Aeternitas

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The divine personification of eternity in pre-Christian Roman theology was known as Aeternitas.

As a virtue of the deified emperor, she was particularly linked with the Imperial religion (divus). From the Julio-Claudians through the Severans, the official Roman religion was characterized by the theological upkeep of abstract deities like Aeternitas. Aeternitas and other abstractions were worshipped in temples and sacrificed to, much like the more well-known anthropomorphic deities, in both Rome and the provinces. A coin featured an image of the Aeternitas Augusta temple at Tarraco, Roman Spain.

One of the numerous qualities shown on coins produced under Vespasian, Titus, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Septimius Severus was eternitas. Aeternitas is cited by Martianus Capella as one of the more revered of Jupiter’s daughters in The Marriage of Philology and Mercury. He makes reference to her diadem, whose circular form symbolizes eternity. Aion, the deity of unbounded time, the celestial spheres, and the Zodiac, is the male counterpart of Aeternitas.

Sestertius of Faustina Major showing Aeternitas seated holding phoenix on globe and scepter
Sestertius of Faustina Major showing Aeternitas seated holding phoenix on globe and scepter

Featured image: Aeternitas print by Philip Galle, S.I 1714, Prints Department, Royal Library of Belgium

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