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Roman imperial dynasties
Antonine Dynasty
Faustina Major
Bust of Faustina Major in the Altes Museum (Berlin).
Antoninus Pius
   Natural - Faustina the Younger, also one other daughter and two sons, all died before 138
   Adoptive - Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus
Marcus Aurelius with Lucius Verus
Marcus Aurelius alone
   Natural - 13, including Commodus and Lucilla

Annia Galeria Faustina, more familiarly referred to as Faustina I (Latin: Faustina Major;[1] born on September 21 around 100 CE; died in October or November of 140 CE[2][3]), was a Roman empress and wife of the Roman emperor Antoninus Pius. She died early in the principate of Antoninus Pius, but continued to be prominently commmemorated as a diva, posthumously playing a prominent symbolic role in Antoninus Pius' régime.[4]

Early life[edit]

Faustina was the only known daughter of consul and prefect Marcus Annius Verus and Rupilia Faustina.[5] Her brothers were consul Marcus Annius Libo and praetor Marcus Annius Verus. Her maternal aunts were Roman Empress Vibia Sabina and Matidia Minor. Her paternal grandfather was named Marcus Annius Verus, like her father, while her maternal grandparents were Salonia Matidia (niece of Roman Emperor Trajan) and suffect consul Lucius Scribonius Libo Rupilius Frugi Bonus. Faustina was born and raised in Rome.

As a private citizen, she married Antoninus Pius between 110 and 115 CE. Faustina and Antoninus had a very happy marriage. Faustina bore Antoninus four children, two sons and two daughters.[6] These were:

  • Marcus Aurelius Fulvius Antoninus (died before 138); his sepulchral inscription has been found at the Mausoleum of Hadrian in Rome.[5][7]
  • Marcus Galerius Aurelius Antoninus (died before 138); his sepulchral inscription has been found at the Mausoleum of Hadrian in Rome.[5][7] He is commemorated by a high-quality series of bronze coins, possibly struck at Rome, though their language is Greek.[8]
  • Aurelia Fadilla (died in 135); she married Aelius Lamia Silvanus or Syllanus. She appears to have had no children with her husband and her sepulchral inscription has been found in Italy.[5][7]
  • Annia Galeria Faustina Minor or Faustina the Younger (between 125-130 to 175), a future Roman Empress; she married her maternal cousin, future Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. She was the only child who survived to see Antoninus and Faustina elevated to the imperial rank.[5][7]


Bust of Faustina in the Musei Capitolini (side view; note the distinctive hairstyle)

On July 10, 138, her uncle, the emperor Hadrian, died and her husband became the new emperor, as Antoninus was Hadrian's adopted son and heir. Faustina became Roman Empress and the Senate accorded her the title of Augusta.[5] As empress, Faustina was well respected and was renowned for her beauty and wisdom. The Historia Augusta criticized her as having "excessive frankness" and "levity".[9] Throughout her life, as a private citizen and as empress, Faustina was involved in assisting charities for the poor and sponsoring and assisting in the education of Roman children, particularly girls.[citation needed] A letter between Fronto and Antoninus Pius[10] has sometimes been taken as an index of the latter's devotion to her, although the "dear Faustina" referred to may instead have been Pius' daughter.[11]

Faustina's personal style was evidently much admired and emulated. Her distinctive hairstyle, consisting of braids pulled back in a bun behind or on top of her head, was imitated for two or three generations in the Roman world.[12]

Several provincial groups chose to honour her while she was empress: a company of couriers in Ephesus named themselves after her,[13] while a company of clapper-players in Puteoli dedicated an altar to her in her own lifetime.[14]

Death and legacy[edit]

Statue of Faustina the Elder at Herodes Atticus' nymphaeum at Olympia.

Faustina died near Rome in 140, perhaps at Antoninus Pius' estate at Lorium.[15] Antoninus was devastated at Faustina's death and took several steps to honor her memory. He had the Senate deify her (her apotheosis was portrayed on an honorary column) and dedicate the Temple of Faustina to her in the Roman Forum.[5] The Senate authorized gold and silver statues of her, including an image to appear in the circus[16] where it might be displayed in a carpentum (a kind of covered waggon) or currus elephantorum (a cart drawn by elephants).[17] He also ordered various coins with her portrait struck, inscribed DIVA FAVSTINA ("Divine Faustina") and elaborately decorated. Antoninus also established a charity called Puellae Faustinianae ("Girls of Faustina") to assist orphaned Roman girls and created a new alimenta (see Grain supply to the city of Rome).[18] Her remains were interred in the Mausoleum of Hadrian.[19][20] Certain cities struck coin issues in honour of the "divine Faustina" (Ancient Greek: ΘΕΑ ΦΑΥϹΤΕΙΝΑ);[21] the most notable such cities were Delphi, Alexandria, Bostra, and Nicopolis.[22] Martin Beckmann suggests that the coins of Nicopolis might have been minted at Rome and given out as imperial largesse at the Actian Games.[23] The coins issued in the wake of Faustina's funeral illustrate her elaborate funeral pyre, which may have influenced the design of later private mausolea;[24] the deities Pietas and Aeternitas, among others;[25] and an eagle (or less often a winged genius) bearing a figure aloft, with the legend CONSECRATIO (i.e. Faustina's ascension into heaven).[26] Coins of Faustina were sometimes incorporated into jewellery and worn as amulets.[27]

The posthumous cult of Faustina was exceptionally widespread, and Faustina's image continued to be omnipresent throughout Antoninus Pius' principate.[28] A colossal marble head, believed to be that of Faustina and discovered in 2008,[29] figured as one of several monumental imperial statues at the ancient site of Sagalassos in today's Turkey. In Olympia, Herodes Atticus dedicated a nymphaeum that displayed statues of Faustina and other Antonines as well as his own ancestors.[30] Faustina also appears on the Parthian Monument at Ephesus commemorating members of the imperial family.[31] Bergmann and Watson have characterized the commemoration of Faustina as central to Antoninus Pius' political persona.[4][30] One larger-than-life statue has been discovered in situ near the Termini railway station at Rome; it appears to depict Faustina as Concordia, with a patera and cornucopia, and would have been displayed alongside statues of Diana Lucifera and Apollo-Sol in baths privately owned but available to the public.[32]

A denarius struck in honour of Faustina Major, depicting her temple with the abbreviated legend AED DIV FAVSTINAE (‘temple of the divine Faustina’)
Depiction of Pius and Faustina being borne aloft on the back of a winged figure. From the base of the Column of Antoninus Pius.

Antoninus and Faustina were officially held up as such exemplars of conjugal harmony that newlyweds were directed to pray at an altar of Antoninus and Faustina that they might live up to their example.[33] This was evidently the case in Ostia,[34] and probably so in Rome.[35]

The Temple of Faustina is thought to have been dedicated in 144 CE.[36] It is a grand[37] hexastyle structure[38] with Corinthian columns,[39] possibly designed originally to be a temple of Ceres.[40] Depictions on coins appear to show a cult image of Faustina seated on a throne and holding a tall staff in her left hand.[41] Faustina's portrait on coins from this period is often crowned as well as veiled, which may also recall a feature of Faustina's cult image from the temple.[42]

The deified Faustina was associated particularly closely with Ceres, who featured prominently on coins of Faustina; for some years, the torch-bearing Ceres was the dominant motif in her gold coinage.[43] Herodes Atticus venerated Faustina as the “new Demeter” (the Greek equivalent of Ceres) at a private sanctuary he established outside Rome.[44] In addition to Ceres, Vesta and Juno feature prominently in Faustina's coinage.[45] She was also associated with Magna Mater and at Cyrene with Isis; at Sardis she was worshipped conjointly with Artemis.[44]

Ten years after Faustina's death, a new commemorative coinage was introduced, featuring the legend Aeternitas ('eternity'); such coins may have been introduced to be distributed at a public ceremony in her memory.[46]

After Antoninus Pius' death, his adoptive sons and successors Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus erected the Column of Antoninus Pius, which dramatically depicted Antoninus and Faustina being elevated heavenward together on the back of a winged figure.[47]

Faustina continued to be commemorated in certain Renaissance depictions as a “model wife”.[48]

Nerva–Antonine family tree[edit]


  1. ^ An inscription from Liguria (CIL V, 07617) refers to her (in the genitive) as DIVAE FAVSTINAE MAIORIS.
  2. ^ Birley, Anthony. Marcus Aurelius, Routledge, p. 243. Routledge, 2000. ISBN 0-415-17125-3
  3. ^ According to S. Vidman's interpretation of the Fasti Ostienses (1982, p. 122; cited by Beckmann (2012), p. 22), Faustina died sometime in the range 21-23 October, while her funeral occurred sometime between 6 and 12 November. See Beckmann (2012), p. 22.
  4. ^ a b Bergmann & Watson (1999), p. 6: “Antoninus’s ideological program was based upon his pietas (loyalty to family, state, and the gods) and the most concerted expression of Antoninus’s piety was Faustina’s consecration.”
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "Faustina I". Livius.org. Retrieved 2015-09-21. 
  6. ^ K.L.M. (1996). "Draped bust of Faustina the Elder (aureus of Antoninus Pius)". Bearers of Meaning: The Ottilia Buerger Collection of Ancient and Byzantine Coins at Lawrence University. Retrieved 2015-09-21. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Faustina Senior". FORVM ANCIENT COINS. Retrieved 2015-09-21. 
  8. ^ Beckmann (2015), p. 83. His name appears as ΓΑΛΕΡΙΟϹ ΑΝΤⲰΝΙΝΟϹ (Galerios Antôninos) on these coins.
  9. ^ The Historia Augusta’s reliability as a historical source is considered to be patchy; see the caveats in, for example The Cambridge History of Classical Literature: Volume 2, Latin Literature, Part 5, The Later Principate, E. J. Kenney, Wendell Vernon Clausen, pp. 43, 45, Cambridge University Press, 1983, ISBN 0521273714; or at Jona Lendering. "Historia Augusta". Retrieved 2015-09-21. 
  10. ^ Antoninus Pius declares that he would rather live in exile on the island of Gyaros with Faustina than on the Palatine Hill without her. Fronto ad Antoninum Pium 2.2.
  11. ^ Levick (2014), pp. 60-61.
  12. ^ Bergmann & Watson (1999), pp. 10, 16.
  13. ^ Levick (2014), p. 122.
  14. ^ Levick (2014), p. 122. The inscription in question is CIL X, 1643.
  15. ^ Beckmann (2012), p. 22.
  16. ^ HA Pius 6.7.
  17. ^ Beckmann (2012), pp. 32-33.
  18. ^ Richard D. Weigel. "Antoninus Pius". De Imperatoribus Romanis: An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors. Retrieved 2015-09-21. 
  19. ^ James Grout (n.d.). "Mausoleum of Hadrian". Encyclopædia Romana. Retrieved 2015-11-12. 
  20. ^ Paul von Rohden (1894). "Annius 120". Realencyclopädie der Classischen Altertumswissenschaft. 
  21. ^ "Faustina I (138–141, and later deification coins)". Roman Provincial Coinage Online. 2015. Retrieved 2015-09-21. 
  22. ^ Beckmann (2012), p. 75. The spelling ΦΑΥΣΤΙΝΑ was used in Alexandria, ΦΑΥΣΤΕΙΝΑ elsewhere in the East; both spellings could be found in Delphi.
  23. ^ Beckmann (2012), p. 81.
  24. ^ Beckmann (2012), pp. 23-27.
  25. ^ Beckmann (2012) considers that Pietas and Aeternitas are evocative of "the 'spiritual side' of Faustina's divinisation" (p. 19).
  26. ^ Beckmann (2012), pp. 23, 28-30.
  27. ^ Bergmann & Watson (1999), pp. 17-18.
  28. ^ Bergmann & Watson (1999), p. 6.
  29. ^ "Head of Roman empress unearthed". BBC News. 2008-08-14. Retrieved 2015-09-24. 
  30. ^ a b Bergmann & Watson (1999), p. 11.
  31. ^ Beckmann (2012), p. 91.
  32. ^ Beckmann (2012), pp. 85-86. The statue is now on display in the Musei Capitolini.
  33. ^ Freisenbruch (2010), p. 209.
  34. ^ Thus Beckmann (2012), pp. 36-37, arguing from the evidence of an inscription from Ostia (CIL XIV, 5326).
  35. ^ Beckmann (2012), p. 37, suggests that Cassius Dio (Roman History 72.31.1) may have been mistaken in stating that such a practice in Rome at the temple precinct of Venus and Dea Roma concerned an altar of Marcus Aurelius and Faustina the Younger rather than one of Antoninus Pius and Faustina the Elder.
  36. ^ Beckmann (2012), p. 19.
  37. ^ Levick (2014), pp. 123-124.
  38. ^ Beckmann (2012), p. 44.
  39. ^ Beckmann (2012), p. 46.
  40. ^ Beckmann (2012), p. 48.
  41. ^ Beckmann (2012), p. 67.
  42. ^ Beckmann (2012), p. 50.
  43. ^ Beckmann (2012), p. 62.
  44. ^ a b Bergmann & Watson (1999), p. 14.
  45. ^ Beckmann (2012), p. 71.
  46. ^ Beckmann (2012), pp. 63-64.
  47. ^ Freisenbruch (2010), p. 210.
  48. ^ Bergmann & Watson (1999), pp. 12-13.


  • Beckmann, Martin (2012). Diva Faustina: coinage and cult in Rome and the provinces. New York: American Numismatic Society. 
  • Bergmann, Bettina; Watson, Wendy M. (1999). The Moon and the Stars: Afterlife of a Roman Empress. South Hadley, Massachusetts: Mount Holyoke College Art Museum. 
  • Freisenbruch, Annelise (2010). The First Ladies of Rome: The Women Behind the Caesars. London: Jonathan Cape. 
  • Levick, Barbara (2014). Faustina I and II: Imperial Women of the Golden Age. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-537941-9. 
  • Lendering, Jona (2015) [2007]. "Faustina I". Livius.org. Retrieved 2015-09-21. 
  • Weigel, Richard D. (1998). "Antoninus Pius". De Imperatoribus Romanis: An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors. Retrieved 2015-09-21. 
Royal titles
Preceded by
Roman empress
Succeeded by
Faustina Minor

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6 news items

The Sofia Globe

The Sofia Globe
Fri, 04 Sep 2015 09:03:19 -0700

In addition to coins bearing the visage of various emperors, the treasure included coins with imagery of some of the notable women of that dynasty – Faustina the Elder and Faustina the Younger, Bruttia Crispina and Lucilla. The clay pot itself bore the ...

BBC News

BBC News
Tue, 12 Aug 2008 00:00:00 -0700

It was discovered in a rubble-filled building where parts of a huge statue of the emperor Hadrian were unearthed last year. The discovery, at the ancient site of Sagalassos, is thought to show Faustina the Elder, wife of Roman emperor Antoninus Pius.


Fri, 06 Jun 2014 09:30:29 -0700

Strong, intelligent, and long-lived – yet surprisingly gentle – elephants have long exerted a powerful hold over the human imagination. Prehistoric cave paintings depict elephants and their extinct cousins, the wooly mammoth and mastodon. Ivory from ...


Tue, 26 Aug 2008 10:59:44 -0700

Earlier this month, the researchers found a huge head and arm belonging to Faustina the Elder - wife of the emperor Antoninus Pius. Early on 20 August, a huge pair of marble lower legs, broken just above the knee, turned up in the debris. They also ...

Daily Mail

Daily Mail
Tue, 26 Aug 2008 00:00:00 -0700

Archaeologists have been excavating the frigidarium for 12 years and enormous sculptures of Hadrian, his wife Vibia Sabina, emperor Antoninus Pius, his wife Faustina the Elder and Marcus Aurelius are all thought to have adorned the 13,500sq ft room.


Tue, 01 Nov 2011 22:35:53 -0700

安东尼乌斯和福斯蒂娜神庙(Temple of Antoninus and Faustina)是安东尼乌斯。派厄斯皇帝在公元141年为纪念他已故的妻子福斯蒂娜(Faustina the Elder)而修建的。后被改建为教堂,因其前面的石柱建得太结实无法拆除 ...

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