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Jochen
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« Reply #125 on: July 15, 2006, 09:14:56 am »

Leda and the swan

Today I want to present a coin with the depiction of one of the most famous myths of ancient times: Leda and the swan. Besides all other erotic adventures of Zeus like Alkmene, Danae, Europa, Io or Ganymed this seems to be the most popular. Thanks to Pete Burbules for the coin!

The coin:
Bithynia, Nicomedia, Severus Alexander AD 222-235
AE 19
obv. M AVR CEV ALEZANDROC AVG
       Bust, draped, radiate, r.
rev. NIKOMHD - EWN DIC NEO / KORWN (MH and WN ligate)
      Leda, with wreath on her head, nude to hips, with raised r. hand, standing frontal,
      head turned r. to a swan, which is standing l. with opened wings and is drawing her
      garment which she hold with her l. hand.
Receuil General I 3, 557, 316, pl.96, 22
extremely rare (only 3 ex. known), VZ (this seems to be the nicest!), nice deep green patina

Mythology:
There are several different versions of Leda and the swan. The most popular has its origin by Euripides: Leda, the daughter of the Aitolian king Thestios and his wife Eurythemis, was the wife of the Lakedaimonian king Tyndareus. Once when she was near the bank of the river Eurotas Zeus approached her in the shape of a swan and united with her. The fruit of this unification was an egg from which Helena, Kastor and Polydeukes arose. Leda after that was received by the gods as Nemesis (Laktanz I, 221; Hyginus, Fabel 77). The marriage with the swan now became complicated because Leda in the same night shared her bed with her husband Tyndareus too. Because of that some saw Tyndareus as father of the twins Kastor and Poldeukes whereas others saw them as sons of Zeus adding - besides Helena - Klytaimnestra too (Homer, Odyss. XI, 299; Ilias III, 426; Euripides, Helena 254, 1497 and 1680). Finely there was another distribution: Kastor and Klytaimnestra as children of Tyndareus, Helena and Polydeukes as children of Zeus (Pindar, Nem.Od. X, 80; Apollodor III, 6-7)

Referring to an older myth Zeus fell in love with Nemesis, daughter of the Night and Okeanos, the goddess of just enragement. To escape the pursuit by Zeus she turned into a fish, then in several four-footed animals and at last into a goose. Zeus chased her and was transforming himself too all the time. Finely he took the shape of a swan and raped Leda. This was said to be happened at Rhamnos in Attica. Because of that a big temple was built for Nemesis in Rhamnos. Thereupon Nemesis retired back to Sparta and gave birth to a hycinth-colored egg which was found by Leda. Leda put it into a chest until Helena came out of it who later was so disastrous for mankind by creating the Troyan War. Referring to another story a herdsman found the egg and brought it to the queen, or Hermes threw it into the bosom of Leda who then put it into a drawer until Helena was born from it.

It is told also that under the peak of the Taygetos mountain Zeus created with Leda the dioscuri Kastor and Polydeukes. Dios kuroi, 'the sons of Zeus', was the name of these Lakedaimonian twins and they became the saviors of many human beings especially in battles and on the sea. In a story depicted on some vase pictures they were already youth when their mother bore the egg. When it should be sacrificed to the gods Helena sprung from it.
It is told too from two twin eggs. From one the dioscuri were born, from the other Helena, and perhaps Klytaimnestra too the killer of her husband Agamemnon who then was killed by her own son Orestes. The House of Atreids to which Tyndareus and Klytaimnestra belonged was cursed because of the deeds of Tantalos and Atreus.
Is is told too about the twins that Polydeukes was immortal but Kastor in contrast mortal. When he had to die the brothers didn't want to part. So both stayed one day together in the underworld the other day with their father Zeus. Klytaimnestra too was mortal in contrast to the Zeus daughter Helena. So it was assumed that she and Kastor were created by Tyndareus who after Zeus joined Leda and by whom she received the second egg. But this story sounds very rationalistic and therefore seems to be younger.

Some background:
The flight of Nemesis from Zeus with its constant transformations is a typical fairy motive, called the 'magic flight', which is known from the Tales of Thousand and One Nights or from the 'Puss in Boots'. The egg is an old religious motive and corresponds to the 'World Egg' which here is sunk to the fairy motive of the wunderkind out of the egg. It is the attempt to find a compromise between the tradition of a divine mother with the earthly mother of Helena. The egg of Leda was a particular object of interest in the sanctuary of the Leukippids in Sparta (Pausan. 3, 16, 1). Whereas in the attic Rhamnos the tradition that Nemesis was the mother of Helena was held on (cult statue of Agrakritos) that tradition was decreasing during the development of the myth in literature and fine arts.

If it is true that Leda is originating from the lykian word 'lada' for 'Wife' - for Kerenyi the 'primal wife' - then the myth could have some pre-hellenic elements. Perhaps Zeus celebrated the Swan Marriage with a goddess who - besides Mother Earth - was the first female being of the world and who therefore was called simply Leda, the 'wife'.     

An inartificial explanation of the story of Leda I found in the 'Hederich' which I don't want to keep back: "As the meeting of Leda and Zeus was said to be happened at the banks of the river Eurotas where plenty of swans seemed to have existed so some wanted that she has a love affair with a local man and then to hide her dishonour has pretended Zeus has turned into a swan and approached her too close". Nice, isn't it? 
   
History of art:
The sculptors preferred at first the meeting of Zeus and Leda in that way, that Leda tries to cover a swan who requests for help from an eagle (Zeus too!) with her left hand by her cloak pressing him against her bosom. Such a statue in the Museo Capitolino in Rome seems to go back to Timotheus 4th century BC. In later times the sculpture has more stressed the erotic aspect. In imperial times the Leda motive is found numerously on intaglios, lamps, sarcophaguses, mosaics and wall paintings. On coins however only this type from Nikomedia is known!

Baroque and Renaissance have treated this theme in many versions. On a drawing of Leonardo da Vinci (passed down in a copy only) the nude standing Leda playfully grasps the swan's neck, like already in ancient depictions (silver bucket of Concesti, c.400 BC, Erimitage in St.Petersburg). More catchy is the situation in Michelangelo's painting also known as copy only, see the after-creations of Rosso Fiorentino (1530, London, NG) and Rubens (1603/4, Dresden, AM); here the swan intrudes directly the outstretched resting Leda. The long flexible neck allows some variants of the depiction (Corregio, 1531, Berlin, GG), which by pointing to the private parts of the woman could get a particular insinuating meaning. In the 20th century Bourdelle (Relief, 1904; Paris) and Brancusi (1920; Chicago, Art Institute) have handled this subject.

Sources:
- Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon
- Robert von Ranke-Graves, Griechische Mythologie, Rowohlt
- Karl Kerenyi, Die Mythologie der Griechen, dtv 
- Der kleine Pauly (backgrounds)
- Aghion/Barbillon/Lissarrague, Lexikon der antiken Götter und Heroen in der Kunst, Reclam

I have attached
- a pic of the famous mosaic from Paphos on Crete which shows Leda in the same position
  as on the coin, and
- the sculpture from the Museo Capitolino in Rome.

Best regards
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« Reply #126 on: July 21, 2006, 08:48:47 am »

Leda and the swan

Today I want to present a coin with the depiction of one of the most famous myths of ancient times: Leda and the swan.

The theme of one of the most famous sonnets in the English language  (the break--for rhetorical effect-- in the third line of the concluding sestet still represents a single line of this poem!) revolves around this infamous rape.  The author is Nobel laureate William Butler Yeats.

Leda and the Swan

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
                                        Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?


As Barbara Edwards-Aldrich notes, 'Yeats asks three rhetorical questions about this mythical rape, the most important of which is about the significance of the act: "Did she put on his knowledge with his power?". . . The poet's rhetoric persuades readers to consider the consequences of unbridled sexual passion, the coexistence of power and wisdom in human life, and the potential for combining youthful vitality and passion with mature knowledge and wisdom'. (http://mercury.southern.cc.oh.us/Home/bedwards/rhetorical.htm)

I've included two images inspired by this myth, the first:

Leda and the Swan
Bacchiacca (Francesco d'Ubertino) (Italian, Florentine, 1495–1557)
The Jack and Belle Linsky Collection, 1982 (1982.60.11)

and the second:

Leda and the Swan
Cy Twombly from the Permanent Collection at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City.

Jim (Cleisthenes)
 
 
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« Reply #127 on: July 28, 2006, 04:38:36 pm »

Tomos - the Ktistes

Sometimes the inquiry in the mythological background of coin depictions ends up in disappointment. Here we have an example:

1st coin:
Thracia, Tomis, pseudo-autonomous, c. 166-183 AD
AE 18
obv. KT - ICTHC - TOMOC
       bust of ktistes, draped and with hair-band, r.
rev. TWME - ITWN (beginning upper r.)
      Hermes, stg. l., in lowered r. hand purse, in l. arm kerykeion; chlamys over l. shoulder
AMNG 2554
rare, about VF
The 2nd series of autonomous coinage has 4 groups: the 1st group (n. 2554-2559) matches in the style of the obverse totally the 'Dreier' of the youthful Commodus, so we have a safe clue for the time of this coinage (Pick p.614)

2nd coin:
Thracia, Tomis, pseudo-autonomous, 1st-2nd.century AD
AE 16, 2.66g
obv. TOMOV - HRWC
       bust of Tomos, draped and with hair-band, r.
rev. TOM - ITWN
      Demeter, stg. l., in double chiton and with veil-like cape over back of the head, grain-ears
      in lowered r. hand, l.hand at sceptre
AMNG 2548 var. (HRWOC and T - OMI - TWN)
rare, about VF, green patina

Background:
Tomis, todays Constantza in Romania, was founded by Greeks from Milet at the coast of the Pontos (Black Sea). It is known too as place of Ovid's exile AD 8.

Both coins show Tomos, the alleged Ktistes (founder) and heroe of Tomis. He is however - besides on these coins - mentioned only once by an incription and so he belongs to these city-founders who were invented by ancient mythologists working on the name of the city as we can find on coins of several other cities of Northern Greece too like Anchialos, Byzas and others.

His invention furthermore is contrary to another tradition - worthless as well - where the name of Tomis is derived from temnein (greek 'schneiden'); at this place Medeia fleeing from her father should have slaughtered her brother Apsyrtos (lat. Absyrtus) or her father has buried his pieces (Ovid tr. 3, 9; similar by Apollodoros).

Apsyrtos was the son of king Aietes from Kolchis and his wife Ipsia and so the step-brother of Medeia. When Medeia together with Jason and the Argonauts has fled from Kolchis, where they have stolen the Golden Fleece, Aietes sent Apsyrtos with warriors after her with the order to bring her back or never come back.

About the then following events we have different reports. Hygin. (fab. 23) tells, that Apsyrtos finely recovered them at the court of king Alkinoos of Phaiakia, todays Corfu. But supplicating for shelter Alkinoos gave cover to them and didn't turned them over to him. Apsyrtos offered a compromise: If Medeia was untouched by Jason she should come back to Kolchis, if not then Jason could keep her as his wife. But this plan was brought to Jason by the wife of Alkinoos and in the same night Jason and Medeia shared their bed. So Apsyrtos was outsmarted. But fearing the revenge of his father coming back without Medeia Apsyrtos continued to pursuite them. When Jason was just sacrificing on an island sacred to Artemis he tried to take Medeia by violence. During the following struggle he was killed by Jason. His warriors hadn't the heart to return to Aietes and settled at Apsaros at the coast of the Pontos or on the Apsyrtean islands in the Adria near Pola. 

Apollodoros (rh. 4) tells, that Medeia has trapped Apsyrtos artfully in a temple of Artemis where he was ambushed and killed by Jason. Then Medeia has cut the body in pieces and has scattered the pieces over the land or the sea. Head and hands she has put on a higher rock so that Aietes who followed the Argonauts could see it immediately. Aietes was deeply shocked but at first he had to gather the pieces to bury them. So the Argonauts could escape successful. The place where Apsyrtos' sepulchre was erected later became the city of Tomis.
 
The myth of the death of Apsyrtos is explained by crossing the geographical names with motives of fairy tales. Actually the name Tomos is probably Getic or Thracean and the meaning is unknown!

Sources:
Pick, AMNG I, 2
Der kleine Pauly
Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon

Best regards
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« Reply #128 on: July 28, 2006, 04:41:19 pm »

Hippolytos and Phaidra

I know this coin is very worn, but it is the only one that is referring to the myth of Hippolytos and Phaidra. The legends are nearly illegible. I have completed them according to others from BCD.

Commodus AD 177-192
AE 21mm, 9.61 g
obv. [M AVR KOMMO]DOC AV[G]
Laureate head right
rev. [TROI - ZHNIWN]
Hippolytus standing facing, head left, holding spear and ?; dog at feet(?)
BCD Peloponnesos 1341.2 (this coin); NCP 1887, p.162, 7 (this coin)
extremely rare, VF, black green patina with traces of lighter olive overtones, light roughness
Pedigree:
ex BCD coll.
ex A. Rhousopoulos coll.
ex LHS 96, 8./9. May 2006, lot 1198

Mythology:
Troizen is known as home of Theseus, the most famous Greek heroe and future king of Athens. Besides many deeds and adventures he abducted Antiope (or Hippolyte or Glauke), queen of the Amazones, who gave birth to his son Hippolytos. After her death he married Phaidra (lat. Phaedra), daughter of the Cretian king Minos and his wife Pasiphae. This marriage made her step-mother of Hippolytos. But Hippolytos was brought to Troizen to be educated by Theseus' sister Aethra.

Hippolytos, like the Amazones, was a devotee of Artemis, goddess of hunting and chastity. Aphrodite, angry about that and because Hippolytos was not interested in love, took revenge on him by bewitching Phaidra. As goddess of love she made Phaidra falling in love with Hippolytos, when she once saw him at a festival in Athens. She followed him to Troizen and built a temple for Aphrodite where she could look at the stadion, where Hippolytos was exercising nude. This temple she called Hippolytion, later it was called temple of the 'Aphrodite looking around'. There the myrtle was standing where Phaidra in excitement perforated the leafs with her needle.

By Phaidras' nurse Hippolytos heard about the unnatural affection of his step-mother and was heavily shocked. He refused her wherupon Phaidra committed suicide by hanging. But she leaves a suicide note by which she accused Hippolytes of having besieged her. When Theseus coming home read this letter his mourning changed into blind rage. He banned Hippolytos from Troizen and cursed him by Poseidon. Because Hippolytos has sworn to maintain silence Theseus didn't find out the truth. Poseidon immediately fulfilled the curse of Theseus and let a monster (or a bull) climbing up from the sea so that Hippolytos' horses were frightened and had almost draggled him to death (or he was suspended in a tree). In the meantime Artemis has enlightened Theseus and he was sorry about his overhasty curse. When he and Hippolytos met for the last time Hippolytos forgave his father and then he died.
 
Fortunately - referring to an Roman adaptation of the myth - he was resuscitated by Asklepios. The goddess Diana Aricina (Artemis) having a sanctuary nearby transformed him into an old man who was worshipped under the name Virbius.

Background:
The story of Hippolytos and Phaidra covers the famous motive of Potiphar which we know too from Bellerophontes. In history it could have played a role at Crispus and Fausta.

Hippolytos was worshipped in Troizen as god. Referring to older opinions he was obtained as god of salvation. In his temple just married persons dedicated some of their tresses to him so that Hippolytos - made potent by this - could unify with Artemis. Their fertility then should come back to the young pair. The stadion and the gymnasion in Troizen was called after him. The temple of Artemis Lykeia was hold as his foundation. He was worshipped too in Athens and Sparta. His name should mean 'teared by horses'. The motiv of the resuscitation by Asklepios seems to be very old. Beeing a god Hippolytos was not allowed to die and so he was set to the stars as 'waggoner'.

The identification with Virbius remains mysterious. Virbius in the lat. poetry was held as the new name of the by Asklepios resuscitated Hippolytos. But this seems to be a wrong etymology of Virbius as 'Vir bis = double man'. Virbius was worshipped in Aricia at the lake Nemi as Dianae minister. Horses were not allowed there due to his death. There was a Virbii clivus in Aricia and in Naples a flamen Virbialis is known. He was one of the lower country gods.

Euripides has taken the myth of Hippolytos twice. His older work, 'The veiled Hippolytos', is lost. Probably Euripides didn't succeed with this work because it was too scandalous. With his younger work 'The wreathed Hippolytos' Euripides won the 1. prize at the Festival of Dionysos BC 428. This work is online under
http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/classics/staff/LSF/Euripides/hippolytos.htm

Ovid too used the staff of Euripides in his Metamorphoses and his Heroides (letters of mythological men and women). Other adaptations are from Seneca ('Phaedra', c.50 AD) and then from Racine ('Phedre', 1677), one of the most important works of French literature.

History of art:
The myth of Phaidra and Hippolytos is told in particular episodes especially on Roman sarcophagusses. I have attached an exemplar. The so-called 'Aldobrandini Marriage', a Roman painting of the 1st century BC (now in the Vaticane), assembles the protagonists of the myth. In later times the death of Hippolytos - like on Pompejian wall paintings - was the favoured motive because of its dramatic. Rubens shows the overturned carriage and the heavily dreaded harnessed horse team. (1611/12; Cambridge,FM).

Sources:
Apollodor, Epitome 1, 18,-19
Euripides, Hippolytos stephanephoros (The wreathed Hippolytos)
Ovid, Metamorphoses 15, 497-546; Heroides 4; Fasten 6, 737ff
Vergil, Aeneis 7, 761-782
Pausanias, Periegesis hellados (Description of Greece)

I have attached
1) a pic of the sarcophagus, c.290 AD, from the Campana coll., now in the Louvre/Paris.
    There we see - sitting between her handmaids  and some Erotes - the lovesick Phaidra, in
    the midth Hippolytos as hunter in his hand the letter of Phaidra, finally Theseus receiving
    the news of his son's death.
2) A pic of the mosaic with Phaidra ans Hippolytos from the house of Dionysos in Nea
    Paphos in Cypre, late 2nd century AD.

Enjoy!
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« Reply #129 on: July 31, 2006, 08:38:40 am »

An interesting depiction of Zeus-Ammon

This coin was the cause to read about Zeus-Ammon. Until now I have thought that Zeus-Ammon had become popular in Greece not before Alexander the Great has visited the oracle of Ammon in the oasis of Siwa. But that's not right!

The coin:
Macedonia, Kassandreia, Macrinus AD 217-218
AE 19
obv. [...] C M OPEL SEV[.] MACRINVS
       bust, cuirassed, laureate, r.
 rev. CO[...]L A - VG CASS[...]
       Zeus-Ammon, full-bearded and with curly hair, wearing himation, stg. r., holding in
       raised r. hand bunch of wine-grapes over his r. shoulder; [eagle stg. r. at his feet].
AMNG II.2, 16
rare, F+

The full name of Kassandreia was COLONIA IVLIA AVGVSTA CASSANDRENSIS. Today Kassandra ist the most west 'finger' of the Greek Chalkidike. There at the coast near Kallithea, at the ancient Aphytis, a big temple of Zeus-Ammon was standing in ancient times. Today it is the last Zeus-Ammon temple found in Europe. Sadly only the fundaments are seen today. An interesting fact is that Dionysos too was worshipped in this place!

Ammon was a famous oracle god in the oasis of Siwa in Libya. His worshipping in Greece began already in the 5th century BC, probably brought to Greece by colonists from Kyrenaika. The temple in Kallithea was first built in the 2nd half of the 4th century BC and after being destroyed again in the 3rd century BC.

The most famous event was probably the historic visit of Alexander the Great. He came to the Ammoneion of the oasis of Siwa shortly before his campaign against the Persians. The questions to the god had to be told to the priests previously, the answers of the god were movements, moving forward was confirmation, moving backward disapproving. The information which Alexander has got by Ammon has seemed to be satisfying, so was reported. The priests have welcommed Alexander as 'son of Ammon'. This was the usual salutation for great kings. But Alexander from that time on supposed to be the genuine son of the god. That matches the claim of his mother that she has conceived him by a snake, an incarnation of Zeus. Now the horns of Ammon were added to his depiction which could be seen on the coins of Lysimachos. Other famous persons having visited the oracle of Ammon were Hannibal, Alkibiades and Lysander, king of Sparta, to name only few.

Originally Ammon was an Ethiopian god of the herdsmen the guardian of their herds. From there he came to Egypt and became the main god of Thebes in Upper-Egypt. Ammon is the Greek form of the name Amana. This means 'the hidden' because he was thought of as an invisible breeze. He appeared during the 11th dynasty (20th century BC) and because of the important political role of Thebes as residence of the New Empire Ammon became God of the Empire and King of the Gods. His wife was the vulture-shaped godess Mut, his son the moon-god Chonsu. Theological he was composed by three figures: the primary creator Kneth, depicted as snake and buried in Medinet Habu, the king of gods in Karnak and the 'bull of the mother' in Luxor. The annual procession to Luxor was the most important ceremony of the country. In later ancient times Ammon was passed by Osiris. The Ammon of Siwa was of Libyan origin, probably a fount-god. The Greek identified him with Zeus as Zeus-Ammon, the Romans with Jupiter as Jupiter-Ammon. 

Greek mythology:
Because Ammon was known in Greece so long it is not astonishing that there are links to the Greek mythology. Clear that there are crossovers with the myths of Zeus.

According to this Ammon should have been a king of Libya, married with Rhea, sister of Kronos, Titans both. Once he met Amalthea who gave birth to his son Dionysos. Fearing his wife he brought Dionysos underhand to the city of Nysa. Soon Dionysos became famous and Rhea wanted to capture him, but Ammon haven't allowed that. Hence Rhea left Ammon and married again her brother Kronos. Then he forced him to campaign against Ammon and to chase him away from his kingdom. Ammon lost the war and escaped to Crete where he was persecuted by the Titans.

After being beaten by Hera with madness - she wanted to take revenge on Zeus - Dionysos moved through the world accompanied by satyrs, mainads and his teacher Silen. With a loading of wine he sailed to Egypt. Heartily he was welcommed by King Proteus. At that time at the delta of the Nile Amazones were living. Dionysos prompted them to go with him against the Titans and to restore his father Ammon to the throne. He succeeded and his victory over the Ttans and the restoring of Ammon was the first of his numerous military successes.

In fact wine was forbidden in the cult of Ammon. Before visiting the oracle one had to abstain from alcohol one week. Wether this was applied to Alexander too I don't know! The bunch of wine-grapes depicted on the coin is an allusion to Dionysos. The reverse shows a typical pantheistic depiction: Ammon, Zeus (known by the eagle) and Dionysos with the wine-grapes all in one figure!

I have attached:
a) The pic of one of the famous tetradrachms of Lysimachos showing the head of Alexander
    with the horns of Ammon. You can see too that the 'eyes to heaven' are not the invention   
    of Constantine!
b) A pic of todays Kallithea. The remains of the temple of Zeus-Ammon are located at the
    left before the big hotel in the background named significantly 'the Zeus-Ammon-Hotel!.

Sources:
AMNG
Der kleine Pauly
Ranke-Graves, Griechische Mythologie
Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon

Best regards

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« Reply #130 on: August 06, 2006, 12:20:58 am »

Jochen & Colleagues,

I have made a quick perusal of the index of this thread (thank you once again Jochen!), and while I've noticed Pegasus (and I vaguely remember our discussion), I did not see a specific reference to Bellerophon.  If I've missed it, I apologize. 

I have included a nice summary of the man who rode the amazing horse.  It was written by Erez Lieberman (http://www.pantheon.org/articles/b/bellerophon.html).

"In Corinth, a child was born to the King, Glaucus. Bellerophon, the son of the most skilled equestrian of the day, was taught by his father from a young age. Bellerophon was a precocious student.

When he turned sixteen, Bellerophon longed for adventure, and set out to find it. Along his journey he met Proteus, who feigned friendship to Bellerophon. In truth, Proteus was insanely jealous of Bellerophon, and sought to cause his death. Proteus was the son-in-law of Iobates, the King of Lycia. Feigning goodwill, Proteus gave Bellerophon a sealed message to carry to the King.
 
Upon his arrival in Lycia, Bellerophon found that a pall had been cast over the once-joyful land. Each night, the Chimera, a monster with the head of a lion and the tail of a dragon, swept down upon the valley and carried off women, children, and livestock. The bones of his many victims lay strewn along the mountainside. The population lived in constant fear.
 
When Iobates read the letter Bellerophon had delivered, he found that Proteus requested Bellerophon be put to death. Though he wanted to please his son-in-law, he knew that an outright execution would risk war against the Corinthians. He slyly sent Bellerophon to slay the Chimera, sure that he would never return alive.
 
Bellerophon, longing for excitement, was not frightened by the concept of facing the Chimera. Rather, he was overcome with happiness at the opportunity to rid the poor people from this gruesome threat.
 
Before he set out on his quest, Bellerophon sought the advice of Polyidus, the wisest man in Lycia. Impressed by the youth's courage, Polyidus told him of the legendary Pegasus. He advised him to spend a night in Athena's temple, and offer her many gifts. In return, the goddess may help him obtain the horse.
 
Bellerophon took his advice, and Athena appeared to him that night in a dream. She gave him a golden bridle and instructions as to where to find the well from which the Pegasus drank. In the morning, Bellerophon awoke to find the golden bridle beside him. He knew that his dream had been real.
 
Bellerophon journeyed into the forest, locating the well of which Athena had spoken. He hid in the bushes by the well. When the Pegasus finally arrived, Bellerophon waited till it kneeled over to drink and then pounced upon it from his hiding place, slipping the bridle onto its head. Pegasus flew into the air, trying desperately to shake Bellerophon off. But Bellerophon was up to the challenge, skilled in the handling of fierce horses. Pegasus understood that he had a new master.
 
After a brief rest, Bellerophon set out to the ledge where the Chimera dwelt. Armed with a long spear, he charged the Chimera. The Chimera exhaled a puff of its horrible fire. Pegasus darted backward to evade the burning breath. Before the Chimera could breathe again, Pegasus renewed its advance and Bellerophon drove the spear through the Chimera's heart.
 
When the Prince returned to the palace upon a winged horse, carrying the head of the frightful Chimera, the Kingdom rejoiced. The people admired his bravery, and the wonderful winged horse which he rode. King Iobates gave his willing daughter to Bellerophon as a bride.
 
For years the couple was happy, and when Iobates died, Bellerophon took his place. But again Bellerophon sought greater and greater adventures. Finally, he decided to ride up to Mount Olympus to visit the gods.
 
Mounting his steed, he urged Pegasus skyward, higher and higher. Zeus, displeased with Bellerophon's arrogant attempt to scale Mount Olympus' heights, sent a gadfly to punish the mortal for daring to ascend to the home of gods. The fly stung Pegasus, and so startled the horse that he suddenly reared, and Bellerophon was hurled off of his back. He plummeted to the ground.
 
Athena spared his life by causing him to land on soft ground. But for the rest of his life, Bellerophon traveled, lonely and crippled, in search of his wonderful steed.
 
But alas, Pegasus never returned."


I have included the only coin I could find with Bellerophon:

L. Cossutius, 74 B.C. 
AR Denarius, 3.82g. 18mm. SABVLA. Head of Medussa l. Rv. L COSSVTI C F. Bellerophon riding Pegasus r. and brandishing spear. CR 395/1.

I have also included an image: Source: Dr. Vollmer's Wörterbuch der Mythologie aller Völker.
Stuttgart: Hoffmann'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1874.
 

Jim (Cleisthenes)
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« Reply #131 on: August 06, 2006, 09:26:34 am »


I have a rough bronze from Corinth, circa 44 BC, time of Julius Caesar.

AE 24,

Obverse: CORINTHVM Bellerophon, wearing petasos and chlamys, striding r., and seizing Pegasos r., by the bridle, before a porch*.

Reverse: P. TADI . CHILO     Poseidon naked, seated r. on rock, and resting on long trident.
                C . IVLI . NICEP
                   II . VIR .

BMC 483.

* Paus ii, 2, 4 - "... A cypress grove called KRANEON grows in front of the city. Here is Bellerophon's enclosure..."

Penquin Classics, "Pausania, Guide to Greece, Volume 1: Central Greece." Pete Levi translation

c.rhodes 

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« Reply #132 on: August 06, 2006, 12:34:08 pm »

Thanks for the article about Bellerophon and the nice pics! I want to add here something about the facts behind the myth.

Bellerophon (or Bellerophontes) is one of the examples of human hybris and its punishment by the gods. So Pindar anyway understood this myth. Euripides has written a 'Bellerophontes' where the heroe was described as attacking the heaven for intellectual curiosity. When he died he was reconciled with the gods.

The heroe was worshipped especially in Corinth and in Lycia. Originally he was a divine figure. A Lycian fairy tale telling about a flood which he had caused and depictions with a trident allocate him to the reign of Poseidon, the Pegasos more to celestial gods. His Name should mean 'appearing in the clouds', but usually it is translated as 'killer of Belleros'. Belleros was a pre-hellenic snake monster. Chimaira and Pegasos are transferred to Bellerophontes first in Lycia. Interpreting the myth the scholar Schachermeyr points out the historical circumstances. He regards him as kind of a knight errant of the late Mycenean time because there are links between the Argolis and courts of Asia minor. The scholar Wiesner looks at him as an example of the change from the chariot fighter to the equestrian warrior from the late Mycenean time to the 8th century BC. The Potiphar and Urias motive are later novellistic decorations.

The most favoured theme in art was his struggle with the Chimaira depicted already on proto-corinthian vases. Other depictions occur first in the vase paintings in Lower Italy (Graeca magna) probably under the influence of the Greek tragedies.

I have added the pic of an archaic Laconian black-figured vase painting, 570-565 BC, attributed to the Boread Painter, now in the Paul Getty Museum in Malibu/California, showing the struggle between Bellerophontes, Pegasus and Chimaira.

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« Reply #133 on: August 06, 2006, 03:27:36 pm »

Because it is Corinthian and nearly a century earlier than the Laconian one, and indeed one of the earliest representations of Bellerophon actually fighting with the chimaera, and, IMO, a masterpiece of fine drawing besides and of the Greek humanizing of myths, I was going to post this last night and hesitated only because it is vase-painting.  Middle Protocorinthian (verging on Late Protocorinthian), ca. 650 BCE, the Aegina Bellerophon (found there about 80 years ago).  Pat L.
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« Reply #134 on: August 08, 2006, 05:45:35 am »

Because it is Corinthian and nearly a century earlier than the Laconian one, and indeed one of the earliest representations of Bellerophon actually fighting with the chimaera, and, IMO, a masterpiece of fine drawing besides and of the Greek humanizing of myths, I was going to post this last night and hesitated only because it is vase-painting.  Middle Protocorinthian (verging on Late Protocorinthian), ca. 650 BCE, the Aegina Bellerophon (found there about 80 years ago).  Pat L.

Pat L.,
This vase painting really is a masterpiece!  Thanks!

Jochen,
The Boread Painter piece is beautiful.  Thank you, too!

gordian_guy,
Your coin is very interesting.  Thanks, as well!

Jim (Cleisthenes)
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« Reply #135 on: August 13, 2006, 09:52:46 am »

Alpheios and the nymph Arethusa

The coin:
Sicily, Syracuse, c.475-450 BC
Silver litra, 12.4mm, 0.653g
obv. SVRA
      Head of Arethusa, with pearl-diadem, r.
rev. Oktopus
SNG ANS 183; SNG München 1003; SNG Copenhagen 641; cf. Boehringer S.196, 450ff.
good F-about VF, slightly toned

Mythology:
Arethusa, daughter of Nereus, the sea-god, and Doris, was a well-nymph on the Peloponnesos, but a passionated huntress and compaignon of Artemis too. Once she came heated from a hunt in the Stymphalic woods to the river Alpheios, took off her clothes and entered the water. At this moment the river-god approached her and shouted she should not flee from him. But she did without her clothes and Alpheios followed her until they came to Elis. Here exhausted she called Artemis for help. Artemis wrapped her in clouds to hide her from Alpheios. But nevertheless he hold her embraced. So she was transformed by Artemis into water and melted between his fingers. But Alpheios changed into water too to unite with her. Then Artemis opened the ground so Arethusa could flow into it and came out not earlier than on the island of Ortygia in front of Syracuse in Sicily as a beautiful fountain. During her flight she discovered btw the raped Persephone and reported that to Demeter. Alpheios followed her to Sicily and here finally he succeded in uniting with her.

Arethusa was worshipped in Aigios in Achaia. The people took offering cakes from the altar of Salus threw them into the sea and shouted she should send them to Arethusa to Sicily.

The famous fountain on Ortygia was very beautiful and full of tasty sweet water. It was large and full of fishes. But it had to be armed with barrages to protect it against the sea. There was a curious case with this fountain: Everytime the Olympic Games occur in Elis the fountain smelled of horse dung. This was true too if horses were drifted into the Alpheios. It was told too that once a silvery bowl thrown into the Alpheios appeared in the fountain. This all was seen as proof for a subterranean connection between Elis and Ortygia deep under the Mediterranean.

Background:
The name Arethusa seems to be Phoinician and should be explained so: When the Phoinicians came to Sicily and found the fountain they called it 'Alphaga', meaning willow spring. Others called it just 'Arith', meaning stream. The Greek coming later to Sicily no longer understood these meanings and put it to the name of the river Alpheios.

The river Alpheios is the biggest river of the Peloponnesos which together with its confluents drains the major part of Arcadia. Until today it is a whitewater with torrential streaming especially at flood. In ancient times there was only one bridge testified at Heraia. The Alpheios already soon played a big role in mythology. So he should have chased Artemis Arethusa in love who had a sanctuary at his estuary mouth. But the most famous is the myth of the nymph Arethusa where several different variants are known. Beside the physical impossible subterranean connection to Sicily there were other such impossible suggestions f.e. that Alpheios and Eurotas have the same well from which they originate.

The island of Ortygia, the 'land of quails', situated directly in front of Syracuse, was the mythic birthplace of Artemis who therefore had the cognomen Ortygia too. The most ancient mentions can not be localised but in the course of time the cult places of Artemis and Leto were identified with Ortygia. Indeed other places too claimed to be the birthplace, so Delos, called formerly Ortygia, Nasos near Syracuse or Ephesos with its sacred grove.

BTW Sometimes Arethusa is listed as one of the Hesperids too.

Already soon Arethusa was depicted on coins of Syracus, often accompanied by dolphins, and later melted together with Artemis of whom she was a passionate devotee.

It's curious, I wasn't able to find an ancient depiction to this myth. So I have attached the pic of a painting of Jean Restout (1720), now in the Museum des Beaux Arts in Rouen/France. It shows the moment where Artemis helped the persecuted Arethusa.
The second pic shows the fountain of Arethus on Ortygia how it could be seen today.

Sources:
Ovid, Metamorphoses 5, 571-641
Pausanias, Periegesis 5, 7, 2-4
Benjami Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon
Der kleine Pauly

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« Reply #136 on: August 18, 2006, 02:45:23 am »

The Dioskouori  (alternatively spelled--dioskuri, dioscuri)

Castor and Pollux (Kastor and Polydeukes)

(according to http://www.online-mythology.com/castor_pollux/)

Castor and Pollux were the offspring of Leda and the Swan, under which disguise Jupiter had concealed himself. Leda gave birth to an egg [two eggs], from which sprang the twins [Castor and Pollux in one egg]. Helen, so famous afterwards as the cause of the Trojan war, was their sister [in the second egg, Helen was joined by her sister Clytemnestra (also spelled 'Clytaemnestra')].

When Theseus and his friend Pirithous had carried off Helen from Sparta, the youthful heroes Castor and Pollux, with their followers, hasted to her rescue. Theseus was absent from Attica, and the brothers were successful in recovering their sister.

Castor was famous for taming and managing horses, and Pollux for skill in boxing. They were united by the warmest affection, and inseparable in all their enterprises. They accompanied the Argonautic expedition. During the voyage a storm arose, and Orpheus prayed to the Samothracian gods, and played on his harp, whereupon the storm ceased and stars appeared on the heads of the brothers. From this incident, Castor and Pollux came afterwards to be considered the patron deities of seamen and voyagers (One of the ships in which St. Paul sailed was named the Castor and Pollux. See: Acts xxviii, II.), and the lambent flames, which in certain sates of the atmosphere play round the sails and masts of vessels, were called by their names.

After the Argonautic expedition, we find Castor and Pollux engaged in a war with Idas and Lynceus. Castor was slain, and Pollux, inconsolable for the loss of his brother, besought Jupiter to be permitted to give his own life as a ransom for him. Jupiter so far consented as to allow the two brothers to enjoy the boon of life alternately, passing one day under the earth and the next in the heavenly abodes. According to another form of the story, Jupiter rewarded the attachment of the brothers by placing them among the stars as Gemini, the Twins.

They received divine honors under the name of Dioscuri (sons of Jove). They were believed to have appeared occasionally in later times, taking part with one side or the other, in hard-fought fields, and were said on such occasions to be mounted on magnificent white steeds. Thus, in the early history of Rome, they are said to have assisted the Romans at the battle of Lake Regillus, and after the victory a temple was erected in their honor on the spot where they appeared.


The accompanying coin:

CALABRIA, Taras. Time of Pyrrhus, 281-272 BC. AR Nomos.  Obverse: The Dioskouori riding; Reverse: Taras riding dolphin over waves, holding Nike. Vlasto.777.
 
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« Reply #137 on: August 18, 2006, 04:56:42 am »

Hi Cleisthenes!

A beautiful coin and interesting informations! All interested in this subject may look too at http://www.forumancientcoins.com/board/index.php?topic=25089.25 and search for 'The Dioscurs - the divine pair of brothers'.

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« Reply #138 on: August 18, 2006, 05:24:38 pm »

The myths of Arne

Thessalia, Kierion, 400-344 BC
AE - Trihemiobol(?)
obv. Head of Poseidon, wearing taenia, r.
rev. KIERI - EIWN (?)
      Nymph Arne, wearing chiton, kneeling r., head l., playing with astragaloi
S. 2069; SNG Copenhagen 35
very rare, good S

Mythology:
The myth of Arne belongs to the group of sagas around Hellen, son of Deukalion, who gave name to the Greek who call themselfs Hellens. Her father was Aiolos, the first son of Hellen. Aiolos seduced Thetis, daughter of Cheiron, who became pregnant. To protect her of her father, Poseidon - friend of Aiolos - changed her in a mare and she gave birth to the foal Melanippe which at once was changed back by Poseidon into a girl. Aiolos adopted her, gave her the name Arne and then gave her to a Desmontes to care for her.

Poseidon observed the growing of Arne and seduced her when she became adult. When Desmontes discovered the pregnancy of the girl she let her blind and threw her into a burial chamber. There in her prison she gave birth to the twins Aiolos and Boiotos. Desmontes took the children and commanded her servants to maroon the twins at the Pelion mountain to be gorged by wild beasts. But a cow gave them milk until they were found by Ikarian herdsmen.

Because Theano, wife of the Ikarian king Metapontos, was not able to bear children, and
Metapontos because of that was willing to part from her she took the twins telling him that they were his children. But when however she later got children for her own - and the twins were more intelligent and more beautiful than her own children - she convinced them to kill the twins when they were hunting together. When it came to the fight Poseidon appeared to help his sons and the sons of Theano were killed. When Theano got the message she suicided by hanging. Aiolos and Boiotos escaped. When they heard by Poseidon of the pitiful fate of her mother they killed Desmonted and rescued their mother. Metapontos hearing of the disloyalty of his wife married Arne and adopted her twins (Hygin.Fab. 186).

Unfortunately the domestic bliss didn't lasted long. Metapontos became bored with Arne and married again. Aiolos and Boiotos took their mother's part and killed Autolyte, the new wife. After that they had to flee. They found reception at the court of their grandfather Aiolos. Aiolos gave Boiotos the southern part of his kingdom. From that time on the inhabitants were called Boiotians. Two Thessalian cities took the name Arne, oneof which later became Chaironeia (Pausan. Boiot. c.40).

His brother Aiolos has sailed to the west and has occupied the Aiolic Islands in the Thyrrenean Sea. He became famous as favourite of the gods and guardian of the winds. His home was Lipara a swimming rocky island. But this is another story.

Background:
The myth of Arne is a local myth from Thessalia. Arne in Boiotia is named only in Homer's Ilias 2, 507 and therefore is explained as old name of Akraiphion or Chaironeia or being devoured by the lake Kopais. A second Arne shuld have been the old name of the Thessalonitis or of its capital Kierion (RE II 1209, 29 ff.). BTW Our Arne should not be confused with that Arne who was change into a daw because of her stinginess.
The case with Aiolos is a bit complicated and had make me trouble in the beginning. There are 3 different persons called Aiolos: Aiolos I, here the father of Arne, and Aiolos III, the son of Arne. Beside them there is a Aiolos II, the grandson of Aiolos I, sometimes called the father of Arne too. So it is not clear too, who is the guardian of the winds, Aiolos I or Aiolos III.

The Astragaloi:
Sadly the astragaloi are no more seen on my coin. Astragaloi are dices made from the ankle joint bones (talus) of sheep and goats (greek astragalos = ankle joint). In one of the games the astragaloi must be thrown upwards and then were been valued referring to the sides which were seen upside. The sides had different values: The most instable side was 6 points, the concave side 3 points, the convex side 2 point and the most simple only 1 point. If all 4 astragaloi showed different sides the throw was called Venus and the player won the game. Showing only 1 point on all sides was called Canis (dog) and that was the worst throw. These terms we know from a letter of Augustus to Sueton. Augustus was said to be a passionate dice player.

Arne, the well-nymph:
Why Arne on this coin is depicted playing with astragaloi I think could have this reason: There is another myth about a well-nymph named Arne passed down by Pausanias f.e (10, 1 ff.). Rhea after giving birth to Poseidon has hidden the child between a herd of sheep near a well caled Arne, the 'sheep-well'. To Kronos  - who was going to gorge all his new-born babes - she gave a foal like the stone she gave later to him instead of the young Zeus. By others the story is told so, that the well-nymph to whom Rhea gave her child has a different name at that time. She got the name Arne not before Kronos demanded his son from the nymph and she denied him, as it would come from the word for 'denying'

And playing with astragaloi matches a well-nymph much better. Probably the figures of Arne, daughter of Aiolos, from whom Kierion has gotten its old name, and Arne, the well-nymph, interfered with each other!

I have added the pic of a Roman statue, 130-50 AD, showing a girl plying with astragaloi. Today it is in the Antiken Museum in Berlin. The depiction reminds strongly of our coin reverse.

Sources:
Pausanias, Voyages in Greece
Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon
Robert von Ranke-Graves, Mythologie der Griechen
Karl Kerenyi,
Der kleine Pauly

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« Reply #139 on: August 18, 2006, 05:26:10 pm »

Artemis and Kallisto

Rather by chance I recently came across this Greek coin - and couldn't resist as you could suggest.

Boiotia, Orchomenos, 4th century BC
AE 20, dichalkon, 5.91g
obv. Artemis in short chiton, quiver at back, kneeling r., shooting arrow from her bow, [behind
       her a dog]
 rev. [ERXOMENIWN]
       Kallisto seated on rocks, transfixed by an arrow in her breast, falling backwards, at her
       side Arkos, laying backwards
SNG Copenhagen 266; BMC 1-2 var.; Svoronos 1914, pl. XI, 5, 7; Traite III, 940
rare, about VF, dark green patina

Mythology:
Kallisto, daughter of king Lykaon - or referring to others a nymph, was a devotee of Artemis. She was loving the hunt and has sworn eternal virginity. But Zeus fall in love with the beautiful girl and seduced her. After that he transformed her into a she-bear to hide her from Hera. Hera saw through his trick and caused Artemis to shoot her. But Zeus saved his and her son Arkas by giving him to Maia who should educate him. Kallisto was put as constellation to the sky (Apollod. I, c.). Another version tells that she succeeded in hiding her gravidity from Artemis until they together wanted to take a bath. Artemis saw her pregnant belly and Artemis transformed her into a she-bear as which she delivered Arkas. When soon after that she and Arkas were catched by herdsmen and brought to her father Lykaon she fleed into the temple of Zeus. Because of that sacrilege she should be put to death, but Zeus moved her to the stars (Eratosthenes and Hygin. Lex. Myth.). Others report, that Zeus himself has taken the shape of Artemis when he approached her (Callimach. ad Hymn. in Jovem, v. 41). When Artemis asked her for her state and she answered that Artemis herself was the cause for that she became so angry that she transformed her.

About the fate of Arkas there are some different versions too. Referring to one of them Zeus gave him to Maia because she should educate him. Referring to another his grandfather Lykaon is said to have received him. When once Zeus visited him Lykaon has slaughtered Arkas and has dished up him to Zeus with the intent to try out wether he as a god was able to know what he was eating. Zeus recognized this abhorrent deed, destroyed his house by lightning and transformed Lykaon into a wolfe. Arkas was put together again, he gave him back his life, and gave him to herdsmen for education. When they were sometimes hunting they met a she-bear, his transformed mother. They took their bows but the she-bear fleed in the temple of Zeus Lykaion. This temple was not allowed to enter. Therefore she and Arkas who was following her should be executed. But Zeus saved tem both by putting them to te stars. Nevertheless it is reported that he followed his mother's brother as king. He then teached his people to cultivate grain - what he has learned by Triptolemos, likewise the art of weaving and making clothes, whch he has learned by Adristos. The country which was called Pelasgia got the name Arkadia referring to him. His wife was said to be Erato from who he got three sons, Aza, Aphidas and Elatus, between he later distributed his realm. The city of Trapezus in Arkadia is said to be founded by Arkas.

Some background:
Mostly named as daughter of the Arcadian king Lykaon she was a hunting compagnion of Artemis. Zeus approached her in the shape of Artemis (or Apollo). Artemis discovers her pregnancy, outcasts her and transforms her into a she-bear. She delivees Arkas (referring to others Arkas and Pan) and so becomes the the sovereign of Arcadia. The transformation sometimes occurs by Zeus or Hera. It is reported too that Artemis shot her. Kallimachos connected both versions: Hera transforms her into a she-bear and commands Artemis to shoot her. Zeus saves her by puttnig her to the stars. The adolescent Arkas follows a she-bear not knowing that she is her mother; to avoid a desaster Zeus puts both to the stars: she-bear and Arkturos (Arktophylax, the bear-keeper). Angry again Hera caused the sea-gods Okeanos and Tethys to not allow the she-bear at the sky to take a bath in the ocean. The Great Bear so belongs to the circumpolar stars which never go under (Ovid met. II, 409-531).
At Trikolonoi near Megapolis her grave was shown in the temple of Artemis Kallisto of which she is a hypostasis*, Paus. VIII, 35, 8; Statues of Kallisto are proofed literalily; of the statue from Delphi (Paus. X, 9, 5f.) is found the devoting inscription of the Arcadians. A wall painting of Pompeji is now in Naples.

Arkas, Eponymos* of the Arcadians, listed at the 4th place in the list of the kings, was the son of Zeus and Kallisto, an Artemis figure. He brings forward his country's culture and distributes it to his 3 sons of Erato. His tomb is found in Mantineia, Paus. III, 8, 9. His myths in the version we know (Ovid met. II, 490ff.; fast II, 155ff.) are of hellenistic origin.

*Eponymos: Someone who gave name to a city or country
*Hypostasis, here: Personification of a divine attribute or a religious idea to an
                             independent divine being (meaning: Kallisto is in a sense Artemis
                             herself!)

History of art:
The transformation into a she-bear is shown in a Apulian Vase painting (Oinochoe, c.370 BC; Malibu,GM). The seduction by Zeus in the shape of Artemis at the side of Kallisto was painted by Rubens (1613; Kassel, SM), F. Boucher (1769; London, WC) and J.-H. Fragonard (c. 1753; Angers, MBA); only an eagle or a thunderbolt as attribute let us recognize that it is Zeus. His transformation into a female goddess gave the painters especially of the 18th century the sujet or the pretense to depict a tender tete-a-tete between two women not without a Sapphic undertone. Artemis detecting Kallisto's pregnancy when bathing and pointing at her with her finger under the condemning looks of the other nymphs, that was depicted by Tizian (c.1568; Vienna, KM) and Annibale Caracci (c.1603; Rome, Palazzo Farnese). Palma Vecchio ( c.1526; Vienna, KM) used the scene to present female act figures in various positions.

I have attached a pic of Tizian's painting.

Sources:
Der kleine Pauly
Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon
Karl Kerenyi, Mythologie der Griechen
Ovid, Metamorphoses
Pausanias, Journeys through Greece
Aghion/Barbillon/Lissarrague, Reclams Lexikon der antiken Götter und Heroen

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« Reply #140 on: August 26, 2006, 01:20:37 am »

Artemis and Kallisto

As usual, I only have something very brief to add to Jochen's always interesting information:

Kallisto (ka-lis'tõ) or Callisto was the daughter of Lycaon, a king of Acadia who has been transformed into a wolf because of his wickedness. Zeus fell in love with Kallisto and she bore him a son, Arcas.

According to some accounts, Artemis was angry with Kallisto, who has been one of her chaste companions, and transformed her into a bear. Others say it was Zeus who transformed her to save her from the wrath of Hera. Whatever the reason, Kallisto was turned into a bear.

When Arcas reached young manhood, he was hunting wild animals in the forest, and seeing a bear, would have killed it, unaware that it was his mother. Zeus rescued Kallisto by carrying her off in a whirlwind and translating her to the heavens, where she became the constellation Ursa Major (the Great Bear). Hera was jealous of the honor that had come to Kallisto of being placed in the skies, and persuaded Poseidon to forbid her ever to bathe in the sea. For this reason the Great Bear never sinks below the horizon [northern hemisphere, of course] - just as the GPS constellation is always visible to Kallisto!
(see: http://ion.le.ac.uk/kallisto/myth.html)

I have included the following coin:

AR Hemidrachm, 2.86g, 470s B.C., with a reverse die by the ‘Copenhagen Master’. Obverse: Zeus Lykaios seated left on low throne, holding long scepter with his left hand and with eagle flying off his right; ReverseHead of Kallisto to left, wearing taenia and necklace and with her hair in a queue; all within incuse square. BMFA 1239 (this coin). Williams I, 1, 6a (this coin). Very rare.
 
From the collections of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and of Catherine Page Perkins, Numismatic Fine Arts VIII, 6 June 1980, 182.
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« Reply #141 on: August 26, 2006, 03:47:46 pm »

The Lares

Most of my contributions deal with Greek mythology. Now here I have a typical Roman theme: the Lares! Everytime if you talk about the Lares this coin must be shown at any case:

Lucius Caesius, gens Caesia
AR - denar, 3.87g, 21mm
        Rome, 112/111 BC
obv. Heroic bust of the youthful Apollo Vesovius l., diademed and with drapery on l.
       shoulder, seen from behind, hurling thunderbolt
 rev. The Lares Praestites seated 3/4 r., nude to hips, then covered with dog's skin, wearing
       hats and boots, between them a dog, stg. r.; both holding staff in l. hand, the right one
       has r. hand on the dog's head.
       in upper field head of Vulcanus l. and his tongs
       in left field LA ligate, in r. field RE ligate (LA-RE!)
       in ex. L.CAESI
Crawford 298/1; Sydenham 564; RSC Caesia 1
nice VF, broad flan

The Lares together with the Penates and Manes belong to the Roman guardian spirits. As goddess eventually Ceres is counting to this group too.The name Lares is said to originate from the Etruscean 'larth', meaning ruler or king. But that is not sure. Referring to the myth their parents were the nymph Acca Larentina and the god Mercurius. There are various Lares depending on the place they were protecting:
Lares compitales were protecting crossroads,
Lares permarini are the guardians of ships and sailors,
Lares praestites were protecting a city and
Lares Hostili, Volusani and so on were protecting the named owner of a place.

The Lares familiares (before the Augustean reform only in Singularis!) originally were all deities which were worshipped at the hearth, so beside the Lares the Penates too and Ceres. The hearth was regarded by the Romans as centre of the family and it was the place of veneration. Their cult included the slaves and the unfree people too; the vilicus* was allowed to sacrifice independently at the compitum* or the hearth. At the Kalendes, Ides, Nones or other festivals the vilica* garlanded the hearth and prayed to the Lares. The Lar familiaris was saluted everytime if one get home or leave it, he was given presents daily.

The major festival were the Compitalia on December 22 after the end of the field work and the Laralia on May 1st. They were introduced by Servius Tullius, renewed by Tarquinius Superbus and Iunius Brutus. At the crossroads stood chapels which as much openings as estates came together. The Lares Praestites had a temple on the Campus Martius and a sanctuary at top of the Via Sacra. The statues therein look like the depiction on the coin (Ovid fast. V, 129ff.). Another was said to be on the Palatine.

At the end of the Republic the celebration of the Compitalia became discredited. When Augustus was rearranging the city each vicus* got a compitum Larum as sacral centre. But now they changed into the centre of the Imperial Cult: Between two Lares now always stood the Genius of the Emperor. The Lar familiaris was substituted by two Lares familiares with the Genius of the Pater familias between them.

Background:
A yet unsolved problem is the origin of the Lares. There are two suggestions: 1) The originate from the Roman Ancestry Cult or 2) they were Guardian Spirits of localities (Wissowa). In ancient times it was assumed that the Lares were identical with the Manes. That demonstrates that even in ancient times there were no reliable knowledge. The suggestion that the Lar familiaris like the Greek 'heros archegetes' is the deified ancestor of the family and therefore has his place at the hearth has the problem that the way of the Lares from the hearth to the compitum is difficult to explain whereas the other direction from the compitum to the hearth is thinkable if they were interpreted as guardians who confined the
whole fundus*. The idea that the Lares are connected to the Underworld - so Mania should have been the mater larum, who has been a grimace figure and cognate with the Manes (the accompanying dogs are related to the Underworld too, see Hekate!) - can not be followed because the Lares never had any weird, they were worshipped at daylight and stayed at the fundus even if the family moved to the city. So today Wissowa's point of view is valid. The dogs then should be seen as concept of vigilance friendly to friends but hostile against strangers.

The Penates
The Penates (lat. dii penates) were worshipped in the house too especially at the hearth. Their name is not derived directly from 'penus' = inventory for the usage of the pater familias, but can't be separated in respect of content. So they were responsible for supply, food and drinks. The Penates were old Roman deities, they belong to the cives Romani and to the pater familias. When Aeneas was escaping from Troy he took the Penates (not the Lares!) from Troy to Lavinium from where they couldn't be moved to Alba Longa or Rome. Already Timaios knows Penates in Lavinium (as herold's staffs made from iron and ore as well Trojan pottery). The Roman magistrates with imperium were sacrifying from ancient times on in Lavinium at the assumption of their office. Later the Penates got their own sanctuary consecrated on December 14 in the regio of Velia (look at Monumentum Ancyranum) with the pictures of two youthful men, wearing military clothes and holding spears as they were found in regia (participation of the Saliers) or in front of the harbour of Samothrace. Beside Jupiter they were oath gods by which f.e. contracts were sworn.

The Manes
The Manes were the spirits of the deceased ancestors. Their name is still unexplained. It is popular today to derive it from 'manare', to vanish, or from 'manus', good. But this surely is wrong. Originally it was used adjectivical f.e. like 'ab dis manibus'. Referring to conceptions
of the late ancient times the deceased at first became 'lemures', then as good spirits 'lares' or
as bad spirits 'larvae'. The uncertain spirits became Manes. But often they are equated with Lemures or Larvae. The term Manes as 'the small, the thin' matches well the Larvae which etymological are related to Greek chloros and mean 'the pale'. So they name the indeterminated spirits different from the di parentes. From Numa Pompilius on the pontifex took care for their worship at the festivals of Lemuriae and Feralia where they got feralia*; being diregarded they sent bad dreams. They were invoked at the sacrifacing death of Curtius, together with Tellus at the devotion* of the Decii and Carthage. The funeral place was dedicated to Dis Manibus later abbreviated as DM. Later on the term Manes was used for the death spirit of a single dead person, for the corpse and finally for the afterlife and its punishment as it is seen in Carminum Liber I, IV of Horaz:

Pallida mors aequo pulsat pede pauperum tabernas
       regumque turris. O beate Sesti,
vitae summa brevis spem nos vetat incohare longam.
        Iam te premet nox fabulaeque Manes.

[The pale death with equal pace is knocking at the huts of the poor
       and the castles of the rich. O blessful Sestius,
the short sum of live forbids us to entertain long hope.
        Yet night will press you and the Manes of the tale.

Some explanations:
*compitum:   crossroad
*devotion:      sacrificing themself to obligate the gods
*feralia:         festival for the dead on February 21; donations for the dead too
*fundus:        estate
*vicus:          quarter
*vilica:           caretaker, fem.
*vilicus:         caretaker, male (often slaves or freed slaves)

Pics:
Depicted is the Lararium of the Casa dei Vettii in Pompeji. We see the genius of the family in the shape of a youth in the midth who - between two Lares - is offering a libation. Beneath,
the same genius in the shape of a snake. The depicted Lares are Lares familiares. They regularly are very youthful - sometimes still with bulla - and are depicted often dancing.

The second pic shows one of the Penates as I have known it before I came to school!

Sources:
Der kleine Pauly
Benjamin Hederich, Gründliche griechische Mythologie
Karl Kerenyi, Die Mythologie der Griechen
NumisWiki http://www.forumancientcoins.com/numiswiki/view.asp

Best regards
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« Reply #142 on: August 29, 2006, 08:34:24 am »

Janus

I have always been intrigued by Janus.  I apologize if this topic has been covered in our thread; I looked (fairly carefully) in your index, Jochen, but I didn't see a reference.

Janus is the Roman god of gates and doors (ianua), beginnings and endings, and hence represented with a double-faced head, each looking in opposite directions. He was worshipped at the beginning of the harvest time, planting, marriage, birth, and other types of beginnings, especially the beginnings of important events in a person's life. Janus also represents the transition between primitive life and civilization, between the countryside and the city, peace and war, and the growing-up of young people.
One tradition states that he came from Thessaly and that he was welcomed by Camese in Latium, where they shared a kingdom. They married and had several children, among which the river god Tiberinus (after whom the river Tiber is named). When his wife died, Janus became the sole ruler of Latium. He sheltered Saturn when he was fleeing from Jupiter. Janus, as the first king of Latium, brought the people a time of peace and welfare; the Golden Age. He introduced money, cultivation of the fields, and the laws. After his death he was deified and became the protector of Rome. When Romulus and his associates stole the Sabine Virgins, the Sabines attacked the city. The daughter of one of the guards on the Capitolian Hill betrayed her fellow countrymen and guided the enemy into the city. They attempted to climb the hill but Janus made a hot spring erupt from the ground, and the would-be attackers fled from the city. Ever since, the gates of his temple were kept open in times of war so the god would be ready to intervene when necessary. In times of peace the gates were closed.
His most famous sanctuary was a portal on the Forum Romanum through which the Roman legionaries went to war. He also had a temple on the Forum Olitorium, and in the first century another temple was built on the Forum of Nerva. This one had four portals, called Janus Quadrifons. When Rome became a republic, only one of the royal functions survived, namely that of rex sacrorum or rex sacrificulus. His priests regularly sacrificed to him. The month of January (the eleventh Roman month) is named after him.
Janus was represented with two faces, originally one face was bearded while the other was not (probably a symbol of the sun and the moon). Later both faces were bearded. In his right hand he holds a key. The double-faced head appears on many Roman coins, and around the 2nd century BCE even with four faces.
(By Micha F. Lindemans; see: http://www.pantheon.org/areas/gallery/mythology/europe/roman/janus.html)

Coin: ROMAN REPUBLIC, Anon., 225-214 BC. AR Quadrigatus (6.54 gm). Laureate head of Janus / Jupiter in Quadriga, ROMA incuse on solid tablet. RSC.23. Cr.30/1.

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« Reply #143 on: August 29, 2006, 02:48:28 pm »

Very interesting, especially the history of the open and closed door of the Janus temple!

May I add something to your nice article about IANUS?

1. There is a blant inadequacy between the importance of this god and our knowledge about
    him (and the knowledge of the Roman mythologists too!). So only one inscription with his
    name is found in whole Italy (in Assisi).
2. So it is actually not known why the name of the 11th month was Ianuarius and wether
    there are relations to IANUS at all (Pauly).
3. He was the god of public doorways, not of the pivate. That was the god Portunus.
4. He is one of the rare gods where we couldn't find any counterpart in the world of Greek
    gods.
5. The conventions to shut the door of the Janus temple in peace was virtually introduced by
    Augustus who did it three times. Before Augustus the door was closed only once (after the
   1st Punian War, regarding to Varro) or twice (by Numa too, regarding to Augustus'
   Monumentum Ancyranum). Even if this practice was very old it was not used before
   Augustus who has rediscovered it for political purposes.
6. Because the knowledge about IANUS was so low, already in ancient times, we heard from
    speculations which are totally unsustainable. So he should have been come as a Syrian-
    Hettite god from the east or he should have been a god of Heaven.

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« Reply #144 on: August 30, 2006, 10:55:47 am »

The white sow of Lavinium

Here I have a new republican coin I want to present together with its mythological background. It is one of my most beautiful Republican coins and I'm a bit proud to have it in my collection.

It is a denar of the mintmaster C. Sulpicius C. f. Galba from the gens Sulpicia.
AR - denarius serratus, 20mm, 3.67g
        Rome, 106 BC
obv. Conjugate heads of the Di Penates, laureate, l.
        D.P.P. before (abbreviation of Di Penates Publici)
rev. Two male figures standing vis-a-vis, both holding spears, the right one points with
       r. hand to a sow, laying between them l.
       above N (control mark)
       in ex. C.SVLPICI.C.F
Crawford 312/1; Sydenham 572; Sulpicia 1
rare, EF, struck slightly excentric

The scene of the rev. is often called an oath scene. But the depiction of a Fetial sacrifice at an oath scene is not much likely because the victim animal was always killed with a silex sacrum (a sacrificing key made of stone), and this is not seen here.

Mythologie:
With the rev. scene we are in the group of myths around Aeneas. These are not Greek but Roman myths. The Di Penates Publici already belongs to Aeneas. He has taken them together with the Palladium from Troy to Italy. The rev. is referring to this.

When Aeneas fled from Troy Helenus, a son of Priamos, has predicted Aeneas, that he would built a new city where a white sow would cast 30 piglets. Another forecast was, that they would find a new home where they eat their tables.

When Aeneas and his Troyans came to the coast of Latium after a long odyssee from Carthage, they hungry set down at the beach and began to eat. In this moment Ascanius, the joung son of Aeneas, mentioned that they eat their tables, for they have put their food on leafs of wild parsley or hard bread. So the first prophecy was fulfilled: here was the place to settle down. Aeneas prepared to sacrifice a pregnant white sow he has brought in his ship for this purpose, but the sow escaped and fled 24 stadiums in the inland, layed down under an oak-tree (or ilex-tree) and casted 30 white piglets. Because of that Aeneas knew that this prophecy too became true and he should built a city here. He sacrificed the 30 piglets and erected a shrine at this place. The new city he called Lavinium referring to Lavinia, daughter of king Latinus. The 30 piglets represented 30 years only after which his successors became the real owners of the new land.

But sadly the story was not so straightforward: King Latinus gave his daughter Lavinia to Aeneas not before he was defeated by the Troyans in a war. But Lavinia already was affianced to Thurnius the king of the Rutuli. He began a war against the Latini and the Troyans but was defeated. In this war he and Latinus were killed. So Aeneas became king in Latium. The wars between the Rutuli and the Latini went on and Aeneas was killed, his body taken away by a river and so he disappeared. Ascanius became king thereafter. And he succeeded in defeating the inimical nations and the Latini now became stronger and more powerful so that they built a new city, called Alba Longa.

Alba Longa was founded just 30 years after Lavinium and so the prophecy was fulfilled here too. The name Alba Longa is said to be derived from the white sow (meaning the long white). So Lavinium was the mothertown of Alba Longa and finely of Rome itself.

On the Forum of Lavinium stood a bronze statue of the sow, its body was conserved by the priests in pickle. The Penate of the destroyed Troy Aeneas gave a new home in Lavinum, which was the home of the Sulpicii too, the family of the mintmaster. During republican times is was usual that the dictators and the Roman magistrates having an imperium came to Lavinium at the assumption of their office to take the oath of office in the temple of the Di Penates.

I have attached a pic of the relief from the westside of the Ara Pacis on the Campus Martius in Rome. It shows Aeneas preparing for sacrificing the sow of Lavinium as it was prophesized in book III and VIII of Vergil's Aneide. The attendants are laureate, hold the sow and a bowl with fruits. Aeneas with veiled head is pouring a libation. He holds a spear as symbol of his power. The young Ascanius is wearing Troyan clothes and holds a herdsmen staff (Paul Zanker).

But I don't want to conceal that there is a different interpretation of the relief too. It could be Numa and a unknown king who are sacrificing above an early peace altar to confirm the made peace. The two other figures then could be Jupiter and Dis as witnesses of the agreement.
http://www.highbeam.com/library/docfreeprint.asp?docid=1G1:84192627&ctrlInfo=Round19%3AMode19b%3ADocFree%3APrint&print=yes

Sources:
Der kleine Pauly
Vergil, Aeneis
Cassius Dio, Rom, Vol.VI, Frg.3
Origo Gentis Romanae

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« Reply #145 on: August 30, 2006, 04:12:37 pm »

The Catanian Brothers

Here I have again a typical Roman myth: The saga of the pious brothers from Catania.

AR - denarius, 3.91g
         Rome, c.108-107 BC
obv. Head of Pietas, diademed and with necklace, r.
        under chin .X (control mark)
        behind PIETAS (AT ligate)
rev.: One of the Catanian brothers (Anapias or Amphinomus), nude, running r.,
        carrying his father on his shoulders; he, wearing himation, has raised his r. hand
        and is looking back.
        in ex. M.HEENNI (HE ligate)
Crawford 308/1a; Sydenham 567; herennia 1; RCTV 185
About EF

This coin shows the iconography of the famous saga of the Sicilian brothers (in later sources referred to as Anphinomus and Anapias). In the most ancient version of this legend written by the Greek orator Lycurgus (In Leocr. 95 s.) there is actually no mention of names, and moreover there is but one pius hero, a fact which does not correlate with the classification eusebon choron (alms-place), as the spot where this event took place came to be known. The same event was also the inspiration for the final excursus of the pseudo-Virgilian poem "Aetna". Lycurgus retells the story thus: "It is said that in Sicily a river of fire erupted forth from Etna flowing throughout the area and towards one nearby city in particular; everyone tried to flee in an attempt to save themselves, but one young man, on seeing that his elderly father was unable to run from the torrent of lava, which had almost reached him, lifted the old man up onto his shoulders and carried him away. Weighed down by his burden, I think, the lava flow caught up with him too. Here, one can observe the benevolence of the gods towards virtuous men: the story says that the fire encircled the area and that they alone were saved. As a result, the place was dubbed 'seat of the pious', a name it still retains. The others who, in their haste to flee, abandoned their parents, all met a painful death".

Pausan. X, 28, 4:
The ancients charished their parents highly as you can see in Katane by the so-called "pious", who when the fire from the Mt. Aitna was flowing onto Katane gold and silver regarded for nothing but escaped one carrying his mother, the other his father. Because they advanced only badly the fire reached them with its flames, and because even then they didn't set down their parents, the fire-stream is said to have split in two parts and the fire flowed around the youth and their parents without causing harm to them. Therefore they were worshipped until now by the Katanaians.
This story of the two brothers is reported in the ancient literature several times, wher their names changed. The place near Katane where the statues stood was called 'Place of the Pious' and a later inscription still named Katana 'the famous city of the pious'. Their statues apeared on intaglios and Roman coins as a symbol of pietas. The first report gave the Attic orator Lycurgus in 4th century BC.
 
Pietas
Pietas is the behaviour against god and men in order to its duty. As iustitia adversos deos it could be replaced by the nearly synonymous religio, and so pietas indicates especially the human field: the mindset of doing ones duty against relatives, dead or living, especially the parents, but the fatherland too. In its familial-social sense which is nearly inseparable from the religious sense, pietas was personified, and like Fides, Virtus and other divine values which are needed to maintain the order of the society cultic increased. So in the temple in foro holitorio which was consecrated 180 BC there where once a daughter has saved his incarcerated father by the milk of her breasts. The close relation between family and the state made pietas to one of the most important Roman virtues and thus political significant: Pius as cognomen and pietas-coins - with the stork as symbol which feed its aged parents - still in the time of the Republic, but especially the use of all sides of the old-roman pietas (represented in the 'pius Aeneas' of Vergil) as evoking programm by Augustus and derived from that the 'Pietas Augusta' as imperial virtue.

Attached I have the pic of the fresko of Rosso Fiorentino (um 1495-1540), The Catanean Twins, Anapias and Amphinomos, at the Sacrificial Altar, 1535, now in Fontainebleau.

Sources:
Pausanias, Voyages in Greece, book X
Der kleine Pauly
CNG
Numiswiki

I hope these contributions are still interesting!

Best regards
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« Reply #146 on: September 06, 2006, 03:17:18 am »



. . .There is a blant inadequacy between the importance of this god and our knowledge about him (and the knowledge of the Roman mythologists too!). So only one inscription with his name is found in whole Italy (in Assisi). . .

Best regards,
Jochen


Jochen,

Sorry for this tardy response.  I find this point you are making fascinating.  Especially because of the ubiquitous (maybe a little hyperbole here) nature of the many references to Janus in literature and the visual arts.  Here is a brief, but important example:

          "By Janus, I think no."  Othello: I, ii, 37

Shakespeare associates one of his most famous villains with the god Janus; Iago swears by Janus.

Here are some Janus images.  The first is an Eshu dance staff from Africa; the second is an alchemical image--The Rebis, and the last is "Janus"--one of the moons of Saturn.

Jim (Cleisthenes)
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« Reply #147 on: September 17, 2006, 06:26:35 am »

Hermanubis

Egypt, Alexandria, Claudius II Gothicus, AD 268-270
Potin tetradrachm, 20.5mm, 10.97g
struck year 2 (AD 269/70)
obv. AVT K KLA - VDIOC CEB
       Bust, draped, laureate, r.
rev. Youthful bust of Hermanubis r., drapery over l. shoulder, wearing kalathos, lotos
       blossom above forehead;
       before combination of kerykeion and palmbranch
       behind LB (year 2)
Milne 4239; Curtis 1701; Köln 3037
VF+, matt darkbrown patina

About 5000 BC several tribes settled down in the valley of the river Nile: Libyans, Semites from Asia and Nubians. This mixture of people settled in two different seperated areas, the valley south of Assiat, later known as Upper-Egypt, and in the area of Fayum in Lower-Egypt. Different to the Sumerians the Egypts built no big cities in the first time. Around 3400 BC Menes unified both reigns and then began to built cities. This was Egypt's heyday, but ended at the end of the 12th century BC.
 
The origin of the god Anubis is an unsolved riddle until yet. He is connected to the ritual of embalming and depicted as jackal or greyhound.

Anubis was the patron of mummification. Referring to later ideas he was the brother of Osiris, or created secretly by Osiris and Nephthys, then marooned by his parents and raised by Isis. Anubis showed the deads their way to the afterlife. Therefore he was equated by the Greeks with Hermes and named Hermanubis.

Anubis and especially Hermanubis were seen in the late times as gods of mysteries, that means only a small circle of adepts (the so-called mysts) were informed. Even today you find Hermanubis on large quantities of esoteric websites. Our knowledge is based mainly on Plutarch and Apuleius.

Anubis (Greek), Anpu (Egyptian), the Egyptian jackal-headed deity, was the lord of the Silent Land of the West (the underworld). To him together with Thoth was entrusted the psychopompic leading of the dead. In the judgement after death, Anubis tests the balance in the scene of weighing the hearts. His offices were likewise those of the embalmer, mystically speaking.
Originally the god of the underworld, he was later replaced by Osiris. In Heliopolis during the later dynasties he was identified with Horus, for he was often regarded as the son of Osiris and Isis - more often of Osiris and Nephthys (Neth). Plutarch writes: "By Anubis they understand the horizontal circle, which divides the invisuble part of the world, which they call Nephthys, from the visible, to which they give the name of Isis; and as this circle equally touches upon the confines of both light and darkness, it may be looked upon as common to them both . . . Others again are of opinion that by Anubus is meant Time . . . " (On Isis and Osiris, sec. 44).
The mysteries of Osiris and Isis were revived in Rome, and Apuleius (2nd century) in 'The Golden Ass' tells of the Procession of Isis, in which the dual aspect of Anubis was portrayed: "that messenger between heaven and helll displaying alternately a face black as night, and golden as the day; in his left the caduceus, in his right waving aloft the green palm branch" (Gods of the Egyptians, Budge 2:264-5). In most of his attributes, Anubis is a lunar power, Plutarch is connecting him with the Grecian Hecate, one of the names for the moon; and this is further emphasized by his being a guide of the dead. So he was identified by the Greeks with Hermes as psychopompos.

Look at the article 'Hermes - the frontier runner' in this thread.

I have added the pic of a statue of Anubis and the pic of Hermanubis from Vollmer.

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« Reply #148 on: September 17, 2006, 06:45:50 am »

The rape of the Sabine women

L. Titurius L.f. Sabinus, gens Tituria
AR - denar, 20 mm, 3.95 g
Rome 89 BC
obv. bearded head of king Tatius r.
behind SABIN, before T / A as monogram
rev. Two Roman soldiers each carrying away a Sabinian woman
in ex. L.TITVRI
Crawford 344/1a: Sydenham 698; Tituria 1
VF, lightly toned, rev. slightly excentric
ex Lakeview coll.

The rev. shows the famous rape of the Sabine women. With it we are at the time shortly after the foundation of Rome.

Livius, Ab urbe condita I, 9:
The Roman State had now become so strong that it was a match for any of its neighbours in war, but its greatness threatened to last for only one generation, since through the absence of women there was no hope of offspring, and there was no right of intermarriage with their neighbours. Acting on the advice of the senate, Romulus sent envoys amongst the surrounding nations to ask for alliance and the right of intermarriage on behalf of his new community. It was represented that cities, like everything else, sprung from the humblest beginnings, and those who were helped on by their own courage and the favour of heaven won for themselves great power and great renown. As to the origin of Rome, it was well known that whilst it had received divine assistance, courage and self-reliance were not wanting. There should, therefore, be no reluctance for men to mingle their blood with their fellow-men.
Nowhere did the envoys meet with a favourable reception. Whilst their proposals were treated with contumely, there was at the same time a general feeling of alarm at the power so rapidly growing in their midst. Usually they were dismissed with the question, `whether they had opened an asylum for women, for nothing short of that would secure for them inter-marriage on equal terms.' The Roman youth could ill brook such insults, and matters began to look like an appeal to force.
To secure a favourable place and time for such an attempt, Romulus, disguising his resentment, made elaborate preparations for the celebration of games in honour of `Equestrian Neptune,' which he called `the Consualia.' He ordered public notice of the spectacle to be given amongst the adjoining cities, and his people supported him in making the celebration as magnificent as their knowledge and resources allowed, so that expectations were raised to the highest pitch. There was a great gathering; people were eager to see the new City, all their nearest neighbours-the people of Caenina, Antemnae and Crustumerium-were there, and the whole Sabine population came, with their wives and families. They were invited to accept hospitality at the different houses, and after examining the situation of the City, its walls and the large number of dwelling-houses it included, they were astonished at the rapidity with which the Roman State had grown.
When the hour for the games had come, and their eyes and minds were alike riveted on the spectacle before them, the preconcerted signal was given and the Roman youth dashed in all directions to carry off the maidens who were present. The larger part were carried off indiscriminately, but some particularly beautiful girls who had been marked out for the leading patricians were carried to their houses by plebeians told off for the task. One, conspicuous amongst them all for grace and beauty, is reported to have been carried off by a group led by a certain Talassius, and to the many inquiries as to whom she was intended for, the invariable answer was given, `For Talassius.' Hence the use of this word in the marriage rites.1 Alarm and consternation broke up the games, and the parents of the maidens fled, distracted with grief, uttering bitter reproaches on the violators of the laws of hospitality and appealing to the god to whose solemn games they had come, only to be the victims of impious perfidy.
The abducted maidens were quite as despondent and indignant. Romulus, however, went round in person, and pointed out to them that it was all owing to the pride of their parents in denying right of intermarriage to their neighbours. They would live in honourable wedlock, and share all their property and civil rights, and--dearest of all to human nature-would be the mothers of freemen. He begged them to lay aside their feelings of resentment and give their affections to those whom fortune had made masters of their persons. An injury had often led to reconciliation and love; they would find their husbands all the more affectionate because each would do his utmost, so far as in him lay to make up for the loss of parents and country. These arguments were reinforced by the endearments of their husbands who excused their conduct by pleading the irresistible force of their passion--a plea effective beyond all others in appealing to a woman's nature.

Background:
The Sabines were ancient people of central Italy, centered principally in the Sabine Hills, NE of Rome. Not much dependable information on them can be gathered. They were probably Oscan-speaking and therefore may be classed among the Sabelli. From the earliest days there was a Sabine element in Rome. After foundation of the double kingdom of Romulus and Titus Tatius the Romans were called Quirites too (populus Romanus Quiritium), referring to Cures, the capital of the Sabinians, where Numa Pompilius was originated too. The story of the rape of the Sabine women to supply wives for the womanless followers of Romulus is a legend explaining this fact. Many Roman religious practices are said to have Sabine origins. Rome was involved in numerous wars with the inland Sabines; Horatius is supposed to have defeated them in the 5th cent. BC, and Marcus Curius Dentatus conquered them in 290 BC. The Sabines became Roman citizens 268 BC. The Samnites were possibly a branch of the Sabines. Anyway often the Samnites were confused by the Romans with the Sabinians.

I have added a pic of the statue 'The rape of the Sabine women' of Giovanni Bologna standing in the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence and a pic of the homonymous painting of Nicolas Poussin from AD 1637.

Best regards
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« Reply #149 on: September 19, 2006, 06:06:25 am »

Veiovis and Amaltheia

Mn. Fonteius, gens Fonteia
AR - denar, 4.05g
         Rome 85 BC
obv. laureate head of Apollo Veiovis, r.
        MN FONTEI behind (MN ligate)
        CF under chin, [thunderbolt below]
rev. Infant winged Genius riding goat r., caps of the Dioscuri, surmounted by stars,
       to right and left, thyrsus below, all in laurel wreath
Crawford 353/1d; Sydenham 724b; Fonteia 11
 
The reverse of this coin imitates a statue in the temple of Veiovis in Rome, with Genius riding the goat Amalthea. Jupiter was suckled by Amalthea on Mount Ida, and her horns gave rise to the cornucopiae.

We have had a thread about this coin some time before http://www.forumancientcoins.com/board/index.php?topic=19919.msg132589#msg132589
Here I will add informations which throw even more light on this mysterious issue (Georg Wissowa, Religion und Kultus der Römer, München 1912):

Just in the midth between the Lemuria and the Canaria the old table of ceremonies notes on May 21 an agonium which - following the added script of the Fasti Venusini (CIL I, 2 p.318) - was referring to the god Vediovis; even though this witness stands isolated it deserves belief because the affiliation of the god to the oldest cults is unquestionable and the date of this ceremony fits the little knowledge which we can find about the meaning of this god. The name which occurs in the forms Vediovis, Vedius, Veiovis characterized him explicitly as the counterpart of Diovis, Dius, Iovis, the god of heaven, and when he is invoked in the devotion's formula at Macr. S.III 9, 10 together with the di manes so this certainly points to a God of the Underworld; because of that the god named by Dion. Hal. II 10, 3 as Zeus katachthonios - to whom everybody was forfeited who has offenced the articles about the relationship of clients, a law that already Romulus has added to the Twelf Tables - probably was nobody else as Veiovis.

The devotion's formula - which evidently existed already in an older version - names before Vejovis and the Manes Dis pater the greek god of the Underworld, who here still stands next to Vejovis but soon has replaced him so that the Augustean time was absolutely without knowledge about the nature and meaning of this old deity and dwelled on various suggestions. Whereas outside of Latium no trace is found of his worship and the only extra-roman monument was the altar found near Bovillae consecrated by the genteiles Iuliei to Vediovis (CIL I 807 = XIV 2387), the god obtained nearly simultaneously two temples at the beginning of the 2nd century: one - vowed by L. Furius Purpureo during his Praetura in 554 = 200 BC and begun during his Consulate 558 = 196 BC - was situated on the Insula Tiberina and was consecrated on Januar 1 560 = 194 BC, the other - situated in the saddle between Capitole and Arx inter duos lucos - was donated 562 = 192 BC and celebrated its foundation on March 7. In this last temple stood a statue of the god made from cypress wood depicting him youthful, with arrows in his hands and a goat at his side:

Commemorating the greek tale of the nutrition of the infant Zeus by the goat Amaltheia and explaining the name Ve-iovis in analogy to vegrandis, vescus the God was interpreted as 'little Jupiter' whereas the depiction indeed showed an Apollo and in fact as Death-God with his perishing arrows, but with the goat added from the world of the Roman imagination; that the goat was seen by the Romans as an animal of the subterraneans arises from the ritual instructions where the Flamen Dialis were not allowed to touch a goat or name it, just as a dead body or beans(!).

The same equalization of the Death-God with Apollo occurs too on the god who was worshipped on the mountain Soracte near Falerii who - originally without a proper name - plainly was named Soranus pater but then not only in literature but during worshipping too was named as Apollo whereas others explained him by the name Dis pater: The expiation rite which was typical for its cult where the priests of the god - descending from certain families of the region and named hirpi i.e. wolfes - were stepping bare-footed over glowing coals was existing yet in Roman Imperial times.

Beg your pardon for the bumpy translation.

Best regards
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