Ruins of the Temple of Venus Genetrix, Rome / Wikimedia Commons
Venus is one of the most famous goddesses of the Roman pantheon, known for her grace and beauty. Her likeness was recreated countless times in a variety of different media. She was depicted in many ways on coinage, and was called several different names by the inscriptions: Venus Genetrix, Venus Felix, and Venus Victrix. By studying the whole collection of coins of Venus from the late Republican period through AD 192, it is possible to gain an understanding of how depiction of the goddess corresponded to the title she was given on that coin. Using that information, one can then determine which aspect of Venus is represented in unlabelled images of her. Similarly, the data can be used to critique scholarly opinions on the original appearances of the lost cult statues of Venus Genetrix, Felix, and Victrix. There is a fair bit of overlap between the attributes of Venus Genetrix and Felix, as they share the common image of the goddess holding an apple. However, depictions of the deity holding an infant or unveiling herself are unique to Venus Genetrix, and images of birds are not seen on coins with epithets other than Venus Felix. Venus Victrix is the only aspect of the goddess to be shown with Mars on coinage, although this happens only rarely. Otherwise, she can be difficult to differentiate from other aspects of Venus. With observations such as these and others in mind, scholarly suggestions about the appearances of the lost cult statues seem less credible, and more open for debate.
The Birth of Venus, by Botticelli / Uffizi Gallery, Florence
Venus is one of the key goddesses in Roman foundation mythology, being the mother of Aeneas, one of the originators of the Roman people. This idea was strongly emphasized in Vergil’s epic poem, the Aeneid, which highlights the mythological past of the Romans leading towards the grandeur of the poet’s own time. Images of Venus can be found all over the Roman world on various media, ranging from statues to wall painting to coins. Several temples were built for her in the city of Rome itself. She became a crucial part of state iconography, with various empresses being depicted in her guise, and with several emperors including her on their coinage.
By studying the varied depiction of Venus on coins, we can understand the way in which particular epithets in the legend correspond to the different attributes she is shown with in order to determine if certain attributes can be used to identify the aspect of the goddess on images without clear labelling. This may help to demonstrate why certain aspects of the goddess could be chosen to be displayed on coinage based on the contexts of their production. It can also help to fill in the sculptural record, as the cult statues for some of Venus’ temples are missing, and other statues are fragmentary, allowing for hypothesizing on the original appearance of the sculptures.
It was thought that they [Julio-Claudians] had descended from her through her mortal Trojan son Aeneas. With this connection to the ruling family, Venus could become an imperial goddess even after the fall of the last of the Julio-Claudians. Indeed, images of her were used on coins by later rulers and dynasties, perhaps as a way of legitimizing their rule and ensuring continuity between their reigns. This lends insight into the relationship between the Julio-Claudians and their successors, with the latter continuously reproducing numismatic imagery from the first dynasty. Venus is also an
ideal goddess to study because only three of her epithets can be found on coins before AD 200, allowing for clearer comparison between the attributes shown with each epithet. Furthermore, temples had been dedicated and built for each of these three distinct aspects of Venus which once housed cult statues. Each of these sculptures has subsequently been lost. Scholars continually speculate about the original appearance of these statues based on extant coin images.
Statuary evidence is rather problematic, as sculptures are often fragmentary, or statues discussed in writing from antiquity are missing from the archaeological record. They are also more difficult to date and interpret than coins because they usually lack any
sort of labelling. Because of this, their interpretation is highly debated by scholars. On the other hand, inscriptions on coins make them relatively easy to date, and make the figures depicted on them more easily identifiable. The details of the images can also be
difficult to interpret, but these can often be explained by the context of the time of a coin’s minting. Furthermore, even if a coin is damaged there are sometimes multiple extant copies of it, or the type may have been reused and minted again at another time,
making it easier to view the image as a whole despite the damage. Coins were continually struck, with new types being made each year, allowing for coinage to fill the temporal space between the commissioning of larger sculptural works of art.
Coinage is a particularly useful type of evidence about the Roman world because it provides insight into the way those in power wanted to be presented. When the portrait of a member of the imperial family is placed on the obverse of a coin, the viewer can
automatically associate that figure with the ideas presented on the reverse. This can lead to questions about why the emperor would want to promote that association, and what contemporary events may have prompted it. These would typically present the imperial family in a positive light, playing to the ideals of the Roman audience. Hints about the events of an emperor’s reign might even be included in the obverse legends, such as the addition of a place he had conquered to his list of titles, or the death and deification of a family member with the minting of coins with DIVUS/A in the legend.
I have decided to limit this study to coins from the late Republican period until the end of the Antonine dynasty in AD 192. During this time coins with Venus on them underwent several significant changes, such as transitioning from the goddess being shown opposite male portraits to female portraits exclusively, and the addition of her name, and later epithets, to the coin legends. The image of Venus on coins rose and fell in popularity drastically during this time span, with the relative popularity of the goddess at the end of the Republic and by the middle of the second century AD bookending a period lacking in coins of Venus altogether. This span provides a substantial amount of evidence, and allows room for speculation about the reasons behind any dramatic increases or decreases. Essentially, this period of time demonstrates a clear progression of Venus’ depiction on coins from the earlier, more ambiguous types minted by a variety of minor state officials in self-promotion, to the later, more clearly defined depictions promoting positive images of the imperial family that aligned with the moral ideals of the Roman public.
Current scholarship on this topic has mostly been limited to studies of sculpture and portraiture, often in regards to imperial women being depicted in the guise of Venus in sculpture. While this is certainly valuable, it does not provide much information about the iconography of the goddess or how she is depicted. Rather, scholarship tends to focus more on why these women would be likened to Venus. Few scholars have focused their studies on coins, instead using them only in order to supplement the gaps in statuary evidence. Furthermore, the reasoning for assigning particular epithets to sculptures is rarely explained, other than by inviting comparison with another work of art said to depict the same aspect of the goddess. This can prove problematic when many monuments are said to be replicas of others, creating questions about the original work, and making it difficult to create a timeline of works. The various aspects of Venus herself are also rarely discussed other than with respect to works of art, or the origins of the goddess. There is little scholarship on the rituals of her worship, or the mythology behind the development of most of the aspects of Venus, other than her role as the mother of the Julian clan through Aeneas and the Trojan War.
A great deal of the information used for this project came from the extensive Roman coin catalogues of the British Museum, as well as the Roman Republican Coinage by Michael Crawford, and the Roman Imperial Coinage by Mattingly, Carson, and Hill. By compiling all the data about coins of Venus from the Republican period until AD 192, it became possible to analyze the way in which the attributes of Venus correspond to her various epithets. By understanding the corpus of Venus coinage from this timespan as a
collective it becomes possible to notice patterns in the way she is presented. This allows for informed hypotheses to be made about unidentified images of the goddess, whether on coins or other media, in order to determine which particular aspect, if any, was being venerated. The context around the depictions of Venus without labels is often crucial to understanding why one aspect might be more popular than another in a given year. It can also help to inform why some attributes may be paired with epithets that might initially seem illogical. In essence, it can be difficult to interpret a single coin in isolation, but clues can be taken from the context of its minting, and from the group of coins as a whole.
Coins of Venus in the Late Republican Period
Silver denarius with head of Venus and Venus with chariot and horses / Wikimedia Commons
Venus became one of the key figures of the imperial Roman pantheon despite the fact that she was not initially a principal goddess, as there are no records of priesthoods or festivals dedicated to her in archaic Rome. She has been thought to have originated in early Rome as a garden divinity, protecting vegetation and fertility. However, another popular theory is that she began as a personification of abstract charm, often associated with earning favour from the gods by honouring them. This idea comes from the
common root that her name shares with venia (grace or favour) and veneratio (reverence or veneration). Venus came to be conflated with older Italian deities such as Mefitis and Cloacina, as well as the Greek Aphrodite, through shared epithets and mythology. While Venus seems to have been worshipped at shrines outside of Rome in the fourth century BC, the first temple to be built for her inside the city was not dedicated until 295 BC. From then through to the first century BC her prominence seems to have grown increasingly as temples in Rome were continually dedicated to her under the epithets Obsequens (indulgent), Erycina (from Eryx), Verticordia (heart-turner), Felix (happy), Victrix (victorious) and Genetrix (ancestress).
The last of these is crucial to understanding the dynastic ideology that became prominent in the late Republican and early Imperial periods. The Romans claimed to be descendants of Aeneas, a mythological founder of Rome, and a son of Venus. The Julian clan in particular believed that their lineage led directly back to the goddess and they used this association to legitimize their power. Because of this ancestral connection to the foundation of Rome, Venus was depicted both as a mother figure and as a sacred guardian of the people. Images of her started to become more common on coinage in the first century BC as she became the favourite deity of several important political figures. This reached a peak under Julius Caesar, who could claim special favour from Venus as her descendant.
The veneration of Venus as a divine protectress of the Roman people began in the early first century when Sulla chose her as his patron goddess, although he did not claim her as a blood relative. Nevertheless, he added his association with Venus to his list of
titles, calling himself ἐπαφρόδιτος, or beloved of Aphrodite. To promote this connection, he had coins minted which featured her on the obverse. As Sulla’s power grew in the early first century BC, so did the number of coins depicting her. Until this point, Venus
had rarely appeared on coinage. There are five coin types (with several slight variations) of Venus prior to Sulla’s emergence as a powerful politician, some of which were minted by his ancestor P. Cornelius Sulla. These date to between 151-103 BC. In the few
instances when she was shown, she was represented solely on the reverse, either as a figure head on the prow of a ship or driving a biga, a chariot pulled by two horses. On the other hand, there are six coin types minted while Sulla was at the height of his power, during and between the years of his consulships and dictatorships (87-81 BC). A similar bust image continued to be used even in 79 BC after his retirement.
Silver denarius with head of Sulla and Cupid holding palm branch / Wikimedia Commons
As Sulla’s favourite goddess, Venus’ bust was given a position of honour on the obverse of the coinage minted during his time. Because only her head appears there, very few distinct features can be associated with Sullan obverse depictions of Venus. Despite the lack of attributes or legends specifically identifying the goddess in obverse images, her hairstyles and jewellery remain relatively consistent with each other and with depictions in which she is more easily recognised by the accompaniment of her son
Cupid. He is the only specific attribute with which she is presented on Republican obverses. On occasion Cupid is shown holding a palm branch, as he is on this coin. The reverse of this particular coin type shows two trophies. It is possible that this coin was minted to commemorate Sulla’s victories during the first Mithridatic War because its issuing ca. 84-3 BC corresponds with the end of the war, and because the presence of the palm branch could represent victory.
Silver denarius with bust of Venus and a cornucopia / Wikimedia Commons
Other Sullan coin types with busts of Venus have symbols of wealth and fertility, such as ears of corn and cornucopiae (horns of plenty). These are likely meant to show how the Roman state prospered under Sulla’s influence, while the image of Venus on the other side would remind the viewer of Sulla’s divine right to rule with the goddess as his supporter. On the other hand, it is also possible to interpret these motifs as representations of Venus’ role as a goddess of fertility, especially considering her origins as a guardian of gardens. Near the end of his life, a temple to Venus was built in Pompeii following Sulla’s designation of the town as a new colony of Rome. As a result of his associations with Venus and his commemorations of her, Sulla set a pattern for future
Like Sulla, Pompey the Great also viewed Venus as a patron goddess, as coins of her were minted by his supporters, and as he himself built a temple in her honour. It is possible that Pompey was imitating Sullan imagery as a way to legitimize himself as strong general and key player in Roman politics. Pompey held three consulships between 70 and 51 BC, and was governor of the province of Hispania in between holding office in Rome itself. A coin of 57 BC, during his governorship, shows a bust of Venus on the obverse which resembles those minted by Sulla. Furthermore, a building which is likely the temple of Venus at Eryx appears on the reverse. While the two images work together to promote the sanctity of the goddess, the identity of the moneyer, C. Considius
Nonius, emphasizes Pompey’s succession of Sulla as a noteworthy devotee of Venus. Nonius was an associate of Pompey and a member of a family which had strongly supported Sulla. Nonius’ minting of this coin shows that he was likely an ally of Pompey by circulating images of Pompey’s preferred goddess. As a supporter of both Pompey and Sulla, Nonius created a link between the two by minting coins of their shared patron deity, making Pompey Sulla’s successor as one of her chief devotees. The following year another moneyer displayed the connection between Pompey and Venus by putting the symbols from the general’s signet ring on the reverse of a coin featuring a bust of Venus on the other side. The identity of this moneyer, Faustus Cornelius Sulla, also suggests a strong relationship between Sulla and Pompey, as the mint master himself was both the son of Sulla and the son-in-law of Pompey, proving that there was a familial link between the two generals in addition to their connection in the realm of politics.
In addition to promoting the image of Venus on coinage, another way in which Pompey showed reverence to the goddess was by building a temple in Rome to Venus Victrix in 55 BC. In the same year as the construction of the temple, a coin was struck showing the bust of Venus on the obverse, and an unidentified woman in armour on the reverse holding a spear and leading a horse. It is very unlikely that she is Venus because the goddess does not typically appear on coins wearing armour. Furthermore, the only times that she is shown with horses on coins depict her driving a chariot. The military associations on the reverse in combination with the portrait of Venus on the obverse suggest that this coin could commemorate the dedication of Pompey’s temple of Venus Victrix.
Silver denarius with bust of Julius Caesar and Venus / Wikimedia Commons
The third republican leader to follow this pattern was Julius Caesar. He had coinage minted with the image of Venus on it, just as Sulla and Pompey did. Although Caesar was not the moneyer, an issue of coinage with the legend C. CAESAR IMP. COS. ITER. (Gaius Caesar the Commander, consul a second time) appeared in 47 BC on the obverse of a coin showing a bust of Venus, directly linking the Caesar with the goddess. Rivalling Pompey and his temple of Venus Victrix, Caesar vowed to build his own temple to Venus in 48 BC at the battle of Pharsalus where the two men led their armies into civil war. Caesar may have done this to challenge his opponent for the favour of their patron goddess, particularly since the initial dedication was to Venus Victrix.
Coin with bust of Mars and Venus with Cupids / Wikimedia Commons
However, Caesar’s connection to Venus was much stronger than Pompey’s because of his mythological lineage linking him to the goddess as her descendant. He had already emphasized this relationship in a funerary speech for his aunt which explicitly joined the Julian family to the ancient line of kings, and to Venus herself. This association allowed Caesar to surpass both Sulla and Pompey with respect to their links with the divine patroness. Such a connection to a god or mythological Trojan ancestor was not unique to the gens Iulia, but was a technique used by populares to legitimize themselves, while older families would emphasize their relations to well-known historical and political figures. Republican coinage is general evidence for this, as many of the
noble-born moneyers would depict the deeds of their famous ancestors on their coinage. An example of this is a coin minted in 103 BC by L. Iulius Caesar, an ancestor of Julius Caesar the dictator. The head of Mars wears a helmet on the obverse while Venus holding a sceptre drives a biga of Cupids on the reverse. Both of these gods were considered to be ancestors of the Julii, with Venus being the mother of Aeneas, originator of the Roman people, and Mars as the father of Romulus and Remus, the founders of the city of Rome. By placing these deities on his coinage the moneyer was able promote the nobility of his lineage, which could help his career in politics to advance.
With this being the case, it is unsurprising that Caesar would dedicate his temple to Venus’ aspect as the originator of his clan and the Roman race. The building project had been vowed by Caesar at the Battle of Pharsalus. When it was built in 46 BC, it was dedicated to Venus Genetrix as Caesar’s ancestral goddess, not Venus Victrix as he had vowed at Pharsalus. The dedication of this temple marks the first time that the word Genetrix was given as an epithet to any Roman goddess, although the term had been used already by Lucretius in reference to the goddess. However, by using it at a temple of Venus in Rome, Caesar was effectively creating a new official public cult and aspect of the goddess.
It is reasonable to suggest that the ten Venus coin types minted circa 46 BC may indicate the commemoration of this temple. While her bust is on the obverse of the majority of these coins, thus not having room for a wide variety of attributes, the opposite side often shows symbols of a triumph, such as personified Victory, trophies, and captives. Although these images may invoke thoughts of war and Venus Victrix, they remain appropriately associated with the dedication of the temple of Venus Genetrix as Caesar was celebrating a triumph at the same time.
One of the coins of 46 BC shows the bust of Venus on the obverse accompanied by Cupid. Regardless of the victorious imagery of a trophy and captives shown on the reverse, this militaristic association does not detract from the possibility of the Genetrix aspect of this Venus because of the dating of the coin and because it is logical that a mother goddess would be shown with one of her children. On the other hand, trophies appeared opposite Venus’ head on two reverse types from 61 and 56 BC, both years while Pompey was influential. The later date is also only a year before Pompey’s temple of Venus Victrix was built. This suggests that the dating of trophy reverse types cannot be used to firmly identify the aspect of the goddess on the obverse, since they appear around the time of the construction of both of the temples of Venus Victrix and Venus Genetrix.
A coin dating to 47 BC, the year before the dedication of the temple of Venus Genetrix (and a year after the vowing of the temple), shows the bust of Venus opposite an image of Aeneas carrying the palladium and his father. While both of the above types emphasize the goddess’ role as a mother, the second takes this idea further and reminds the viewer of Venus as the ancestress of the Roman race, and as the mother of one of its founders. Furthermore, the inclusion of Anchises may suggest to the viewer the idea of patriarchal succession, eventually leading towards Caesar through the line of Aeneas. This is suggested by the inclusion of Caesar’s name in the reverse legend. The presence of Anchises also emphasizes the Roman ideal of ancestral duty, which Aeneas often embodies. As Aeneas honours his father by carrying him to safety, so too is Venus revered by her descendant through her placement on this coin and through the temple being built for her. The palladium, as an icon of defence, may also remind viewers of Venus’ protection over the Roman people. This would be particularly important for Caesar to promote during 47 BC, the year this coin was minted, since it immediately followed a period of civil war.
Despite the early usage of Venus images on coinage, it is difficult to tell whether the depictions of this period refer to any of her specific aspects. The bust images themselves do not reveal enough attributes to point to any particular epithets, while the legends do not even mention her name until 80 AD. Furthermore, the title Genetrix was not shown on coinage until ca. 128-32 AD.
In 44 BC when Caesar was appointed dictator for life, according to the legends of many of these coins which read CAESAR, DICT. PERPETUO (Caesar the Eternal Dictator), his own image replaced Venus on the obverse. Meanwhile she was relegated to the reverse, where her image would remain, with a few exceptions, for the rest of the period with which this work is concerned. There she is usually pictured in full length, leaving more room for attributes to be shown with her, and allowing for more possibilities of identifying her aspects. The majority of these coins depict her standing, carrying a Victory in one hand and a sceptre in the other, sometimes with a shield to the side or at her feet. The addition of the attributes to her new placement on the reverse of coins in 44 BC better allows for comparison to later coins which have legends that include epithets, making the Venus on these coins more easily identifiable.
The various moneyers from the time of Julius Caesar’s dictatorship depict Venus on only five reverse types; four of which are slight variations on one basic image holding a Victory, which was described in the previous paragraph. The fifth shows Venus holding scales and a sceptre, with Cupid accompanying her. On the other side are the heads of the Dioscuri. There is only one other coin type before the end of the second century AD which shows Venus with the twin gods, which was minted between 161 and 176 AD by Marcus Aurelius. This reverse, like many others which had been minted up until this point, has Venus holding a Victory, with a shield by her feet. The Dioscuri are thought to be depicted on the shield. While their identification is uncertain (the two small figures do not appear with any detail), the legend clearly labels the main figure as Venus Genetrix. By comparing the usage of attributes of Venus on coinage from a variety of periods, it is possible to associate some of the earlier images with epithets found on the more defined legends of later coinage. Thus the Caesarian coin with the Dioscuri on the obverse may depict Venus Genetrix on the reverse because that title appears on a comparable later coin.
By similar comparison, the four other reverse types which show variations of Venus holding a Victory and a sceptre resemble later coins of the second century AD labelled with the epithet Genetrix in the legend, depicting Venus with the same war-evoking attributes. Some of these variations include a shield, like the one on the Antonine coin above, although it remains undecorated. Despite the fact that the shield is a tool of war, it is not accompanied by any other weaponry. Because of this, instead of having military connotations, the shield seems to emphasize Venus’ defensive role as a protectress of Rome. It is important to note that this image is not exclusive to Antonine coins with the epithet Genetrix in the inscription, it also appears on coins from that era featuring Venus Felix. The use of a single image with multiple legends complicates the comparison between Republican and later coin types. At least in this case it can be used help narrow down the possible aspects of the Venus on Republican coins, as this type does not appear on any Antonine Venus Victrix coins, diminishing the likelihood that Venus Victrix is depicted on the Republican coins.
After Caesar’s death, one more coin was minted in 43 BC with his head on the obverse and a goddess holding a sceptre and caduceus on the reverse. It is likely that this deity is Venus, based on the similarity of the drapery of her robes and her pose to images of her from the previous year. This coin seems to have been minted in celebration of Caesar’s life, as it was struck only shortly after his death, and he appears wearing a laurel. If the goddess is indeed Venus, her depiction on a coin commemorating Caesar demonstrates how strongly he had emphasized the connection between the two of them.
A second coin type of the same year has the head of Venus on the obverse, and Victory riding in a biga on the reverse. Although Caesar himself does not appear on this coin, it was also likely issued in his memory and similarly suggests the power of the relationship between himself and Venus. While many Caesarian coins show Venus holding Victory, this coin may be a variation on the same theme, which Crawford says can be used to identify the head on the obverse as Venus Victrix. However, if those earlier coins cannot firmly identify the Venus figure holding Victory as Victrix, that epithet may not be confirmed for the head in this issue either.
The importance of Venus to the Julian clan appears to have resonated with moneyers from the time, since in 42 BC a coin was minted with a portrait of Octavian, Caesar’s nephew and appointed successor, on the obverse, and Venus on a chair holding Cupid and a bird on the reverse. The association of Venus with a relative of Caesar denotes the recognition of her relationship to his clan as their ancestor, pointing towards the Genetrix aspect of the goddess. Cupid’s appearance with his mother on this coin certainly seems to stress her maternal aspect. Octavian’s name is absent from the legend, but instead C. CAESAR (Gaius Caesar) is written around his portrait. Upon his adoption, Gaius Caesar had also become Octavian’s official name. The combination of this label with both images shows that Caesar links the other two figures together, on the one hand as a major propagator of imagery of Venus for his successor to imitate, and on the other hand through blood as a representative of the generations between the two. Another coin in the same series has a bust of Apollo on the obverse and Venus holding a mirror on the reverse. Apollo was also thought of as a hereditary god of the Julians, so his appearance with Venus on this coin seems to highlight the family’s devotion and relation to these gods. Therefore, this Venus would likely also be given the epithet Genetrix.
From the middle of the second century BC to the death of Julius Caesar, the number of coin types of Venus increased dramatically, with six different types minted in 44 BC alone, as opposed to the mere five which were issued between 151 and 103 BC. In addition, while it is difficult to associate bust images of Venus with any particular epithet, as time progresses she is depicted less with attributes of military connotations, and more as the ancestral goddess of the Julian clan and the Roman people. These changes occurred as a result of three major politicians of the late republic choosing her as their patron deity. While Sulla held power it was difficult to give any particular epithet to Venus’ image. Later, under the influence of Pompey, the goddess was shown in her aspect as Venus Victrix, and during his own dictatorship Julius Caesar put forth images of Venus Genetrix, the new title which he had given her when he dedicated a temple to this aspect. Although in many cases even coins minted by Caesar cannot confirm whether she is meant to be Victrix or Genetrix, her depiction alongside her children, Cupid and Aeneas, as well as Caesar himself, thought to be her descendant, suggest a certain familiar connection that is appropriate for an ancestral goddess.
Julio-Claudian Neglect of Venus on Coinage
In contrast to the abundance of Venus coin types minted under Julius Caesar, only three were struck during the reign of his successor Octavian/Augustus, despite the fact that the latter held power in Rome for a significantly longer period of time. Augustus is known for his building projects in Rome, supposedly having “found it built of brick and left it in marble”. This included temples for Apollo, Mars, and the posthumously deified Julius Caesar, all of whom were considered to be patrons and ancestors of Augustus. Like his predecessor, he promoted the godliness of his family and his divine right to rule, although with less emphasis on Venus, and more on the gods for whom he built temples. In particular this included minting coins of Augustus’ newly deified and adoptive father, who now provided a direct link between the imperial family and the will of the gods. Divus Julius, or images related with him, thus appeared on many of the coins struck for him at the end of the Republic and at the beginning of the Principate. Occasionally, this meant that depictions of Venus would appear on Augustus’ coins, since Julius Caesar had emphasized his connection to the goddess so strongly. None of Caesar’s coin types were reused, as Augustus created his own types which added himself into the divine lineage as Caesar’s adopted son.
The first of Octavian’s Venus coins, minted between 32 and 29 BC features the head of the emperor on the obverse, and Venus herself on the reverse holding a helmet and sceptre, with a shield, and leaning against a column. To a similar effect, another coin from the same time shows a bust of Venus on the obverse and Octavian holding a spear while dressed in military clothing on the reverse. Essentially, the latter coin switches the sides which Venus and Augustus appear on. The two coins bear the exact same reverse legend, CAESAR DIVI F. (Caesar, son of a god), and neither has any writing on the obverse. This legend reminds viewers of Augustus’ position in the Julian clan. His connection to Julius Caesar is clear, since he is the adopted son of a dictator deified after his death. However, because this legend accompanies an image of Venus, it is also possible that the inscription is hinting at the ancestral relationship directly between Augustus and the goddess. Although the gender of divi confirms that the god in question must be Divus Julius, the presence of Venus combined with the legend’s emphasis on Augustus’ familial role implies that she is a part of their family. With this being the case, it is possible that this Venus is Genetrix, despite the weaponry that both she and Octavian are shown with.
The two coins are part of series of six. Pax, Venus, and Victoria each appear on the obverses of three coins opposite a depiction of Octavian, and on the reverse of another three coins, the obverses of which show Octavian’s portrait. Zanker interprets the series as illustrating Octavian’s speech at Actium, and calls this depiction of Venus his protectress, even using the title Genetrix. Although Octavian claimed that his reasons for war with Antony were not personal, he listed all of his rival’s crimes against Octavia, his sister and Antony’s wife. Dio recounts that Octavian said “μήθ᾽ ὅτι τὴν ἀδελφήν μου ὕβρισε, μήθ᾽ ὅτι τῶν γεννηθέντων οἱ ἐξ αὐτῆς τέκνων ἠμέλησε, μήθ᾽ ὅτι τὴν Αἰγυπτίαν αὐτῆς προετίμησε, μήθ᾽ ὅτι τοῖς ἐκείνης παισὶ πάνθ᾽ ὡς εἰπεῖν τὰ ὑμέτερα ἐδωρήσατο, μήτε δι᾽ ἄλλο μηδὲν ἐθελῆσαι αὐτῷ πολεμῆσαι.” “I was unwilling to wage war on him merely because he had insulted my sister, or because he neglected the children that she had borne him, or because he preferred the Egyptian woman to her, or because he bestowed upon that woman’s children practically all your possessions, or for any other cause.” Taking into consideration Dio’s account of Octavian’s defense of his sister, on these coins Venus can be seen as the divine guardian of the Romans and of the Julii as she helped Octavian to defeat Antony.
A third coin type from the time of Augustus, dating between 19 and 4 BC, depicts a draped bust of Venus on the obverse, while the reverse has the legend in the centre, surrounded by a simpulum, lituus, tripod, and patera. All of these are symbols of religious rituals and institutions, with the tripod and patera representing sacrifice, especially libation, and the simpulum and lituus signifying priestly colleges. The legend reads COS IMP CAESAR AVGV XI (Consul for the eleventh time Caesar Augustus the Commander). In this case, although his image does not appear on the coin, Augustus is associating his name with his priestly honours and the act of sacrifice. This may be a way of presenting himself as pius, a trait very often associated with Aeneas by Romans. Here the connection between reverse and obverse, and emperor to goddess is more subtle, but nevertheless apparent if Augustus is compared to Aeneas. Although there is no specific iconography or text on this coin to suggest that the bust of Venus represents any one of her particular aspects, the implications of pietas on the reverse at least leaves open the possibility that this is Venus Genetrix.
The three types discussed are the only coins of Venus minted by the Julio-Claudian emperors listed in the RIC or BMC, which is surprising given the family’s connection to the goddess, and the precedent set by Julius Caesar for using this for political advantage. Despite the lack of numismatic depictions of Venus between 4 BC and AD 79, some statues and relief carvings from this period are thought to have been representations of the divinity. These images in other media, and the publication of the Aeneid in the lifetime of Augustus suggest that the goddess remained an important part of Roman imperial self-representation, in spite of the lack of depictions of Venus on coins from this time.
The Flavian Contribution
The next emperor to make use of Venus on coins was Vespasian. In AD 79 he minted a coin with the head of his son Titus on the obverse, and an image of Venus on the reverse with a helmet and spear, leaning on a column, much like one of the coin types of Augustus described above. There are some small differences between the types, as the Augustan Venus holds a sceptre instead of a spear, and has a shield lying at her feet. However, the goddess’ pose on both coin types remains unchanged, as does her drapery and the helmet she carries.
This type was struck in AD 79 by Titus himself, once with a shield, and with slight changes in the legends on both sides, reflecting Titus’ ascension to the throne after his father’s death that same year. Venus’ appearance on Flavian coinage may be a way of legitimizing their rule by looking back to the traditions of their predecessors, even though the Flavians did not share the same genealogical connection to Venus that the Julio-Claudians did. This validation is particularly important for the Flavians, who had risen to power despite their lack of aristocratic Roman ancestors. Furthermore, the use of an Augustan reverse type may be an attempt to suggest some continuity between the two dynasties. Vespasian had reused early imperial coin types, especially those of Augustus and Tiberius, throughout the entirety of his reign, beginning in AD 69. This created a visual link between himself and the earlier emperors, which his son Titus seems to have continued through the minting of this Venus reverse type ten years later.
Around AD 80 a new coin was struck using the same Venus reverse type, however, instead of Titus’ image on the obverse, his daughter Julia’s face is depicted, with her own name appearing in the legend. Additionally, the reverse legend reads VENVS AVG (Venus the Venerable), marking the first time that the goddess’ name is used on Roman coinage. It is striking that the name is not simply Venus, nor is she given any of her particular epithets, but is rather identified as Augusta, an incredibly common epithet used for a multitude of divinities, as well as women of the ruling family. While the precise significance of the term is still being argued by scholars, at the very least the title seems to emphasize a connection to the imperial family and state policies. Through this Venus is explicitly identified as a goddess of the emperors, holding the same title that they do.
Many imperial women from Livia onwards held the title Augusta, including this Flavian Julia. The obverse legend emphasizes this connection, as both Julia and Titus are given this epithet. The legend reads IVLIA AVGVSTA TITI AVGVSTI F (Julia the Venerable daughter of Titus Augustus). The title Augusta/us is repeated three times on this coin, once on the reverse and twice on the obverse, drawing a clear correlation in the viewer’s mind between Julia, Titus, and Venus. This implies Venus’ role as an imperial goddess. Instead of being the patron specifically of the Julian family, she may now be associated with the power of the emperors, despite the fact that the Principate now belongs to a different dynasty. The relationship is no longer familial or personal, but a patronage of the imperial family, regardless of their ancestry.
Although this was certainly not the first time that imperial women were depicted on the coinage of their sons, husbands, and brothers, this is the first time that one is pictured in conjunction with Venus. It seems to have been more common under the Julio-Claudians to associate empresses such as Augustus’ wife Livia with Juno and Ceres, more matronly goddesses than Venus. These deities were traditionally aligned with ideas of marriage, childbirth, and fertility, all of which were greatly esteemed, particularly in light of Augustus’ promotion of family values. Nevertheless, Venus remained an important goddess in sculpture, as mentioned above. Looking back to her origins, she too maintains an aspect of fertility, more likely associated with young brides, so it seems fitting for the sixteen year old Julia to be aligned with her.
This same reverse type was minted one final time under the Flavians, in this case depicting the head of Domitian’s wife, Domitia Longina on the reverse. She had also been given the title Augusta, as recorded in the legend of the coin. Although she was in her late twenties in AD 82 when the coin was minted, much older than Julia, Venus seems to have been an appropriate choice for a new mother. Domitia had given birth to the couple’s only child just two years earlier, and had only recently become Augusta. At this time she would have been the main hope for producing a line of heirs for the continuation of the Flavian dynasty, and had recently fulfilled this wish with the birth of her son. As the mother of presumed generations of future emperors, it seems fitting that she would be associated with the divine originator of the first Roman imperial dynasty. However, a year later her son died, and she was temporarily exiled from Rome. No later coins of her with Venus exist, possibly because of this failure to produce a surviving heir.
New Life Under Hadrian
After the Domitia coin was minted in AD 82, there was another gap in the numismatic commemoration of Venus until Hadrian’s reign ca. AD 128, with three minor exceptions. The first was another coin minted in 82, with Julia’s portrait on the obverse, and an image of Vesta on the reverse. She carries a sceptre and the Palladium. However, the reverse legend says VENVS. Buttrey states that this must be an error as many other extant coins of the same type read VESTA. Venus does not appear on coinage with a Palladium except for one case in which she is on the obverse of a Republican coin that shows Aeneas carrying a Palladium and his father. On the other hand, a temple of Vesta on the Palatine contained a Palladium, so she was more commonly associated with it on coinage.
The second and third exceptions are coins struck in AD 107 by Trajan which were restorations of earlier types. One is a coin minted by Julius Caesar, which shows Venus’ bust on the obverse, and Aeneas carrying Anchises and the palladium on the obverse. This coin clearly refers to the goddess as a mother, since her son and husband are shown in association with her. Moreover, it shows Trajan’s recognition of the importance of this role of Venus to the Roman race, since it was only one of two images that he chose to restrike.
Caesar’s head and name appear on the obverse of the second restored coin. However, Mattingly points out that the reverse image, which depicts a half-dressed Venus holding a transverse spear and helmet while she and a shield lean against a column, was never struck by Caesar, but by Augustus and Titus. This signifies that his connection to the goddess had been portrayed so strongly that even approximately 150 years after Caesar’s death images of her were associated with him, regardless of their historical accuracy. While he may not have minted a coin of Venus with those exact attributes, such an image would have been appropriate for a coin commemorating one of his victories. Mattingly also points out that like Vespasian reminting coins of Augustus and Tiberius as discussed above, Trajan seems to make connections to both the Julio-Claudian and Flavian dynasties, promoting imperial continuity despite the change in imperial families and the civic turmoil that occurred between each new line of rulers.
The next major development in Venus coin types happened under Hadrian between AD 128 and 138, during which time he minted six different reverse images of the goddess, four of which are accompanied by legends clearly identifying particular epithets of the goddess. The remaining two coins do not include Venus’ name. Hadrian’s head appears on the obverse of four of the Venus coins, and his wife Sabina’s portrait appears on the other two. She is featured on a reverse type of Venus Genetrix, which later emperors reused, and which scholars suspect represented the cult statue of the goddess, in addition to a type without a legend. Hadrian’s portrait is also shown on two types of Venus Genetrix, as well as one without her name, and one of Venus Felix, a title meaning “happy” or “lucky” which had not been associated with Venus until this point. The type without a name in the legend with the bust of Hadrian on the obverse is considered by Mattingly to be the extant cult statue of Venus of Aphrodisias, accompanied by Cupid shooting an arrow. Since this depiction seems to refer to a statue in a particular place, this may be a coin commemorating a visit there on Hadrian’s many travels.
The second reverse type from the reign of Hadrian without Venus’ name is very similar to the type that was minted first by Augustus, then by the Flavians and Trajan. This reverse type shows Venus holding a spear and a helmet. In this case, as with a variation struck by Titus, she is also accompanied by a shield. Sabina’s image appears on the obverse of the coin. Despite the lack of a reverse legend, Mattingly calls this type Venus Victrix. There is no precedent set by earlier coinage for this identification, and little is known about how Pompey’s cult statue of Venus Victrix might have looked. According to Weinstock, the statue probably wore armour or was accompanied by weapons and trophies. If this is the case, the statue would support Mattingly’s claim that the goddess on this type is Venus Victrix.
On the other hand, Richardson suggests that the cult statue of Venus Victrix’s iconography can be found opposite a bust of Caesar on coinage from 45-44 BC. These coins mark the first time that the goddess’ image appeared on the reverses of coins opposite a mortal. The Caesarian coins depict variations of Venus draped and holding a Victory in one hand and a scepter in the other, often with a shield at the bottom. Without an epithet or the cult statue itself to compare to, this repeated coin image cannot be ascribed to one specific aspect of Venus. Certainly the attributes suggest a military connotation, which in early uses of the image might have related to contemporary events, but the reuse of this type by Hadrian, since it had already been minted by previous rulers, just seems to promote a sense of continuity between emperors and dynasties without any allusion to war.
One of the types labelled with an epithet is dedicated to Venus Felix, while the other four commemorate Venus Genetrix. This marks the first time that the title appears on a coin of the goddess, and thus the first time that the image can securely be classified as a Venus Genetrix type without hypothesizing based on the moneyer or contemporary events. This makes it possible to associate the attributes depicted with the goddess with certain epithets, allowing for direct comparison of the different aspects of Venus.
The first of the three types officially inscribed with the name Venus Genetrix was minted between AD 128 and 132. A portrait of Hadrian appears on the obverse, with a reverse image of the half-dressed goddess holding a Victory and a sceptre while a shield and helmet are set on the ground. No numismatic depictions of Venus had shown her holding Victory since 44 BC in the dictatorship of Julius Caesar. The only other time the two goddesses had been associated on coinage since then was on a coin struck a year later by L. Flaminius Chilo, who had also made coins of Caesar, with Venus on the obverse and Victory on the reverse. Perhaps it is this recollection of Caesarian imagery that makes this a depiction of Venus specifically in her aspect as Genetrix. This Hadrianic coin type is similar to the last Republican coin of Venus, and may directly reference it. It is likely that any mention of Venus as a mother would make Romans living under Hadrian think of the temple which Caesar built and her connection to the imperial rulers of Rome. The type was struck again in AD 134-38, with some variation. The only difference on the reverse of this coin and the one above is that the face of Medusa is visible on her shield. Hadrian’s head appears on the obverse of both coins.
The second Venus Genetrix type shows Venus without any attributes, but facing forward with her hands raised. Both of the Genetrix coins described above have busts of the emperor on obverse, continuing the association of the goddess with imperial rule, although the reverse images are not particularly unique and do not demonstrate anything which can be considered distinctive characteristics of Venus Genetrix.
In contrast, the third coin dedicated to Venus Genetrix appears opposite an image of Sabina, Hadrian’s wife. As Boatwright points out, she and many of the other imperial women from the early second century AD were not born into prestigious families, but found their prominence in Roman society through marriage and the adoption of their husbands into the imperial household. Like many other imperial women before her, Sabina was also given the title Augusta on coinage. The reverse of this coin varies greatly from the other images of Venus minted by Hadrian, Trajan, and the Flavians. It shows the goddess unveiling herself with one hand while holding an apple in her other hand. It is striking that this is the only Venus coin of Hadrian to be minted opposite the face of an imperial woman. This could indicate an association of the empress with fertility, although this is not likely the case as she did not have any children. However, as Augusta she may be considered to be the mother or protectress of the Romans, which would make her connection to Venus Genetrix appropriate.
The apple on this third Hadrianic Venus Genetrix coin is likely a symbol of the mythological Judgement of Paris, which could serve as a reminder to the Romans of the Trojan roots which connect them to the goddess. The act of unveiling appears only on coins which identify Venus in the legend, either without an epithet or as Genetrix. Some scholars believe that this coin type depicts the cult statue from Julius Caesar’s temple of Venus Genetrix, especially because this image is labelled with the specific epithet, and resembles other statues which could be copies of the lost original by Arkesilaus. Whether or not this is true, the legend and distinctive attributes on this coin begin to allow for comparison to images on coins with other names for the goddess. This is the first time that this iconography of Venus was used on Roman coinage. Furthermore, the attributes of the goddess on the other three Hadrianic Venus Genetrix types, a Victory, helmet, shield, and sceptre, all appear at least as early as 29 BC if not earlier. Therefore, keeping this in mind, the apple and undraping pose seem to be the first features which can be strongly associated with Venus’ aspect as a mother.
The only other epithet for Venus which is used on Hadrian’s coinage is Felix. There is one type with this title on it, which was struck between AD 134 and 138. An image of the emperor appears on the obverse, and a depiction of the deity sitting on a throne with a Cupid and spear on the reverse. Cupid appears several times with his mother on Republican coinage. However, he is not depicted on coins with her between 42 BC and AD 134. As noted above, Venus is always shown with a spear on the coin type repeated during the Flavian dynasty. Taking these precedents into consideration, it appears that Hadrian may be recalling older ideas of the goddess while also expressing some continuity with the reuse of the spear attribute used both by his immediate predecessor and the dynasty that was in power before him. This is the first time that the two attributes have appeared together, which could suggest that Venus Felix is associated with continuation of the Roman Empire through a combination of imagery typical of a variety of periods.
Felix does not appear on many numismatic legends until the epithet becomes much more popular in the reign of Marcus Aurelius with Lucius Verus, and of Commodus. Boatwright points out that the title was not used before Hadrian built the temple of Venus and Roma. She also claims that this coin depicts the cult statue of Venus from this temple. This seems to be reasonable, given that the temple was dedicated in AD 135, at approximately the same time that this coin was struck. Boatwright also suggests that by venerating Venus Felix on coins and at this new temple Hadrian differentiated himself from his predecessors, who had built temples for Venus Victrix and Genetrix as personal divine patronesses. On the other hand, Venus Felix, especially when paired with Roma, could be a goddess for all the Roman people “by exalting the strength and origins of Rome and the Roman people above those of an individual family.”
While this may be true of Venus Felix, it does not necessarily mean that other aspects of the same goddess do not have the same effect. Although Venus Genetrix may have been a family goddess of the Julio-Claudians, she is not exclusively related to that clan. Venus and Aeneas are presented by Virgil as being the founders of the whole Roman race, not just the ancestors of Augustus. Furthermore, while the first imperial dynasty may have claimed a special relationship to the goddess, this appears to have continued through the succession of other families since they continued to venerate her on coins, as demonstrated by Hadrian in the paragraphs above and by her popularity on Antonine coinage. This implies that the goddess no longer belonged to one particular clan, but whichever dynasty held imperial power.
One variation of the Venus Felix coin also includes a globe underneath the spear on the reverse of a denarius. This is the only time that a globe appears on imperial coinage of Venus before AD 200. It is also one of two items that the goddess is shown with that are unique to the epithet Felix. The globe had been used with Venus previously on Republican coinage. All of the prior instances were minted in 44 BC with either CAESAR IMP(ER) (Caesar the Commander) or CAESAR DICT. PERPETUO (Caesar the Perpetual Dictator) in the legend, and show the goddess holding a Victory. The globe also seems to be a variation on these coins, as only three out of the seventeen recorded in the RRC depict it, while it appears on only one out of six Hadrianic coins of the same type. While the globe may suggest an idea of world-wide domination in the hands of the goddess and her Roman people, particularly when combined with her spear, it certainly does not seem to hold much significance since it seems to be a less popular choice of the moneyers.
Mattingly suggests that this is because it was not an attribute associated with the goddess depicted on the coin, but instead was a symbol representing Hadrian’s decennalia, the celebration of a decade of ruling. The coin dates to a year between AD 134 and 138, so it is possible that it was minted in 137 after Hadrian had ruled for twenty years. Therefore, even though the globe is shown only with Venus without an epithet or with Venus Felix, it should not be considered as an identifying feature of that aspect of Venus.
The beginning of the imperial period shows the exclusion of Venus from coinage throughout the reigns of the Julio-Claudian emperors after Augustus, followed by a slight increase in her appearances on coinage throughout the Flavian dynasty. Trajan did not mint his own new Venus coin types, but instead restored those of Julius Caesar and Augustus. The reuse of older types emphasizes how important it was for new emperors to try to create a visual connection between themselves and their predecessors. Under Hadrian there was an influx of new reverse types of the goddess, as well as the innovation of the use of epithets in the inscriptions. With this it becomes possible to compare Venus’ poses and attributes with the titles she is given, which can be used to identify other images of her that do are not labelled, such as earlier coins or depictions in other media.
Hadrian’s successors continued to put epithets of Venus on their coins, namely Felix, Genetrix, and Victrix. However, the titles appear with less regularity on Antonine coins than those of Hadrian. The legends of Antonine coins usually include the name of the goddess, although sometimes they do not refer to her by any titles corresponding to specific aspects. Instead, many of these coins refer to her as Venus Augusta, or simply Venus. Nevertheless, the number of numismatic depictions of Venus greatly increases during the Antonine dynasty, and thus provides plenty of coin types with various epithets and attributes to examine.
- Kleiner 1981, Matheson 1996, Wood 1999, pg. 119.
- Harcum 1927, Pollini 1996.
- Zanker 1988, pg. 196-98; Mattingly BMC III pg. 356.
- Schilling 1954, pg. 13.
- Schmidt 1966, pg. 193.
- Beard et al. 1998, pg. 144; Plutarch, Sulla 34.2; Appian Civil Wars 1.97.
- RRC 205, 258, 313.1-2, 320.
- RRC 349, 357, 359, 360, 375, 376.
- RRC 382. See Fig. 9.
- Cp. RRC 357 and 359. The hairstyle is also similar to the one that Venus is shown with on the reverse of Antonine coinage. In addition, the later coinage includes legends confirming the identity of the goddess as Venus Genetrix: cp. BMC Antoninus Pius 1057.
- Livy 10.47.3.
- RRC 357, 375, and 376. See Fig. 6 and 8.
- Schmidt 1966, pg. 194; Rives 2002, pg. 298.
- RRC 424. See. Fig. 13.
- Crawford 1974, pg. 448.
- RRC 426/3; Crawford 1974, pg. 450; Dio 42.18.3. See. Fig. 14.
- Beard et al. 1998, pg. 144-45; Orlin 2007, pg. 68.
- RRC 430. See Fig. 15.
- Appian BC 2.10.68.
- Suetonius Divus Iulius 6.
- Rüpke 2006, pg. 222.
- Crawford 1974, pg. 730.
- RRC 320. See Fig. 4.
- Zanker 1988, pg. 195.
- Lucretius 1.1.
- Weinstock 1971, pg. 84-85; Pliny, Natural Histories, 35.156.
- RRC 458, 465.3, 4, 6a-d, 7 a-b, 468. See Fig. 16 and 18-20.
- Richardson 1992, pg. 166.
- RRC 468. See Fig. 20.
- RRC 419.1a-e, 426.3. See Fig. 12 and 14.
- See chapter four for a discussion of the cult statue of Pompey’s temple of Venus Victrix and trophy coins.
- RRC 458. See Fig. 15.
- Legends mentioning the name Venus begin with RIC II 386, while the first instance of the title Genetrix appears on BMC Hadrian 529.
- RRC 480.7-16.
- RRC 480.3-5, 7-16. See Fig. 21.
- RRC 463. See Fig. 17.
- BMC Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus 172. See Fig. 51.
- BMC Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus 173.
- BMC Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus 169-70, 957-58, and 1002-03. See chapter three for more details. See Fig. 49.
- RRC 485.1. See Fig. 23.
- Crawford also suggests that this could be Pax, 496.
- Crawford 1974, pg. 496.
- RRC 494/6. See Fig. 24.
- RRC 494.34. It is interesting to note that this is the only example of Venus holding a mirror on coinage from the second century BC to the second century AD. See Fig. 25.
- Caesar’s heir will be referred to by his birth name, Octavian, when discussing events which took place before 27 BC. From that year and onward, he will be called Augustus.
- Suetonius Divus Augustus 28, translation by J. C. Rolfe, 1913.
- Suetonius Divus Augustus 92, Zanker 1988, pg. 195.
- Shotter 1979, pg. 48-49.
- Zanker 1988, pg. 34.
- RIC I Augustus 250a. See Fig. 26.
- RIC I Augustus 251. See Fig. 27.
- Zanker 1988 pg. 53, see Cassius Dio 50.24-30
- Dio 50.26. Translation by E. Cary, 1916.
- RIC I Augustus 367. See Fig. 28.
- RIC II Vespasian 1077-78, Titus 13-16, 32-35, 51-54. See Fig. 29.
- Buttrey 1972, pg. 95-100.
- RIC II Titus 386. See Fig. 30.
- Lott 2014, pg. 132-33. Lott does a good job of summarizing the discussion of the Augusta/us epithet, based mainly on Wissowa’s opinion from 1902, and Fishwick’s argument from 1991.
- Rarely some coins of the same type read IVLIA AVGVSTA T AVG F.
- Rose 1997, pg. 13, see n. 51 on pg. 218.
- RIC II Domitian 847.
- RIC II Domitian 849.
- Buttrey and Carradice 2007, pg. 330, n. 98.
- RRC 458. See Fig. 16.
- Jones 1990, pg. 319.
- BMC III pg. 141, number 31 under ‘Types Not in the British Museum’; Mattingly 1926, pg. 250.
- BMC Trajan 696; Mattingly 1926. pg. 260; RIC I Augustus 250a; RIC II Titus 13. See Fig. 26, 29, and 31.
- Mattingly 1926, pg. 270.
- Harcum 1927, pg. 141. BMC Hadrian 944-49, 1883-84, 1903. BMC Antoninus Pius 46, 145* (BMC IV pg. 24), 1061, 1120-23, 1132, 2164-65, 2168. BMC Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus 1172-73, 1187-88, 1225. BMC Commodus 44-46, 439.
- Boatwright 131. With Venus Genetrix: BMC Hadrian 529, 749* (BMC III pg. 334). With Venus Felix: BMC Hadrian 751. Without a name in the legend: BMC Hadrian 1077.
- BMC Hadrian 1077. See Fig. 36.
- BMC Hadrian 920, pg. 356. See Fig. 34.
- Weinstock 1971, pg. 83.
- Richardson 1992, pg. 411. RRC 480.3-5, 7-16. For more discussion of these coins, see Chapter 1 pgs. 7-8. See Fig. 21.
- RRC 480.3-5, 7-16. For more discussion of these coins, see Chapter 1 pgs. 7-8. See Fig. 21.
- BMC III pg. 379, number 12 under ‘Coins not in the British Museum’, BMC Hadrian 529, 749* (BMC III pg. 334), and 944 appear with the epithet Genetrix, while 751 is labelled as Felix. BMC Hadrian 920 and 1077 do not identify the goddess at all in the legend.
- RRC 480. See Fig. 21.
- RRC 485. See Fig. 23.
- BMC Hadrian 749* (BMC III pg. 334).
- BMC III pg. 379, number 12 under ‘Coins not in the British Museum’.
- BMC Hadrian 944. See Fig. 35.
- Boatwright 1991, pg. 518.
- Harcum 1927, pg. 143; Schmidt 1966, pg. 194. For other possible cult statues of Venus Genetrix, see Weinstock 1971, pg. 86, and Chapter 4.
- BMC Hadrian 751. See Fig. 33.
- RRC 313, 320, 349, 359, 391.1a, 391.3, 463, 468, 494.6.
- Boatwright 1987, pg. 131-2.
- Boatwright 1987, pg. 132.
- BMC Hadrian 756. See Fig. 33 for a similar type.
- A dove is also used either with Felix or with an unspecified aspect of Venus, but does not appear after 42 BC (RRC 494.6) until the reign of Antoninus Pius in BMC 1083.
- RRC 480.3, 480.15, 480.17. See Fig. 21.
- See above for Venus holding a Victory on Hadrianic and Caesarian coinage.
- Jones 1990, pg. 127.
- Mattingly, BMC III pg. cxxxvi.
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