As Antoninus Pius - Rhea Silvia
ANTONINUS PIUS. 138-161 AD. Æ As (11.42 gm, 1h). Struck circa 141-143 AD.
Obv. ANTONINVS AVG PIVS PP Laureate head right
Rev. TR POT COS III SC Mars, holding spear and shield, descending right through the air to Rhea Silvia, who reclines left asleep on ground, her head propped on left hand.
RIC III 694a; Cohen 885.
This type looks forward the 900th anniversary of Rome. Other types struck at this occasion feature Roma aeterna, Anchises and Ascanius, Romulus, She-wolf and twins.
Rhea Sylvia was the mythical mother of the twins Romulus and Remus, who founded the city of Rome. Her story is told in the Ab Urbe Condita of Livy. According to legend, she was the daughter of Numitor, king of Alba Longa and descendant of Aeneas. Numitor's brother Amulius seized the throne and killed Numitor's son. Amulius forced Rhea Sylvia to become a Vestal Virgin, a priestess to the goddess Vesta. Vestal Virgins where sworn to celibacy for a period of thirty years. Amulius forced her to become a Vestal Virgin so that she (and through her, Numitor) would have no heirs. The god Mars, however, took a fancy to Rhea Sylvia and raped her, engendering the twins. When Amulius learned of this, he ordered Rhea Sylvia buried alive (the standard punishment for Vestal Virgins who did not remain celibate) and ordered a servant to kill the twins, but the merciful servant set them adrift in the river Tiber. The river-god, Tiberinus found the twins and gave them to a she-wolf, Lupa, to suckle, and then he rescued and married Rhea Silvia. Romulus and Remus went on to found Rome and overthrow Amulius, reinstating Numitor as King of Alba Longa. [wikipedia]
Atlantis / from the CNG 69 sale, lot 1618; Tony Hardy Collection.