Roman Empire, Faustina Junior - The Monogamous Dove

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Struck under her father Antoninus Pius, this magnificent aureus commemorates the April AD 145 marriage of Annia Galeria Faustina Junior to her maternal cousin Marcus Aurelius. The marriage was arranged by her father Antoninus at the time of his adoption and nomination as successor by Hadrian. Faustina had previously been engaged to Lucius Verus, whose father had been Hadrian’s designated heir until the time of his death. At the time of the engagement Antoninus also formally adopted Aurelius. Since Aurelius was therefore legally Antoninus Pius' son, under Roman law he was marrying his sister; Antoninus would thus have had to formally release Faustina from his paternal authority for the ceremony to take place. Little is specifically known of the ceremony, but the Historia Augusta claims it to have been noteworthy.

The reverse type featuring the dove and the legend CONCORDIA relate directly to the invocation of the goddess for a harmonious and stable marriage, while the dove is known to be monogamous throughout its lifetime.

Faustina accompanied Aurelius on various military campaigns, which perhaps gave rise to the vicious rumours and negative views that Roman sources generally give of her character. The Historia Augusta alleges that she consorted with soldiers, gladiators and men of rank, and that she was perhaps behind the revolt of Avidius Cassius against her husband in 175. However, she was held in high esteem by her husband and was given divine honours after her death.­

Faustina Junior AV Aureus. Rome, circa AD 145. Struck under Antoninus Pius. FAVSTINA AVG PII AVG FIL, draped bust left, wearing hair fastened in bun at back of head / CONCORDIA, dove standing to right. RIC III 503b (Pius); Strack 507; Calicó 2044c (same dies); Biaggi 922 (same obv. die); BMCRE 1090. 7.32g, 20mm, 4h.

Near Mint State; very minor marks, light brush mark on left obv. field. Rare.