DETAIL: This is a very handsome, fairly rare silver denarius produced in the city of Rome itself sometime between 145 and 161 A.D. It is in excellent condition, evidencing only moderate wear from circulation in ancient Rome, the legends and themes remaining fairly clear and distinct. It was well struck both front and back, well center, but the planchet (blank) though thick and heavy, was not quite large enough to capture all of the legend on both the obverse and reverse. Consequentially, though there is at least a portion of each letter showing in both front and reverse legends, many of the letters toward the top of both sides are several foreshortened, with as much as perhaps the top 80% of the uppermost letters missing, beyond the edge of the coin. Of course, all of Rome ancient coins were hand struck using dies and a hammer, so it is the rule, not the exception, to have portions of the legends and oftentimes even the themes themselves off the edge of the coin. This particular specimen is better than average, in at least a portion of all of the letters constituting the legends are extant, and of course, there's enough of the legend still readable on both sides of the coin to discern what the entire legend was intended to say.
The obverse of the coin depicts bust of the Empress Faustina "the Younger", daughter of Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius, wife of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (the elderly emperor of Hollywood's "Gladiator), mother of future Emperor Commodus (Aurelius's demented son and future emperor of "Gladiator" fame). As well as being Marcus Aurelius's wife, she was also a cousin on their maternal side, and eventually mother to eleven of Aurelius's children. Faustina is depicted draped, hair pined into a bun, with the legend "FAVSTINA AVG PII AVG FIL". "FAVSTINA" of course refers to the Empress's name, "Faustina". The Roman Latin "V" is the equivalent of an English "U". Likewise the following "AVG", an abbreviation for "AVGVSTA", translates to "Augusta". The term "Augusta" is the female version of "Augustus"; Latin for "majestic" (thus the honorific salutation "your majesty"). However the term "Augustus" in the common vernacular of the Roman Empire became synonymous with the Emperor (or Empress).
The first "Augustus" (and first man counted as a Roman Emperor) was Octavius, Julis Caesar's nephew and heir. Octavian was given the title of Augustus by the Senate in 27 B.C. Over the next forty years, Caesar Augustus literally set the standard by which subsequent Emperors would be recognized, accumulating various offices and powers and making his own name ("Augustus") identifiable with the consolidation of these powers under a single person. Although the name signified nothing in constitutional theory, it was recognized as representing all the powers that Caesar Augustus eventually accumulated. Caesar Augustus also set the standard by which Roman Emperors were named.
The three titles used by the majority of Roman Emperors; "Imperator", "Caesar", and "Augustus" were all used personally by Caesar Augustus (he officially styled himself "Imperator Caesar Augustus"). However of the name "Augustus" was unique to the Emperor himself (though the Emperor's mother or wife could bear the name "Augusta"). But others could and did bear the titles "Imperator" and "Caesar". Later usage saw the Emperor adding the additional titles "Pius Felix ("pious and blessed") and "Invictus" ("unconquered") in addition to the title "Augustus"). In this usage, by signifying the complete assumption of all Imperial powers, "Augustus" became roughly synonymous with "Emperor" in modern language. As the Roman Empire began splintering, Augustus came to be the title applied to the senior Emperor, while the title "Caesar" came to refer to his "junior" sub-Emperors.
That leaves us with the abbreviation "PII" and "FIL", short for "FILIA". Filia refers to the fact that Faustina was daughter of the Emperor, and the "PII" is short for "PIVS", or "pius". Take "PII" "AVG" and "FIL" together and a rough English translation is "daughter of Pius Augustus", or "daughter of the Pius Emperior. Pius? The title Pius was often times used in conjunction with "Pius Felix". Pius was a title used for Roman Emperors to mean that they were dutiful toward the pantheon of Roman deities, to the country (patriotic), and (perhaps) to their family. Felix meant quite simply fortunate, lucky, or blessed. In fact the Romans had several goddesses of good fortune including Felicitas and Fortuna, who were worshipped in various sanctuaries in Rome. Never hurts to have a leader who is both pious and lucky (blessed).
Faustina "the Younger", Annia Galeria Faustina Minor, was the daughter of Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius (A.D. 138-161) and his wife Faustina "the Elder". Faustina's father was one of the more noteworthy and laudable monarchs during the twilight of the Roman Empire. Antoninus Pius had been adopted by the great Roman Emperor Hadrian as the heir apparent, and the empire enjoyed an era of tranquility and prosperity during his reign, thanks to his patient, judicious, and impartial rule. The love that Antoninus Pius had for his wife, Faustina Senior is the stuff that legends are made of. Faustina died in 141 A.D., only three years into Antoninus Pius's reign. Rather than the ordinary (if even existent) commemorative issue or two, Antoninus continued striking commemorations of his wife for the remaining 20 years he was on the throne of Rome through 161 A.D., keeping alive in spirit if not the flesh, the memory of his dear departed wife. What a story!
Faustina "Junior" inherited this rich legacy and a loving, caring, and capable father in Emperor Antoninus Pius. Along with Antoninus, Hadrian had also before his death adopted Marcus Aelius Aurelius, making Aurelius the "adopted", albeit much younger brother of Antoninus. In 139 A.D. Antoninus elevated his adopted brother Aurelius to the rank of Caesar, and betrothed him to his daughter, Faustina Junior. Faustina and Marcus Aurelius (maternal cousins to one another) were married in A.D. 145. Faustina and Aurelis had their first child the following year, and Faustina was made Augusta. Faustina and Aurelius were a very close couple. They were blessed with an abundance of children (most historians agree there were eleven), amongst whom were the future Emperor Commodus (the wicked emperor of "Gladiator" fame) and the future empress Lucilla.
Aurelius did not become Emperor until the death of Antoninus Pius in A.D. 161. Marcus Aurelius was as his elder adopted brother, a careful, generous, and conscientious ruler and is most remembered for his devotion to philosophy and his literary work of art, "Meditations". It has been said of Marcus Aurelis that, "in the evening of Rome's greatness her ruler personified the virtues that had been Rome's glory". Faustina accompanied her husband during his numerous campaigns in the field, attempting to make a home out of an army camp. Though many sources claim she was not nearly so virtuous as her mother, nonetheless she was loved and revered by the Roman soldiers, who called her Matri Castrorum, or, "Mother of the Camp". However the years spent on military campaigns at the side of her husband took their toll, and Faustina died at the age of only forty-six in faraway Cappadocia in A. D. 176.
When she died, Marcus Aurelius grieved much for his wife. Faustina was buried in the Mausoleum of Hadrian in Rome, she was deified; her statue was placed in the Temple of Venus in Rome; a temple was dedicated to her in her honor. Aurelius opened charity schools for orphan girls called "Puellae Faustinianae" or "Girls of Faustina". As did Antoninus Pius before him for Faustina Senior, Marcus Aurelis commissioned an extensive series commemorating the life of his wife, Faustina Junior. Some of the most beautiful portraits of contemporary Roman women are those found on the coins of Faustina the Younger. Mercifully Marcus Aurelius only had four years in his own life upon the death of his beloved wife, and passed away on March 17, 180 A.D., at which time he was immediately deified.
The reverse of the coin portrays the goddess, and/or mythical personification of the "Roman" virtue of Concord, or Harmony (agreement, understanding, and marital harmony), along with the legend "CONCORDIA". This almost-deity was featured on the reverse of many Roman issues in the form of "Concordia", the equivalent to the ancient Greek's "Homonoia". A personification isn't really a deity or goddess, it is rather a symbol much like the Statue of Liberty symbolizes both America and the abstract concept of freedom and liberty. In Roman context, these are the values at the heart of the Via Romana - the Roman Way - and are thought to be those qualities which gave the Roman Republic the moral strength to conquer and civilize the world. Typically Concordia was portrayed holding a cornucopiae and scepter or "hasta pura".
A "hasta pura", a ceremonial lance (spear, pike) without an iron head, oftentimes with a knob at the end, the forerunner of the standard pilum issued to Roman soldiers. The hasta was derived by the Roman from the Etrurians, who called it a "corim". By the Sabines it was called a "quiris", their king called "coritos" as the spear was to them an attribute of royalty. The Hasta was the symbol not only of power, fortitude and valor, but also of majesty and even divinity. It is one of the insignia of the Gods, and of the Emperors and Augustae after their apotheosis, implying that they had become objects of worship. It is generally found in the hands of female divinities, as the war-spear is in those of warriors and heroes. It's name literally means "blameless spear", and it was sometimes awarded ceremoniously to soldiers who had saved another's life.
A cornucopiae of course is a "horn of plenty", a symbol of abundance generally a wicker container filled with fruits or vegetables. Used since at least the fifth century B.C., it seems to have originated in Greek mythology where Amalthea raised Zeus on the milk of a goat. In return Zeus gave her the goat's horn. It had the power to give to the person in possession of it whatever he or she wished for. This gave rise to the legend of the cornucopia. The original depictions were of the goat's horn filled with fruits and flowers. Greek and Roman deities would be depicted with the horn of plenty, which was especially associated with the Roman Goddess Fortuna (Greek Tyche). Occasionally Corcordia would be depicted with a stork (a bird known for its cordial behavior toward its parents), a dove, or rarely, a peacock.
Sometimes rather than a hasta pura Concordia might be shown holding out an olive branch or a flower. Another frequent substitution for the hasta pura was a depiction of Concordia holding a patera (a broad, flat, round dish used for drinking and ceremonially, for offering libations). Oftentimes Concordia would be depicted holding the patera over an altar, preparing to pour out an offering. Sometimes Concordia would be simply represented by two clasped hands representing concord and peace between contentious parties (the Senate and Caesar; rival armies or co-emperors). Occasionally the hands would be depicted each holding a winged cauduceus.
The cauduceus was in Greek Mythology originally an attribute of Hermes ("Mercury" to the Romans), messenger of the gods of Mount Olympus. The cauduceus was originally an enchanter's wand, a symbol of the power that produces wealth and prosperity, and also an emblem of the influence over the living and the dead. But even in early times it was regarded as a herald's staff and an emblem of peaceful intercourse. It consisted of three shoots, one of which formed the handle, the other two being intertwined at the top in a knot. The place of the latter two intertwined shoots was eventually taken by serpents and was an attribute of Asclepius, the Graeco-Roman God of Medicine.
Of course in this instance, Concordia is portrayed seated on a "curule" throne, holding in one outstretched hand a flower, and holding next to the throne in the other hand, a cornucopiae, which in turn rests atop a globe. In the Roman Republic, and later the Empire, the curule chair (or throne) was the chair upon which senior magistrates or promagistrates were entitled to sit, including dictators, masters of the horse, consuls, praetors, priests of Jupiter, and the curule aediles. In the latter Republic, Caesar the Dictator was entitled to sit upon a curule chair made of gold. The curule chair was traditionally made of ivory; with curved legs forming a wide X; it had no back, and low arms. The chair could be folded, and thus made easily transportable for magisterial and promagesterial commanders in the field. According to the (ancient) Roman Historian Livy the curule chair originated with the Etruscans, though there is evidence that before then it might have originated with Near East potentates.
The symbol of the globe (as a symbol of the world) on Roman coinage was first used in 11 A.D. on a denarius of Octavius Augustus. Known to the Romans as a "globus", it symbolized Rome's dominion over the world. It also symbolized eternity, or the eternal dominion of Rome, as a globe has no beginning or end. The globe eventually appeared on many coinage issues, to be found in the hand not only of emperors, but also of the deities Hercules, Jupitur, Sol, Eternitas, Felicitas, Fortuna, Providentia, the Genus Humanum, Indulgentia, Nobilitas, Perpetuitas, Securitas, Roma, Nike, and Virtus. A variation of the theme known as a "victriola" consisted of a small image of Victory ("Nike") standing upon a globe held by the emperor, signifying the emperor's dominion over the world, the fruit of successful wars. In the latter Roman Empire this evolved into the symbol of a cross atop a globe.
In later times Concordia would be sometimes portrayed in a military theme, as Concordia Militum. In such character she would oftentimes be depicted holding two standards. Many shrines were erected to Concordia during the Republic era, especially in celebration of the cessation of civil dissension. The earliest was a temple on the Forum Romanum dedicated by Camillus in 367 B.C. A second temple was erected on the Capitolium in 216 B.C. There were as well other temples to Concordia scattered throughout Rome.
The Goddess Concordia was also invoked together with Janus, Salus, and Pax at the family festival of the Caristia each March 30th, and by married woman along with Venus and Fortuna on the following day. During the Imperial period which followed, Concordia Augusta was worshipped as the protectress of harmony, especially of matrimonial agreement in the Emperor's household. In art (especially statuary), Concordia was generally depicted sitting, wearing a long cloak and holding onto a patera (a sacrificial bowl) and one or two cornucopiae. Sometimes, she is shown standing between two members of the Royal House shaking hands (this depiction of the emperor and empress is quite common). If you'd like to learn more about Concordia, there's a good article here.
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Your purchase includes, upon request, mounting of this coin in either pendant style "a" or "b" as shown here. Pendant style "a" is a clear, airtight acrylic capsule designed to afford your ancient coin maximum protection from both impact damage and degradation. It is the most "politically correct" mounting. Style "b" is a bezel wrap mount in either sterling silver or 14kt gold fill. Both pendant styles include a split ring for mounting your pendant onto a silver tone or gold tone chain, also included in the cost of your purchase. Upon request, there are also an almost infinite variety of other pendants which might well suit both you and your ancient coin pendant, and include both sterling silver and solid 14kt gold mountings, including those shown here. As well, upon request, we can also make available a huge variety of chains in lengths from 16 to 30 inches, in metals including sterling silver, 14kt gold fill, and solid 14kt gold. Please note, you must request and specify how you wish your coin mounted, as absent specific instructions to the contrary, the default shipment method is the unmounted coin.
HISTORY: Coins came into being during the seventh century B.C. in Lydia and Ionia, part of the Greek world, and were made from a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver. Each coin blank was heated and struck with a hammer between two engraved dies. Unlike modern coins, they were not uniformly round. Each coin was wonderfully unique. Coinage quickly spread to the island and city states of Western Greece. Alexander the Great (336-323 B.C.) then spread the concept of coinage throughout the lands he conquered. Ancient coins are archaeological treasures from the past. They were buried for safekeeping because of their value and have been slowly uncovered throughout modern history. Oftentimes soldiers the night before battle would bury their coins and jewelry, hoping and believing that they would live long enough to recover them, and to return to their family. Killed in battle, these little treasure hoards remain until today scattered throughout Western and Eastern Europe, even into the Levant and Persia.
As well, everyone from merchants to housewives found the safest place to keep their savings was buried in a pot, or in some other secretive location. If they met an unexpected end, the whereabouts of the merchants trade goods or the household's sugar jar money might never be known. Recently a commercial excavation for a new building foundation in London unearthed a Roman mosaic floor. When archaeologists removed the floor, they found 7,000 silver denarii secreted beneath the floor. Even the Roman mints buried their produce. There were over 300 mints in the Roman Empire striking coinage. Hoards of as many as 40,000 coins have been found in a single location near these ancient sites. Ancient coins reflect the artistic, political, religious, and economic themes of their times. The acquisition of ancient coins is a unique opportunity to collect art which has been appreciated throughout the centuries.
Coins of the Roman Empire most frequently depicted the Emperor on the front of the coins, and were issued in gold, silver, and bronze. The imperial family was also frequently depicted on the coinage, and, in some cases, coins depicted the progression of an emperor from boyhood through maturity. The reverse side of often served as an important means of political propaganda, frequently extolling the virtues of the emperor or commemorating his victories. Many public works and architectural achievements such as the Coliseum and the Circus Maximus were also depicted. Important political events such as alliances between cities were recorded on coinage. Many usurpers to the throne, otherwise unrecorded in history, are known only through their coins. Interestingly, a visually stunning portrayal of the decline of the Roman Empire is reflected in her coinage. The early Roman bronze coins were the size of a half-dollar. Within 100-150 years those had shrunk to the size of a nickel. And within another 100-150 years, to perhaps half the size of a dime.
One of the greatest civilizations of recorded history was the ancient Roman Empire. In exchange for a very modest amount of contemporary currency, you can possess a small part of that great civilization in the form of a 2,000 year old piece of jewelry. The Roman civilization, in relative terms the greatest military power in the history of the world, was founded in the 8th century (B.C.). In the 4th Century (B.C.) the Romans were the dominant power on the Italian Peninsula, having defeated the Etruscans and Celts. In the 3rd Century (B.C.) the Romans conquered Sicily, and in the following century defeated Carthage, and controlled the Greece. Throughout the remainder of the 2nd Century (B.C.) the Roman Empire continued its gradual conquest of the Hellenistic (Greek Colonial) World by conquering Syria and Macedonia; and finally came to control Egypt in the 1st Century (B.C.).
The pinnacle of Roman power was achieved in the 1st Century (A.D.) as Rome conquered much of Britain and Western Europe. For a brief time, the era of "Pax Romana", a time of peace and consolidation reigned. Civilian emperors were the rule, and the culture flourished with a great deal of liberty enjoyed by the average Roman Citizen. However within 200 years the Roman Empire was in a state of steady decay, attacked by Germans, Goths, and Persians. In the 4th Century (A.D.) the Roman Empire was split between East and West. The Great Emperor Constantine temporarily arrested the decay of the Empire, but within a hundred years after his death the Persians captured Mesopotamia, Vandals infiltrated Gaul and Spain, and the Goths even sacked Rome itself. Most historians date the end of the Western Roman Empire to 476 (A.D.) when Emperor Romulus Augustus was deposed. However the Eastern Roman Empire (The Byzantine Empire) survived until the fall of Constantinople in 1453 A.D.
At its peak, the Roman Empire stretched from Britain in the West, throughout most of Western, Central, and Eastern Europe, and into Asia Minor. Valuables such as coins and jewelry were commonly buried for safekeeping, and inevitably these ancient citizens would succumb to one of the many perils of the ancient world. Oftentimes the survivors of these individuals did not know where the valuables had been buried, and today, two thousand years later caches of coins and rings are still commonly uncovered throughout Europe and Asia Minor. Roman Soldiers oftentimes came to possess large quantities of "booty" from their plunderous conquests, and routinely buried their treasure for safekeeping before they went into battle. If they met their end in battle, most often the whereabouts of their treasure was likewise, unknown. Throughout history these treasures have been inadvertently discovered by farmers in their fields, uncovered by erosion, and the target of unsystematic searches by treasure seekers. With the introduction of metal detectors and other modern technologies to Eastern Europe in the past three or four decades, an amazing number of new finds are seeing the light of day 2,000 years or more after they were originally hidden by their past owners. And with the liberalization of post-Soviet Eastern Europe, new markets have opened eager to share in these treasures of the Roman Empire.
These antiquities come from a number of collections which by and large originated here in Eastern Europe. As well, additional specimens are occasionally acquired from other institutions and dealers, principally in Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. All of these artifacts are now in the United States and are available for immediate delivery via U.S. Mail. Proceeds of the sales benefit the Southern Urals State Student Association for Archaeological and Anthropological Studies in Russia; providing both postgraduate and undergraduate students with meaningful part-time employment, notebook computers, and both reference and study materials. It also supports other institutions and organizations within Russia involved in the study of anthropology and archaeology. All purchases are backed by an unlimited guarantee of satisfaction and authenticity. If for any reason you are not entirely satisfied with your purchase, you may return it for a complete and immediate refund of your entire purchase price.
SHIPPING: These antiquities come from a number of collections which by and large originated here in Eastern Europe. As well, additional specimens are occasionally acquired from other institutions and dealers, principally in Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. All of these artifacts are now in the United States and are available for immediate delivery via U.S. Mail. All purchases are backed by an unlimited guarantee of satisfaction and authenticity. If for any reason you are not entirely satisfied with your purchase, you may return it for a complete and immediate refund of your entire purchase price. A certificate of authenticity (COA) is available upon request.
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