Coins of Faustina II

Roman Empress (AD 161-175)

Annia Galeria Faustina Minor was born some time between AD 125 and 130. She was the daughter of emperor Antoninus Pius and empress Faustina the Elder, and grand-niece of the emperor Hadrian. She married her cousin (who was adopted by her father as a son), Marcus Aurelius, in AD 145. She acceded to the throne along with her husband in AD 161.

Interestingly, the extant sources for Faustina the Younger’s life and character indicate that she was cruel and lascivious--ordering executions, stirring up revolts, and committing adultery. However, the sources also indicate that she and Aurelius were very happily married. Faustina accompanied Aurelius on his many military campaigns, and the soldiers, too, are said to have supported and revered her.

Over the course of more than twenty years, Faustina bore thirteen children, most of whom died young. One daughter, Lucilla, married Aurelius’ co-emperor, Verus (to whom Faustina herself had been betrothed before her marriage to Aurelius). Her son Commodus became emperor in AD 180.

Upon Faustina’s death in AD 175, Aurelius buried her in the Mausoleum of Hadrian and deified her. He carried out public works in her name, for example, building baths and opening girls’ schools.

AR Denarius, Rome
AD 161-175

Obverse:
Bust of Faustina draped r. Hair waved and fastened in bun on back of neck on which is draped a string of pearls. FAVSTINA AVGVSTA

Reverse:
Juno draped standing l. holding patera in r. hand and scepter in l. Peacock in front. IVNONI REGINAE