse is a "symbol of translation" to the heavenly sphere.[2] Do not confuse the CONSECRATIO types discussed here with the CONSECRATIO types of 150 CE to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the empress's death and consecration. These later types bear the DIVA FAVSTINA obverse inscription.[3]

The eagle reverse type was issued only in the denarius denomination and therefore falls outside the purview of Beckmann's die-linkage studies of the aurei and sestertii of Diva Faustina I. Nonetheless, Beckmann assigns this coin to the earliest issues for the deified empress:

The denarii, as explained in Chapter 1, are impossible to arrange by die study. But some progress can be made by observing characteristics common with the earliest aurei and sestertii. So to this earliest coinage of Diva Faustina can be added the denarius types showing a star with the legend AETERNITAS (a parallel to the standing figure/AETERNITAS on the gold and bronze) and the type with an eagle and the legend CONSECRATIO (paralleling the eagle and Faustina/CONSECRATIO issues of the bronze).[4]

The AETERNITAS and star issue to which Beckmann refers is illustrated below.


Faustina I, 138-140 CE.
Roman AR denarius, 3.47 g, 18 mm, 1 h.
Rome, 140-141 CE.
Obv: DIVA AVG FAVSTINA, veiled and draped bust, right.
Rev: AETERNITAS around eight-pointed star; dot below.
Refs: RIC 355(b); BMCRE 293-295; Cohen 63; Strack 421; RCV 4580; CRE 124.
Notes: Double die match to
BMCRE 294.

The standing figure to which Beckmann refers holds a globe and scepter and is typically identified as Providentia.[5]


Faustina I, 138-140 CE.
Roman AR denarius, 3.26 g, 17.7 mm, 1 h.
Rome, 140-141 CE.
Obv: DIVA AVG FAVSTINA, veiled and draped bust, right.
Rev: AETERNITAS, Providentia standing left, holding globe and scepter.
Refs: RIC 350a(b); BMCRE 291; RSC 34a; Strack 417; RCV –; CRE 120

Beckmann's die-linkage study of the aurei and sestertii of Diva Faustina identifies the AETERNITAS and Providentia type as among the very first issued after her death,[6] making a date of 140-141 CE almost certain. I have previously discussed this type in detail and will not recapitulate the evidence for its dating here.

The stylistic parallels in the busts between the CONSECRATIO/eagle type, the AETERNITAS/star type and the AETERNITAS/standing figure type are striking. Note the small size of the portrait relative to the flan, the ornaments sewn into the empress's hair in front of her chignon, and the tiny amount of drapery portrayed, without even the shoulders making an appearance on the portrait.

Do you have any of these early consecration issues for Diva Faustina? Let’s see them! Feel free to post comments, questions, or anything you feel is relevant!



1. Fasti Ostienses (tablet O, lines 11-15), quoted and transl. by Martin Beckmann. The texts are damaged and both dating formulas are corrupted; therefore, the precise days cannot be recovered. See Beckmann, Martin. Diva Faustina: Coinage and Cult in Rome and the Provinces. American Numismatic Society, 2012, p.22.

2. Mattingly, Harold, Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum, vol. IV: Antoninus Pius to Commodus. Introduction, indexes and plates. London, BMP, 1968, pp. lx.

3. Unfortunately, and confusingly, one of these later types (the Ceres raising hand and holding torch reverse type) anachronistically may bear the earlier DIVA AVG FAVSTINA legend. It is easily identified, however, by portrait style and the fact that it was also issued in parallel with the expected late DIVA FAVSTINA legend. I have previously discussed these late denarius types with early obverse legends.

4. Beckmann, Martin. Diva Faustina: Coinage and Cult in Rome and the Provinces. American Numismatic Society, 2012, p. 21.

5. So BMCRE, RIC, and CRE. On the other hand, Cohen identifies the figure as "Aeternitas or Providentia," whereas Strack and David Sear each identify the figure as Aeternitas. See: Mattingly, op. cit.; Mattingly, Harold and Edward A. Sydenham (RIC). The Roman Imperial Coinage. III, Spink, 1930; Temeryazev, S. A., and T. P. Makarenko (CRE). The Coinage of Roman Empresses. San Bernardino, CreateSpace, 2017; 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; Strack, Paul L., Untersuchungen zur Römischen Reichsprägung des Zweiten Jahrhunderts, vol. 3, Die Reichsprägung zur Zeit des Antoninus Pius. Stuttgart 1937; Sear, David R., Roman Coins and their Values, vol. 2, The Accession of Nerva to the Overthrow of the Severan Dynasty, A.D. 96 -A.D. 235. London, 2002

6. Beckmann, op. cit., Die Chart 1.

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Great article, as usually. 

My relevant coins:

RIC III Antoninus Pius 384a


17 mm, 2,56 g.
Diva Faustina I. Died 140-141. AR denarius. Rome.
DIVA FAVSTINA, bust of Faustina I, draped, right, hair elaborately waved in several loops round head and drawn up and coiled on top / CONSECRATIO, peacock, walking right, head turned back left.
RIC III Antoninus Pius 384a (denarius); RSC 175; BMC 473.

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Great post as always @Roman Collector.  Unfortunately I don't have one of those eagle types, but here is the early Providentia type.  Is it possible yours is a reverse die-match to mine?  I found some other die-matches (see below):


Faustina I  Denarius 1st Phase: Faustina’s funeral (c. 141 A.D.) Rome Mint DIVA AVG FAVSTINA, veiled, draped bust r. / AETERNITAS, Providentia standing left, holding globe and scepter. RIC III Antoninus Pius 350a(b); BMCRE 291; Cohen RSC 34a. (3.47 grams / 17 x 16 mm) eBay Jan. 2023 (Can.) $23.90 BO

Die-Match Characterstics: Obv: AVG - AV run together. Rev: Globe next to E, long arm.

 Die-Match Obv. & Rev.: Jesús Vico, S.A.; Subasta 157; Lot 359; 26.11.2020

Die-Match Reverse: American Numismatic Society Identifier: 1956.127.549 "Tell Kalak", Jordan, 1956

Here are what I think are some die-matches:


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Just now, Roman Collector said:

What a lovely specimen, @Marsyas Mike!!! And thank you for the kind words. I don't think the specimen second from the bottom is a die-match to your coin, though. The bottom one is, though -- both obverse and reverse, I think. 


Thanks for the compliment - that is quite a bit better than my typical denarius.  It was a lucky find.  

Yeah, my die-match sleuthing is still in the amateur stage.  With ancients, so much depends on the strike and die-wear that I get confused.  

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