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Sabina






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   SABINA   (Julia), the consort of Hadrian,
daughter of Mitidia, and great niece of Trajan,
by his sister Marciana. History has not recorded
the name of her father. She was given
in marriage A.D. 100, to Hadrian, who, through
this alliance and the influence of Plotina, was
enabled to become the successor of Trajan.
But although coins in plenty boast of Concordia
Augusta
, and some even exhibit Hadrian and
Sabina together, yet mutual disagreements in
domestic life, which resulted fatally to Sabina,
abundantly prove that these nuptuals were uncongenial to Hymen. The infamous passion of the emperor for his minion Antinous was partly the
cause, and a just one too, of that irreconcileable
hatred which Sabina entertained towards her
husband. And, he no sooner saw himself in possesion of the throne, than, throwing off the mask
of pretended courtesy and of conjugal regard, he
became the morose and persecuting tyrant of
his wife. On her arrival at Rome, this princess
received the title of Augusta (SABINA. AVGVSTA.
IMP. HADRIANI AVG.) ; and the senate flattered
her with the name Nova Ceres. But treated
by Hadrian rather as his slave than as his
empress, her life was one continual course of
vexation and unhappiness. Nor on her side was
there any display of resignation or forbearance
under the insults and indignities to which she
was exposed by the brutality of him who ought
to have been her protector. She openly declared
that the sterility of their marriage was owing to
a determination on her part never to bear
children to him, lest she should give birth
to one who should be more wicked than his
father, and become the scourge of mankind.
Enraged at her alienation and reproaches,
Hadrian though feeling himself sinking
under a mortal disease, had the barbarity to
compel her to commit suicide, or, as Roman
writers singularly express it, ad mortem voluntariam
compulsa est
. It has been said he
poisoned her himself (A.D. 137), a short time
before his own death,-- and, according to the
sarcastic remark of Beauvais, satisfait de
l'avoir ravie ŗ la terre, il la fit placer dans
le ciel!
-- That she was canonised into the
number of goddesses we indisputably learn
from the coins of diva Sabina ; but that this
honour was conferred on her by Hadrian, is
scarcely credible under all the circumstances of
the case. Eckhel argues this point with his
usual intelligence, and refers to the two following
silver coins, as confirmatory of his opinion,
that Sabina was consecrated not by her husband,
but by his successor Antoninus, whose mother
she was by the law of adoption.
DIVA. AVG. SABINA.-- Head of Sabina veiled.
Rev. CONSECRATIO.-- An eagle standing ; on
others, Sabina with hasta in right hand, carried
upwards by an eagle.
The second medal has the same obverse.
Rev. PIETATI. AVG.-- An altar.
According to the opinion of some ancient
writers, Antoninus was called Pius because he
wrought upon the senate by the carnestness of
his entreaties to decree celestial honours to his
father Hadrian. He would seem to have
obtained the same requested object in favour
of Sabina, from the coinage of this medal with
the type of an Altar, which he dedicated to her
with the epigraph of Pietas Augusta.
This empress is described by historians as
particularly handsome and well formed, of noble
manners and gracious demeanour, of great rectitude
and even elevation of mind, in short a truly
virtuous woman, whose temper, naturally amiable,
had been soured only by the ill treatment of her
husband. That her countenance beamed with
an air of majestic dignity will readily be believed
by those who have contemplated the lineaments
of her profile and the symmetry of her bust
handed down on coins of the Imperial and Senatorial
mints of Rome. The head dress of Sabina,
like those of Marciana, Matidia, and Plotina,
is arranged in different styles, sometimes with
the hair flowing straight and terminating in a
long braid behind, with or without a veil ; at
other times bound upwards tightly from the back
of the neck in a circular knot, and ornamented
with a tiara or diadem in front, but almost
always with great elegance, proving the diversity
and inconstancy of female fashions, whilst the
medal fixes the epocha of her change.
The Roman coins of Sabina are common in
silver and brass, except medallions ; but the
gold are somewhat rare.

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