The new series from the Hannah Blount Jewelry studio celebrates some of the luminary women of the Roman Empire. From political icons to mythical goddesses and nymphs– these one-of-a-kind necklaces, earrings and rings are influenced by the past, and expressed through reimagined antique-coins, modern metals and chocolate diamonds.
Stories of the women of ancient Rome are sparse in history’s pages. Unable to vote or own land because of their gender, this inequality has left us with a lack of understanding on the truth of their lives. For the exceptional women and mythical creatures that made their mark on history- their strength, intelligence, style and often kindheartedness has carried their stories to present day.
Highlighting the power and presence of Roman female-figures– the women who commanded society and the law that ruled it, Hannah Blount Jewelry’s newest series commemorates empowered women of the past.
Severina | Empress
Severina was one of the most powerful women of the Roman Empire- speculated to be the only woman to rule on her own right, after the death of her husband Aurelian and before the rule of next emperor. This coin was issued between the years of 270 to 275; little is known about her time as a leader of ancient Rome. Severina received the title of ‘mater castrorum et senatus et patriae’, mother of the barracks, senate and country during her time as empress. A powerful woman that ruled despite the sexism that surrounded her; she continues to mystify to this day.
Vesta | Goddess
Depicted on this ancient Roman coin is the goddess of the hearth, home and family-- Vesta; this 63 BCE coin was issued to commemorate the passing of a seminal law. One of Zeus's sisters, Vesta was a significant religious symbol during the Roman Empire. During this time each Roman city had a public hearth in her honor, attended to by priestesses of Vesta- known as the Vestal Virgins. These priestesses tended to the eternal flame that was the landmark of each hearth. Known as Hestia in Greek mythology, Vesta was a virgin goddess like her sisters Minerva (Athena) and Diana (Artemis). Meals during this period of time began and ended with offerings to Vesta.
Faustina The Elder | Empress
Known for her efforts in educating young girls and her flair for personal style during her time as empress, Faustina the Elder was a trailblazer in her own right. The wife of the Roman emperor Antoninus Pius, aunt to Marcus Aurelius and great Aunt to empress Lucilla. Faustina I’s style was often emulated by her fellow Roman woman at the time and for years to come. Throughout her life, Faustina I contributed to charities that championed the impoverished and was an advocate of children's education, especially for young Roman girls.
This ancient Roman coin also features Juno, on the pendant's other side. Juno, also known as Hera in Greek mythology, was Jupiter's (Zeus) wife. Juno was the symbol of protection of marriage and was featured in most Roman homes. Juno was a complicated figure in mythology as she was also known her for temper and pursuit of vengeance.
Faustina The Younger | Empress
A woman of notoriety and much fascination, empress Faustina the Younger was particularly beloved by her and her husband's military. Speculated to play a large role in much political intrigue and plots to revolt and overthrow other rulers – Faustina II was not a woman to be trifled with. Some historians have noted that she accompanied her husband during tours of army operations and that he valued her input on many of his military and political choices. Faustina II’s disregard for the societal expectations of women at the time has left her with a legacy blighted by men that tried to control her narrative.
Venus | Goddess
The 83 BCE pendant depicts the goddess of love and beauty, Venus. Perhaps the most well known woman of Roman mythology, Venus was adored by the Romans and renowned for her physical beauty, but also her tenderness. The Romans believed that without this goddess there was no joy or beauty. For some, Venus symbolizes power for her ability to take the constraints and two-dimensional expectations for women at that time, and utilize her feminine wiles to rule over the men that she encountered.
Sinope | Nymph
Sinope, one of the many nymphs in mythology, is depicted on this coin, issued between the years of 306-290 BCE. Nymphs were female deities associated with a particular location (in this case, the city of Sinope) and with the natural elements. Lore states that the god Apollo tried to kidnap Sinope but she was able to outsmart him and escape.
Lucilla | Empress
Empress Lucilla was married to the emperor Lucius Verus, and fulfilled her title as co-ruler as he was away from Rome during much of his time as ruler. Lucilla’s second marriage was to her father’s political ally Tiberius Claudius Pompeianus Quintianus, a Syrian Roman. This marriage meant she was now a private citizen; it is rumored that she played a role in the plot to assassinate her brother in an attempt to help her husband consolidate power – not unlike her mother, Faustina the Younger.
Mythology by Edith Hamilton
The J. Paul Getty Museum | www.getty.edu
Great Women of Imperial Rome: Mothers and Wives of the Caesars by Jasper Burn