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Author Topic: Coins of mythological interest  (Read 393357 times)
Jochen
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« Reply #175 on: January 12, 2007, 05:19:06 pm »

Diomedes

Phoenicia, Tyros, Valerian I, AD 253-260
AE 30, 17.29g
obv. IMP C LIC VALERIANVS AVG
       Bust, draped, radiate, r.
rev. COL TYRO MET
      Diomedes, nude except chlamys, stg. l., r. foot on rock, holding in r. hand the palladium
      and in l. hand sceptre; behind murex snail
SNG Copenhagen 391; BMC 467
rare, about VF

Mythology:
Diomedes was the son of king Tydeus of Aeolia and his wife Deipyle. Because his father was killed during the campaign of the Seven against Thebens, he fought together with the so-called Epigones against Thebens and succeeded in avenging his father by defeating Thebens. After that he was known as one of the suitors of Helena. But as we know he couldn't get her and married Aigialea, daughter of Adrastos, who was his aunt. He was the leader of the Argives and joined the Troyan War with the big armada of eighty ships. Soon he became famous for his bravery and was hold - together with Achilles and Ajas  - one of the greatest heroes. Almost he had slain Aineas if not Aphrodite had intervened in the last moment. During this struggle she herself was wounded at her hand by Diomedes and put to flight. Finally Apollo could save Aineas from the rage of Diomedes.

Together with Odysseus he was sent to the island of Lemnos to take back Philoktetes and the arrows of Herakles. Only with these arrows the Greek could resist the deadly arrows of Apollo who stood on the side of the Troyans as we know. At a night-time investigation trip together with Odysseus they could capture the Trojan spy Dolon. He told them details about the Thracian camp. Diodemed killed him and entered the camp of the sleeping Thracians. There he killed many warriors, among them their king Rhesos, and abducted his horses. It was suggested that the fate of Troy would depend on these horses. Athena had to invent to stop them, and they returned to the Greek camp.

From Hellenos, one of the sons of Priamos, Diomedes has come to know where the Palladion was located. The Palladion was a wooden statue (xoanon) of Athena - or her companion Pallas - wearing helmet, shield, spear and distaff. By prayers of Ilos, founder of Troy, it has been fallen from the sky and was regarded as guarantor of the invincibility of the city. To make a theft more difficult several identical copies were made. Together with Odysseus they surmounted the walls of Troy and stole the statue. When Odysseus tried to outsmart Diomedes - he claimed that Diomedes had catched the wrong statue - the statue made a move and so Odysseus' fraud was blocked. A dispute started, and Odysseus pulled his sword underhand. But by the shadow at the wall Diomedes was worned of Odysseus' deceitfulness. He could overcome Odysseus, bound his hands and drove him back to the Greek camp by beating him with the flat side of his sword. That was the end of their friendship.   

The courage of Diomedes was so great that he fought against Ares, the War God, himself, so that Athena was needed to save Ares. Hektor too he has almost slain. But he got a wound at his foot by an arrow of Paris. His dark sides were the rape of the executed queen of Amazones Penthesilea whose dead body he threw in the river Skamandros, and then together with Odysseus the infamous complot against Palamedes which was so tricky that the innocent Diomedes was stoned to death. Finally by help of the traitor Antenor Troy was conquered. Together with othere heroes he entered the wooden horse. As prize he got the Palladion which previously Odysseus had taken from Ajas. But after that Diomedes must leave Troy thievishly with his ships because Odysseus had incited the Greek to stone him.

Afer leaving Troy he had an unhappy fate like most of the Greek heroes. In a dark night he lost his way and landed at the Phalerian harbour of Athens. His men held it for an hostile land and began to sack it. It came to a fight with Demophoon and his Greeks, some men were killed and Demophoon could get the Palladion. So it came to Athens. Aphrodite too hadn't forgotten the dishonor Diomedes had done to her. She seduced his wife to begin a love affair with Kometes, son of Sthenelaos. Additionally Oeax, brother of Palamedes (we remember), convinced her, that Diomedes had brought a new wife from Troy. So when Diomedes returned home he was nearly killed if not Hera saved him at her altar where he had fled.   

Together with his followers he first fled to Corinthe, from there to Aetolia, where he succeeded in avanging his uncle Oinaios who was pressed hard by the sons of Agrios. After that he settled there. 

But there are other myths too which suggest that the story with Oinaios was before the Troyan War. Today it is suggested for sure that Diomedes is a pre-homeric heroe. He should have gone from Argos directly to Italy where he has given support to the pressed king Daunos against the Messapias. As prize Diomedes was allowed to chose between the whole booties and the conquered land for himself and his men. But as arbitrator Althainos, the step-brother of Diomedes, fallen in love with Eyippe, daughter of Daunos, awarded the land to Daunos. In anger Diomedes cursed the land. The gods answered his prayers and made the land infertile. Thereupon Daunos persued Diomedes, catched and killed him.
   
Another myth tells that Diomedes indeed got the land and Daunos' daughter too. He had created Diomedes and Amphinomos with her and has been died in old-age. In any case he should have been strong enough to fight on order of Venus together with Turnus and Latinus against Aineas when he had landed in Italy. He is said to have founded the Pythian Games and the city Argos Hippium, the later Arpi in Southern Italy. He is said to have first worshipped Hippolytos and built a temple for him.

After his death Diomedes too was worshipped as god. It is told, that when his men were sacrificing to ihim after his death, they were ambushed by  enemies and killed. But after that they were transformed by Zeus into birds which were tame at Greeks but never tolerated Romans or Barbarians. Diomedes had a great temple at the mouth of the river Timavus. The Venetians sacrificed a white horse to him. In Umbria he was worshipped as native god. Because he was a great and avid devotee of Athena it is said she herself has adopted him to the gods.

Note:
Our Diomedes, the Thydeides, is not the Diomedes, son of Ares, with the man-eating horses which then were defeated by Herakles!

Attached.
Vase-painting of Diomedes advancing r., holding Palladion, Diomedes painter (c.380 BC), Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

Source:
Karl Kerenyi, Die Heroengeschichten
Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon
Der kleine Pauly

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« Reply #176 on: January 12, 2007, 05:23:05 pm »

Juno Sospita

1st coin:
Roman Republic, L. Procilius, gens Procilia
Ar - denarius
        Rome, 80 BC
obv. Head of Juppiter r.
        behind S.C
rev. Statue of Juno Sospita, advancing r., holding shield and spear, snake before
       behind L.PROCILI / F
Crawford 379/1; Sydenham 771; Procilia 1
VF
Clearly you can see the beak-shoe-like bending of her shoes!

2nd coin:
Roman Republic, L. Roscius Fabatus, gens Roscia
AR - denarius serratus, 18.10mm, 3.8g
        Rome, 59 BC*
obv. bust of Juno Sospita wearing goat-skin cap, r., behind modius
        beneath L.ROSCI
        bankers mark in r. field
rev. Virgin in long clothes stg. r., feeding snake, which erects before her in several
       coils, behind cista
       in ex. FABATI
Crawford 412/1 (symbols 23); Sydenham 915; Roscia 3; Albert 1329
scarce, toned VF, appealing silver
Pedigree:
ex Harlan J. Berk
* Dated 64 B.C. by Crawford and hence also by Roman Silver Coins , Volume I. The revised date is based on the outstanding analysis of the Messagne Horad by Alan Walker and Charles Hersh, ANS Museum Notes No. 29, New York, 1984, pp. 103-134

Some notes on Iuno:
The name of Iuno has no connections to the name of Juppiter, because the initial sound is always i (and not 'di' as on Juppiter, 'diou-pater'), and particularly because the following u is not created by the diphthong ou. Then there is the name of the gens Iunia which never is written with a diphthong. Probably Paul Wissowa is right who puts Iuno to iuvenis, iuvenca and such words and interprets it as 'young woman', 'nubile wife'. That shows that Iuno originally had no close connection to Juppiter like Hera to Zeus. Today it is suggested that each woman from ancient time on has had her own Iuno like the men who have had their own genius. In literature it is found not until Tibull, but the fratres Arvales sacrificed to Iuno Deae Diae, the Juno of the goddesss Dia, at the Picularia.

Iuno Sospita:
To understand the meaning of the figure in historic times the Italic influence is essential, especially the Etruscan conception which goes back basically to the Greek Hera. The cult of Iuno was wide spread over Italy. Lanuvium was the city of Iuno Seispes Mater Regina; by the people this was etymological turned from Seispes - whose meaning is unclear until today - to Sospes or Sospita, meaning helper or savior.
Propertius reports as cult rite for the Iuno of Lanuvium in which a virgin had to feed a snake (perhaps a temple snake, then the cave which is mentioned is only a 'novellistic painting of our literally sources'). This was suggested as chastity proof and as omen for the fertility of the land in the next year, two very heterogenous elements (the chastity proof perhaps secondary?). In 338 BC the cult was adopted as official cult of the state but was left in Lanuvium. The Sacerdos Lanuvini, a priesthood formed by knights, were known from imperial times. The consules too were sacrificing to the goddess. In 194 BC she got a temple in Rome too by C. Cornelius Cethegus at the forum holitorium, without ceasing the cult in Lanuvium. This temple was renewed by Julius Caesar after Juno Sospita has appeared in a dream to Metella Caecilia with the message she wants to leave Rome if her temple was neglected furthermore. Denarii of Julius Caesar are known where the reverse shows Sospita driving a biga.

The sanctuary of Sospita in Lanuvium has been highly praised in the war against the Insubrians (Livius). Her offiial holiday was February 1st. The depictions show the goddess armed with spear  and a violin-shaped shield looking like the shield of the Salii priests, wearing (Etruscan) beak-shoes which were bended upwards at the toe-cap and a goat-skin which was helmeted-like pulled over her head. The scholar Latte suggests the snake and the cult statue to be signs of an etruscificated type of the Athena Polias. It was not allowed to sacrifice goats to Juno. Ovid assumes because they were hated by Juno. But it could be that Juno had a special relation to goats because as pasture goddess Juno Caprotina she was responsible for goats too. But basically I couldn't find any convincing theory.

Notes:
Shield of the Salii: Holy shield which is said to be fallen from the sky in the time of Numa Pompilius. The nymph Egeria betrayed the secret of the shield, the ancile, to Numa: It was the pledge of the Roman dominance. Hereupon Numa Pompilius charged the best artists to make eleven copies of the shield, so that it was impossible to find out the original. The priesthood of the Salii, priests of Mars, was authorized to keep the twelve shields. Now the violin-shaped shield of Sospita doesn't seem to be identical with the ancile of the Salii. As we can see on coins of Augustus (RIC 136, 137) and of Antoninus Pius (RIC 736) the ancilia were made from two round shields with a small oval shield laying above them connected alltogether with numerous bolts. Because of that a connection between Sospita and the Salii could be denied.

Athena Polias: The life-size statue of Athena Polias made from olive-tree wood stood in the Erychtheion on the Akropolis in Athens. This originally was the temple of Athena Polias, the city-goddess of Athens. It was said that this statue was fallen from the sky. Her cult was the oldest and the most important in Athens.
 
I have attached a pic from the temple of Juno Sospita at the Foro Olitorio in Rome, which today is the church of San Nicola, and a pic of the statue of Juno Sospita from the Musei Vaticani, probably a marble cult statue from the 2nd century AD.

Sources:
Der kleine Pauly
Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon
Michael Krumme, Römische Sagen in der antiken Münzprägung

Best regards
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« Reply #177 on: January 14, 2007, 10:11:55 am »

Hi!

If my records are correct this is a little jubilee. It's my hundredth contribution to this thread! I hope you enjoy it! Some themes I have still in petto.

Best regards
 
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« Reply #178 on: January 14, 2007, 11:43:27 am »

Hi!

If my records are correct this is a little jubilee. It's my hundredth contribution to this thread! I hope you enjoy it! Some themes I have still in petto.

Best regards
 

Jochen, that is indeed a significant accomplishment and contribution to the Boards, Congrats.  Further discussion of Juno Sospita on Roman coins at:
http://www.forumancientcoins.com/board/index.php?topic=12309.0
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« Reply #179 on: January 15, 2007, 05:53:06 am »

Hi!

If my records are correct this is a little jubilee. It's my hundredth contribution to this thread! I hope you enjoy it! Some themes I have still in petto.

Best regards
 

Jochen,

Bravo!  I really enjoy this thread and your contributions--I have learned so much!

Regards, Jim (Cleisthenes)
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« Reply #180 on: January 20, 2007, 02:38:05 pm »

Skylla

The coin:
Bithynia, Nicomedia, Plautilla, wife of Caracallus, died AD 212
AE 21
obv. [NIB] FOV PLAV - TILLA CEB
        bust draped, r.
rev. NEIKOMHDEW - N / DIC NEWKO / RWN
       Skylla riding over waves, l., holding rudder(?) over shoulder and dolphin in
       outstretched r. hand
Rec.Gen. 253
very rare, F/F+, green patina

Homer:
Most of us know Skylla from Homer's Odyssee.  Kirke has warned Odysseus that if he sailed too close to Skylla she would attack and eat his crew. If he sailed too close to Kharybdis he would surely be caught when she sucked down the sea in her regular routine. Odysseus could sail by Skylla and take his losses or he could linger and fight Skylla, thus loosing the entire crew to Kharybdis. It was a cruel choice for Odysseus but it got worse.
Odysseus wanted to fight Skylla and then try to flee before Kharybdis rose to action. Kirke scolded him and said he must yield to the Immortals. Odysseus did yield. He did not warn his crew of the danger because Kirke said it would do no good. Skylla was bloodthirsty and she would have her way.
When Odysseus and his brave crew came to the Rovers, Odysseus put on his finest armor and stood with two spears scanning the rockface for any sign of Skylla. Regardless, he was still taken by surprise. They gave Kharybdis a wide berth and sailed near Skylla’s rock. While Kharybdis kept their attention with her gushing and sputtering, Skylla swooped down unseen and snatched up six of the crew. Their legs and torsos were dangling from Skylla’s mouths as she lifted them to her cave to eat them. They screamed for Odysseus and begged for help but he stood helpless on the deck with the rest of the terrified crew. Odysseus said it was the most pitiful scene his long suffering eyes had ever seen.

Mythology:
Skylla (lat. Scylla) and Kharybdis (lat. Charybdis) are the names of two rocks between Italy and Sicily, and only a short distance from one another. In the midst of the one of these rocks which was nearest to Italy, there dwelt, according to Homer, Skylla, a daughter of Krataiis (lat. Crataeis), a fearful monster, barking like a dog, with twelve feet, six long necks and mouths, each of which contained three rows of sharp teeth. The opposite rock, which was much lower, contained an immense fig-tree, under which there dwelt Kharybdis, who thrice every day swallowed down the waters of the sea, and thrice threw them up again: both were formidable to the ships which had to pass between them. Later traditions represent Skylla as a daughter of Phorcys or Phorbas, by Hekate Krataiis or by Lamia; while others make her a daughter of Triton, or Poseidon and Krataiis, or of Typhon and Echidna.

Skylla and Glaukos:
Skylla, the myth tells, had originally been a beautiful maiden sought by many suitors, but she scorned them all and lived with the Nereids, the sea-nymphs, who loved her.
Also Glaukos fell in love with her. He is said to have been a mortal fisherman who, after chewing a plant, became a sea deity, but he is also called son of Nereus and Doris, being then the brother of the Nereids. It is said that he changed his shape near Anthedon in the island of Euboea, acquiring a new appearance with amazing colours. And so he got a beard of dark green hue, and hair covering both shoulders and back, and his groins merged into a twisted fish form. Not wishing any more to remain on earth, he plunged into the sea, and being received by the divinities of the sea, he was purged of his mortal nature by Okeanos and Tethys, who did this wonder with the help of magic songs, and by bathing his body repeatedly in many streams.

But when Glaukos declared his love to Skylla, she, not being able to decide whether he was a monster or a god, fled from him, and he, wounded by her refusal, sought Kirke, hoping that this witch, with the help of her magic herbs, would make Skylla to love him. But Kirke fell herself in love with her visitor, and while advising him to scorn her who scorns, prayed instead to be herself united with Glaukos. But Glaukos had no intentions of renouncing his love for Skylla. So he told the witch:
Sooner shall foliage grow on the sea, and sooner shall sea weeds spring up on the mountain tops, than shall my love change while Scylla lives. Ovid, Metamorphoses 14. 38
And since a woman would seldom listen to love poems addressed to another woman, Kirke, on hearing these words, was herself enraged. But she would not harm Glaukos, whom she loved, and instead turned her wrath upon the girl whom he loved. And so Kirke, leaving her palace, went to Rhegion in the 'toe' of Italy, and poisoned with drugs the water in which Skylla used to bathe, and when she went down into it she was transformed into a monster who was woman above, but fish from the hips down, with six dogs joined to her body.
Since that time Skylla, from her cliff, became a pest to all sailors, and those who escaped Kharybdis, who was on the cliff on the other side of the strait, became her victims, as occurred to several of Odysseus' companions, whom she devoured. But some have said that at the time when Aeneas came with his fleet after the sack of Troy, Skylla had already been changed into the dangerous rock, which still stands to this day.

Another tradition related that Skylla was beloved by Poseidon himself, and that Amphitrite, from jealousy, metamorphosed her into a mon­ster. Herakles is said to have killed her, because she had stolen some of the oxen of Geryon, but Phorcys is said to have restored her to life. Virgil speaks of several Scyllae, and places them in the lower world.

Then there is the myth of another Skylla, daughter of King Nisos of Megara, who, in consequence of her love of Minos, cut off the golden hair from her father's head, and thereby caused his death. She has sometimes been confounded with the monster Skylla.

Background:
The myths around Skylla are typical fairy tales told by sailors all around the world. In hellenistic times they were decorated phantastically. These are f.e. the myth of the love of Glaukos or the theft of Geryon's oxen. Platon, Eratosthenes, Cicero and Ovid declared these tales for pure phantasy whereas others located them in the Strait of Messina. Near was situated the Cape and the City of Scyllaeum. Even modern topographists are seeking Scylla and Charybdis in these region, but in the Bosporos too. The originally mere animal shape on Homer later was changed in literature and arts into a variable mixed figure (biformis, triplex and multiplex).

Like other mythical creatures Skylla was already in ancient times interpreted realistical (as giant-octopus), rationalistical and allegorical-ethical. The latter was the case in the Middle Ages too: Frescoe in Corvey, 9th century AD  Incidit in Scyllam, qui vult vitare Charybdim (= He who want to avoid Charybdis is catched by Scylla) first in the Alexandreis of Walter de Chatillon, 12.Jh.

I have added a pic from the Paestan Red Figure Calyx krater, signed by Asteas, from c. 340 BC, now in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, California, USA
It shows a detail of the monster Skylla, from a scene depicting Zeus, in the shape of a bull, carrying Europa across the seas. The sea-goddess is depicted as a beautiful mermaid-like nymphe with serpentine fish tail in place of legs, a cluster of dog-fores circling her waist, and a trident in her hand.

Sources:
Ovid, Metamorphosen
William Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Bography and Mythology (online)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scylla
Der kleine Pauly

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« Reply #181 on: January 22, 2007, 05:24:46 am »

Skylla

Homer:
Most of us know Skylla from Homer's Odyssee. 

Mythology:
Skylla (lat. Scylla) and Kharybdis (lat. Charybdis) are the names of two rocks between Italy and Sicily, and only a short distance from one another. In the midst of the one of these rocks which was nearest to Italy, there dwelt, according to Homer, Skylla, a daughter of Krataiis (lat. Crataeis), a fearful monster, barking like a dog, with twelve feet, six long necks and mouths, each of which contained three rows of sharp teeth. The opposite rock, which was much lower, contained an immense fig-tree, under which there dwelt Kharybdis, who thrice every day swallowed down the waters of the sea, and thrice threw them up again: both were formidable to the ships which had to pass between them.

Jochen,

Once more, thank you for such an interesting and informative post.  I only have a couple of things to offer.  The first is an allusion made to this dangerous duo by the contemporary singer/song writer Sting (when he was performing with the band "Police"):

           You consider me the young apprentice
           Caught between the Scylla and Charybdis . . .
                                        (from "Wrapped Around Your Finger")

Your post helps the modern bard's lyrics assume a more appropriate amount of awe.

The second "thing" I have to offer is the photo of one of my coins, the reverse of which depicts the world's most famous poet:

Ionia, Smyrna. Circa 125-115 B.C. AE 23mm/ Homereum (7.95 gm). Eymelos and Ippyroy, Magistrate. Obv: Laureate head of Apollo right Rev: ÓÌÕÑÍÁÉÙÍ – EYMHËÏÓ I/ ÉÐÐYÑOY, the poet Homer seated left, holding staff and scroll. Milne 221.

Strabo mentions this issue of bronze coinage from Smyrna specifically when, discussing the city, he says ". . . there is also a library; and the 'Homereum', a quadrangular portico containing a shrine and wooden statue of Homer; for the Smyrnaeans also lay especial claim to the poet and indeed a bronze coin of theirs is called a Homereum" (Strabo, Geographica XIV, I.37, transl. by H.C. Jones, The Geography of Strabo, VI [Loeb, 1960], pp. 245-247).
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« Reply #182 on: February 02, 2007, 06:05:21 pm »

Apollo with double-axe

The coin:
Phrygia, Eumeneia (Fulvia), Nero, AD 54-69
AE 20, 4.60g
struck under Nero as Caesar AD 50-54
obv. SEBASTOS - NERWN
       Bust, draped, bare-headed, r.
rev. (from r. to l., each from top to bottom)
      EVMENEWN / IOVLIOS / KL - EWN / ARXIEREVS ASIAS
      Apollo, nude, chlamys over l. arm, stg. l., holding raven in outstretched r. hand and
      double-axe in l. arm
RPC 3149 (28 ex. listed); SNG Copenhagen 394; SNG von Aulck 3591; SNG München 207; BMC 41
rare, VF, nice for the type
Eumeneia was named Fulvia BC 41/40 to honour the eastern activities of Marcus Antonius whose wife was Fulvia.

Julius Kleon, mentioned on the rev., had the title ARXIEREVC THC ACIAC, meaning 'Highpriest of Asia'. His wife, Bassa Kleonos, was Highpriest, Archiera, too. She too was mentioned on coins, struck for Agrippina jun., mother of Nero. This feature is known only for Archierontes: Both spouses were Archierontes und for both were struck coins. The function of the Archiereus was closely related to the Imperial Cult. Each district had an Archiereus who had to supervise the Imperial Cult who first was established by the sucessors of Alexander the Great, the Diadochs, and then adopted by Augustus. He had to open up the festivals and to entertain the imperial temple with his money. He had the chairmanship in the koinon. Probably his role was only religious, not political. Disputed is wether his function was identical with the role of the Asiarch.

Meaning of the double-axe:
Double-axe (lat. bipennis) is greek Labrys. This word probably is of pre-greek origin possibly from an Aegean language. It is an axe with two blades which are arranged symmetrially on both sides of the shank. The Labrys was used for handcraft purposes and as weapon, on Homer only used by the enemies of the Achaeans especially by the Amazons. Originally coming from the Middle East then in Asia Minor, particulary in Caria, until latest times attribute of numerous local deities the Labrys became in the 2nd millenium BC one of the most important religious symbols in the Minoic Crete. Here only goddesses were depicted with a Labrys. This is seen as proof for an old matriarchy or as hint to the male mate of the Great Goddess and as insignia of the priestking. Double-axes were erected as cult symbols and consecrating gifts, sometimes made of precious material, and as devine protection carved in the bearing stones of the base of the Cretean palaces. In Asia Minor besides Demeter and Kybele many male deities were wearing a Labrys too, f.e. Zeus as Labraundos, Men or Apollo Tyrimnaios. Sometimes this is suggested as symbol of the weather and storm god but without adequate matter.

On the Greek mainland the Labrys passed over completely to male figures. Since geometric times the Labrys appears as sign of holiness, f.e. on Herakles, Theseus, Hephaistos and others. In Italy the Labrys doesn't play a big role except in eastern cults. The axe in the
fasces has no connection to it. The Kleine Pauly says that the actual character and the cultic use of the Labrys needs a clarification again. Sadly here too the esotericism has adopted this tool. In the net you find strange explanations, especially by the so-called feminists.

The Labyrinth of Knossos
If you talk about the double-axe you had to talk about the labyrinth too.The most famous labyrinth naturally is the Labyrinth of Knossos. Referring to the myth it was built by Daidalos for the Cretean king Minos to hide the Minotauros. This was a monster with the shape of a man with the head of a bull. It was born by Pasiphae who had fallen in love to a beautiful white bull. The Atheneans had to sacrifice ten virgins each year to Minotauros until Theseus came to Knossos, killed the Minotauros and released the Atheneans from this awful bloody toll. He suceeded in getting out of the labyrinth by the famous ball of twine which he was given by the princess Ariadne so he could mark his way out. But there is another myth too where Minos had put Daidolos himself into the labyrinth and that he and his son Ikaros could flee from it by using wings. Diodor suggests that Daidolos has had Egyptean models for the building. Depictions of the labyrinth are found frequently on Cretean coins. On Roman mosaics often the struggle between Theseus and Minotauros is depicted.

The opinion that labyrinth originally means a subterranean prison or a mine is still represented by Kerenyi. This interpretation is strengthened by the fact that the stone pits of Gortyn on Crete with its channels which lead deep in the mountain were called labyrinth (however by later writers) and that the double-axe was used as tool. 

But the common opinion is that the meaning of labyrinth is 'House of the Double-axe'. So it was seen by Evans who has digged out Knossos. He found numerous depictions of double-axes engraved in the walls. But what he has found were actually the palaces of the kings of Knossos with numerous rooms, corridors, staircases and pantries which with its unclearness resembles a labyrinth. But please don't confuse a labyrinth with a maze. This has many furcations, the labyrinth only one but complicated way!

The term labyrinth in fact is tied up to the Cretean building but describes an immemorial human idea too, an archetype in the sense of C.G.Jung or Kerenyi. It is not characteristic that the way-out is impossible but that it however exists. Underworld, death and life, eternity are represented in the labyrinth of the myth, the dance and fine arts. So it is understandable that labyrinths could be found in all human cultures all over the world.

The labyrinth in Christianism
Long forgotten the labyrinth was rediscovered in the Gothic. In great number it appears in gothic cathedrals. Famous are the labyrinths of Chartres, Amiens, Reims but Siena too and other cities. I'm regulary in Amiens at the Comic Festival. Sitting at the Quai Belu in the Quartier St.Leu at the Somme Channel and seeing how on the other side this middle age marvel arises over the small houses of the Old Town one becomes catched by a feeling of awe and a religious shudder. It is overwhelming. Therefore I have choosed this labyrinth as an example. It was first built AD 1288 and after its destruction renewed 1827-1897.

When the Christianism arose naturally the greek mythology was present and the Christians have always incorporated the myths of other people as the prearrangement of the Salvation Story. And so the myth of Theseus and the labyrinth was interpreted as the symbolic story of the saving of mankind. And Theseus became Christ who save us from the intricate labyrinth of our life and lead us by the twine of love to new life. The way of the labyrinth was seen as image of the path of life. To walk the lines promised redemption and replaced for the poor as way of expiation the pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

Source:
The Kleine Pauly

I have added
a) the picture of a double-axe
b) the picture of a Cretean woman with two double-axes
c) the picture of the labyrinth in the cathedrale of Amiens

Best regards
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« Reply #183 on: February 07, 2007, 07:56:33 am »

Apollo with double-axe

Meaning of the double-axe:
Double-axe (lat. bipennis) is greek Labrys. This word probably is of pre-greek origin possibly from an Aegean language. It is an axe with two blades which are arranged symmetrially on both sides of the shank. The Labrys was used for handcraft purposes and as weapon, on Homer only used by the enemies of the Achaeans especially by the Amazons. Originally coming from the Middle East then in Asia Minor, particulary in Caria, until latest times attribute of numerous local deities the Labrys became in the 2nd millenium BC one of the most important religious symbols in the Minoic Crete. Here only goddesses were depicted with a Labrys. This is seen as proof for an old matriarchy or as hint to the male mate of the Great Goddess and as insignia of the priestking. Double-axes were erected as cult symbols and consecrating gifts, sometimes made of precious material, and as devine protection carved in the bearing stones of the base of the Cretean palaces. In Asia Minor besides Demeter and Kybele many male deities were wearing a Labrys too, f.e. Zeus as Labraundos, Men or Apollo Tyrimnaios. Sometimes this is suggested as symbol of the weather and storm god but without adequate matter.

On the Greek mainland the Labrys passed over completely to male figures. Since geometric times the Labrys appears as sign of holiness, f.e. on Herakles, Theseus, Hephaistos and others. In Italy the Labrys doesn't play a big role except in eastern cults. The axe in the
fasces has no connection to it. The Kleine Pauly says that the actual character and the cultic use of the Labrys needs a clarification again. Sadly here too the esotericism has adopted this tool. In the net you find strange explanations, especially by the so-called feminists.



Best regards


Jochen,

Congratulations on another very interesting post.  Ever since I read this a few days ago, it seems like I am seeing double-headed axes all the time.  Here is an example found on a coin currently being offered by Joe, here at FORVM.  The coin is doubly (sorry for the pun) interesting because the Janiform obverse device incorporates both female and male portraits.

19456. Silver drachm, BMC Troas p. 93, 14 (same dies), gVF, Tenedos mint, 3.376g, 15.9mm, 180o, c. 450 - 387 B.C.; obverse male and female janiform head (Zeus and Hera?); reverse TENE-D-I-ON, large double-axe, kantharos right, grapes left, all in incuse square; toned; rare.

Cheers, Jim

p.s.  I have copied only a short excerpt from Jochen's original post.  If you missed it, it is worth a read.
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« Reply #184 on: February 10, 2007, 02:13:50 pm »

The Amazons

Galatia, Ancyra, Antoninus Pius, AD 138-161
AE 28, 13.15g
obv. [AVT KAI] ADRI ANTW - NEINOC CEB PIW
      bare head, r.
rev. H METROPOLIC THC - GALATIAC ANKVRA
     Amazon in short chiton, wearing boots, advancing r. with waving chlamys, holding shield
     and double-axe in l. hand and rudder in r. hand
BMC 7
about VF, spotted patina
(This coin was presented some time before by Cleisthenes!)

The shield of the Amazon is a so-called pelte, a light leaf-shaped shield (with indentation) made from basketry or wood, covered with leather and used by Thracian lightly armed.

The origin of the Amazons
The Amazons were a community of warlike women, called by the Scyths 'men-killing', who drew the bow, threw the spear, went hunting, but didn't like housework. They were children of Ares and the nymph Harmonia (or Aphrodite) born in the valleys of the Acmonean Phrygia. First they lived at the Amazon river, which now is called Tanais (todays Don) according to Tanais, son of Amazon Lysippe. He offended Aphrodite because he spurned marriage and addicted himself to war. To satisfy her thirst for revenge she managed that Tanais fell in love with her mother. To avoid the incestuous desire he jumped into the river and was drowned. Thereupon Lysippe led her daughters along the coasts of the Black Sea to a plain of the river Thermodon. There they bore three tribes each of them founding a city. From these times on the Amazons counted their parentage by their mothers. Before Lysippe died in war she founded the big city of Themiskyra and defeated all tribes up to the river Tanais. From the booties they built great temples for Ares and Artemis Tauropolis. They conquered major parts of Asia Minor and Syria and founded the cities Ephesos, Smyrna, Kyrene and Myrine. After being defeated by the Greeks at the river Thermodon in Asia Minor they retreated into the land of the Skyths and merged with young natives who could gain their confidence and joined them so generating the people of the Sauromates (Herodot, Hist. IV, 110-117). The Greeks often met the Amazons. Here are the most famous myths:
 
Herakles and Hippolyte:
This was the ninth labour of Herakles. Admete, daughter of Eurystheus, whom Herakles was damned to serve, wished to get the girdle of Hippolyte, queen of Amazons. So Herakles was sent to Pontos at the Black Sea, where the Amazons lived near the river Thermodon. The bravest among them was her queen Hippolyte. As insignia she had gotten the girdle from her father Ares. Herakles and his companions landed at Themiskyra near the mouth of the Thermodon. It is said that Theseus and Telamon were with Herakles too. The Amazons weren't averse to the heroes and Hippolyte was inclined to donate the girdle to Herakles. But then Hera appears in the shape of an Amazon and aroused the suspicion against Herakles and his companions that their intention was to rape Hippolyte. So a slaughter occured between the Greek heroes and the Amazons. Herakles killed the queen and took the girdle. This is depicted on the relief of the metopes in Olympia. The girdle was kept in the temple of Hera in Mykenai.
It is told  too that it was Theseus who captured the girdle and donated it to Herakles, or that Herakles has taken Hippolyte to Greece where she has born his son Hippolytos.

Theseus and Antiope:
It is told too, that Herakles succeeded in conquering Themiskyra not until the Amazon Antiope fell in love with Theseus and betrayed her sisters. But it is told too that Theseus together with his friend Perithoos moved out to rape Antiope, an analogy to the rape of Helena. In Athens she is said to have given birth to Hippolytos, or Demophon. Here the myths of Herakles and Theseus were mixed up.To free their queen or to revenge the dishonor Theseus has done to her by marrying a second wife, the army of the Amazons appears at Athens. It came from the North making long detours from the coasts of the Black Sea because the Amazons were no seafaring nation but a people on horses. The left wing of the army leaned against the Areopag (the name refers to Ares because the Amazons here 
sacrificed to Ares) at the place where later the Amazoneion was built, the sanctuary of the heroes to honor the Amazons. The right wing stood at the Pynx. From there they advanced against the Akropolis. But an Athenian army attacked them from behind coming from the Hill of the Muses. So in the 4th month of siege they have been forced to close a peace agreement. This was the first time that the Athenias had to fight against foreign invaders on their own homeland. The wounded Amazons were sent to Chalkis to heal them. This all was real history for the Athenians. They showed to visitors strange tombs and attributed them to the Amazons: In Athens the tomb of Antiope, in Megara the tomb of Hippolyte. This was strengthened by the halfmoon shaped shields of the Amazons which could be recognized. Great wall paintings show the battle. One was found in the Stoa poikile, the 'Painted Colonnade[/i].
It is told too, that Herakles came to help his friend Theseus, and that Penthesilea already took part in this war. Accidentally she should haved killed her queen Hippolyte. 

Achilleus und Penthesilea:
After the death of Hektor Penthesilea, queen of the Amazons, came with her army to Troy to attend the ceremonies of his funeral. It was said that accidentally she has killed Hippolyte, mother of Hippolytos. King Priamos of Troy should sanctify the murder. By the way Priamos is said to have fight against the Amazons already in his youth. This battle occured at the river Sangarios (Homer Ilias III, 189). It is said that the Amazons had to distinguish themselfs by fighting against men bevor they were allowed to choose a lover. So the virgin Penthesilea appears at Troy. Eleven days Achilleus has given for the ceremonies. On the twelfth day the beautiful Penthesilea attacked the Greeks. But how beautiful and lovely she was, and how well she could have replaced the daughter of Briseus (we remember?) Achilleus recognized not before he hit her deadly with his spear. In the moment he looked in her dying eyes he fell in immortal love with her. It is even said that he has raped her dead body. Thersites, the ugliest Greek at Troy, mocked Achilleus due to his unnatural lust, until Achilleus slew him. This deed outraged the Greek and Diomedes threw Penthesilea's body into the river Skamandros. But it is said that she was saved and Achilleus has given her body to the Troyans to bury her.
 
Background:
The Amazons are a fabulous nation of war-like women. In Homer's Ilias only indistinct reminscences are found: Bellerphontes defeated them in Lykia; Priamos has fighted them in Phrygia; a hill in the Troyan plain is regarded as tomb of the Amazon Myrine; the Amazons altogether are called antianeirai, later interpreted as 'anti-male' or 'equal to men'. Directly after the end of the Ilias the Aithiopsis is attached: The Amazon Penthesilea comes to help Priamos against the Greeks, is killed by Achilleus and bemoaned by him. The main features of the later Amazon myth are the following: Coming from the East they founded a women state in the North-East of Asia Minor, between Sinope and Trapezus, with the capital Themiskyra. They worshipped Ares (as their ancestor) and Artemis (Tauropolis). For reproduction they lived together with a neighbour people for two month in the springtime. The boys then were killed (or made disabled for war by breaking their legs or sent back to their fathers). The girls stayed virgins until they have killed three enemies. Their arms are arrows and bow and a sword hanging on a band running across their chest; mostly they are mounted. Men don't count for their family tree.. Main sources: Diodor and Strabon. Herodot connects the Amazons with the Skyths and says the Sauromates (Sarmates) descend from the Amazons. Obviously they were located more to the East when no Amazons were found at the river Thermodon. Pompeius says he has fighted Amazons north of the Kaukasos! Already early Amazons too were known in Libya which undertook many conquering
campaigns. Many Aiolian and Ionian cities claimed to be founded by Amazons of Asia Minor, so Smyrna and Ephesos.

Interpretation: The etymological deduction from Greek mazos with alpha privativum (meaning: without breast) is obviously wrong! In fine arts they are always depicted with two breasts. Obsolete too is the interpretation as an army of warlike priestesses of Artemis. Today the general opinion is that the myths are an echo of historical battles against matriarchalic tribes of Asia Minor (not Hettites!) mixed with magical and fabulous motives (f.e. women rape), tied up to tombs which were worshipped at several places in Greece. In Athens the Amazoneion was situated at the declivity of the Areopag, nearby the tombs with the Amazonis stele alluded to Antiope and Hippolyte.
 
Note:
When the Spanish conquistadores conquered South-America they met Indian tribes where the women fighted together with the men. So they were thinking they have found the enigmatic people of the Amazons and called the greatest river on earth acording to them Amazonas. 

History of art:
In ancient art the Amazons were depicted usually mounted. Their arms are very different from the arms of the hoplits: Bow, double-axe and light half-moon shaped shields emphasize the strangeness.There are many pictures of Amazons, mostly in the Attic vase-painting, where the episode with Herakles and Theseus occurs too; then in the sculpture of buildings as vast sequence of battle scenes on metopes and friezes, f.e. the Temple of Zeus in Olympia (c. 470-460 BC), the Parthenon (447-438 BC) and the Temple of Apollo in Bassae-Rhigalia (about 420 BC; London). According to the Athenians the battle against the Amazons which have invaded Attica was a mythic prefiguration of the struggle of the Athenians against the Barbars. The Roman sarcophages were dominated by the events at Troy. Achilleus raising the dead Penthesilea or, not so often, the arrival of the Amazons after the death of Hektor. In many Roman copies (f.e. in Berlin, PM; in  Copenhagen, CG; in New York, MM; in the Louvre and in Rome, MC) have passed down the statues of the wounded Amazons which according to a report of Pliny the Elder were created by the famous sculptors Phidias, Polyklet, Kresilas, Kydon and Phradmon during a contest for the Temple of the Ephesian Artemis (the award went to Polyklet). The Amazons were a theme too in the Renaissance (Carpaccio). Rubens has painted a great battle painting in the Baroque and at last the German expressionist Beckmann (1911; Beverly Hills, R. Gore Rifkind Coll.)

I have added two pics:
1) Attic black-figured neck-amphora, now in the British Museum, London
   The pic shows the famous fight between Achilleus and Penthesilea at Troy.
2) Marble statue of a Amazon (so-called typeI9, now i the Museo Vaticano, Rome
   C. 440/430 BC. This is one of the statues created during a contest for the Temple of the
   Ephesian Artemis in Ephesos. The original probably was made of bronze.

More pics you find under http://www.net4you.com/poellauerg/Amazons/Gallery/gal_fra.html

Sources:
Der kleine Pauly
Karl Kerenyi, Heroengeschichten
Robert von Ranke-Graves, Griechische Mythologie
Aghion/Barbillon/Lissarrague, Reclams Lexikon der antiken Götter und Heroen in der Kunst

Best regards
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« Reply #185 on: February 10, 2007, 02:16:10 pm »

Cheiron, the wise kentaur

Kingdom of Bithynia, Prusias I., 183-149 BC
AE 20, 6.38g
obv. (anepigraphic)
       Head of Dionysos, with ivy-wreath, r.
rev. Kentaur Cheiron, stg. r., holding Lyra with both hands, waving chlamys behind him
      Monogram in lower r. field
SNG Copenhagen 639; BMC 9; SG 7266

Mythology
Cheiron, or Chiron, was the son of Kronos  and Philyra. When Kronos approached Philyra he was taken by surprise by his wife Rhea. In fear of her he turned into an horse. When Philyra after the birth of Cheiron saw his shape as horse he she was so ashamed that she was transformed into a lime tree. It is told too that Cheiron like all other Kentaurs has Ixion as father.
So Cheiron was a kentaur, a creature mixed of horse and man. But he is said to have been such a good physician, musician and astronomer, that he was the educator of Achilleus, Asklepios, Jason and Achilleus. He was the teacher in sience of many princes of his time too:  Nestor, Amphiareus, Peleus, Meleager, Theseus, Hippolytos, Palamedes, Menestheus, Odysseus, Diomedes and Kastor and Polyneikes, to name only few. Aineas is said to be one of his students too. He was the first great teacher of mankind, who teached them justice, holding the oath sacred and bringing the gods thanks offerings. He has teached the humans to interpret the constellations on the sky and is said to have made a calendar for the Argonauts. But he teached his students the art of warfare and hunting too. He teached Dionysos the art of eating and to sacrifice. His best friend was Peleus and he made available that he could marry Thetis. The date of the marriage he calculated astrologically and succeeded in that it was raining at this day and so the gods could descend from the heaven to participate in the festivities.

Despite all of his good attributes he died a very painful death. Once when Herakles was visiting him, an arrow from his quiver fell down and hurt Cheiron's foot. Because this arrow was dipped into the poison of the Lernaeic Snake it caused the most terrific pain to him and couldn't be hailed. As son of Kronos he was immortal so that there was no end of his torture. There he prayed Zeus imploringly that he should let him die until Zeus answered his prayers. It is told that Prometheus was forged to the Kaukasus because of his sacrileges and that he could be unbanned only if an immortal took the death for him.So Cheiron went into the Hades and Prometheus has been freed and became immortal by the death of Cheiron.

His wife was Chariklo, a nymph, who bore him the daughter Okyroe. She too was turned before his appalled eyes into a horse. It is said too that his daughter was Endeis who later became the wife of Aiakos and by him mother of Peleus.

He is said to have lived in a big cave at the mount Pelion in Thessalia. Here he received sick persons to heal them.

Because of his piety, justice and his other virtues and because he had to die such an awful death without any own debt, Zeus finally put him as constellation to the sky. The Magnetes in Thessalia worshipped him as god and sacrificed to him the firstling of the fruits.

In a note from Hederich I found this: It seems to be paradox that the most famous physician of his time must die from a uncurable wound. But always when the science has come to the highest level began a time of descent and the science slowly dies off. This was Cheiron's fate.

Background:
Chiron, literally mostly Cheiron (hypokoristikon* of Cheirisophos) was originally a healer god with chthonic features, who lived at the mount Pelion. The Thessalic Magnetes brought offers to him as physician; even human sacrifices are attested. A dynasty of physicians in this region ascribed themself to Cheiron. He was seen as son of Kronos who attended the nymph Philyra in the shape of a horse. He belongs to the kentaurs, but he differs from them not only by his origin, but particularly by his justice, clemency and piety. He is immortal and is called a god by Aischylos. He is educator and teacher of many famous heroes and teaches them medicine, hunting and playing the kithara. The Attic poets of the comedy used him against the so-called modern music. Against the tradition that Cheiron after the separation of Thetis from Peleus became educator of Achilleus Homer introduced Phoinix as educator and left to him only the medical care.

*hypokoristikon = term of endearment, pet name

History of art:
In the ancient art of Greece, first of all in the Attic vase painting, Cheiron has until Classic times an entire human body with an attached back part of a horse (amphora of Oltos, about 510 BC; Louvre). Often he is clothed as a human; such he received Peleus who brings the little Achilleus on his arms to him (white-ground oinochoe from Vulci, about 510 BC; London, BM). On two wall-paintings from Pompej and Herculaneum Cheiron teaches Achilleus to play kithara, now in the shape of a horse with the upperpart of a human body (both about AD 70; Naples, MN). As educator particularly of Achilleus Cheiron appears in the paintings of the Renaissance. The corresponding wall-paintings of Rosso Fiorentino in Fontainebleau (1535-1540) however indicate mainly the preferences of king Franz I: fencing, swimming, hunting and tournaments. The Achilleus cycle of Rubens (about 1631; Prado) shows the young Achilleus riding on Cheiron, on a painting of G.M.Crespi (about 1700; Vienna, KM) he is teached archery. The dying Cheiron was depicted by Filippino Lippi (about 1500; Oxford, Christ Church College).

I have attached the pic of the amphora of Oltos.

Sources:
Der kleine Pauly
Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon
Aghion/Barbillon/Lissarrague, Reclams Lexikon der antiken Götter und Heroen in der Kunst

Best regards

Additionally I want to show a pic provided by Pat Lawrence. She writes: In the Basilica of Herculaneum there is a group of unusually careful Late Republican or Early Imperial copies of Classical paintings. Each of them seems to refer to its own Hellenistic city or kingdom.
* The Cheiron instructing Achilles (a) has Macedonian architecture in the background, (b) may flatter Alexander who was tutored by Aristotle by comparing him with Achilles who was tutored by Cheiron. (c) And also it may be a copy as good as could be done freehand in fresco at Herculaneum of the painting by the most famous name in Greek painting, Apelles, who did work for Alexander.
In addition, and this is what delights me most, the great painter in a great period has contrived to show a centaur SEATED, as if having two upper torsos weren't a great impediment to doing so! In fact, equine hindquarters in seated position, in marble, have been found, too (in Greece, not Italy), as if the wonderful tour de force inspired imitation.

Thanks!
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« Reply #186 on: February 17, 2007, 12:28:05 pm »

The Kentaurs

Because we have talked about Cheiron I think this is the appropriate place to present the tribe of Kentaurs as a whole.

The coin:
Gallienus, AD 253-268, sole reign AD 260-268
Rome, after AD 260
obv. GALLIENVS AVG
       Head, radiate, r.
rev. APO - LL - INI CONS AVG
      Kentaur, advancing l., r. fore-foot raised, holding globe in extended r. hand and rudder
      over l. shoulder; above back of horse wave-lines
      in ex. H
Göbll 378b; RIC V/2, 164; C.73
VF, nice portrait, flan damage
Pedigree:
ex Fowler coll.
ex Stacks auction 27.6.1969, lot 659
ex Gerald Gartspein coll.
There are some difficulties to attribute the object above the l. shoulder. Cohen writes 'des fleches' = thunderbolt, RIC interprets it as trophy, but it is obviously a rudder. That would match the wave-lines too!

Mythology:
When Ixion once at a binge with the Olympic gods was drunken too much he tried to approach Hera herself. According to an advice of Zeus Hera gave a cloud her own shape and Ixion created with this cloud (Nephele) the Kentauros. He became the ancestor of all Kentaurs. Other tell that the Kentaurs were sons of Ixion's or Apollo's son Kentauros with mares of Magnesia in Thessalia. They then had been educated by nymphs from the mount Pelion. With horses they created the hippokentaurs.

The Kentauromachia:
Peirithoos, son of Ixion too, his mother was Dia, was king of the Lapiths. To his marriage with Hippodameia he invited all Olympic gods except Ares and Eris, because he rembered the disaster which Eris has caused at the marriage of Peleus and Thetis. More guests than expected came and so he was obliged to place the Kentaurs, his cousins, in a big cave. The Kentaurs were not accustomed to vine. When they were confronted with it they dispised their own curdled milk and got drunk by the unmixed vine. When the bride came to welcome them their leader Eurytos lunged at her and dragged her away to rape her. Thereupon all Kentaurs lunged at the women and young boys to do the same. Peirithoos and Theseus heard the cries and came to help Hippodameia. They mutilated Eurytos and threw him out of the cave. A great fight began between Kentaurs and Lapiths lasting til night. Many were killed on both sides. This was the beginning of a long lasting war. Caused it was by Ares and Eris who wanted to revenge the insult which was done to them.
The Kentaurs suffered a big defeat. Theseus expelled them from their seats at the mount Pelion. But they resisted desperately. After having gathered themselfs again they invaded the land of the Lapiths, surprised their army and massacred the greatest part. The survivors fled to Elis. But they were driven away by the Kentaurs again until they found a new home in Malea. 

The ferocious character of the Kentaurs and the bad influence of vine is seen too when Herakles on search of the Erymantian boar was visiting them. He was admitted hospitably by their king Pholos. He treated him with fried meat, eating only uncooked meat himself. To give him vine too he didn't risk because the amphora with vine was the collective property of all Kentaurs. But Herakles reminded him that this amphora with vine Dionysos had donated to them for exactly this occasion. When Pholos gave him this vine the other Kentaurs smelled its aroma, got angry and attacked them with rocks, rooted out trees,  fire and axes. Pholos hid in his cave, but Herakles could kill the first aggressors. To protect her grandchildren Nephele caused a strong rain, so that the chords of Herakles' bow softened and he slipped on the ground. Nevertheless he succeeded in killing them or chasing them away. The surviving Kentaurs sought for shelter at their king Cheiron, others came to Pholoe, some to Sicily where they were killed by the Sirens. In the meantime Pholos who buried his dead relatives has extracted one of Herakles' arrows and said: "How it is possible that such a strong being could be killed by such a small scratch?" There the arrow slipped down, hit his foot and killed him immediately. Herakles buried him with great honors at the mountain which bears now his name.
 
Background:
The Kentaurs were four-legged beings mixed by human and horse which inhabited exclusively the Greek mainland, i.e. the mountain woods of Thessaly, the western part of Arcadia and its neighbourhood and the region around Cape Malea. Roscher (Myth. Lex.) suggested that they are the personification of the ravaging nature of wild creeks, Mannhardt (Wald- und Feldkulte) wind spirits, like the wild men of the Germanic popular belief, but more correct seems to be Nilssen: " The Kentaurs are a species of those nature demons with whom the primitive phantasy fills he whole nature, and especially they are demons of the pathless mountains and the dense woods - inhabited by savage animals - which inspired men with fear and fright. Behind them is something elementary which is found in the common rural population of all times." These ideas then were transferred to the cloddish half-barbaric inhabitants of the wood-mountains. The former equalization with the Indian Gandharvas now is obsolet, orientalic influences unlikely. In older depictions, already in 8th century, the Kentaurs were depicted as complete men with torso and hind-legs from horses growing out from the back, in later times as horses with torsos of men instead of horse-neck and head, so having four horse-legs. Winged and horned Kentaurs are rare.The type of a female Kentaur was invented by Zeuxis end of 5th century; the desription in Lukian's Zeuxis is worth to be read. The myth confronts the Kentaurs with the Lapiths, beginning with Homer Iias I, 267ff. The so-called Kentauromachia (fight of the Kentaurs) first occurs in nature but was later located to the house of Peirithoos, king of the Lapiths. Occasion was the marriage between Peirithoos and Hippodameia where the Kentaurs were guests, but drunken have tried to rape the women. They were defeated by the Lapiths and chased away. Besides the Lapiths the myth confronts the Kentaurs too with individual heroes, so Herakles, Peleus and Atalante. In the meantime because of their horniness and greed for vine they were connected to Dionysos and Eros. Some Kentaurs emerged as individuals, f.e. Eurytion and Nessos (the Kentaur with the poisoned skirt!). Representatives of a more mild, hospitable type were Cheiron and Pholos.

The Lapiths:
The Lapiths were an early lost tribe in the northern part of Thessaly, in the myth a species of huge but generally knightly noble heroes of the antiquity. Several Thessalian nobilities claimed the Lapiths as their ancestors. Also more southern even on the Peloponnesos Lapiths are said to have been resident. The Attic demos Pirithoidai attributed themself to the ancestor Peirithoos. Polypoites, the son of Peirithoos, and Leonteus, the son of Koronos,
have participated in the Troyan War, others in the Chase for the Kalydonian Boar or the Voyage of the Argonauts. The shield of Herakles was decorated wit the depiction of several Lapiths as rivals of the Kentaurs. The Kentauromachia was one of the favourite subjects in fine arts. It was interpreted as echo of fights between neighboring Thessalian districts, or of fights between the Thessalian nobility of the midlands against the coast cities, or of fights between the masterrace of the Thessalian lowlands against the popular religion of the wood-lands. Some of its pre-hellenic traces are said to be found in the Albanian language.

History of art:
The double nature of the Kentaurs was depicted always in the same kind. In Greek antiquity the good, civilized Kentaurs have human legs and feet and are sometimes clothed like men. The savage Kentaurs in contrast have four horse-legs. The Kentauromachia, their fight against the Lapiths, was a symbol of the fight with the barbaric Non-Greeks, first of all the Persians; it appears since archaic times in sculptures of pediments, metopes and friezes of the temples. The most famous example are the figures from the western pediment of the Zeus-temple in Olympia (457 BC). Other ancient works show the Kentaurs demanding their part of the vine from Pholos, or the Kentaur Nessos attempting to rape Deianeira. Sometimes they are seen as companions of Dionysos.
The double nature of the Kentaurs moved them in Christian interpretation into a region between the beatified and the underworld, or forced them into the deepest level of the hell to the damned. Thus they appear on portals and capitals in the Middle Age together with demonic mythical creatures, often as symbols of the devil or paganism. In early Renaissance the subject of the female Kentaur was picked up again (Boticelli, 'The Calumny of Apelles', 1495; Uffizi), but the Kentauromachia too (Michelangelo, marble relief, about 1492?; Florence, MB - Piero di Cosimo, painting, about 1505-15007; London, NG), which occurs too in the work of Rubens, L. Giordano and others till F. v. Struck. The Kentaurs remain an
effective theme up to Picasso!

Sources:
Der kleine Pauly
Robert von Ranke-Graves, Griechische Mythologie
Benjamin Hederich, Gründliche Mythologie
Aghion/Barbillon/Lissarrague, Reclams Lexikon der antiken Götter und Heroen in der Kunst

I have added the pic of the Kentauromachia on the Attic red-figured column krater in the Louvre, about 450-440 BC, and
the pic of the southern metope 31 from the Parthenon, showing the fight between a Kentaur and a Lapith (c. 447-433 BC), today in the Louvre too.

Best regards
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« Reply #187 on: February 23, 2007, 07:03:42 pm »

The Kentaurs

Because we have talked about Cheiron I think this is the appropriate place to present the tribe of Kentaurs as a whole. . . (see thread Reply#187, 17 Feb.)


Jochen,

Thank you, once again, for your always interesting and informative posts!

Cheers, Jim
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« Reply #188 on: March 02, 2007, 06:32:09 pm »

Here is a coin, the reverse of which depicts Aeneas.  I made a quick check of your index, Jochen, and I didn't find a reference to Aeneas.  If I am repeating a post, I apologize!

JULIUS CAESAR, Dictator, died 44 BC; SILVER DENARIUS, 3.81 grams, 18.91 mm., VF+, minted in AfricaObverse: Diademed head of Venus right;  Reverse: CAESAR behind Aeneas advancing left, holding Palladium and his father Anchises on his left shoulder; Reference: Sear 355, New Sear 1402, Syd 1013.

Aeneas, was, in mythology the son of Anchises, a Trojan prince, and of Venus, goddess of love. After the capture of Troy by the Greeks, Aeneas was able, with the help of his mother, to escape from the fallen city. Carrying his aged father on his back and leading his little son by the hand, he made his way to the seacoast. In the confusion of flight, his wife was left behind.
A long, perilous, and adventure-filled voyage took him to Thrace, Delos, Crete, and Sicily, where his father died. The goddess Juno, who had always hated Aeneas and wanted to keep him from founding Rome, which she knew was his destiny, tried to drown him in a violent storm. He and his crew were cast up on the African coast, where they were welcomed by Dido, the beautiful queen of Carthage. Dido fell in love with Aeneas and begged him to remain. When he refused and set sail, she took her own life in despair.
 
After several years of wandering, Aeneas reached Italy and the mouth of the Tiber. There he was hospitably received by Latinus, king of Latium. He became betrothed to Lavinia, the daughter of Latinus, but before he could marry her, Juno caused Turnus, king of the Rutuli and a rejected suitor of Lavinia, to make war against Aeneas and Latinus. The war was resolved by hand-to-hand combat, in which Turnus was defeated and slain by Aeneas. Aeneas then ruled for several years in Latium and, marrying Lavinia, founded the Roman people called Latins.
His descendants Romulus ans Remus founded the city of Rome.
 
The great Roman epic, The Aeneid, by Virgil, tells the story of Aeneas' perilous wanderings  in detail and ends with the death of Turnus.
By WCNC

Jim
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« Reply #189 on: March 10, 2007, 03:49:04 pm »

Apollo Patroos

This coin is in a bad shape. But it is interesting mythological and historical because of its depiction. Please look at the thread 'Mythological interesting coins'. There I have shown a similar coin with two dogs, SNG Levante 1099. So this is a kind of continuation of the article above.

Trajan Decius, AD 240-251
AE 35, 27.29g
obv. AV KAI G MEC KVIN.DEKIOC TRAIANO
in l. and r. field P- P
rev. TARCO - V MHTROPOLEWC GB
in l. and r. field A/M - K
Perseus, nude except chlamys over l. shoulder, stg. l., holding harpa in l. arm, head of Medusa in l. hand
and in extended r. hand cult-statue of Apollo stdg. frontal on omphalos and holding in each hand a dog
with head up.
ref. SNG Paris 1757; not in SNG Levante
rare, F+/about VF, oliv-green patina, usual roughness

Notes:
Perseus was the suggested founder of Tarsos.
A = PRWTH = the first
M = MEGISTH = the most important
K = KALLISTH = the most beautiful
G = 3, capital of three provinces
B = 2, holder of two neocories
 
We have heard already that especially the cities in Asia Minor have had a strong economical competition with each other. One of their most effective weapons in this war were oracles, neokories and adorning titles. The most important rivals of Tarsos were the cities of Mallos, Aigeai, Adana, Mopsuestia and Anazarbos. As result of this rivalry Tarsos got the titles AMK (see notes above) and METROPOLIS. But some time later Anazarbos got the same titles and attempted to top them by adding ENDOXOC (= the most famous). Aigeai, the third biggest citiy of Cilicia, had a very important temple of Asklepios, which was a great privilege. Mallos issued coins on which it proudly pronounced that the prophet Amphilochos was the founder of the city and furthermore it had the temple of Athena Magarsis. To emphasize the relevance of its oracle Mopsuestia issued coins showing a tripod and a burning altar meaning that Mopsiestia was the oracle of the prophet Mopsos.

Innumerable voyagers, merchants and pilgrims, but armies too visited these cities which were situated on the main route from Syria or Mesopotamia to the western Asia Minor. Gifts to the tempels and statues, but the sale of wreaths, crown and votive animals could deliver vast income. It was possible to earn money by ministration in the temples or service in the cities, but in the same way by the treatment and healing of diseases or by making forecasts in the temples. Because of that it is understandable that their coins - going from hand to hand like advertorials today - depicted the most important attractions of the cities. So the cities in this way made propaganda for their temples, gods and goddesses or oracles.

Finally Amphilochos and Mopsos were the most famous seer of the ancient world and because in Mallos and in Mopsuestia stood their temples, they stood far over all other cities. Aigeai too was visited by numerous guests because of its temple of Asklepios.

When the oracle of Apollo was brought to Tarsos (in a special kind raising two dogs on the fore-legs), the city finally had a temple too by which it could compete with the other cities or even outrival them. As the first god who teached medicine to mankind, he especially was the the rival of Asklepios of Aigeai. But Asklepios compared with Apollo was only a second-rank god and could not stand the power of Apollo. So the forecasts of Apollo were seen as superior to the others. This is one of the reasons to suggest that the dogs raised by their fore-legs should represent the two other seers.
 
There is nothing known of a cult of Apollo Lykeios in Tarsos. The Ionian Apollo must be brought to Taros by Geek immigrants. Sureley he was identified with a local god of Tarsos with similar healing power. In this case the name Apollo Lykeios is a moderne ascription. Because on other coins the legend PATROOC is found here too it is probably the matter of the cult of Apollo Patroos. Apollo as founder and guardian of the human civilization was regarded by the Greeks as founder of their cities and laws. So Apollo Patroos in Athens was seen as guardian of all Ionians. His temple in Athens was built 350-300 BC and stood in the area between Metroon and the Stoa of Zeus Eleutheros. Apollo, whose temples are often found in or near the agoras of ancient Greek cities, was here called Patroos (= 'Fatherly' or 'ancestral') because he was believed to have been the father of Ion, the progenitor of all the Ionic Greek people (including the Athenians).

Mythology:
Apollo had secretly slept with Kreusa, the daughter of king Erechtheus of Athens and the wife of Xouthos. When she gave birth to a son nine months later Apollo immediately took the boy to his famous sanctuary at Delphi, so her husband would not find out. The priests there gave him the name 'Ion'. As the marriage between Xouthos and Kreusa had remained childless, Xouthos went to Delphi to ask the oracle for advice. He was told that the first person he was to meet on his way out of the sanctuary would be his son. This was Ion, who was acknowledged by Xouthos because he vaguely remembered an affair with a Maenad during an orgy for Dionysos in his younger years. Back in Athens, Kreusa at first did not recognize her son and tried to poison him. The priests of Apollo eventually explained the situation to Kreusa and Ion and Ion later became king of Athens.

A 2.5 meter tall statue of a draped Apollo, who probably played the kithara (now in the colonnade of the Agora Museum), was found near the temple and may be the cult statue by the sculptor Euphranor that was seen by Pausanias.

Sadly all temples in Tarsos are destroyed or Christian churches were built upon them. This may be the reason because no statue of Apollo holding the dogs was found.

Source:
Bekircan Tahberer, Apollo Lykeios in Ancient Tarsus Numismatics (Thanks to Pat Lawrence)
http://www.greeceathensaegeaninfo.com/h-ath/agora-apollo-patroos.htm (Euphranor called Eupranor in error)

I have added a pic of the Apollo Patroos now in the Agora Museum in Athens.

Best regards
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« Reply #190 on: March 16, 2007, 10:49:20 am »

Jochen,

Thank you, once again, for such an interesting and informative post.

Jim
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« Reply #191 on: March 24, 2007, 01:11:27 pm »

Hekate Triformis

Phrygia, Apameia, quasi-autonomous, 2nd century BC
AE 15, 2.80g
obv. APAM - EIA
       Bust of the City-Tyche, draped and wearing mural crown, r.
rev. APA - MEIWN
      Hekate Triformis, three-figured, with 3 heads and 6 arms, each with double-chiton and
      wearing kalathos, holding torches
Ref.: cf. SNG von Aulock 3475 (but different legends); BMC -
Very rare, VF

Mythology:

Like on many other mythological figures there are many different opinions about Hekate's parents. Regarding to some mythographs she was the daughter of Perses and Asteria (therefore called Perseis too), a Titan, regarding to others daughter of the Nyx (night), or of Zeus and Asteria or even Hera. After born by Hera she was given the name Angelos and was brought by her father Zeus to the Nymphs who should educate her. When she was grown up she stole her mother Hera the box with make-up which she used to paint her face glossy. This box she gave to Europa, daughter of Phoinix. When Hera wanted to punish her she first fled in the bed of a woman in childbed, then between men wearing a dead. After Hera has
stopped the pursuit Zeus sent the Kabirs who should purify Hekate. This happened in the lake of Acheros, and because of that she was made to a goddess of the underworld, especially of the deads.

Others, who regard her to be the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, suggest that she was of great strength, so that Zeus sent her to the underworld to search for the lost Persephone (look at the article 'The rape of Persephone' in this thread). So Hekate remained an Underworld goddess.

Those who regard her to be the daughter of Perses and Asteria, suggest that Zeus - because she as a Titan has helped him against the Titans - has given her the power over heaven, earth and sea, so that she gave wealth, glory and victory to those who were worshipping her in proper style.

Usually dogs were sacrificed to her. The wealthy Athenians put at the end of each month food on the crossroads, called Hekate's meal, which thereafter was eaten by the poor people.

Regarding to another story (Diodor. Sic. I. IV.) she was the daughter of king Perses of Tauria, a bold and cruel princess who loved to go hunting, who, if she couldn't find any wild game, shot humans. She understood well to use poisonous herbs. Especially she used wolfsbane to kill strangers by mixing it under the meal. Finally she killed her father too in te same way usurping his reign. She built a big temple for Artemis and sacrificed to her all strangers she could get. Later she married Aietes and got by him Kirke, Medea and Aigialos. Her two daughters became famous sorceresses too. She is said to be the mother of Skylla too by Phorkys.

Background:
According to the distribution of her cult and the individual names formed by her name (Hekateios, Hekatomnos,and so on) she is a goddess domiciled in the southern Asia Minor (Caria). Sadly her definite origin is not determined closely until today. The earliest evidence of her cult, a round-temple with bustrophedon* inscriptions and the cult law of the Molpoi - written down about 100 BC - originated from Miletos, and one of her main sanctuaries stood in Lagina in Caria. Hesiod praised Hekate as All-Goddess, who as Helpfully sit in judgement, has gotten from Zeus a part of earth, sea and heaven and assisted hunters, herdsmen and fishermen; even Kourotrophos she is called, like Artemis, helper in many situations. So
she was especially regarded as guardian of the gateways and the three-ways (Trivia). This
was connected, like the Kourotrophos too, with purgation sacrifices, the typical dog sacrifices. The dog as demonic animal belongs to the accentuation of the weird, spooky, and sometimes chthonic (of the underworld). But Hekate is not a typical figure of Asia Monor, and cult rites are known only from inscriptions: the function of the eunuchs and the office of the Kleidouchos, the keeper of the key.

History of art:
For Athens the statement of Pausanias 2, 30.2 - on the occasion of the mention of the cult statue made by Myron in Aigina which he called Xoanon - is true that Alkamenes was the first who has made a three-figured picture of Hekate with his Hekate Epipyrgidia (= standing on the tower) at the entrance to the Akropolis in Athens. This is confirmed by the missing of the three-figured type before the last quarter of the 5th century BC. One-figured Hekates, assured by inscriptions too, are found on classic red-figured vases, Artemis like, with torches. Not before Alkamenes began the abundance of three-figured statues, at first archaicizing, then archaistic Hekateia, in each case varying; the three-shape wiith three heads, the herm being danced around; the dance around the threefold full-figure often with torches as attributs. In hellenistic friezes and reliefs they were sometimes performed to masterly made phantasia shapes: solo figured but with three heads and six arms.

Sadly the figure of Hekate is adopted by the so-called feminists, so that the informations from the internet often are useless. Recently a book from Nina Werth about Hekate is released (Hekate, Antiquates - Archologische Forschungswergebnisse, Bd.7, 2006) where she tried to prove that Hekate is not originated from Asia Minor. But this book (a dissertation?) is very expensive and so I hadn't read it. The interpretation of the Triformis as the depiction of the young girl, the mature wife and the old woman surely is wrong. Hekate was depicted always as a young girl! The equalization with the moon and its three phases is from later times. It should not be forgotten that in early times Hekate was only one-figured!

*bustrophedon = a kind of ancient writing where the lines in turn were written from l. to r. and then from r. to l., as it was done when plugging with oxen.

Sources:
Der kleine Pauly
Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon
http://www.theoi.com/Khthonios/Hekate.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hecate

I have added the following:
a) the pic of a Roman copy of the famous Hekateion of Alkamenes (c.430 BC), today in
    Reijksmuseum in Leiden/Netherlands, and
b) the cut-out of a pic from an Apulean red-figured krater, which shows a scene from Orpheus'
    voyage to the underworld. Depicted is Hekate holding a torch and Kerberos. C.330-310 BC,
    today in the Antikensammlung, Munich/Germany

Best regards
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« Reply #192 on: March 24, 2007, 01:14:40 pm »

Poseidon and the nymph Beroe

Phoenicia, Berytos, Elagabal, AD 218-222
AE 26, 12.47g
obv. [AV KM AVR AN - TONINOC AVG]
Bust, draped and cuirassed, seen from behind, laureate, r.
rev. COL IVL A - VG FEL / BER
Poseidon, in himation, advancing r. with a sidestep, head l., holding his trident in l. arm, raising
the nymph Beroe, kneeling l. before him, looking up to him; the nymph, in
transparent chiton, scooping water with a jar, the l. hand raised in defense.
SNG Copenhagen 118; BMC 183; Lindgren II, 120, 2268
Very rare, about EF, chocolate-brown patina

The myth of Beroe is found detailed in Nonnus' Dionysiaka. In ancient times Berytos was suggested as a center of laws and legislation. Therefore especially in the first part we find several hints on laws and justice. The text rests on Nonnus' text, but I have shorten it heavily. Nevertheless I hope the excessive style of Nonnus could be recognized!

Birth and Youth of Beroe
There is a younger legend, that her mother was Aphrodite, who bore her to the Assyrian Adonis. When the hour of birth approached Hermes came to help the labour of Beroe and Themis (the Goddess of Law) was her Eileithyia (Birth Goddess). And like the Lakonian women bring forth their sons pressing their feet upon a round leather shield Themis hold Solon's laws against her to lighten her birth. The newborn girl was bathed by the four Aetai (winds) who after that proclaimed the laws of Beroe to the whole world. Okeanos, the first herald of these laws, poured his floods around the earth. Aion, the time, wrapped up the child with the robe of Dike, the Justice. The four Horai, the four seasons, sang the birth of Aphrodite's daughter. Aphrodite gave her daughter to Astraia, mistress of Justice, to educate her and she fed her with the milk of of justice and streams of Attic laws. If the girl thirsting asked for a drink she gave her speaking Pythian water kept for Apollon, or the stream of Ilissos which is inspired by the Attic Mousa. The dancing maidens of Orchomenos, the Charites, drew from the Hippokrene, fountain of imagination, dear to te nine Mousai, delicate water to wash her. Beroe grew up and got the very likeness of her mother and her shining feet. Her white robes falling down to the girl’s feet showed the blush of her rosy limbs.

Beroe - Goddess of Berytos
Then Aphrodite recognized the prophetic intelligence of her daughter and she studied the foundation of the brilliant cities of ancient days. She saw how Mykene girt about with a garland of walls by the Kyklopian masons took the name of twinkle-eye Mykene; how Thebes beside the southern Nile took the name of primeval Thebe; and she decided to design a city named after Beroe, being possessed with a passion to make her city as good as theirs. She observed there the long column of Solon’s Laws, that safeguard against wrong, and turned aside her eye to the broad streets of Athens, and envied her sister the just Judge. She hurried to the hall of Allmother Harmonia and asked: " Tell me, which of the cities has the organ of sovereign voice? I joined Zeus in wedlock with Hera his sister, after he had felt the pangs of longlasting desire and desired her for three hundred years. In gratitude he promised a worthy reward for the marriage that he would commit the precepts of Justice (Dike) to one of the cities allotted to me. I wish to learn whether the gift is reserved for land of Kypros or Paphos or Korinthos or Sparta, or the noble country of my own daughter Beroe". Harmonia answered: "I have oracles of history on seven tablets. But since you ask me about the directing laws, this prerogative I keep for the eldest of cities. Whether then Arkadia is first or Argos, Hera’s city, whether Sardis be the oldest, or even Tarsos celebrated in song be the first city, or some other, I have not been told. The tablet of Kronos will teach you all this, which first arose, which was coeval with Dawn." And then they went to the glorious oracles of the wall, until she saw the place where Ophion’s art had engraved in ruddy vermilion on the tablet of Kronos the oracle to be fulfilled in time about Beroe’s country. And Aphrodite could read: "Beroe came the first, coeval with the universe her agemate, bearing the name of the Nymphe later born, which the colonizing sons of the Ausonians, the consular lights of Rome, shall call Berytos". And then: "When Augustus shall hold the sceptre of the world, Ausonian Zeus will give to divine Rome the lordship, and to Beroe he will grant the reins of law, when armed in her fleet of shielded ships she shall pacify the strife of battlestirring Kleopatra." - Nonnus, Dionysiaca 41.263

The marriage of Beroe
Flying high up in the sky Eros with his flaming bow put two arrows on the chord to inflame simultaneously two wooers in desire for Beroe's love, the vinegod Dionysos and Poseidon, the ruler of the sea. He beat Dionysos with madness so that he offered his treasures to the bride, life's merry heart and the ruddy vintage of the grape. And he goaded to love the lord of the sea, that he might bring the maid a double lovegift, seafaring battle on the water and varied dishes for the table. But Dionysos he set more in a flame, since wine excites the mind for desire, and wine finds unbridled youth much more obedient to the rein when it is charmed with the prick of unreason. Then he raised up like a false bird and cried taunting: "If Dionysos confounds men with wine, I excite Dionysos with fire!'
And Dionysos looked at the tender shape of the longhaired girl full of admiration and he couldn't tear his gaze from her. He appealed Helios to remind of his love to Klymene and to pause his car to extend the light of the day. He crept around Beroe and kissed each place which was hit by her shoes of roses. He gazed at her lovely face which need no meretricious rouge and no deceiving ringlets which she could threw back coquettishly. But the natural and innocent beauty confuses the desperate lover even more!

Thirtsty by the heat of the Dog of heaven (Sirius) Beroe sought out a near spring and bent down with parched lips and scooped the cool water. When she was gone, Dionysos would bend his knee to the lovely spring, and hollow his palms in mimicry of the beloved girl: then he drank water sweeter than selfpoured nectar. Then he cried: "‘Maiden,accept the nectar - leave this water that maidens love! Avoid the water of the spring, lest Seabluehair steal your maidenhood in the water! O that I also might become a flood, like Earthshaker, and murmuring might embrace you!" Then he changed his shape to a hunter and said to Beroe; "Artemis, where are your arrows? Who has stolen your quiver?" And so he flattered her comparing her with several deities. And Beroe smiled and was pleased because in her childlike simplicity she couldn't see through his tricks and her heart didn't know yet the desire of love. He asked for her father Adonis, as one of his hunting friends, and approached always nearer. Then he discarded his human shape and stood before her as a god. He said: "Maiden, for your love I have even renounced my home in heaven. The caves of your fathers are better than Olympos. I desire not the sceptre of my father Zeus as much as Beroe for my wife. Maiden, when I hear that your mother is Kypris, my only wonder is that her cestus has left you uncharmed. How is it you alone have Eros for a brother, and yet know not the sting of love. Girl, you have the blood of Aphrodite - then why do you flee from the secrets of Aphrodite? Do not shame your mother’s race. Harsh are the Erotes when there’s need, when they extract from women the penalty for love unfulfilled. Beware of the god’s horrid anger. What gifts will Poseidon bring? Salt water as a bridegift? Or sealskins breathing the filthy stink of the deep? I will provide you with Satyrs as chamberlains. My bridegift will be my grape-vintage too. I will bring you the gold from India and amber from the Eridanos, from the border of the earth! Away with the trident! Flee Poseidon!" But Beroe pressed the fingers into her ears to keep the words away. So she made trouble for lovestricken Lyaios.

Then out from the sea came Poseidon, moving his wet footsteps in search of the girl over the thirsty hills, and sprinkling the unwatered earth with watery foot. He espied Beroe, and from head to foot he scanned her divine young freshness while she stood. Clear through the filmy robe he noted the shape of the girl with steady eyes, and cursed the jealous bodice wrapt about in many folds which hid the bosom, he ran his lovemaddened eye round and round her face, he gazed never satisfied on her whole body. With flattering words he tried to make friends with the maiden: "One woman outshines all the lovely women of Hellas! Beroe has appeared a fourth Charis, younger than the three! Maiden, leave the land. That is just, for your mother grew not from the land, she is Aphrodite, daughter of the brine. Here is my infinite sea for your bridegift, larger than earth. I will make Proteus chamberlain of your marriage-consummating bed, and Glaukos shall be your underling - take Nereus too, and Melikertes if you like; and I will call murmuring Okeanos your servant, broad Okeanos girdling the rim of the eternal world. I give you as bridal gift all the Rivers together for your attendants. If you are pleased to have waitingmaids also, I will bring you the daughters of Nereus; and let Ino the nurse of Dionysos be your chambermaid,!"
Thus he pleaded, but the maiden was angry and would not listen; so he left her, pouring out his last words into the air: "Happy son of Myrrha, you have got a fine daughter, and now a double honour is yours alone; you alone are named father of Beroe and bridegroom of the Foamborn." Then he offered many gifts to Adonis and Aphrodite, bridegifts for the love of their daughter. Dionysos burning with the same shaft brought his treasures, all the shining gold that the mines near the Ganges had brought forth in their throes of labour; earnestly but in vain he made his petition to Aphrodite of the sea.

Now Aphrodite was anxious, for she feared both wooers of her muchwooed girl. When she saw equal desire and ardour of love in both, she announced that the rivals must fight for the bride, a war for a wedding, a battle of love. Kypris arrayed her daughter in woman’s finery, and placed her upon the fortress of her country, a maiden to be fought for as the dainty prize of contest. Then she addressed both gods in the same words: "I could wish had I two daughters, to wed one as is justly due to Earthshaker, and one to Lyaios; but since the undefiled laws of marriage do not allow us to join one girl to a pair of husbands together, let battle be chamberlain for one single bride, for without hard labour there is no marriage with Beroe. Then if you would wed the maid, first fight it out together; let the winner lead away Beroe without brideprice. Both must agree to an oath, since I fear for the girl’s neighbouring city. Make treaty before the marriage, that seagod Earthshaker if he lose the victory shall not in his grief lay waste the land with his trident’s tooth; and that Dionysos shall not be angry about Amymone’s wedding and destroy the vineyards of the city. And you must be friends after the battle". The wooers agreed to this proposal. Both took a binding oath. From heaven came all the dwellers on Olympos, with Zeus, and stayed to watch the combat upon the rocks of Lebanon. Poseidon armed himself with his Assyrian trident, shaking his maritime pike and pouring a hideous din from a mad throat. Dionysos threastening the sea danced into the battle with vineleafs and thyrsos. Dionysos and his sylvan gods battle Poseidon and his sea gods in a contest for Beroe's hand in marriage.

Then Zeus breaking up the contest granted the hand of Beroe to Poseidon, and pacified the rivals’ quarrel. For from heaven to check the bridebattle yet undecided came threatening thunderbolts round about Dionysos. The vinegod wounded by the arrow of love still craved the maiden; but Zeus the Father on high stayed him by playing a tune of thunder, and the sound from his father held back the desire for strife. With lingering feet he departed, with heavy pace, turning back for a last gloomy look at the girl; jealous, with shamed ears, he heard the bridal songs of Amymone in the sea. The syrinx sounding from the brine proclaimed that the rites were already half done. Nereus as Amymone’s chamberlain showed the bridal bed, shaking the wedding torches, the fire which no water can quench. Phorkys sang a song; with equal spirit Glaukos danced and Melikertes romped about. And Galateia twangled a marriage dance and restlessly twirled in capering step, and she sang the marriage verses." - Nonnus, Dionysiaca 42.1

(will be continued)
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« Reply #193 on: March 26, 2007, 05:36:23 pm »

(continued)

Beroe - the oldest of the Cities
(Rather litterally:)
Here in the city of Beroe which emerged at the very creation of the universe dwelt a people agemates with the dawn, whom Phyusis (Nature) by her own breeding, in some unwedded way, begat without bridal, without wedding, fatherless, motherless, unborn: when the atoms were mingled in fourfold combination, and the seedless ooze shaped a clever offspring by comingling water with fiery heat and air, and quickened the teeming mud with the breath of life. To these Phyis gave perfect shape the golden crop of men, brought forth in the image of the gods, with the roots of their stock in the earth. And these dwelt in the city of Beroe, that primordial seat which Kronos himself builded ...
O Beroe, root of life, nurse of cities, the boast of princes, the first city seen, twin sister of Aion (Time), coeval with the universe, sea of Hermes, land of Dike (Justice), bower of Euphrosyne (Merryheart), house of Paphia, hall of the Erotes, delectable ground of Dionysos, home of the Archeress, jewel of the Nereides, house of Zeus, court of Ares, Orchomenos of the Charites, star of the Lebanon country, yearsmate of Tethys, running side by side with Okeanos, who begat thee in his bed of many fountains when joined in watery union with Tethys - Beroe the same they named Amymone when her mother brought her forth on her bed in the deep waters!" - Nonnus, Dionysiaca 41.51

Background:
Beroe is the eponym of Berytos, todays Beirut, this poor and opressed capital of Libanon. It is a typical founder myth. The group of statues decorates the pediment of the main temple of Berytos, which in ancient times was called Beroe/Beroia too. For the love of Beroe, daughter of Aphrodite and Adonis, struggled Dionysos and Poseidon, until Zeus stopped the undecided battle and gave Beroe to Poseidon. The Lord of the Sea donated to the city the grace to win each naval battle (Nonnos 41.10-43). Probably Beroe is symbolizing the water supply of the city or an important spring. In ancient times these were essential for the city. That she was called the daughter of Aphrodite and Adonis may originate in a local myth where she was made the daughter of the Phoenicean gods Ashtarte and Adon.

Interestingly in his last part Nonnus changed from Beroe to Amymone. Whose myth is related to the myth of Beroe insofar as she was a nymph too who was raped by Poseidon:
Amymone was one of the fifty daughters of Danaos. When once she was sent for water she fell asleep. She was found by a satyr who wants to rape her. She called Poseidon for help who threw his trident to the satyr which stuck in a rock. Then she was raped by Poseidon himself who created Nauplios with her. By his order he drew the trident out of the rock and three springs came out of the holes. These were called the Amymonean and later the Lernean fountains. Aischylos is said to have written a tragedy about this which was lost.

Sources:
Nonnos, Dionysiaka
Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon
http://www.theoi.com/Nymphe/NympheBeroe.html

I have added a detail of an Attic red-figured vase, showing Poseidon seducing Amomyne. C.475-425 BC, today in the Hermitage in St.Petersburg

Best regards
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« Reply #194 on: March 26, 2007, 05:47:17 pm »

Ino-Leukothea

Phrygia, Kibyra, quasi-autonomous, 1st century AD
AE 17, 2.4g
struck under archiereus Klaud. Biantos in the time of Domitian, 81-96
obv. KIBYRA - TWN
Bust of Ino, draped and veiled, r.
rev. EPI ARXI - E KLAV BI / ANTOC
Humbled bull, butting r.
Ref.: BMC 21; Imhoof-Blumer, Kleinasiatische Münzen, 18; Imhoof-Blumer, Griechische Münzen, 657a corr. (wrong obv. legend IAL and wrong interpretation as Dionysos)
rare, about VF

This coin shows the rare portrait of Ino. We know that it is really Ino because on some coins she is named in the legend. For that look at Ed Snibles wounderful online version of Barclay Head's Historia Numorum http://www.forumancientcoins.com/numiswiki/view.asp?key=phrygia

Look at the article about Melikertes too in this thread!

Mythology:
This myth is found in several different versions because it was wide spread over Greece and because ancient dramatists have worked on this theme.
Ino was the daughter of Kadmos, king of Thebens in Boiotia, and his wife Harmonia, so a sister of Semele, Agaue and Atonoe, and the second wife of Athamas. To him she bore two sons, Learchos and Melikertes. Because she hated her stepchildren Phrixos and Helle from Nephele, the first wife of her husband, she tried to put them away. She convinced the women of Boiotia to torrefy their seed and caused a great famine thereby. When Athamas sent messengers to the oracle of Delphi to beg for help she corrupted the returning men to say that Phrixos should be sacrificed to end the disaster. But Phrixos and Helle succeeded in escaping by flying on a winged golden ram, which was sent by Zeus, to Kolchis. Here is the beginning of the myth of the Argonauts (Apoll. Bibl. I, 79-81).
Because Ino - asked by Zeus - has nursed the little Dionysos, son of her sister Semele, when Hermes brought him after her death to the nymphs of the mountain Nysa, she was hated by Hera. She sent the Erinye Tisiphone who beat them with madness and Athamas shot his son Learchos with an arrow thinkig he was a stag. Seeing this Ino took her other son Melikertes and jumped from a rock into the sea. Both drowned. According to others she has put him in a kettle with boiling water before. But Zeus recalled her kindness against his son Dionysos and didn't want sent them to the Tartaros (Sometimes this is assigned to Poseidon who saved them, asked by Aphrodite, Ovid Met. IV, 416-543). Therefore he made her the seegoddess Leukothea, the 'White Goddess', a protective goddess of the seamen, and Melikertes the god Palaimon. He was sent on the back of a dolphin to the Corinthian Isthmus where Sisyphos, brother of Athamas, founded the famous Isthmian Games to honour Melikertes.

It was Ino-Leukothea who took pity on Odysseus who drifted as castaway on a raft in heavy storm. She gave him her veil and pointed him the way to his rescue. So Odysseus could save his skin by swimming to the far coast (Homer Od. V, 333-364, 353). Euripides, who has written the lost tragedy 'Ino', seems to have transferred the old fairy tale motive of the evil stepmother to Themisto, the third wife of Athamas: Trying to kill Ino's children she killed her own children because Ino has arranged a clothing change underhand. (Hygin. Fabulae 4)

The myth of Ino, Athamas and Melikertes is relevant also in the context of two larger themes. Ino had an end just as tragic as her siblings: Semele died while pregnant with Dionysos, Zeus' child, killed by her own pride and lack of trust in her lover; Agae killed her own son, King Pentheus while struck with Dionysian madness, and Aktaion, son of Autonoe, the third sibling, was torn apart by his own hunting dogs. Also, the insanity of Ino and Athamas, who hunted his own son Learchos as a stag and slew him, can be explained as a result of their contact with Dionysos, whose presence can cause insanity. None can escape the powers of Dionysos, the god of wine. Euripides took up the tale in 'The Bacchae', explaining their madness in Dionysiac terms, as having initially resisted belief in the god's divinity.

Background:
According to Kereny Ino primary was a Dionysian woman, a Mainad. Mainads were known that in their furiousness they never spare even their own children and lacerated them. To these terrible women naturally belongs Medea too, who together with Jason later plays the leading part in the myth of the Argonauts. Leukothea, actually leuko thea, the White Goddess, was a sea goddess of the popular belief, who was equated with Ino, daughter of Kadmos, by Homer (Od. V, 353f.); the context must be seen in a historic dimension. The motive of jumping into the sea recures in close analogy at Britomartis-Diktynna, but Glaukos too, and should show an existentiell transformation. The story of the veil (Homer Od. V, 346ff.) is a known fairy tale motive and matches well the old sailors tale of the homecoming of the castaway. After the identification of Leukothea with Ino the religious content is arranged widely by the features of Ino. Ino had cults in Boiotia, on the Corinthian Isthmos, on Crete and other places. In Boiotia her cult varied noticably between a divine and a heroic cult. Leukothea is attested in other regions too. Comparable to Leukothea in Rome is Mater Matuta, she has had a temple in Rome. Palaimon is called Portumus, the Harbour God.

Sources:
Der kleine Pauly
Karl Kerenyi, Die Mythologie der Griechen
Robert von Ranke-Graves, Griechische Mythologie
Gerhard Fink, Who's who in der antiken Mythologie
http://www.theoi.com/Pontios/Leukothea.html

I have added the pic of a mosaic from the Villa Romana del Casale on Sicily, c.320 BC. It shows Leukothea swimming on the back of the sea-god Triton across the sea. She is accompagnied by her son Palaimon riding on a par of dolphins.

Sorry, I have difficulties to load the pic. So here is the link http://www.theoi.com/Gallery/Z33.8.html

Best regards
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« Reply #195 on: April 07, 2007, 03:05:54 pm »

Some notes on Mithras

Often a coin is only the begin of an extensive search for information. This happens to me here too! It starts with a tiny coin from Kios, but it gave reason to deal finely with Mithras. This was my will already for a long time especially because of its close relation to Christianism and because here in Germany are found several ancient Mithraea, f.e. at Saalburg.   

1st coin
Bithynia, Kios, 325-300 BC
AE 13, 1.57g
obv. Head of Mithras, wearing tiara orthe, r.
rev. K - I
      Kantharos, with two vine-grapes hanging down from it, all in wreath of grain-ears
ref.: SNG Copenhagen 382
Very rare, about VF

2nd coin
Pontos, Trapezos, Caracalla, AD 198-217
AE 27, 11.05g
struck year 153 = c. AD 205-208(?)
obv. AV(?) KA M AV - ANTWNIN[OC]
      Head, laureate, r
rev. TRAP - ZOVNTIWN / E RNG (ligate)
       Mithras, wearing Phrygean bonnet, riding on horse r., burning altar before
ref.: cf. Rec. Gen. 29, pp. 111-112 (but tree behind!)
F/good F, dark green-brown patina
Pedigree:
ex Stephen M. Huston FPL 102, august 1990, lot 12
ex Garth R. Drewry coll.
ex CNG electronic auction 160, 14. Feb. 2007, lot 136

History and development of Mithraism:
The mithraism existed over a period of nearly two thousand years. It is understandable that it has changed in these long times and has made a development from its primary role in the Indo-Iranian domain, over the religion of the Parthian kings to the Roman mystery religion. Yes, looking at it closely, there are traces of Mithraism in Christianism today, as we will see!

Primary Mithras is an Indo-Iranian god. His name litterally means something like 'contract', or as person 'mediator of the contract'. In the Iranian religion of Zoroaster (c. 7th century BC) he was regarded metaphysically as mediator between Ahuramazda and Ahriman, between the principle og Good and Evil. He was guardian of the contractual law and the Iranians were known to have sworn by Mithras. In this role he appears in a contract of king Mattiwaza from Mittani with Suppililiuma from Hattusa, king of the Hetits.

Cosmological seen he was the aspect of the early, bright day. He is called too 'far looking, always waking and thousand-eyed'. The connection between his light-nature and law-keeping is supplemented by the cosmologic-solar relation to the pasture land rich in water and cattle (see oxen of Helios). Even though Mithras primary was the mediator between brightness and darkness, heaven and earth, good an evil, which was expressed in the mysteries by the cock, announciating the early morning, and the snake, symbolizing earth, water and underworld, he later was equated with the Baylonian Samas and the Greek Helios-Apollo, and so getting solar aspects. According to some scientists the mythological killing of the moon bull by 'the sun' Mithras should be seen in this connnection too. Thus this symbolic nucleus was already disposed in the primal Iranian phase.

As 'strong armed' leader of the warlike male companionships of ancient Iran, Mithras, the 'Avenger of Injustice', adopted features of the martial rulers. The riding and bow-shooting Mithras from Dura Europas was the representative of the military side of the Mithras rites and its risidues of royal and male companionships. This is pointing back to the god of royal dynasties, to whom at the autumnal season-festival Mithrakana horses, symbolizing solar power of the ruler and heavenly primordial order, were sanctified. Though Mithras was named not until Artaxerxes II in the inscriptions of Achaemenids together with Ahura Mazda and Anahita (Anaitis), the above mentioned features have connected him very early with the crown. Mithras has connected the king with the men who were fighting for him. Artaxerxes II (405-359 BC) and Artaxerxes III (359-338 bC) both have worshipped him officially. Dareios III the luckless Great-King and adversary of Alexander the Great has prayed before the battle of Gaugamela 331 BC to the sun, to Mithras and the holy fire, asking for divine support. His bitter defeat didn't interfere with the proximity to the guardian god Mithras. Mithradates IV  of Pontos (120-63 BC), the famous adversary of Rome, traced back his name to Mithras as did his ancestors. Also the royal cult of Antiochos of Commagene (c. 70-35 BC) stood completely in the sign of Mithraism.

He was a celestial god of fate and the donator of solar brightness of happiness. The occurence of the term mitra- in Pontic and Indo-Greek ruler names, as well as the royal investiture scenes on the relief of Nemrud Dagh from Antiochos of Commagene, where the god wears the (i)tiara orthe[/i], and on the Sassanidian rock paintings of Taq-i-Bostan and Teng-i-Saoulek, where Mithras is depicted with a radiated nimbus, show that these conceptions are effective in the course of a syncretistic fusion with the sun-god Helios.

Sometime the god starts his way to the West and he came in contact with the Greek philosophy, he was molded greek. When this occured we don't know for sure. The Hellenistic mysteries emphasized besides the demiurgic, life and fertility donating deed of the tauroktonos (the bull-slayer) the soteriologic function of the guardian god Mithras. Mithras was seen as Redeemer and Saviour. This function was already preformed in ancient Iran as it could be seen in the west Iranian names Mithrbocht (= redeemed by Mithras) or Mithrobouzantes (= owning salvation by Mithras). Therefore a non-Iranian origin of the Mithras mysteries must be denied. On the other side the ancient relation of Mithras to the purifying fire is the premise for the eschatologic acting of the world destroyer Mithras (=
Helios-Phaethon), where the primary dualism of Mithras (Phaeton) and Sol occurs, which could increase to the battle between both as it could be seen on the reliefs of Osterburken or Virunum. The mystic paradoxon of the soteriologic and the eschatologic role of Mithras is integrated in the Zervantic-Babylonian Aion-speculation of the late ancient times.. The light-god Mithras (genitor luminis), as Sol invictus successful victor over the powers of darkness becomes the cosmic renewer being mixed with the indigenous Phanes-Protogonos. The ancient myth of the celestial rock birth, which is close to the Agdistis circle of Asia Minor, leads from the general suggestion of a mountain god, who comes down from his height, to the Epiphany of the Awestic Light-Mithras of the mountain. Sol Mithras Invictus then gave opportunity to worship simultanously several gods which are related to the sun. To these important elements appears as essential ritual act the slaying of the bull, the tauroctony. This could be interpreted as collective sacrificing meal which is known from ancient hunting communities. The ancient Iranian mythology knows the tauroctony too as act of creation from which then the world with all its diversity originates.

(will be continued)
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« Reply #196 on: April 13, 2007, 11:54:33 am »

(continued)

3rd coin:
Cilicia, Tarsos, Gordian III,  AD 238-244
AE 33, 21.52g
obv. AVT KM ANT GORDIANOC CEB , P/P in l. und r. field´
      Bust, draped and cuirassed, radiate, r.
rev. TARCOV M - HTROPOL, in l. field M/K, in r. field A/B/G
       Mithras, in short military cloak and waving chlamys, as sun-god with radiate crown,
       kneeling with l. knee on back of a bull, pulling with l. hand its head backwards and
       holding in raised r. hand the sacrificing knife (so-called tauroctony)
ref.: BMC 258
very rare, F/F+
Because of its bad shape I have added a sketch of the rev.!

The mystery cult of the late Roman Empire:
There is a report  of the first appearence of Mithraism in the Roman Empire by Plutarch. He states that the Mithraism was common at the Cilician pirates and when Pompeius defeated the pirates 67 BC it became known to the Roman soldiers. This matches the opinion of Ulansey that at this time Tarsos was the origin of the Roman Mithraism (http://www.well.com/~davidu/sciam.html). It was a religion of traders, slaves and especially of the soldiers. There was no social discrimination in Mithraism, but that is known in other mysteries cults too. However it was not allowed for women! Its most important characteristica were
(1)  The virginal birth in a rock cave.
       That's the reason that all Mithraea (the Mithras sanctuaries) are always subterranean.
(2) The initiation, a kind of baptism, by the taurobolos
     Here the nephyte stood in a deep cavity and a bull was slaughted above him so that he
     was lavished with its blood. This was seen as the transition to a new life.
(3) The 7 steps to highest consecration (7 sacraments!)
     There were 7 grades starting from Raven up to Pater. They were symbolized by planets,
      elements and different depictions on the tauroctonies.The neophyte could ascend by
      rigorous examinations and a question and answer ritual. A kind of catechism was known
      for that. As highest rank of Pater he was the representative of Mithras himself.
(4) The Holy Communion
     This occurs to mention the last meal of the Master with his disciples. Bread and a mixture
     of wine and water was handed. The consecrated wafers were wearing a cross!
(5)  The resurrection and the life after death
      It consisted in the participation in the ascension which was done by Mithras and Sol, and
      the following unification with the divine.
(5) The court in afterlife, reward and punishment
     The Mithraism was a ethical religion which demanded from its believers purity,
     chasteness and self-control.
Diocletian, Galerius and Licinius have consecrated temples to Mithras. The Mithraism was wide spread as far as Spain and Britain. The largest document regarding the Mithraism was written by Julian II, the last pagane emperor, for the birthday of Mithras, December 25. He has done the taurobolium for himself and as Pater he was member of the highest rank. But for Julian all the different deities only were names for the highest divine idea. So Mithras and his cult only were parts of this plurality.

As we have seen the Mithraism has many parallels to Christianism, not only the date of 25. of December, which was adopted by Christianism for its Christmas. The great theologian Carl Schneider once has said: "What was beautiful and superior in the sun cult was adopted by Christianism; Helios became Christ." Apostle Paul was born in Tarsos and he will have known the Mithraism. But wether and how far this has an impact on his religion is disputed.

Why Christianism succeeded and Mithraism perished? To answer this whe have to look at the differences:
In Mithraism there was no self-sacrificing of the god.
It was not allowed for women to join the mystery, a great drawback, especially when we look at the important role of women in the early Christianism.
The cult was strictly hierarchical arranged contrary to the early Christianism (This later was changed!)
And the most important fact: Mithraism was a mystery cult. There was no mission whereas in Christianism mission really was commanded!
Furthermore especially the Mithraism was heavy chased by Christianism. Its mithraea were destroyed, there priests often killed (so the bones of the slain priest were found in the mithraeum of the Saalburg) and churches were built over the mithraea (f.e. San Clemente in Rome). AD 378 Mithraism was definitely forbidden in the Roman Empire but could be found in isolated regions until 7th century.

I have added
a) the pic of a tauroctony from the Louvre
b) the pic of a altar of Mithras from London, where the identification of Mithras with Sol
    Invictus could be seen (But this is disputed!).

Sources:
Der kleine Pauly
Karlheinz Deschner, Dreimal krähte der Hahn
Hans Kloft, Mysterienkulte der Antike
http://www.ancientworlds.net/aw/Article/178604 nice!
http://www.farvardyn.com/mithras.php nice! Scetch of the rev.!
http://www.geocities.com/atheistdivine/mithras.html
http://www.tyndale.cam.ac.uk/Scriptures/www.innvista.com/scriptures/compare/mithra.htm

Best regards
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« Reply #197 on: April 13, 2007, 12:04:39 pm »

Hector - Heroe of Troy

Ilion (Lat. Ilium), the famous Troy, is known for a series of coins showing motives referring to the Troyan War. Normally it is difficult to get one of these coins because they are heavy searched after. So I'm glad to represent here a coin showing the most famous Troyan heroe on its reverse.

Troas, Ilion, Julia Domna, AD 194-217
AE 27, 8.80g
obv. IOV DOMN - A CEBACTH
       Bust, draped, r.
       c/m in l. field, oval incus with bust of Athena, r.
rev. EK[TOR - ILEWN]
       Hector, in military cloak, hurrying r., holding shield and hurling spear with raised
       r. hand
BMC 83 var.
rare, good F
From Forum Ancient Coins

Mythology:
Hector, in Homer's Ilias the greatest heroe of the Troyans, was son of king Priamos and his wife Hekuba. He was killed by Achilleus and with his funeral the Ilias ends, which describes of the ten years siege of Troy only 51 days, in detail only 4 days. Of his numerous deeds, told by Homer in his Ilias, I have selected some of the most importants.

(1) The Duel with Ajax
Hector was the bravest of the 50 sons of Priamos. By his own hand more than thirty noble Greek were killed, among them Protesilaos and Antilochos. Famous is his struggle against Ajax, the Telamonian. In this duel both fought so bravely that no one could beat the other. After hurling their spears against another they grabbed stones and finely they took their swords. But their heralds kept them off.  They came apart after Ajax has donated his baldric to Hector and Hector gave him his sword. By this baldric Hector later was dragged around the city-walls and it was the same sword by which Ajax later slayed himself. 

(2) The Death of Patroklos
When Achilleus in his anger retired from the battle, the Greek were in very bad way. Hector could repel the Greek to their camp, then he attacked their barricades and with an immense stone throw he forced open the camp gate. After that he set the Greek ships on fire. Because of his strength he was called 'the support of the fatherland', on which Troy rested and by whose fall Troy would fall too. For it was destined by the fate that Troy couldn't be conquered as long as Hector was alive. It was Patroklos, the friend of Achilleus, wearing his cuirass, who succeded finally in repelling the Troyans back to the city. Alone he almost has assaulted Troy if not Apollo has intervened and has thrice repulsed Patroklos off the walls. The battle lastened to the beginning of the night when Apollo came behind him and hit him between the bladebones so strong that his helmet fell down, his spear split and the shield dropped to the ground. When Patroklos faltered back Hector slayed him with one hit. The cuirass of Achilleus he took as prize.

(3) Hector's Death
By the death of his friend Patroklos Achilleus was pulled from his anger against Agamemnon and he didn't wish more than to avenge his death. Hephaistos has forged a new cuirass for Achilleus in order of his mother Thetis. This he tied up and then he jumped into the fray. When he has driven all Troyans into the city Hector alone was brave enough to stay outside the walls. But when Achilleus attacked him he retired too. Now the gods intervened. Athena in the shape of his brother Deiphobos advised him to resist, he would help him if needed. So Hector expected Achilleus and the struggle began. But Deiphobos has vanished. Furthermore Athena helped Achilleus by all means so that he could hit Hector's neck and he fell down. Crying evil invectivenesses he stabbed him with his spear to death. Dying Hector predicted him his near death by Paris and Apollo. But Achilleus transfixed his feet, tied him to his chariot and dragged him miserably from the walls across the field to the ships. Before he is said to have dragged him thrice around the walls of Troy. Others say he has dragged him only around the tomb of Patroklos as it was Thessalian convention. 

(5)Hector's burial
Thereupon in Troy raised crying and moaning. Priamos together with Hector's wife Andromache and her children, Astyanax, Laodama and Polyxena, came suppliantly to Achilleus, fell to the ground, embraced his knees and asked him in tears to release Hector's body so that he could give him a decent funeral. But not until the children start to beg him and Polyxena, who was desired by Achilleus already before, offered herself as his slave, the other Greek princes advised him to take the gifts and the gold and to give back Hector's body to Priamos. After heavy reproaches according the deeds of his sons he gave him unwillingly Hector's body. Then Hector was buried under the greatest moaning of the Troyans. These festivities lastened ten days and the war rested for this time. Then Homer's Ilias ends 

Background
Hector is the most important heroe of the Troyans and was instead of his father Priamos their highly venerated commander-in-chief. Noble mind, sense of duty and responsibility and trust in god were glowing from his character. Sometimes overhasty with words and decisions he consulted his friends like Polydamas and others and was dispraised sometimes. Reading the Ilias unbiasedly it is noticeable that Homer's sympathies lay on Hector. An abundance of epitetha and parables reveal that he is Homer's favourite heroe. You should read the scene (Homer Ilias 6, 390-502) where Hector took leave of his wife Andromache and his little son Astyanax. It is the most moving scene of the entire Ilias.

Looked at that way the Ilias is virtually an accusation against the brutal ethics of the Greeks. The merciless treatment of the slayed Troyans, the brutal murder of Astyanax,
the brutal rapes and their struggle for spoils and women, that all is deeply abhorrent. It is the transition from the Bronze Age of the Troyans to the Iron Age of the Achaians, as one likes. Has Homer tried to confront the ruling houses with a mirror? Perhaps. But whether they have regarded that?

After his death Hector was worshipped as god for a long time in Ilion at the entrance to the Hellespont (todays Dardanelles). The Thebeans were predicted well-fare of his city if they would bring the mortal remains of Hector from Asia to Thebens. They did that and at order of Zeus they worshipped him as heroe. This is told by Pausanias too. At Sappho, who glorified Hector in an epic poem about his marriage, Hector, meaning 'conservator of the city', is an epithet of Zeus.

Sources:
Der kleine Pauly
Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon
Robert von Ranke-Graves, Griechische Mythologie
Karl Kerenyi, Griechische Göttersagen
Homer, Ilias
http://www.uark.edu/campus-resources/Achilleus/iliad/iliad.html

Hector's deeds are depicted on many vase paintings. Of these I have selected these three:
(1) The scene of his leave-taking. It is Hector's last visite to his family before his duel with Achilleus: Astyanox, on Andromache's knees, is stretching his arms to touch Hector's helmet. It is an Apulian red-figure column-crater from Ruvo, c.370 360 BC. Now in the Museo Nazionale of the Palazzo Jatta in Ruvo di Puglia (Bari).
(2) An Attic red figure vase depicting Achilleus slaying Hektor.
     The original piece is found in the National Archeological Museum, Athens.
     This is a reproduction from the private collection of Tia C. J. H.
(3) The red-figure vase painting by the Brygos painter. It shows Hector's father Priamos, the king of Troy, who has come to the tent of Achilleus to beg for the return of his son's body. Achilleus initially ignored his request, as seen here, not even looking at Priamos. Hector's body is laying on the ground below.

Best regards
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« Reply #198 on: April 14, 2007, 01:22:22 pm »

Juno Caprotina

The next article is for our Republican friends!

Roman republic, R. Renius, gens Renia
AR - denarius, 3.92g, 15.33mm
Rome, 138 BC
obv. Head of Roma,wearing decorated and winged Attic helmet, r.
X behind
rev. Juno Caprotina in goats biga galopping r., holding reigns and sceptre in l. hand
and whip in r. hand.
beneath C.RENI
in ex. ROMA
Crawford 231/1; Sydenham 432; Renia 1
VF, toned, small, struck on small flan


Caprotina (= wearing goat's-skin) is an epithet of Juno in her aspect as a fertility Goddess. As Juno Caprotina she is associated with goats (Latin capra, "she-goat", caper, "he-goat") and with figs, both of which are symbolic of fertility: the fig fruit bears many seeds (and the well-known obscene meaning of fica), and goats are well-known for their randiness. Her festival was called the Nonae Caprotinae, or the "Nones of Caprotina", held on the nones or 7th day of July, and it was exclusively celebrated by women, especially slave-women.

Mythology:
The Roman explanation of the Nonae Caprotina is thus: after Rome had survived a siege by the Gauls (historically in the 4th century BCE), some of the less-friendly neighboring Latin tribes decided to take advantage of Rome's weakened position and demanded Roman women in marriage, under the threat of destroying the city. While the Senate debated what to do, a slave-woman named Tutela or Philotis took the matter into her own hands: with a group of other slave-women dressed as free women, she went to the amassed enemy army, and under the guise of celebrating a wedding feast, got the Latins quite drunk. After they had fallen asleep the slave-girls took their weapons, and Tutela climbed a nearby wild fig tree (caproficus in the Latin) and waved a torch as signal for the Romans to attack. This they did, andthey succeeded in defeating their enemies, and as a reward for the resulting victory, the Senate gave each slave-woman who participated her freedom, as well as a generous dowry. After that, in remembrance of the victory, the Nonae Caprotina were celebrated. Typically were obscene mocking speeches hold by the slaves, beating with birches and throwing of stones. Fig-branches and the milky sap of the fig-tree were offered to Juno, and festivities, feasts and rites were held in the fig-grove of the Campus Martius outside of the pomerium. (Varro, De Ling. at. VI, 18, Plut. Romul. 29, Camil 33.)

Another explanation for this festival was that it commemorated the day that Romulus, the legendary founder of Rome, mysteriously vanished during a thunderstorm, after which he was believed to have been taken by the Gods and made immortal. The site of his disappearance was the Palus Caprae (or "Goat's Marsh") in the Campus Martius, a swampy basin not far from the spot where the Pantheon is nowadays. The Nonae Caprotinae were also connected with the Poplifugia of the 5th of July, traditionally said to commemorate the people's panicky flight when faced with either a) the enemy army come to seize the women, or b) the occasion of Romulus's disappearence into thin air. The actual, original meaning of the Poplifugia had been long forgotten, though it may have referred to a ritual defeat or chasing away of the neighboring Latin armies. Another connection between the Nonae Caprotinae and the Poplifugia is that it was traditional on the Nonae Caprotinae for the women to run or be chased from the Temple of Juno to the fig-grove where a feast was held.

Goats, figs, and a fleeing populace are the common threads in these traditions; also located near the Palus Caprae (which is the name given to that area only in the legend of Romulus' disappearance) were the Aedicula Capraria, the Shrine of the Goat, and the Vicus Caprarius, a road literally named "Goat Street", which was probably named so because it led to the Aedicula Capraria. It is not known if the Aedicula Capraria was used in the festivities of the Nonae Caprotina, though that would seem likely. And yet another tradition names the invading army that frightened the populace so as being from Ficulea or Ficulnea, an ancient Sabine town whose name means "Of the Fig-Tree".

Background:
The various and confused explanations given for the two related festivals point to both their importance and their ancient origins. Probably they are both linked to the fig-harvest, which takes place in Italy in June and July, and to Juno as a Goddess of the fig tree who ensured a bountiful crop. The milk-like sap of the fig tree connects it with fertility, both of Juno as the Mother Goddess—who was after all equated with the Greek Hera, whose spilled breast milk was said to have formed the Milky Way—and of goats themselves, who were often kept for milk. The fertility of the figs and goats brought by Juno Caprotina was probably seen as encouraging the fertility of the women, as certain of the rites of the Nonae Caprotinae compare with the Lupercalia, a festival also dedicated to fertility. The other major theme of the Poplifugia and the Nonae Caprotinae (as well as the Lupercalia) was the ritual spiritual cleansing of the city: the fig was known in ancient times as a purgative, and thus associated with the driving out of evil (as both figs and fig-branches were used in the Greek rite of the Thargelia, when Athens was symbolically cleansed), so that the people and the crops might prosper. The Flight of the People (enemy army or panicky populace) may also connect to a symbolic driving out of enemies or bad spirits.

Juno Caprotina was usually depicted with goats, naturally enough: on our coin she rides a biga, a two "horse" chariot in this case drawn by a pair of goats; her dress flows in the wind of her speed and she holds what looks like a riding crop. On another coin, on which her portrait is stamped, she wears a head-dress made of goat-hide, with the goat's head over her own so that the horns are preserved in the back, and the lower jawline of the goat runs along her own.

Some notes on Romulus:
He was slain by the Senate or disappeared in the 38th year of his reign. Romulus's end, in the 38th year of his reign, was a supernatural disappearance, if he was not slain by the Senate. Plutarch (Life of Numa Pompilius) tells the legend with a note of skepticism:
"It was the thirty-seventh year, counted from the foundation of Rome, when Romulus, then reigning, did, on the fifth day of the month of July, called the Caprotine Nones, offer a public sacrifice at the Goat's Marsh, in presence of the senate and people of Rome. Suddenly the sky was darkened, a thick cloud of storm and rain settled on the earth; the common people fled in affright, and were dispersed; and in this whirlwind Romulus disappeared, his body being never found either living or dead. A foul suspicion presently attached to the patricians, and rumors were current among the people as if that they, weary of kingly government, and exasperated of late by the imperious deportment of Romulus towards them, had plotted against his life and made him away, that so they might assume the authority and government into their own hands. This suspicion they sought to turn aside by decreeing divine honors to Romulus, as to one not dead but translated to a higher condition. And Proculus, a man of note, took oath that he saw Romulus caught up into heaven in his arms and vestments, and heard him, as he ascended, cry out that they should hereafter style him by the name of Quirinus."

This event should have happened - according to some scientists - on the day of an eclipse. Sadly the reported dates vary very strongly! Here are some datas I have found on the web:
(1) It took place shortly before an eclipse of the Sun that was observed at Rome on June 25, 745 BC and had a magnitude of 50.3%. Its beginning occurred at 16:38, its middle at 17:28, and its end at 18:16.
(2) Romulus vanished in the 54th year of his life, on the Nones of Quintilis (July), on a day when the Sun was darkened. The day turned into night, which sudden darkness was believed to be an eclipse of the Sun. It occurred on July 17, 709 BC, with a magnitude of 93.7%, beginning at 5:04 and ending at 6:57. All these eclipse data have been calculated by Prof.Aurl Ponori-Thewrewk, retired director of the Planetarium of Budapest.

Additional I have found only the pic of an Etruscian front tile showing Juno Caprotina.

Sources:
Der kleine Pauly
Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon
Wikipedia
http://www.thaliatook.com/OGOD/caprotina.html

Best regards
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« Reply #199 on: April 29, 2007, 10:46:27 am »

The Thracian Rider-God Heros

1st coin:
Thracia, Odessos, Lucius Verus, AD 161-162
AE 19, 5.22g
obv. AVT KAI AVR - OVHROC
Bust, draped and cuirassed, seen from behind, laureate, r.
rev. ODE - CC - E - ITWN
      The Thracian Rider-God Heros, nude except Chlamys, on horse trotting r., holding
      transverse spear before chest.
AMNG 2249
rare, VF, nice green patina
The horseman is often called the Emperor, but because of its nudeness alone it is surely the Rider-God Heros.

2nd coin:
Thracia, Odessos, qasi-autonomous, 270-250 BC
AE 22, 7.54g
obv. Head of Zeus, bearded, laureate, r.
rev. The Thracian Rider-God Heros, bearded, nude except chlamys, wearing kausia, trooting
       on horse r., beneath as monogram A; with baseline
       in ex. ODHCITWN
AMNG 2206; BMC Black Sea 291
Rare, VF+, brown patina with some earthen highlights
Pedigree:
ex David Freedman coll.
ex CNG auction 61, 25.9.2002, lot 194
Note: Kausia = a flat Thracian bonnet

The Thracians were an old indo-european people or group of peoples in ancient times. They are mentioned already by Homer in his Ilias and described by Herodot. Thracian tribes settled on the Balkans, the actual Thracia, todays Romania, Moldawia, Serbia, Makedonia, Bulgaria, Northern-Greece and between the Carpatian Mountains and the Aegean Sea, and in Asia Minor: Mysia, Bithynia and Paphlagonia. The are the greatest people after the Indians, Herodot wrote. They have had no own scripture, but had close connections to the Greeks and their culture. The ancient religion of the Greeks was strongly influenced by the Thracians. A number of Greek gods actually had Thracian origin, among them Ares, Dionysos, Herakles and Orpheus. Their language was Thracian.

Under the Thracian gods particularly interesting was the Heros-God, known as the Thracian Horseman, as he was worshipped by the Thracians, because he was not a specific person like the Greek gods. Although ancestor worship of real people who had done great deeds bled into it, the Thracian Hero was an abstract figure, the idea of a Hero. It is this metaphysical entity ('Wesenheit') around which the worship was centered. The Hero was no doubt the central figure in Thracian religion, the hope and faith of the people. Their hero was all­seeing and all­hearing, he was the sun and also the ruler of the nether world, he was the protector of life and health, and kept the forces of evil at bay. In modern Bulgaria he continues to perform that function going by the name of St.George.

The Thracian Hero was depicted all the time, all over the place. Always on a horse, slaying something, slaying anything, usually with a spear. Over 1500 stone reliefs and more than 100 bronze statuettes of the Horseman have been uncovered on the territory of present-day Bulgaria. From antiquity, through Roman times, through the middle ages, and today, the image of the Horseman is inescapable in Bulgaria.
The Thracian Hero is also responsible for the Greek word heros from which the English word 'hero‘ is derived. The ethymological origin is indo-european *ser- = protect (Webster)
 
This hero-god was a war-god, he was the son of Bendis, the Great Mother of Gods, and her lover too. Bendis was worshipped as goddess of hunting and fertility. Her son was born virginally. Another important aspect of the Thracian religion was the belief in Immortality, known already from the 6th century BC or even earlier. Because of that the Christianism was accepted in Thracia very early. The religious components like mother, son, immaculate conception and Lord's Supper had an old tradition in Thracia. I remind on the letters of St.Paul to the Thessalonians written AD 51.
 
He was worshipped at hundreds of sanctuaries, peasants are still making pilgrimages to one of Bulgaria’s main Thracian Horseman sanctuaries, in fact that is how a lot of Thracian archeological sites in Bulgaria have been found.Arheologists just followed the local people to the places where they performed their “Christian” rituals, in fact the rituals and celebrations were {Like St. Trifon} Christian only by name. In most cases the peasants didn’t even know that the places they went to were ex-Thracian altar sites, they had simply been going there since time in memorial, only after the archeologists dug the site, did the people see the Thracian altars. 1000 years earlier the Church had done a very good job of burying “pagan” alters, and erasing the “pagan” names, but it couldn’t change, or eliminate the culture and rituals. Today St. George is the Hero’s new name. You can see images of St. George on a horse, slaying a dragon, all over Bulgaria.

The Madara Horseman
We must mention here the Madara Horseman too. This is a large rock relief from the early medieval times near the village of Madara in northeastern Bulgaria. The relief depicts a majestic horseman 23 m above ground level in an almost vertical 100-metre-high cliff. The horseman, facing right, is thrusting a spear into a lion lying at his horse’s feet. An eagle is flying in front of the horseman and a dog is running after him. The scene symbolically depicts a military triumph. The monument is dated back to circa 710 AD and is allocated to the Proto-Bulgarians who settled in this region. Other theories connect the relief with the ancient Thracians, claiming it portrays the Thracian Rider-God. It has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1979.

Besides the two coins which have been struck in a temporal distance of  400 years I want to show an altar of the Thracian Horseman and then too the monmental relief of the Madara Horseman

Sources:
Wikipedia
http://ancient-bulgaria.com/category/nature/reliefs/

Best regards
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