The Abraham Cowley
Text and Image Archive

Venus Ready for Battle

Faustina II, wife of Marcus Aurelius, empress 161-75. AE AS, RIC 1680.
Obv.: Faustina r., FAVSTINA AVGVSTA.
Rev.: Venus standing r. half-nude, holding onto armed Mars; inscr. VENERI VICTRICI.
Accounts of this coin's imagery vary; either it is a bawdy allusion to Faustina's reputed intrigue with
Narcissus the gladiator, or else it like the rest of Rome's Venus Victrix coinage hints more at the wisdom of tempering male militarism with feminine mildness, a theme also featured in many of Charles I's masques celebrating his controversial marriage to French Catholic Henrietta Maria. The appearance of militant Venus in a number of guises in Cowley's Plantarum supports similarly varied perspectives on that doomed Stuart couple and their "halcyon-days" regnal ideology.

Gordian III, 238-44. Denarius.
Obv.: Gordian III.
Rev.: Venus with arms; inscr. VENVS VICTRIX.

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