Herennia Etruscilla

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Antoninianus of Herennia Etruscilla.
Marble portrait head from a statue of a woman wearing a diadem, possibly Herennia Etruscilla. British Museum 1873,0820.734

Herennia Cupressenia Etruscilla (September 249 – June 251) was an Augusta and later regent of the Roman Empire, married to Emperor Decius, and mother of Emperors Herennius Etruscus and Hostilian.[1] She served as regent of the Roman Empire during the reign of her son Hostilian in 251.


As with most third-century Roman Empresses, very little is known about her. She was probably from a senatorial family. It is assumed that her ancestors settled in Etrurian lands.[2] Herennia married Decius probably before 230[2] and gained the title Augusta when Decius became emperor 249. When Decius and Herennius were defeated and killed in the Battle of Abrittus in 251, she became regent during the minority of her 13 year old son Hostilian. Hostilian died of the plague later that year, thus ending her mandate as regent. She sunk into obscurity after her sons perished.

While information about her is scarce, coins with her portrait are numerous and easy to obtain. Legends on coins struck at Rome only ever give her name as 'Herennia Etruscilla' but billon tetradrachms struck at Alexandria supply the Cupressenia element in abbreviation: ΕΡ ΚΟΥΠ ΑΙΤΡΟΥCΚΙΛΑ (ER KOUP AITROUSKILLA, transliterated from the Greek), showing that her full name was Herennia Cup(ressenia) Etruscilla.[3] The Cupressenia element is expanded from the 'ΚΟΥΠ' in the Alexandria coin legends, from the Latin cupresseus, the cypress tree and symbol of Juno.[4]


  1. ^ See below for the evidence from coin legends for her name.
  2. ^ a b Krawczuk, Aleksander. Poczet cesarzowych Rzymu. Warszawa: Iskry. ISBN 83-244-0021-4.
  3. ^ Sear, D., (2005), Roman Coins and Their Values. Volume III. The 3rd century crisis and recovery AD235-285, Spink, London, p. 212 and nos. 9486-9512.
  4. ^ Lewis and Short (1879 and numerous later impressions), A Latin Dictionary, p. 499, and Livy 27.37.12.

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Royal titles
Preceded by
Marcia Otacilia Severa
Empress of Rome
Succeeded by
Afinia Gemina Baebiana?
Succeeded by
Cornelia Supera
Preceded by
Nonia Celsa
Empress-Mother of Rome
Succeeded by
Cornelia Salonina