056. Crispina

Crispina married the sixteen year-old, Commodus in the summer of 178 and brought him, as a dowry, a large number of estates. These, when added to the Imperial holdings, gave him control of a substantial part of Lucanian territory. The actual ceremony was modest but was commemorated on coinage and largesse was distributed to the people. An epithalamium for the occasion was composed by the sophist Julius Pollux.

Upon her marriage, Crispina received the title of Augusta, and thus, became Empress of the Roman Empire as her husband was co-emperor with her father-in-law at the time. The previous empress and her mother-in-law, Faustina the Younger, having died three years prior to her arrival.

Like most marriages of young members of the nobiles, it was arranged by paters: in Crispina's case by her father and her father-in-law, Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Crispina probably meant little to her egocentric husband though she was a beautiful woman. The other possible reason being that Commodus was known to prefer the company of men. Crispina is described as being a graceful person with a susceptible heart, but there is no medal extant of her.

As Augusta, Crispina was extensively honoured with public images, during the last two years of her father-in-law's reign and the initial years of her husband's reign. She did not seem to have any significant political influence over her husband during his bizarre reign. However, she was not exempted from court politics either as her sister-in-law, Lucilla, was an ambitious woman and was reportedly jealous of Crispina, the reigning empress, due to her position and power.

Crispina's marriage failed to produce an heir due to her husband's inability, which led to a dynastic succession crisis. In fact, both Anistius Burrus (with whom Commodus had share his first consulate as sole ruler) and Gaius Arrius Antoninus, who were probably related to the imperial family, were allegedly put to death 'on the suspicion of pretending to the throne'.

After ten years of marriage, Crispina was falsely charged with adultery by her husband and was banished to the island of Capri in 188, where she was later executed. After her banishment, Commodus did not marry again but took on a mistress, a woman named Marcia, who was later said to have conspired in his murder.

Crispina, wife of Commodus, 177-192, AE Dupondius or As (24x25mm), aVF. Sear RCV 6018. Obv. CRISPINA AVGVSTA, draped bust right. Rev. IVNO LVCINA S C, Juno standing left holding patera and scepter. The coin is brown and green, on a squarish flan.

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