Classical Numismatics Discussion
  Welcome Guest. Please login or register. STORE WIDE SALE!!! 10% OFF EVERYTHING!!! WE ARE OPEN AND SHIPPING!!! We Are Working From Home, Social Distancing, Wearing Masks, And Sanitizing To Pack Orders!!! Please Call Us If You Have Questions 252-646-1958 Welcome Guest. Please login or register. STORE WIDE SALE!!! 10% OFF EVERYTHING!!! WE ARE OPEN AND SHIPPING!!! We Are Working From Home, Social Distancing, Wearing Masks, And Sanitizing To Pack Orders!!! Please Call Us If You Have Questions 252-646-1958

FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numism  |  Reading For the Advanced Collector  |  Topic: Coins of mythological interest 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
Pages: 1 ... 8 9 10 11 12 [13] 14 15 16 17 18 Go Down Print
Author Topic: Coins of mythological interest  (Read 445318 times)
Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11684

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #300 on: November 13, 2009, 05:44:09 pm »


Apuleius of Madaura was a Platonist and sophist of the 2nd century AD. He was born in AD 125 in Madaura in Numidia and grew up in Carthage. After a study stay in Athens he undertook long voyages in the East which almost eroded his assets. For a short time he was lawyer in Rome but then he returned to Africa. In AD 158 he was charged of sorcery. He had married in Oea a rich widow being much older than he. The accusation was that he has made the widow inclined by sorcery. After the verdict of not guilty he moved to Carthage again where he became a reputable member of the society. He was elected priest of the Imperial Cult. Apuleius enjoyed high prestige as rhetor and as thaumaturg (wonder maker). He was honoured in Carthage by erecting a statue. Another statue stood under the 80, which decorated the Gymnasion Zeuxippos in Constantinopolis. Here he was together with Vergil the only Roman poet. He was seen as great sorcerer precisely because he was acquitted of the charge of sorcery. His miracles were put beside the miracles of Apollonios of Tyana and over the miracles of Christus.

Apuleius is the type of the educated provincial Roman of that time. He has adopted the stuff of the educational heritage, but this is no more self purpose but working through the matters it serves for transcendental religiousness. Sometimes it tends to Platonism soon to the Isis cult, of which Apuleius was a devotee. The Platonism he changed to a secret science possibly because he himself has never access to the inner circle. His stylistic education is remarkable; it goes widely beyond the only rhetoric and qualifies him for a very nuanced mode of expression, reaching from the crude and burlesque to the tender and fairy-tale like, often a bit frilly (Pauly).

The Metamorphoses:
Of his survived texts the 11 books of Metamorphoses are the most important. It is a fantastic novel depicting the adventures of a Lucius who was transformed into in ass in Thessalia. The same plot is the base of the pseudo-Lukianic novel 'Lykios the ass' and the story of Lukios of Patrai which is briefly depicted by Photios. But Apuleius has widened this novel by the insertion of spook, bandits and love stories to a real fabula Milesia. And like all novels this too is composed so that behind the superficial action, the adventure of the ass, another profound level must be seen: As errant, brutish creature the first-person narrator finds his salvation by the mysteries of Isis. The fairy-tale of Amor and Psyche is one of his ekphraseis, a novel within the novel.

The fairy-tale of Amor and Psyche which passed down by Apuleius has a long background. We can differentiate between 4 different main directions of interpretations: a symbolic-allegorical, a mythologic-literary, the fairy-tale theory and the psychoanalytical.

(1) Reitzenstein regards as origin an Iranian mythos, depicting the path of the human soul to god. This path leads through suffering and examinations down to the underworld. Merkelbach interprets the tale of Psyche as holy story of the mysteries of Isis. Psyche is the suffering Isis who on her search for  Osiris/Eros is wandering through the world. Venus is the cruel appearing Isis-Tyche, who finally leads the human to bliss if only he will serve her faithfully. In this way the fairy-tale reflects the entire novel. These symbolic-allegorical interpretations are old, the first is known from the 5th century AD.
(2) Helm takes the novel first for a literary work in which motives are found of mythology, novel-like literature and erotic poetry. The phrases which Apollo uses to name Eros concealingly are known already in Hellenism. The palace of Cupido is modelled on the palace of Menelaos at Homer or the house of Helios at Ovid. The tasks which Psyche has to fulfil have their analogy in the labours of  Herakles: The sorting of the grains he compares with the clearing out of the Augean stables, the wild sheep with the cattle of Geryones or the mares of Diomedes. Bringing water to Venus is corresponding to the apples of Hesperids and Psyche's walk into the underworld is clear parallel to Herakles' walk into the Orcus to get the Cerberus.

(3) In contrast Friedlaender takes as base for the novel of Apuleius a genuine folk tale, whose motives can be found in fairy-tales of different people of several cultures. The begin of the tale alone 'Erant  in quadam civitate rex et regina' could be recognized by each reader as the well-known beginning of Grimm's fairy-tales 'Once upon a time'. Especially in the fairy-tales of the Brother Grimm, but at Basile too, many of its motives are found. The disfavour of Venus reminds of the disfavour of the queen in Snow White and in sorting the grains each unbiased reader would see Cinderella. Many other parallels are found immediately: the invisible domestics in nr.90 of Grimm's Fairy Tales 'The young Giant', the jealous sisters are a well-known topos, and the feature that the beloved doesn't show his true figure is the theme of fairy-tales from the type 'Animal Husband'.

(4) The psychologists Neumann, von Franz and Bruno Bettelheim establish a direct reference to the recent human. They conceive the depicted events as steps of the development process of human capacity of love. Bettelheim points out that the attempt to accelerate experiences concerning sexuality could have fatal consequences. This fairy-tale is a parable of the difficulties - but possibilities too - to reach a mature love relationship via the development of consciousness.

Wether this all was meant by Apuleius must remain doubtful. It is an artificial fairy-tale delighting the reader for long periods. Without this ancient text the occidental literature would miss a jewel (Kurt Steinmann).

History of Art:
In Attic vase paintings we find occasionally on pics of dead warriors small armored and winged figures as depiction of the soul. There are paintings too writing 'Psyche' explicitly. On white-coloured leukyths we see small winged silhouettes around a grave stele (c. 444 BC, Athens, NM). In its love relation to Cupido Psyche is depicted as a pretty young girl often with butterfly wings. Several examples are found on Pompejan wall paintings. This refers to the Roman believe that a moribund exhales his soul in the shape of a butterfly. This allegory is acquired by Roman sarcophagi too.

The most famous ancient sculpture of Psyche was found in 18th century on the Aventine hill near St.Balbina. It was the marble group of an embracing and kissing young love pair. Just this sculpture is depicted on our coin. It is a Roman copy of the 2nd century AD of a lost original from the time around 200 BC, today in the Capitoline Museum in Rome. It is ascribed to Pasiteles (not Praxiteles!) resp. the Pasitelan school, which is mentioned by Plinius.

In early Christian times depictions of Psyche are found in the Domitilla catacombes (Rome, 1st half of 3rd century AD). This tradition was continued. Raffael with his scholars has painted the ceiling of the Villa Farnesina about AD 1508-1511 with the tale of Amor and Psyche. A similar cycle we have in the Castel St.Angelo in Rome by del Vaga (AD 1543-1548). A third cycle is found in the Palazzo del Te in Mantua by Giulio Romano, conceived as manieristic-erotic.

Rubens and van Dyck too have adopted this theme. In Classicism the symbolic power of the legend was renewed: Canova created six different versions of Amor and Psyche where the youthful pair in gracious arabesques turned to each other (f.e. AD 1787-93, Louvre; AD 1794-96, Hermitage). It was a motive too for Thorvaldsen, Rodin, Chaudet and J.-L. David.

Of literary adaptations I only want to mention Patrick Sueskind. In his novel 'The parfum' Baldini wants to copy the fragrance 'Amor and Psyche' of Pelissier. The secret of the ingredients has been unveiled: lime, storax, orange blossoms, bergamot, rosemary, rose, jasmin and musk. When Baldini in the film of Tom Twyker smells at 'Amor and Psyche' he has the charming vision of a beautiful girl who gives him in the ambience of a summer garden a kiss on his cheek.

I have added
(1) a pic of the famous statue in the Capitoline Museum in Rome,
(2) a pic of of one of Canova's sculptures, and
(3) a pic of Anthonis van Dyck's 'Cupid and Psyche', c.1638, Royal Collection, Windsor

- Apuleius, Metamorphoses
- Milo Manara, Der Goldene Esel, 2000 Schreiber & Leser
- Die Hausmärchen der Brüder Grimm, (1819)
- Giambattista Basile, Pentamerone (1634-36)
- Meisterwerke der griechischen und römischen Literatur, Interpretiert von Kurt
   Steinmann, 1998 Reclam
- Bruno Bettelheim, Kinder brauchen Märchen, 1977 dva
- Günter Krampen, Zu Vorstellungen von der Psyche bei Apuleius von Madaura im
   2.Jh. n.Chr., Psychologie und Geschichte, 1. Jg., Heft 2
- Aghion/Barbillon/Lissarrague, Lexikon der antiken Götter und Heroen in der Kunst,
   2000 Reclam
- Der Kleine Pauly
- Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (online)

Best regards

* Statua_di_Amore_e_Psiche.jpg (49.64 KB, 576x768 - viewed 565 times.)

* Canova_Psique_i_Cupido.jpg (34.25 KB, 455x500 - viewed 556 times.)

* van_Dyck.jpg (40.32 KB, 535x512 - viewed 564 times.)

Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11684

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #301 on: November 13, 2009, 05:44:52 pm »

Some Notes on Eros

After the article about Amor and Psyche it was a must to be engaged in Eros (the mythological of course!). But at first four different coins which cover some of the various aspects of Eros:

1st coin:
Thrace, Hadrianopolis, Caracalla, AD 198-217
AE 17, 3.8g
      Bust, draped and cuirassed, laureate,r.
      Eros, winged, nude, stg. r., holding tablet in extended hands; bow and quiver behind him
ref. Jurukova 389; Varbanov (engl.) 3520
very rare, about VF, dark green patina
Eros seems to read love poetry.

2nd coin:
Thrace, Philippopolis, Septimius Severus, AD 193-211
AE 19, 5.31g
      Head, laureate, r.
      Eros, winged, nude, stg. l. with crossed legs, resting with r. arm on narrow column and
      holding burning torch downwards in r. hand.
ref. not in in Varbanov (engl.)
rare, about VF, brown-green patina
This frequent depiction is often misunderstood as Thanatos. But Thanatos can't be exhausted.

3rd coin:
Moesia inferior, Tomis, pseudo-autonomos, time of Elagabal or Severus Alexander
AE 17, 2.43g
obv. TO -MOC
      Bust of Tomos, draped, wearing taenia, r.
rev. TO -ME / ITWN (WN ligate)
       Eros, winged, nude, riding on lion advancing r.; whip in raised r. hand
ref. AMNG I/2, 2573, pl.VI, 13 (same dies)
about VF, dark green patina
This is the typical depiction of the motive 'Amor vincit omnia'.
(When I have the coin in hand I will place a better pic!)

4th coin:
Plautilla, killed AD 212, wife of Caracalla
 AR - denarius, 3.64g, 18mm
       Bust, draped, r.
       Venus, nude to waist, stg. l., holding apple in extended r. hand, resting with l. arm on big
       ovale shield set on small base, and holding in l. arm palm; l. before her Cupido, winged,
       nude, stg. l., holding in extended l. hand crested helmet.
ref. RIC IV/1, Caracalla 369; BMCR 429 var.; C.25
scarce, about VF, slightly toned
BTW This is the only rev. showing Cupido holding a helmet!

The story of Eros leads us far away to the begin of the world. We find him in the cosmogony, the story of the origin of our world, and in the theogony, the story of the birth of gods. But these seem to be actually the same.

Referring to Hesiod first of all arose Chaos. After that arose Gaia, the fertil earth,  and Eros, who dominates the mind of gods and men, the most beautiful of the immortals. From Chaos derived Erebos, the lightless deep, and Nyx, the night. Nyx by surrendering to Erebos gave birth to Aether, the light of the sky,and Hemera, the day. Out of herself Gaia created Uranos, the heaven, the eternal seat of the gods, and she created Pontos, the sea, and this all without Eros. To Uranos she bore the Titans, male and female, then three Cyclopes with only a single eye, and then the Hekatoncheires, giants with hundred arms and fifty heads.

Referring to the Orphics at first was Nyx, the night, who was feared even by Zeus. Impregnated by the wind she laid a silver egg into the womb of the darkness. From this egg sprung a god with golden wings, Eros, the god of love. But this was only one name of many: His name was too Protogonos, because he was the firstborn of all gods. Or Phanes, because he brought to light all which was hidden in the silver egg, actually the whole world: above a hollow space, the Chaos (meaning literally the gaping emptiness), at the bottom everything else. This story is told however in this way: Above in the egg was the heaven and at the bottom the earth, who - forced by Eros - copulated and created the siblings Okeanos and Tethys. Or below was the Okeanos and his sister Tethys who first felt the power of Eros. But their mother was always the Night.

This Eros, the first so to say, was a cosmic principle, an elementary power which primarily enabled life. He must not be seen as personal deity like the later gods. This concept of a personal human-like deity is much younger and probably appeared not until Hellenism. In this sense the so to say second Eros was the incorporation of love passion. He is said to be the son of Hermes and Artemis, of Hermes and Aphrodite and finally of Ares and Aphrodite. But he is said too to be the son of Zephyr and Eris or of Abundance and Poverty too. Other parents should have been Zeus and Persephone, Zephyr and Flora (probably a poetic invention) or Hephaistos and Aphrodite. According to Platon he was parentless.

But generally Eros is seen as son of Aphrodite. Already before his birth he should have been very bratty. So he is said to have sprung from the womb of his mother already before the due date, have shaked his wings and swung in her arms. But he is said too to have been her servant and has welcomed her when she arose of the sea at Paphos. He has carried her scepter or hold the mirror when she came out of the bath.
Actually there are no stories of Eros as we know so many from the other gods. The reason is - as Hederich wrote - that he is only a fictional poetic being. He is depicted holding a torch with which he inflames love, or like on the 2nd coin resting on a column exhausted by his work. Most famous are his bow and his arrows. He has two kinds of them: golden and sharp ones to awake love, and leaden blunt ones to create antipathy and aversion. Depictions where he is shown riding on a lion -as on the 3rd coin - symbolize his power: Omnia vincit amor, love conquers all (Vergil, 10th ecloge)! This too is shown by depictions where Eros breaks the thunderbolts of Zeus or sitting on Herakles' shoulders weighs him down. Once he has stolen his lion-skin even though Herakles has resisted with his club. He attached the greaves of Ares, climbed his shield, is playing with his helmet (like on the rev. of the 4th coin) or demands Apollo's lyra. The fact that he is seen on the triumphal chariot of Dionysos, sitting on his wineskin, symbolizes the importance of wine for love affairs. Usually he is depicted as a child and reminds me of the wonderful poem of Else Lasker-Schüler: Meine Liebe war ein Kind und wollte spielen (My love was a child and wants to play) 

Sometimes it is dfferentiated between a celestial Eros, son of Aphrodite Urania, an earthly or common Eros, son of Aphrodite Pandemia, and a mixed Eros (Plato). The first affects only mind and soul, the other only the body and the third one soul and body. This trichotomy is found in three statues of Skopas in Megara depicting Eros, love, Himeros, desire, and Pothos, the longing (Pausanias). The first one searches for what is to be loved, the second stimulates the consumption of what is lovable, but makes a fool of someone too, and the third one provokes the longing to be for ever with the beloved one. It is said however that these are only three different grades of the one Eros. Besides him there is said to be too a Lyseros or Dyseros, the unfortunate unanswered love.

According to some he was the oldest god of all (Empedokes), according to others the youngest (Pausanias). He is said too to be the creator of all human misfortune (etymological related to Eris?), the reason of crapulency, phlegm and opulence, and strife, war and hate would accompany him. He was more powerful as all other gods.
Especially worshipped he was in Thespiai where a statue of Praxiteles has stood, and in Parion. The Greeks used to set a statue of Eros in the entrance of their gymnasia. The Romans added Minerva and Hermes.

(will be continued)

* hadrianopolis_caracalla_Jurukova389.jpg (58.69 KB, 831x435 - viewed 19 times.)

* philippopolis_sept_severus_Eros_unbekannt.jpg (69.8 KB, 800x410 - viewed 21 times.)

* tomos_AMNG2573.jpg (26.38 KB, 550x286 - viewed 538 times.)

* plautilla_369.jpg (79.88 KB, 939x490 - viewed 19 times.)

Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11684

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #302 on: December 05, 2009, 08:55:19 am »


Homer doesn't know Eros. But in the scenes of Chaos in the ancient cosmogonies he takes a primary place. Hesiod puts him together with Tartaros and Gaia at the beginning of all things. This is true too for the fundamental similar Pothos in the 'Cosmogony of the Sidonians' of Eudemos of Rhodos. According to Parmenides (frg.B13) the female elementary power (daimon) conceived the Eros protiston theon, Eros, the first of gods. In Platon's 'Symposion' Phaidros comes back to the theos palaiotatos, the most ancient god, of Hesiod, Akousilaos and Parmenides. Aristophanes parodies in his 'Birds' the Orphic conceptions and let the world creator arise from an egg which was created by the Night in the womb of Erebos, before earth, air or heaven were at all, and makes him a relative of the birds!

The role which Eros is playing here as cosmic creator principle originates from an idea which understands the creation and the development under the suggestion of sexual mixture and genealogic succession. That was the reason that for the so understood Eros pre-Hellenic origins were assumed. This suggestion matches well with the archaic stone cult of the aniconic Eros of Thespiai (Paus. 9, 27, 1). This cult unifies phallic-priapic with cosmic-keraunic conceptions. On similar ideas is based the ancient sacral community with the fertility goddess Aphrodite in Athens.

At Hesiod he is the kallistos en athanatoisi, the most beautiful of the immortals. The early  Orphism endows him, the light bringer, golden wings, but deformes him soon after to a multinamed bisexual monster Phanes-Erikepais-Protogonos by mixing him with other creative divine entities. In this polymorphic shapelessly he resembles Kronos-Chronos.

Whereas in archaic times Eros was conceived as an aspect of light in contrast to the chaotic dark powers of prehistoric times he became in Greek poetry by aesthetical glorification an insuperable life power. Already Hesiod recognized in 'the most beautiful of all immortals' the conqueror of gods and men. Gold-haired (Anakreon), gold-winged (Aristophanes), springlike, in the brightness of heavenly thunderbolts, related to Zephyr and rainbow, the deinotatos theon, the most terrible of gods, brings like a storm (Sappho) the bitter and the sweet of love glykypikros with fateful violence. Eros has no pre-literary myths. The fairy-tale of Amor and Psyche at Apuleius is a later excrescence and belongs to the ambit of the Isis mysteries. So he is formed by poetical phantasy only which enjoys the antagonism of naive innocence and raging furor.

This type of divine youth with his attributes flower, lyra or bow is separated by an abyss from the primordial god of Thespiai or Parion. But his naive nature as child -  which deprives him of any mythological determination and lets him without a female companion - covers however too as pais amphithales, the child flourishing from both sides, the plurality of the possible which is so typical for the archaic daimon. In this way it is possible to use him for the exemplification of more differentiated erotic possibilities. Out of pederastic ideals of the palaistra (a kind of school of physical education) the antagonistic pair of Eros and Anteros emerged. And since 'Theseus' and 'Stheneboia' of Euripides it was distinguished between Eros sophron, restrained Eros, and Eros aischros, dirty Eros. Further systematic speculations led to a Eros triplex in the catalog of gods, Cic. nat. 3, 60. This trichotomic principle - provided with syncretistic nuances - dominated still the the depiction of Eros in the Hellenistic erotic novel of Longos. The countless Erotes who populate the literature since Pindar and Bakchylides, and at the same time enrich the Greek vase painting, are lately the expression of a symbolism of an idea pointing to the universality of Eros.
(Kleiner Pauly)

History of Art:
In the archaic and classical Greek art Eros is almost always a winged youth or boy (Mellephebe), the incorporation of beauty and love desire. His weapons are arrows and bow. Sometimes he is accompanied by Himeros and Pothos (f.e. statues of Skopas in the temple of Aphrodite in Samothrace and Megara, BC 340-330, which we know by Plinius and Pausanias). Several statues of Eros are known of Praxiteles and the bow stringing Eros of Lysipp, around 330 BC, we know from Roman copies.

Beginning in the end of the 5th century BC the depiction of Eros received more and more childlike traits and in Hellenism and in Rome finally appeared Erotes in plural, flighty, childish chubby-faced beings, who playfully imitate human activities (f.e. on wall-paintings from Pompeij). Eros is shown how he is pricking himself with his arrow or how he is sharpening them. He is shown how he is pouring a full purse or at other drolleries. The Eros-Psyche motiv is found especially on Roman sarcophagi. 

In modern age he is used by Tizian seriously allegorical in his work 'Heavenly and earthly Love' (AD 1512; Rome), or by Caron AD 1566 in the 'Burial of Amor'  for the death of Diana of Poitiers. Since the 15.century the small Erotes belong to the image library where they easily can be confused with Genii or Putti. As inventor of the Putti is seen Donatello. But that their origin are the Erotes of antiquity is evident. These funny tots could be found on all possible pictures: they decorate festive processions, play musical instruments and are often shown together witch fauns and nymphs. When in 1759 in Stabiae near Pompeij a Roman wall painting was found depicting a salesgirl selling winged Erotes this soon became a popular theme of painting and handicraft (f.e. porcelain of Meissen; Wedgewood stoneware). These cupids often appear as companions of Olympian gods, especially of Aphrodite of course; their presence at the birth of Aphrodite belongs to the convention since Renaissance (Botticelli, AD 1482; Uffizi, Firenze). Surprisingly Putti are found too on memento-mori paintings, depicting the uncertainty of human life. (Aghion/Barbillon/Lissarague)

I have added
(1) the pic of an Apulian red-figured skyphos (a drinking bowl) of the Ilioupersis painter, late
    Classic, 375-350 BC, now in the Museum of Arts, Rhode Island School of Design, New
    York City. It shows Eros playing ephedrismos, piggyback, with a woman, driving her in
    love towards her suitor. The man is accompanied by a seated Aphrodite, holding a
    dove in her hand.
(2) the pic of a Roman copy of the bow-stringing Eros of Lysippos from the Villa
     d'Este, now in the Musei Capitolini in Rome. The bronze original, 4th century BC,
     has stood in Thespiai. Pics of this statue are found too on coins. Please look at
(3) a pic of the oil canvas of Michelangelo Caravaggio (AD 1571-1610), Amor vincit omnia
     or The victorious Eros, AD 1598, today in the Staatlichen Museen, Berlin.

- Hesiod, Theogony
- Apollodoros, Bibliotheka
- Platon, Symposion, Phaidros
- Aristophanes, The Birds
- Cicero, De natura deorum
- Der Kleine Pauly
- Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches Mythologisches Lexikon
- Karl Kerenyi, Greek Mythology
- Robert von Ranke-Graves, Greek Mythology
- Luc Ferry, La sagesse des mythes, 2009 (recommended)
- Aghion/Barbillon/Lissarague, Lexikon der antiken Götter und Heroen
  Website of Francis Jarman and Pat Lawrence (warmly recommended)


* Eros_ephedrismos.jpg (29.44 KB, 489x272 - viewed 536 times.)

* Eros_bow_Musei_Capitolini_MC410.jpg (57.75 KB, 395x599 - viewed 532 times.)

* Amor_Victorious_Caravaggio.jpg (55.6 KB, 439x600 - viewed 529 times.)

Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11684

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #303 on: December 05, 2009, 08:56:23 am »

The Greek sun-god Helios

Recently I could add a drachm from Rhodes to my collection depicting the head of Helios. Surely I have searched for the background. But I have confined myself to the Greek Helios. The Roman Sol will be another article.

The coins:

Caria, Rhodes, struck c.205-188 BC
AR - drachm, 2.50g
obv. Head of Helios, slightly turned r.
rev. Rose, above GORGOS (magistrate), beneath R - O
in l. field bow in bow-case
ref. Ashton 288; SNG Helsinki 582; SNG Copenhagen 783
VF, uncleaned, some earthen deposits
Note: The similarity with Alexander the Great is highly visible, even the anastole is present.

Probus, AD 276-282
AE - Antoninianus, 5.77g
Siscia, AD 279, 6th emission, 5th officina
Bust, in imperiale mantle, radiate, holding eagle-tipped sceptre in r. hand
Sol, radiate, nude except chlamys waving behind him, holding whip in l. arm and raising r. hand in greeting attitude
ref. RIC V/2, Siscia 744(S); C.659; Alföldi type 76, nr. 120
very rare, EF, dark green patina
Note: Sometimes the raised r. hand is suggested as driving away the darkness of the night.

Helios is the Greek sun-god. As parents are considered the Titans Hyperion and Theia resp. Thias. He is brother of Eos and Selene and grandson of Uranos. However there are other reports about his origin too. So it is said that he was the son of Zeus, but usually he is seen as Titan. From his spouse Pereis the 'unresting' Helios is father of Kirke and Aietes (Hesiod,Theogony, 955ff.), by others of Pasiphae, and from Klymene father of Phaeton. Pindar names as wife of Helios the nymph Rhode (Olymp.7.54ff.). A grandchild is Medea. Homer moreover lists as Helios' children the nymphs Lampetia (= the illuminating) and Phaetusa (= the shining), whom he has created with Neaira (Odyssee, 12.131-133)

Helios drives a chariot with golden reins during the day from East to West over the sky. Ahead Eos is harrying, the dawn, and Selene, the moon, is following behind. In the night he returns from West to East in a golden bowl through the Okeanos to his starting point, so that he can repeat his journey on the next morning. In the meantime the Hores have cleaned his chariot which he has got from Zeus as gratitude for the victory over the Titans. Helios - himself a Titan - stood on Zeus' side against the other Titans. The names of the four horses are known as Pyroeis, Eous, Aithon and Phlegon (Ovid, Metamorphoses II,153) or Erythraeus, Aktaeon, Lampos (bright) and Philogeos or Aethon (burning), Chronos, Astrape and Bronte, or Eos, Aethiops, Sterope and Bronte. Out of their nostrils they are said to blow the light.

As god of light he heals blinds, but punishes sinners with blindness too. He is seeing and hearing all (Homer, Ilias 3.277). So he revealed the escapade of Aphrodite to Hephaistos, which is why she later took revenge on the daughters of Helios and seduced them to improper love. Take a look at the article about Hephaistos under When Hades has raped Persephone it was Helios who could help Demeter to find the whereabouts of her beloved daughter. Take a look at the article about the Rape of Persephone under In this way Helios too was the god of oath. On the other side he who was seeing all has had several love affairs and a numerous offspring. But Hederich suggests that this only have been said because all beautiful people are always called 'beautiful like the sun'.

It is told the sad story of Phaeton, son of Helios and Klymene. He was an avid charioteer and has often clad as his father Helios. Once when he got in strife with Epaphos, a son of Zeus, who doubts that his father was the sun-god, he complained at his father and Helios to solace him promised to fulfil  each of his wishes . There Phaethon wanted to drive the sun-chariot for one day. Against all objections and risks he insisted on his demand until Helios conceded. But when he mounted the chariot the horses immediately recognized that it was not the sun-god himself who guided them and began to leave the way. When Phaethon took his whip they became ferocious even more. They rushed to the North so that Bootes because of the heat jumped from his car, and when Phaethon saw the Skorpio he with shock let go of the reins. Now uninhibited the horses swept through all regions of the sky, set the clouds on fire or drove so closed to earth, that all withered and forests, cities and people burnt up. It is said that from this time on the Africans are black. The great rivers were boiling and when Poseidon wanted to look what happened above the water he had to dive down quickly because of the heat. It was Tellus who called Zeus for help who tried to help with rain. But the rain was dried up. There Zeus took his thunderbolt and struck Phaeton. The chariot broke and Phaethon was drowned in the Eridanus. Helios in mourning veiled his head for one day and then spurned his chariot. Not until the pleas of the gods and the threats of Zeus he changed his mind and he began to do his duty again. Phaethon was put as Auriga at the sky. The tears of his sisters however became amber. (Ovid, Metamorph.; Diodor; Hyginus u.a.)

The Cattle of the Sun-god:
On the island of Trinakia (that is Sicily) were living seven immortal herds of fifty cattle and fifty sheep, sacred to Helios, herded by Lampetia and Phaetusa, his daughters (Odysse, 127-133). The seer Teirsias and Kirke have had pronounced the break-up of the ship and the death of the companions if the herds would be harmed. But Odysseus allowed the landing and against his interdiction the companions butchered some of the cattle, sacrificed the bests to the gods and banquetted six days from the rest. Lampetia reported it to Helios and he asked Zeus for revenge. Zeus smashed the ship with his thunderbolt (Odyssee, 12.371-419). The number of three hundred and fifty animals is corresponding to the number of days of the ancient lunar year. Therefore 'it was just naturally that Helios because the companions of Odysseus have had eaten the cattle, took them the countervalue of the cattle, the days and especially the day of return.' (Kerenyi)

I have added the pic of a marble bust, showing Alexander the Great as Helios. It is the Roman copy of an Hellenistic original of an unknown artist from the 3rd-2nd century BC, today in the Musei Capitolini in Rome. The resemblance with the Helios portrait from Rhodes is striking.

(will be continued)

* rhodos_SNGhel582.jpg (28.21 KB, 597x280 - viewed 510 times.)

* probus_774(S).jpg (39.46 KB, 750x375 - viewed 21 times.)

* 395px-Alexander-Helios_Capitolini.jpg (44.57 KB, 395x599 - viewed 507 times.)

Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11684

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #304 on: December 14, 2009, 01:23:57 pm »


The conception of a divine being surely was inspired by the religious perceiving when looking at the sun. Homer and Hesiod describe his journey over the sky. At Homer there were already flamy steeds, at Hesiod a team of bulls. How Helios came back in the night remains unclear. Mimnermos reports a bowl in which he returns through the Okeanos from the Hesperides to the Aithiopes. Euripides and Ovid describe the gorgeous sun palace. As witness of all deeds he became a oath god besides Zeus. As creative vital force he is a symbol of life. Helios so means happiness, freedom and blessed with children. Even though he was called a god already by Sophokles he has an exceptional position because he didn't resides on the Olympos, and had - except of some cult sites - no terrestrial residence. As parents were mostly suggested Hyperion and Theia. Both were Titans and therefore Helios was called a Titan too, especially by the Romans. Kerenyi would like to see in the escorting women and his mother the moon goddess. His daughters, the Heliades, were changed in poplars after the death of Phaethon (which probably was an old surname of Helios) and their tears changed to amber. The Greek name HLEKTRON for amber is derived from HLEKTWR, an old name of Helios.
The actual island of Helios was Rhodes. According to mythology Rhodes has originated from the sea and Poseidon and his daughter Rhode watched over it. When Zeus reallocated the world he forgot Helios who was on his journey around the sky. Therefore he asked Zeus for the island of Rhodes which just raised from the sea and which he named after Rhode, who became his wife (Pindar, Olymp. 7). With Rhode he has seven daughters, the Heliades. And he was the guardian god of Rhodes. In honour of Helios each year the festival of the Halieia were celebrated by the cult priests of Haliastes and a quadriga was plunged in the sea. Everyone who was once in Rhodes and has seen the unbelievable light of this island can understand the close relation to Helios! When Demetrios I Polyorketes besieged in 304/303 BC Rhodes the Rhodians ascribed the lucky outcome of the siege to the help of their guardian god Helios. In his honour they erected the huge statue of Helios Eleutherias which under the name Colossus of Rhodes became one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Colossus comes from a Phrygian word meaning just statue. The Rhodian statue was erected in 290 BC by Chares, a scholar of Lysippos. But the statue didn't survive for long. Already in 227 BC it was destroyed by an earthquake and its ruins could be visited until the 7th century AD.

 The Helios cult in Rhodes was the only one in classical Greek. Later he was worshipped too on the Peleponnesos, especially on the areopagus of Corinthe, in Elis where his specialname Augeias became an own deity, and in Athens too. The worship in Corinthe wasn't beginning until Hellenism when Greece opened more and more for not-Greek deities. After all it must be said that Helios was rather a not-Greek deity. Herodotos describes a multitude of these sun cults.

Regarding to Platon Helios and Apollon should be venerated together and indeed about since 5th century these two deities were merged more and more, so that Phoibos Apollo too was seen as sun-god. In Megalopolis both were worshipped together as Soter, redeemer. This was forced by Orphic theocrasy, Stoic philosophy and by the astrology which came from the East. Under this influence and based on the Phrygian Mithras and the Syrian astral god Sol Invictus he finally became the Roman Imperial God. But that is another story.

The Cattle Problem of Archimedes:
Speaking about the cattle of the sun-god one should at least mention this famous mathematical problem, known too as problema bovinum.

In AD 1733 Lessing, librarian of the Herzog August Library in Wolfenbüttel edited the translation of a Greek poem which described a mathematical problem. It challenged the reader to find the correct number of cattle in the herd of the sun-god. In the title of this poem is named Archimedes and it is said that he has sent it in a letter to Eratosthenes so that the mathematicians in Alexandria may examine it. But this claim is doubted because this problem has not been mentioned by any ancient mathematician.

Compute, O friend, the number of the cattle of the sun which once grazed upon the plains of Sicily, divided according to color into four herds, one milk-white, one black, one dappled and one yellow. The number of bulls is greater than the number of cows, and the relations between them are as follows:

White bulls = 1/2 + 1/3 black bulls + yellow bulls
Black bulls = 1/4 + 1/5 dappled bulls + yellow bulls 
Dappled bulls = 1/6 + 1/7 white bulls + yellow bulls
White cows = 1/3 + 1/4 black herd
Black cows = 1/4 + 1/5 dappled herd
Dappled cows = 1/5 + 1/6 yellow herd
Yellow cows = 1/6 + 1/7 white herd

If thou canst give, O friend, the number of each kind of bulls and cows, thou art no novice in numbers, yet can not be regarded as of high skill. Consider, however, the following additional relations between the bulls of the sun:

White bulls + black bulls = a square number, 
Dappled bulls + yellow bulls = a triangular number.

If thou hast computed these also, O friend, and found the total number of cattle, then exult as a conqueror, for thou hast proved thyself most skilled in numbers.

Please, don't try to solve this problem! It was solved by using computers in 1965 by mathematicians of the University of Waterloo in Ontario. It is a so-called system of Diophantine equations of Pell and its smallest solution has 206.544 decimal places!

I have added
(1) the pic of a cutting of an Attic red-figured vase painting of an unknown painter, high Classic, today in the British Museum, London. It shows Helios or perhaps Phaeton driving the sun-chariot into the dawning.
(2) the pic of an Attic red-figured vase painting of the Eleusinian painter from the late Classic, c.350 BC, today in the Heremitage in St.Petersburg. It shows the bowl in which Helios each night is sailing from the sunset in the West around the Okeanos to the East to be back early enough at sunrise. On this depiction Herakles is sitting in the bowl which he has borrowed from Helios to reach Geryon's cattle.
(3) and at last the pic of an oil painting of Nicolas Poussin, 'Helios and Phaeton with Saturn and the Four Seasons', painted 1629-1630, today in the Gemäldegalerien Berlin. We see Phaeton kneeling before his father Helios and asking for the sun-chariot. Helios is depicted as youthful Apollon resting on his lyra

- Apollodor, Bibliotheka
- Benjamin Hedrich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon
- Der Kleine Pauly
- Head, Historia Numorum

I hope there is something new for you.


* Helios_Krater_.jpg (63.08 KB, 546x536 - viewed 510 times.)

* T17_5Helios.jpg (37.07 KB, 300x301 - viewed 506 times.)

* poussin20.jpg (38.84 KB, 738x591 - viewed 20 times.)

Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11684

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #305 on: December 14, 2009, 01:25:37 pm »

Aphrodite Stratonikis

This can be seen as a little thank-you for the poll.

Ionia, Smyrna, c.175 BC - 85 BC
AE 16, 4.29g, 16.3mm
struck under magistrate Heras
obv. Head of Sipylenic Kybele, wearing mural crown
       Statue of Aphrodite Stratonikis, in long chiton and wearing kalathos, stg. r.,
       resting with l. arm on small column and holding in l. hand small Nike, stg. l. and
       holding wreath in raised r. hand; between her and column scepter.
ref. SNG Copenhagen 1187 var.
F+/about VF, dark green patina


Stratonike I (317 BC - 254 BC) was the only daughter of king Demetrios I Poliorketes with his first wife Phila, daughter of Antipatros, Regent of Empire. Stratonike was married in 300 BC to Seleukos I Nikator and so she became a Queen of Seleukids. In 293 BC Seleukos I left Stratonike to his son Antiochos I Soter who - referring to tradition - became melancholic and ill by falling in love with his stepmother, who was seven years younger than he. The following story is reported: When the physician Erasistratos was examining Antiochos, the young wife of the king entered the room and Erasistratos recognized  by the accelerated pulse of his patient that it was no physical sickness but the love for this untouchable stepmother. Thus his father left his young wife to him and his empire too. And when Antiochos I died Antiochos II, his son with Stratonike, became his successor on the throne from 261 BC to 246 BC.

The cult of Aphrodite Stratonikis was introduced by Antiochos II in honour of his mother Stratonike, who died in 254, at the recommandation of the Delphic Oracle. Its boom years the cult has in Hellenistic times. The highlight probably was that at the request of Seleukos II in 242 BC her temple - and with it the entire city - was declared as hieron kai asylon by the Delphic Oracle.

The fact that queens were venerated as goddesses and especially as Aphrodite was not unusual in antiquity. I remind of Julia, daughter of Augustus, who was worshipped as Aphrodite Geneteira (Venus Genetrix), of Teos, wife of Attalos I from Pergamon or of Arsinoe, daughter of Ptolemaios I and Berenike I.

On coins struck from c.170 BC on Aphrodite Stratonikis appears in long chiton with kalathos on her head, holding a scepter in her r. hand and a statue of Nike in her l. hand, resting with her left arm on a column. This depiction met the pic of Aphrodite Nikephoros, which we know f.e. from coins of Skepsis in Troas.
On early pieces (170 BC - c.85 BC) Aphrodite is standing r., since 85 BC she is standing facing. From 75 BC on a dove as further attribute is added to the r. field. The depiction of Aphrodite Stratonikis apparently recalls the cult statue which was erected in the temple.
Dove and kalathos are well known attributes of Aphrodite. Nike probably was added referring to the name of Stratonike. The column has no cultic meaning. It was probably required to carry the outstretched arm bearing the weight of the statue of Nike. We know that from many other statues.

The End of the Cult:
Whereas this type is very common until AD 14, later this type occurs no more at all.  The decreasing of interest in the cult of Aphrodite Stratonikis surely is not related to the revision of the asylons under Tiberius in AD 22, because Smyrna was allowed to keep its right of asylon, though it now didn't extend over the entire city but was constricted to the temenos. But after granting the first neocory under Tiberius the new temple of the Emperor apparently became the most important sanctuary of the city and repelled the ancient cult of the Seleucid queen. As asylon the temple of Aphrodite Stratonikis lost its importance as well, in contrast to the new sanctuary because the temple and the statues of the emperor generally were considered as asylons. (Cass. Dio47, 19, 2; Sen. de clem. 1, 18, 2; Tac. ann. 3, 36,1)

The Sipylenic Kybele:
The only deity whose depiction was equally frequent on coins in Hellenism as in Roman Imperial time was Kybele. She was worshipped in Smyrna under the name Meter Sipylene. This surname points to Sipylos, the mountains which surmount Smyrna and as whose dominator the goddes was seen and where she was venerated already in pre-Hellenic time. This mother goddess was borrowed by the Greeks and Smyrna became one of her main cult locations. Under the name Mater Deorum Sipylene the lawyer Ulpian listed her as one of the few deities to whom a legacy could be assigned(!). Referring to the outstanding importance for Smyrna the bust of our coin often is suggested as Kybele, and not as the rather common Tyche.

 History of Art:
The theme of the lovesick king's son was picked up by numerous painters, among them Antonio Bellucci (1654-1726), Jean-August-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867) and others. It was popular already in Middle Ages (f.e. the Master of Stratonike, about 1490). I have added the painting of Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825), Antiochus et Stratonice, 1774, today in the Ecole Nationale Superiere des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

Dietrich O.A.Klose, Die Münzprägung von Smyrna in der römischen Kaiserzeit, 1987

Best regards

* smyrna_SNGcop1187var.jpg (25.73 KB, 652x319 - viewed 19 times.)

* 767px-David-Antiochus_et_Stratonice.jpg (79.01 KB, 656x513 - viewed 19 times.)

Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11684

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #306 on: April 30, 2010, 03:43:46 am »

Dear friends!

I have seen that last week we have crossed the border of 100000 pageviews. Thank you all for your interest! Sadly I'm so busy with the Markianopolis and Nikopolis Addenda that there is not much time left for mythological articles.  But I have some themes for the future.

Best regards

Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11684

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #307 on: July 21, 2010, 10:51:02 am »

Gordios - Founder of Gordion

After a longer pause (I am busy with Nikopolis and Markianopolis!) I want to share a coin which seems to point to an interessant mythology. Thanks to archivum who has found the hints to Gordios and to Louis Robert, who wants to see on a stele from Thiounta in Phrygia the ox-car of Gordios.

The coin:
Thrace, Tomis, Septimius Severus, AD 193-211
AE 26, 10.81g, 26.15mm, 195°
Head, laureate, r.
rev. MHTRO - P - P - ONTOV TO - MEWC (from 12h clockwise to 9h)
Two-wheeled cart drawn by a bull pacing l.; in the cart a man, bearded, bare-headed, in himation(?), std. r., upper part of the body and head turned l., r. hand stretched out l., r. hand bent; in front of the bull a woman in double-chiton advancing l., head turned r., with r. hand holding an unknown object (long stick?) on r. shoulder, l. hand raised r.
in upper field Delta (for tetrassarion)
ref. a) not in AMNG
          rev. AMNG I/2, 2756 (depiction)
                 AMNG I/2, 2757 (legend)
         obv. AMNG I/2, 2757
     b) Varbanov (engl.) 4845 var. (= AMNG 2757)
F/F+, brown patina

This type we find in Tomis regularly from Marcus Aurelius until Philip II (except for Macrinus and Diadumenian!). Because of the constancy of the depiction Regling has suggested that is the copy of a monument. Any explanation for the pic he couldn't find. He took it for a local myth. Perhaps we have found the explanation?

What we have:
(1) a rural cart drawn by an ox
(2) an artless clad bearded man std. in the cart
(3) a woman with a stick(?) over the shoulder walking in front of the cart
These 3 essentials my point to Gordios! Here we have his mythology:

Gordios (or Gordias) was a royal name in the mythic prehistory of Phrygia. In the mythological age, kings of Phrygia were alternately named Gordias and Midas.

The first Gordios was a poor farmer from Macedonia who was the last descendant of the royal family of Bryges. This was the name of the Phrygians when they settled together with the Macedonians in Europe (Herodotus VII, 73). He only owned 2 oxes, one for working, the other for transporting (Arrian II, 3). One day, while he was ploughing, an eagle came down and settled on his yoke of oxen, and remained there till the evening. Gordios was sur­prised at the phenomenon and interpreted it as a sign that he would one day become a king. He made for Telmissos to consult the soothsayers of that place, who were very celebrated for their art. Close by the gates of the town he met a Telmissian girl, who herself possessed prophetic powers. He told her what he had come for, and she advised him to offer up sacrifices to Zeus-Sabazios at Telmissos.

"'Let me come with you, peasant,' she said, 'to make sure that you select the right victims.' "By all means,' replied Gordius. 'You appear to be a wise and considerate young woman. Are you prepared to marry me?' 'As soon as the sacrifices have been offered,' she answered." (Robert Ranke-Graves, Greek mythology, §83) )

She herself accompanied him into the town, and gave him the necessary instructions respecting the sacrifices. Gordios, in return, took her for his wife, and be­came by her the father of Midas. It is told too that with Kybele, or under her patronage as Great Mother, goddess of Phrygia, Gordias has adopted Midas, who was recast as his son in later mythology.

When Midas had grown up to manhood, internal disturbances broke out in Phrygia, and an oracle informed the inhabitants that a cart would bring them a king, who should at the same time put an end to the disturbances. When the people were deliberating on these points, Gordios with his wife and son, suddenly appeared riding in his ox-cart in the assembly of the people, who at once recognised the person described by the oracle., and made ehim their king.

According to Arrian, the Phrygians made Midas their king, while, according to Justin, who also gives the oracle somewhat differently, and to others, Gordios himself was made king, and succeeded by Midas.

Gordios founded the city of  Gordion, which then became the Phrygian capital. His ox-cart and the yoke to which the oxen had been fastened the new king dedicated to Zeus in the akropolis of Gordion. In this manner the founding myth justified the succession of Gordion to Telmissos as cult center of Phrygia. The yoke was fastened by a complicated knot and an oracle declared that, whosoever should untie the knot of the yoke, should reign over all Asia (the recent Anatolia). It is suggested that the name of Dionysos was tied into the knot. This was the famous 'Gordian Knot'.

And now we have the well-known story of Alexander the Great who came to Gordion in 333 BC and sliced the knot in half with his sword. This was accepted by the priests as solution and the oracle came true.

The knot may in fact have been a religious knot-cipher guarded by Gordian/Midas's priests and priestesses. Robert Graves suggested that it may have symbolized the ineffable name of Dionysos that, enknotted like a cipher, would have been passed on through generations of priests and revealed only to the kings of Phrygia.
Unlike fable, true myth has few completely arbitrary elements. This myth taken as a whole seems designed to confer legitimacy to dynastic change in this central Anatolian kingdom: thus Alexander's "brutal cutting of the knot... ended an ancient dispensation." The ox-cart seems to suggest a longer voyage, rather than a local journey, perhaps linking Gordias/Midas with an attested origin-myth in Macedon, of which Alexander is most likely to have been aware. To judge from the myth, apparently the new dynasty was not immemorially ancient, but had widely remembered origins in a local, but non-priestly "outsider" class, represented by Greek reports equally as an eponymous peasant "Gordias" or the locally-attested, authentically Phrygian "Midas" in his ox-cart. Other Greek myths legitimize dynasties by right of conquest, but the legitimizing oracle stressed in this myth suggests that the previous dynasty had been a race of priest-kings allied to the unidentified oracle deity (Wikipedia).

I have added the following pic:
Jean-Simon Berthelemy (1743-1811), Alexander cuts the Gordian Knot, Paris, Ecole de Beaux-Arts

(1) Herodot, VII
(2) Arrian, Alexandri Anabasis II
(1) William Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, 1867
(2)  Robert Ranke-Graves, Greek Mythology, 1955, §83d.
(3) Louis Robert, "Les dieux des Motaleis in Phrygie," Journal des savants 1 (1983),
     45-63 , 51, n. 16, online
(4) Wikipedia

Best regards

* tomis_sept_severus_Varbanov4845var_1.jpg (77.14 KB, 916x438 - viewed 18 times.)

* Alexander_cuts_the_Gordian_Knot.jpg (26.49 KB, 671x520 - viewed 18 times.)

Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Online Online

Posts: 11019

« Reply #308 on: July 21, 2010, 12:30:54 pm »

An interesting idea, but two questions arise which prevent me from accepting it as the undoubted explanation of this unusual Tomis reverse type!

First, the myth of Gordios relates to the foundation of a ruling dynasty in Phrygia. Even if the Phrygians are supposed to have originally come from Thrace, it seems odd that Tomis was so persistent in depicting this Phrygian myth on its coins. In general, provincial cities depicted their own myths on their coins, not the myths of distant foreign cities, even if related.

Second, the details of the type don't seem adequately explained by the Gordios interpretation. Why does the man sit backwards in the cart, but turn around and gesture towards the woman? Why is the woman leading the ox while looking back at the man, and what is she carrying over her shoulder?

Curtis Clay
Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11684

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #309 on: July 21, 2010, 01:30:41 pm »

Thanks, Curtis!
As so often you here too have twisted the knife in the wound. Why just Tomis? Why just the strange position of the two persons. But the suggestion was so strong that I wanted to use this type as a plug for the founder myth of Gordion. I have done this a few times in this thread and I hope that the justified doubts were always clear.

BTW Regling writes: She doesn't lead the animal at the horns like it seems on some coins.

Best regards

Procurator Caesaris
Offline Offline

Posts: 2902

« Reply #310 on: July 23, 2010, 03:23:35 pm »

An interesting idea, but two questions arise which prevent me from accepting it as the undoubted explanation of this unusual Tomis reverse type!

First, the myth of Gordios relates to the foundation of a ruling dynasty in Phrygia. Even if the Phrygians are supposed to have originally come from Thrace, it seems odd that Tomis was so persistent in depicting this Phrygian myth on its coins. In general, provincial cities depicted their own myths on their coins, not the myths of distant foreign cities, even if related.

Second, the details of the type don't seem adequately explained by the Gordios interpretation. Why does the man sit backwards in the cart, but turn around and gesture towards the woman? Why is the woman leading the ox while looking back at the man, and what is she carrying over her shoulder?

  What we need and still lack for the Gordios ID is a clear local Tomis connection with the lineage of Midas and Gordios, and I doubt we'll find one in a hurry.  But it isn't especially far-fetched to make a great deal of a mythical link with a migrant or emigré founder, especially when the home-port can use extra prestige; I am thinking of Sidon and Tyre with coins featuring Europa and Cadmus and Dido, or coins from the Troas that feature Aeneas especially.  Some coins featuring Leto and her children or either Bacchus or Zeus as an infant bear mention as well, even though migrant gods aren't quite founder-figures.

   The Tomis details actually seem to tolerably well with the Gordios story, such as it is -- sitting backward (reluctant to leave his first home), the male figure still reaches to clasp the wife-seeress leading the way to his new Phrygian homeland and future dynastic renown.*  What's she carrying?  Maybe a rope -- the lead-end of a durable line -- just the thing for the symbolic knot Alexander alone could resolve  Regling thought that this crowded reverse might well be based on some work of art; some big south-oriented civic mural would fit the bill nicely, though undoubtedly risky to reconstitute using guesswork alone.  So the jury's still out, but the case seems substantial.

   * Thus Poole finds the figure lordly enough for an emperor (on p. 60 of  More examples of this enigmatic reverse (cut-and-paste Wildwinds link) at; see also the old thread on this topic with Robert and Fredricksmeyer references at

Temper thy haste with sloth -- Taverner / Erasmus.
Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Online Online

Posts: 11019

« Reply #311 on: July 30, 2010, 09:55:30 pm »

Maybe I'm too skeptical, or maybe further reading of the articles cited would change my opinion, but from the evidence so far presented, if I were judge the case would certainly not go to the jury, I would throw it out for failure to prove the indictment beyond reasonable doubt or even to the level of fair probability!

What I miss is (a) any proof apart from the coin type itself that the people of Tomis regarded Gordios as a home-town hero, (b) any proof that this coin type, with its particualr details, was meant to represent Gordios at the time he drove by in his cart and was acclaimed king in Phrygia.

Curtis Clay
Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11684

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #312 on: August 16, 2010, 09:10:30 am »


As so often in this thread the depicted coin is only the plug serving as starting point for the actual theme. And so here too. Sadly the coin is very worn. But the import parts of the legends and the important attributes are still recognizable.

The coin:
Phoenicia, Gaza, pseudo-autonomous, time of Hadrian
AE 13, 3.01g, 12.86mm, 0°
struck AD 131/132
obv. King Minos in short chiton stg. frontal, head l., holding in l. arm spear and and in raised
       r. hand long branch
       r. MEINW
rev. Sacred tree
      l. [GAZA G]. r. E.BYR
      in lower r. field Phoenician Mem (symbol for Marnas, city-god of Gaza)
ref. Yashin no. 312; SNG ANS Palestine 913 var.
      (Thanks to all me bers who have helped me, especially Snegovik!)
ex Coin Galleries NYC Mail Bid Feb 22. 1992, lot 244
rare, still S

Gaza has used two different systems:
(1) The era of Gaza, beginning with 61 BC referring to the visit of Pompeji in Palestine in September 61 BC, so a variant of the Pompejian Era.
(2) Dating according to the visit (epidemia) of Hadrian in AD 129.
At the time of Hadrian often both dates can be found on coins, the 2nd usually marked by EPI.
On this coin the date is difficult to identify. But by comparing it with the descriptions in Yashin, p.72, the best match is E.BYR. E is abbreviation for EPI, BYR is Greek 192, where the Y is a variant spelling of Greek koppa, meaning 100. Then it is 192 = AD 131/132, which I have adopted for my coin. The Gamma for the 3rd epidemia of Hadrian sadly is invisible.

It is well possible, that there are actually two different persons named Minos: Minos I the Elder, the grandfather, and Minos II the Younger, the grandson. Evidence for that is the fact, that we have two quite different characteristics which seem nearly incompatible. But it is possible too that we have only one king Minos where the later myths - depicting a rather dubious character - arose from the Attic viewpoint which - for reasons we will hear later - was interested in not allowing Minos to escape unscathed. For reasons of clarity and comprehensibility I follow Hederich and Roscher and will split Minos in two different persons.

Minos the Elder:
According to Homer Minos was the son of Zeus and Europa. He was the first of this name and should not be confused with Minos the Younger, his grandson. He ruled in Apollonia on Crete. Wether he for himself originated in Crete or came from outside on the island is disputable. In any case he was king of Crete and married with Itone daughter of Lykos. By Itone he was father of Lykastos and Akakallis with who Apollo and Hermes fell in love.
He was famous for his fair and just laws by which he ruled his people. This laws he will have received from Zeus himself. To meet Zeus every nine years he climbed to a deep cave which should have been in the Ida mountains. When he died on his tomb was engraved  ΜΙΝΟΣ ΤΟΥ ΔΙΟΣ ΤΑΦΟΣ. As time goes on the name of Minos vanished and only ΤΟΥ ΔΙΟΣ ΤΑΦΟΣ remains. Therefore the Cretans claimed that Zeus was buried here (Hederich).
After his death because of his justness he was enthroned as judge of the dead together with his brothers Rhadamanthys and Aiakos. But he was the most distinguished of this three who has to decide in the case of disputes. He is enthroned with a sceptre in his hand and judges over the deeds of the shadows. The evils are sent to the Tartaros, the good to the Elysian fields. An urn in his hand contained their fate.
However there are some who don't hold him for so just because he has pursued Britomartis with his passion. Britomartis was a nymph and huntress on Crete loved by Artemis in particular. Minos fell in love with her and chased her over the mountains and through the oak woods. After nine month of hunting he has catched her on a cliff of the Dikte mountains but she could wrest from him and jumped from the top into the sea where fishermen saved her with their nets. Artemis raised her to a goddess. But this could well have been Minos the Younger who was known for stalking young girls.
Minos the Younger:
Minos the Younger was the son of Lykastes and so the grandson of Minos the Elder, albeit some are holding him for a son of Zeus too. In any case it was this Minos who has as wife Pasiphae, daughter of Helios. His children were Androgeos, Deukalion, Glaukos, Phaidra, Ariadne and some others. As a sign that his reign was given to him by the gods he claimed that the gods always were fulfilling his requests. And he asked Poseidon for a bull to make a sacrifice. Poseidon fulfilled his request and sent him an extraordinary beautiful bull raising from the sea. But Minos retained this bull and sacrificed an inferior one. In revenge for this fraud Poseidon arose in Pasiphae a passionate love to his bull. After being banned from Athens the famous artist and inventor Daidalos has found asylum at Minos. Daidalos made a wooden mock-up of a cow so that Pasiphae could unify with the bull and so Minotauros was born, a monster with human body and the head of a bull. To lock him up Daidalos constructed the famous labyrinth. When Minos discovered that he was involved in the matchmaking he enclosed him and his son Ikaros in a tower. But by making wings Daidalos and Ikaros succeeded in flying away.

At this time Androgeos, son of Minos, was in Athens to take part in prize games. Athens was ruled at that time by king Aigaios. Because Androgeos won all competitions the sons of Pallas joined him. Pallas was a son of Aigaios, once expelled from Athens by his brother, Therefore Aigaios feared for his throne and let kill him. That murder led to a war with Minos. Minos came with a large fleet from Crete to Greece and besieged at first the city of Nisos where Skylla, daughter of king Nisos, helped him to conquer the city (This Skylla is not the Odyssean Skylla!). But he doesn't succeed in conquering  Athens. So he invoked the gods for help and they sent starvation and plague and the Athenians had to surrender. As punishment for the murder the Athenians had to sent every year seven youths and seven girls to the Minotauros who devoured them until Theseus made an end to this horrible tribute.
Minos ruled in Knossos but by his powerful naval power over large parts of the Mediterranean too. So he might become the founder of Gaza which was called after him Minoa.

He was infamous for stalking young girls. But Pasiphae out of jealousy has poisened his sperm so that vipers and skorpions came out and all his favourites died a painful death. It was only Prokris who could survive.

The fact that Daidalos has insulted him Minos could never forget. So finally he started with a mighty fleet to search for Daidalos, who since then lived at king Kokalos on Sicily. Minos has conceived a trick: He carried along a triton shell and promised a big reward to whom who succeeded in dragging a linen thread through the shell. When he came to king Kokalos in Kaminos on Sicily he gave the shell to Daidalos. And he drilled a small hole in its top, brush the helices of the shell with honey and sent an ant through the helices with a silk thread on which was knotted a linen thread. There Minos recognized that he has found Daidalos and demanded to deliver Daidalos. But the daughters of Kokalos refused to hand over Daidalos because he had made them elaborate toys and when Minos was sitting in the bath they suffocated him with hot water vapour. Minos was splendidly buried and found his final repose in the temple of Aphrodite in Kaminos. Later he was brought back to Crete.

Minos was a famous mythological Cretan king, after whom the archaeologists rightly have named the Cretan culture from the 3rd century to the end of the 2nd century as Minoic. Wether Minos actually was the name of a king or was a kind of king's title, because there were several kings bearing the name Minos, is not clarified definitely. In antiquity he was seen as ideal type of king (referring naturally to Minos the Elder!), who by ever recurring dialogues with Zeus was educated to ethical competency which was reflected in his legislation for his people. As location of this meetings mostly the Zeus grotto on the Ida mountains is mentioned.

Minos was in posession of a large fleet and is hold as first ruler of the sea. He succeeded in expelling the Karic pirates from the Cyclades. He colonized many islands and enthroned his sons as governors. He not only ruled over the Aegeis but many foundings named Minoa point to regions outside the Cyclades too.

The mythology of Minos preserves the memory of the importance of the Minoic culture for Crete and Greece. But a complete general view is not possible. So f.e. no trace of the feminine Phaiakian-like character of the Minoic world could be found (Pauly). The campaigns against Attica or Sicily don't need to be only mythological inventions. They are evidence for the importance of the thalassocracy which doesn't need a closed realm. Athens, the great adversary of Crete, claimed Daidalos, the ingenious artist who surely was an Cretan figure, for itself and tried too to devaluate the reputation of his high justice by enhancing his cruel deeds. An attempt which in the end was not successful, proved by his role as judge of the dead. (Pauly).

Minos and Gaza
Gaza praised itself on the close relation to Minos. According to Stephanos of Byzantium Minos, Aiakos and Rhadamanthys made an expedition from Crete to Phoenicia, captured Gaza and named it Minoa albeit there is the claim that Minoa is originated from Aramaic 'marlu (harbour). The connection to Greece is supported by the takeover of the Attic standard of coinage. The depicted coin shows on its rev. a sacred tree. According to Yashin it is the evergreen sycamore of Gortyna on Crete. Under this tree - referring to the myth - Zeus has unified with Europa. And Marnas, the city-god of Gaza, is said to be a concretion with Zeus. Meant is Zeus Kretagenes, the Cretan Zeus.

Art of History:
I have added the pic of Minos from Michelangelo's wall painting in the Capella Sistina. Surprisingly Minos is entwined by a snake. Here is the explanation:
Baigio da Cesena, a papal master of ceremonies, criticized Michelangelo's work saying that nude figures had no place in such a sacred place, and that the paintings would be more at home in a public tavern. When Baigio complained to the Pope the pontiff explained that he had no jurisdiction over hell and that the portrait would have to remain. Michelangelo included da Cesena in the Last Judgement as Minos, one of the three judges of the underworld. Michelangelo has depicted Minos with ass-ears and wrapped in serpents coils. The coils indicate to what circle of hell the damned are destined. The serpent's bite on the genitals of Minos (da Cesena) illustrates Michelangelo's disdain for the Cardinal and of course Baigio must have been furious.

The second pic shows the so-called throne of Minos in Knossos.

- Homer, Odyssee XI, 568-571
- Apollodor, Bibliotheka III, 3-20, 197-211; IV, 7-15
- Ovid, Metamorphosen VII 456-490; VIII, 6-292
- Stephanos von Byzanz, Ethnika

- Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches Mythologisches Lexikon
- Karl Kerenyi, Die Mythologie der Griechen
- Robert von Ranke-Graves, Griechische Mythologie
- Roscher, Mythologie
- Der Kleine Pauly
- Chaim Yashin, From Ascalon to Raphia, 2007

- Wikipedia

Other articles dealing with this theme:
(1) Europa and the bull
(2) Dionysos and Ariadne
(3) Herakles and the Cretan Bull
(4) Apollo with double-axe
(5) Io/Hathor (and Marnas)

Best regards

* gaza_Yashin3122.jpg (24.73 KB, 500x269 - viewed 304 times.)

* minos-michelangelo-last-sup.jpg (43.98 KB, 450x643 - viewed 302 times.)

* Throne of King Minos.jpg (18.66 KB, 320x240 - viewed 301 times.)

Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11684

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #313 on: August 16, 2010, 09:14:18 am »

The Griffins

About Sphinxes we have talked several times. Today I want to tell something about Griffins, which obviously seem to be related closely to Sphinxes. The myths about the fabolous peoples of the Arimasps and the Hyperboreans belong to their ambit.

The coins:
Thracia, Abdera, 352-323 (VIII Period)
AR - Triobol, 1.5g, 12.98mm, 0°
obv. Griffin, jumping up l., peaked feathered wing directed diagonal upward, beak
        slightly opened, his feet on club, laying with grip l.
        above eight-pointed star
        beneath MHNO
rev. square of lines, within head of Apollo(?), with short hair, laureate, r., field
       barely deepened
       around the square ABD / HRI / TE / WN
AMNG II, 206 (3 ex., Copenhagen, London, Ratto)
rare, VF

(1) The club was added to the coin depiction as a symbol of the sovereignty of the Heraklids after Abdera came under the rule of Philipp II from Makedonia 352 BC. Abdera, a Ionian foundation, probably of Teos, was a provincial city of the province of Macedonia since 341 BC. It was the birthplay of the important Pre-Socratic natural philosopher Demokrit who together with his teacher Leukippos was the inventor of the theory of atoms. Protagoras and Anaxarchos too came from here and the poet Anakreon of Teos settled here. Nevertheless in antiquity Abdera was hold as something like the German 'Schilda', a city full of fools.
(2) There is the opinion too that the portait doesn't show Apollo but the hero Abderos.

Gallienus, AD 260-268 (sole reign)
Antoninianus, 3.27g
       Head, bearded, radiate, r.
      Griffin, stg. l.
      in ex. D
ref. RIC V/1,165; C.77
ex Romanorum


(1) The Arimasps and the Gold of the Griffins:
The griffons were mythological wingend beings with a lion's body and the forepart of an eagle. In his lost work 'Arimaspeia' Aristeas of Prokennos reports at length how the griffins in India or in the Riphean Mountains north of the Black Sea rose gold in their gold mines, accumulates huge treasures and defend them against the Arimasps. The Arimasps were an one-eyed horse people, who tried to steal the gold from the griffins, so that permanently combats between them arose. According to Herodot Aristeas has visited the regions of the Scyths and the Issedones. The Arimasps were situated - so Herodot - further north of the Issedones. Aischylos for his work 'Prometheus Bound' seem to have used his reports. He describes regions beyond the Caucasus Mountains where Gorgons, Griffins and Arimasps were living. The feature of one-eyeness goes back to Herodot who derives the name of Arimasps from Scythian 'arima' = 'one' and #spu' = 'eye'. Others think it is Mongolian meaning 'mountain people' or Iranian where 'aspu' = 'horse', meaning 'owner of a horse'    

When you are searching for gold you can successfully use griffins. If you are skilful they lead you to their gold treasures! This myth obviously plays in Scytia. The Scyths are well known for their skilfulness in working with gold and griffins were one of their favourite motifs.

(2) Apollo and the Griffin:
I think it is not well known that Apollo always at the beginning of the winter betakes himself to the country of the Hyperboreans and stays there for the winter. The Hyperboreans were living in the extreme North beyond the Boreas, the cold north wind. Therefore it was the most delightful and most fertile country of eternal springtime and eternal youth. There Apollo was flying each on a swan or a griffin. Both animals were sacred to Apollo: The swan because of its singing and because he has played an important role at his birth, and the griffin because of his visionary abilities which were assigned to him. The people of Hyperboreans has venerated Apollo so much so that each of them was thought to be priest of Apollo. According to Pausanias (X, 5, 4) the Delphic Oracle was endowed by the Hyperboreans and according to Diodor (II, 47) Leto has come from the Hyperboreans. Regularly they sent votive offerings to the Apollo Oracle in Delphi. According to H.L.Ahrens the Hyperboreans originally were just the bringer of votive offerings and actually Apollo attendants. The myth of the country north of the Boreas then arise from a wrong etymology (Roscher)
The fact behind this mythology can well be the cultural-historical procedure that this Apollo, the kithara playing Apollo, gifted in fine arts, was brought to Greece by the Dorians, and so was of Scythian-Pelasgian origin, in contrast to the other Apollo, shooting with bow and arrows, bringing - and ending - plagues, who came from Asia Minor. Both were melted to one deity not until later.

The close connection between Apollo and the griffin can be seen on coins too. An antoninian of Gallienus shoes a griffin and along with it the legend APOLLINI CONS AVG, dedicated to Apollo the conservator of the emperor.

Griffins and Nemesis
In later times we find a connection with Nemesis, as we see e.g. on coins from Teos. This is possibly associated with his sharp-sighted vigilance, but with his role as tantalizing spirit of revenge too (Pauly). That would match the depiction where the griffin is holding a wheel, which probably represents the wheel of vengeance. Since Nemesis, daughter of the Night, in the darkness lets rolling the wheel of vengeance from heaven down on the culprits. From there dates the fame of the griffin that he has a distinct sense of justice. The depiction together with Dionysos on coins of Teos doesn't have any mythological background. He merely was the main deity of Teos.

Alexander's Flight to Heaven:
In India - it is said - Alexander have met griffins. In the Alexander romance, a legendary biography from the 3rd century AD it is reported that Alexander in his desire to know everything has undertaken a flight to heaven. He let capture two griffins and starving. Then he sat down in a big basket and the animals hitched up to the vehicle. Two spears with horse-liver he held in front of their beaks. The starved griffins tried to reach the liver, started to beat their wings, raised into the air and were flying higher and higher. Alexander saw the countries of the earth under his feet laying there 'like a threshing-floor', enclosed by the sea 'like a snake'. But then a bird with a human face, may be an angel, came to him and blamed him for his hybris. Thereupon Alexander abandoned his undertaking, gave the meat to the griffons and landed safely. In the Middle Ages the Alexanderflight was equated with the Ascension of Christus.

Name and Origin:
The Greek name of griffin was gryps, Latin gryphus, derivated probably from the Indogermanic stem *grabh, to grip. Herder et alii wanted to find the griffin in the Cherub of the Old Testament, gryps = kherub. But recently this seems to be denied. There is neither a etymological nor a semantic connection, despite you can read this often.
Originally the griffin, [i['achech[/i], cames from the ancient Egyptian mythology, where he was mentioned already in the 4th century BC as heaven's being closely connected to the sun. The Mesopotamian griffin is known first c.1400 BC. And the Sumeric composite creatures of lion-griffins were rather dragons. Earlier the griffin is known in Syria where he was mentioned in the 2nd century BC. From the oriental Kulturkreis of the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Hettites and the Syrians the griffin was adopted into the Cretan-Mycenaen culture and from there since the Geometric Time into the Greek art. He is often depicted with a knob on his forehead whose meaning is unclear. According to ancient Greek myths the griffin was living in mountains and his lifespan was 60 years. North of the land of the Scyths a realm of gold-hoarding griffins should have been or have been a part of them.

Some meanings of the Griffin:
Because the griffin was a widespread fabulous animal for a long period of time he has several different meanings:
(1) First he was a guardian, keeper and custodian of the gold, later of light, the sun and the divine. In this sense he became a symbol of divine power. The conception that griffins were pulling the chariot of the sun cames from Syria. Usually he is depicted calmly seated often with raised forepaw. Here he never appears as predator.
(2) But he can be warlike too as the use of griffins on helmets an cuirasses point out. Surely here he is meant apotropaic. His depiction on sarcophaguses allows us to assume that he stands for eternity and immortality.
(3) He means wisdom, ingenuity and foresight. In connection with Apollo too for visionary abilities.
(4) Because he is built-up of the king of air and the king of animals he is seen as master over heaven and earth. In Middle Ages this naturally was Christus. So the griffin in his double character as terrestrial and aerial animal symbolized Christus.

If one approach the stories of mythological animals rationally then there are assumptions that the gold digging Scyths in the large deserts of Central Asia have found fossils of Protoceratops, a dinosaur frequently occuring in Cretaceous Age. This is true for the Gobi desert today. In this connection the Riphean Mountains were equated with the Altai Mountains. These finds could well have led to the myth of griffins. The Protoceratop has a big beak and his body remains slightly on that of a lion. When the Greeks came along the caravan routes in the direction to China, they took the tales about the griffin with them on their way back to the West.

History of Art:
Only some notes: According to the Kulturkreis and the era we find various depictions. So we find alternative depictions on the portals of Persepolis and of Persian or Babylonian walls, further on helmets, f.e. on the helmet of Athena Parthenos of Phidias on the Acropolis in Athens, on cuirasses or coins. The griffin was the crest animal of Teos - and then of Abdera - as powerful demonic guardian of Syrian type, in apotropaic sense. Griffins we find in arabesques, especially on Roman columns, and as acroteria on temples. Well known are the large griffon bowls. The cuirass of Trajan as Britannicus, now in the Lateran Museum, is decorated with pics of Arimasps who serve the griffins with drinks, above Sol is floating in his chariot. Hanfman et alii suggest that the fighters on the Ara Pacis of Augustus on the Campus Martis are rather Arimasps then Amazons, because Amazons as allies of the Trojans, the mythic ancestors of Augustus, would never been depicted as enemies.

I have added:
(1) The pic of an Attic red-figured chalice krater showing the fight between a griffin and an Arimasp. At the l. side a Satyr is standing. Unknown artist, c.375-350 BC, Louvre/Paris

(2) The pic of an Attic red-figured ´kylix (dringing bowl) showing Apollo riding sidesaddle upon the back of a griffin. The god strums a lyre with one hand and holds a laurel branch in the other. He is on his way to the Hyperboreans. C.380 BC, Late classic to Early-Hellenistic, KHM Vienna

(3) A world map created according to the narrations of Herodot so that you have an idea of the geographical circumstances used in this article. At the very top you see the Riphean Mountains extending broadly from West to East where the griffins and the Arimasps were living.

- Herodot, Histories
- Aischylos, Prometheus Bound
- Pausanias, Voyages
- Diododor, Bibliotheke
- Physiologus

- Roscher, Mythologie
- Der kleine Pauly

- Wikipedia

I hope that something was new for you. And as always this article should be seen as starting point for own further researches!

Best regards

* abdera_AMNG206.jpg (32.17 KB, 440x214 - viewed 280 times.)

* gallienus_165.jpg (33.51 KB, 750x344 - viewed 21 times.)

* 659px-Satyr_griffin_Arimaspus_Louvre_CA491.jpg (65.99 KB, 626x570 - viewed 19 times.)

* Apollo riding gryphon Vienna.jpg (84.1 KB, 626x626 - viewed 19 times.)

Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11684

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #314 on: August 21, 2010, 03:40:09 pm »

Tyche Euposia

From Nikopolis ad Istrum exists a coin type depicting Tyche with cornucopiae and rudder but shows additionally - if one looks more closely - an infant seated on the cornucopiae and reaching for Tyche. This infant, usually called Ploutos, is often overlooked (even by Pick!). I want to share 2 ex. from my collection and then to tell something about the history and meaning of this depiction.

1st coin:
Moesia inferior, Nikopolis ad Istrum, Diadumenian, AD 217-218
AE 27, 12.19g, 26.82mm, 30°
struck under governor Statius Longinus
       Bust, draped (and cuirassed?), bare-headed, r.
      in ex. (smaller) CTRON
      Tyche Euposia in long garment and mantle, wearing kalathos, standing frontal, looking r.,
      holding cornucopiae in l. arm and in extended r. hand rudder; in crook of cornucopiae
       infant Ploutos, nude, std. l., reaching out r. hand for Tyche
ref. a) AMNG I/1, [1867] var. (2 ex., Sofia, Sestini)
      b) not in Varbanov (engl.)
      c) not in Megaw
      d) Hristova/Jekov No. (same dies)
rare, F+/about VF, dark green patina

2nd coin:
Moesia inferior, Nikopolis ad Istrum, Elagabal, AD 28-222
AE 27, 11.07g, 26.83mm, 0°
struck under governor Novius Rufus
       Head, laureate, r.
      in l. and r. field RO - N
      Tyche Euposia in long garment and mantle, wearing kalathos, standing frontal, looking r.,
      holding cornucopiae in l. arm and in extended r. hand rudder; in crook of cornucopiae
       infant Ploutos, nude, std. l.
ref. a) not in AMNG:
         rev. AMNG I/1, 1972 var. (legend break N - I, in fields R - ON, Ploutos not mentioned)
         obv. AMNG I/1, 1968
      b) cf. Varbanov (engl.) 4090 (Ploutos not mentioned)
      c) Hristova/Jekov No. corr. (this coin, but Ploutos not mentioned)
rare, F+/about VF
note: Because Tyche here is wearing a mural crown it is obviously the City-Goddess!

The type of Tyche Euposia is known not only from Nikopolis. Pat Lawrence has a wonderful coin of Caracalla from Markianopolis and then this type occurs on several coins of Asia Minor, f.e. Isinda, Kassandreia and Hierapolis.

3rd coin
Phrygia, Hierapolis, pseudo-autonomous, time of Trajan, middle of 2nd century AD
AE 30, 13.18g
       Head of Dionysos with ivy-wreath r.
rev. EVBO - CIA
      Euposia stg. l., holding cornucopiae and rudder, in crook of cornucopiae infant Ploutos
      std. l., reaching with r. hand for grapes hanging down from mouth of cornucopiae
ref. SNG Munch 22 (same dies); BMC 35 var. (has EVPOCIA)
ex Gemini Numismatics Auction #6, January 10, 2010, lot 622
ex Dr. Stephen Gerson coll.

Now who is Euposia? With this question we are already in Asia Minor and the 3rd coin wilp help us further. On this coin the legend is Eubosia, written with B, and that means something like 'good pasture'. She is sometimes depicted wearing grain-ears and in this way she is very similar to Demeter. She is a kind of fertility deity. Mythologically Euposia like her brother Koros were children of the Lydian Kore (= Demeter).

An excursion:
The assumption of a Demeter Eubosia in Phrygia can be connected immediately with a narration of Stephanos of Byzantion. In a founder myth of the Phrygian city Azanoi by the hero Euphorbos he writes: "Hermogenes says: Not so (= Azanoi) it should be called but Exuanun. Near at this place - it is told - were manors. When a dearth occured the herdsmen came together and sacrificed and prayed for plenty feed. When the gods didn't listten to them Euphorbos has sacrificed a vixen and a female hedgehog. This sacrifice has enjoyed the gods and a great fertility (Eubosia) has occured and the soil has brought much fruit. When they heard this the neighbours have made him priest and ruler. And the city was called Exuanun, which is literally 'Hedgehogfox'."

On the coins, which are a thoroughly political institution, we find both, Euposia and Eubosia, the former an impersonation of the public banquets, known not only at the Mediterranean coast of Asia Minor but in Olbia/Sarmatia too, and the latter of the fertility of the soil, both being forms of the mother-goddess of the city in her civic aspect. Imhoof-Blumer considers the two forms to be mere variants in spelling, but they are distinct terms. At Smyrna the public banquets were directed by an Euposiarch, and Eubosia was a goddess at Akmonia.

But Eubosia not only was an epitheton of Demeter but was used in Phrygia also as a name of empresses. So Poppaea on coins of Akmoneia was wreathed with grain-ears and that suggests a relation to Demeter. And in a inscription, found in Ahatkoi and referring to the archon Gervenius, a certain Nikias is mentioned who was priest of an empress with the cognomen Eubosia, which in fact belongs to Demeter and means 'the fruitful, the food giving'. This Sebaste Eubosia however could have been Agrippina the Younger too, wife of Claudius, for she too is depicted with grain-ears, and Gervenius was archon under both empresses. But probably Poppaea was venerated as Eubosia not before the death of Agrippina, and so this cognomen was attached not to an individual empress but more to her dignity. In Melos was found the statue of a certain Aurelia Euposia, wife of a certain Aelius Chrestos, from the 3rd century (now in Athens).

History of Art
To understand the meaning of Tyche Euposia we must look at the famous statue 'Eirene with infant Ploutos' from Kephisodotos. This statue of the Peace Goddess Eirene, carrying in her arm the infant Ploutos, personification of wealth, we know from several Roman marble copies. The Bronze original which is lost was erected by the Athenians c.374 BC on the Agora (market place) when the cult of Eirene was introduced. It was created by Kephisodotos, father of Praxiteles, and depicts Eirene in peplos. Garb and
maternal body shape reminds on Demeter, the mythological mother of Ploutos (40 years later this statue became the prototype for 'Herakles and the Infant Dionysos' by Praxiteles).
The idea of this work of art leaps to the eye: Wealth is possible only by Peace! Ploutos means wealth, but we tend to think of Money as Wealth, whereas still in the 4th century BC they meant all the produce of the fields and the treasure of the mines, yes, and, in sum, enough to eat and prosper in Peace. (Pat Lawrence)

A last word to Ploutos in the arm of Tyche Euposia:
The depiction on the rev. of the coinage from Hierapolis from the time of Trajan corresponds to the pattern of the group of the statue from Kephisodot. The legend names the female figur Euposia/Eubosia and it is possibly the copy from a statue. The child in her arms is always called Ploutos by scholars. But that is not so sure! Euposia actually is a late cult personification from Asia Minor who has her own genealogy in Sardeis. There she is the child of Kore and was depicted statuarily together with her brother Koros. Sadly the statue from Sardeis is lost but it is possible that it have matched that of Hierapolis. So the nomination Ploutos for the infant in the arm of Euposia is not compelling (Ruth Lindner).

Of course it is possible too that under the influence of the statue from Kephisodot an amalgamation of this two types has happened or even a transfer of meaning has occurred.
I have attached a pic of the famous statue of Kephisodot from the Glyptothek in Munich. There are other copies too where the missing parts are added.

- Stephanos von Byzanz, Ethnika

- William Mitchell Ramsey The Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia, Oxford 1895
- Numismatische Zeitschrift, 4. Band, Wien 1872
- Ruth Lindner, Mythos und Identität: Studien zur Selbstdarstellung
  kleinasiatischerStädte, 1994 Franz Steiner
- Wikipedia


Best regards

* nikopolis_diadumenian_HJ8.25.38.9.jpg (61.4 KB, 720x351 - viewed 20 times.)

* nikopolis_elagabal_AMNG1972var(rev).jpg (46.93 KB, 523x250 - viewed 266 times.)

* Hierapolis_SNGmunich221_.jpg (51.95 KB, 594x291 - viewed 266 times.)

* 380px-Eirene_Ploutos_Glyptothek_Munich_219_n1.jpg (36.17 KB, 380x600 - viewed 265 times.)

Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11684

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #315 on: September 04, 2010, 11:08:21 am »

Apollo Karinos, the stony Apollo

Inspired by Pat Lawrence's article about the horned Apollo I want to share some information about Apollo worshipped as a stone.

The coin:
Megaris, Megara, 307-243 BC (Head)
AE 16, 2.76g
obv. Prora of galley l.
       above MEGA
rev. Obelisk of Apollo Karinos flanked by two dolphins stg. upright
ref. BMC Megaris 30-34
rare, F+/about VF
note: The prora is probably the trireme disposed in the Olympieion of Megara (Paus. I, 40, 4)

The myth of Apollo Karinos is part of the founder myth of Megara and Alkathoos, one of its kings. Alkathoos was a son of Pelops and Hippodameia and brother of Atreus and Thyestes.
He was first married with Pyrgo and then with Euaichme. By her he was father of Echepolis, Kallipolis, Iphinoe. Periboea and Automedusa. Pausanias reports that Euippos, son of king Megareus of Megara, was killed by the Kythaironian lion. Megareus, whose elder son Timalkos has fallen by the hands of Theseus, offered his daughter Euaichme and his kingdom to him who should sly the lion. This task was undertaken by Alkathoos who has fled to Megara because he has killed his step-brother Chrysippos. He conquered the lion on the Kythairon mountain and so obtained Euaichme as his wife and became the successor of Megareus as king of Megara. In gratitude for his success he built at Megara a temple of Artemis Agrotera (Huntress) and Apollo Agraios (Hunter). And he restored the walls of Megara, which had been destroyed by the Cretans (take a look at the article about Minos in this thread). In this work he was said to have been assisted by Apollo, and the stone, upon which the god used to place his lyre while he was at work, was even in late times believed, when hit by a pebble, to give forth a sound similar to that of a lyre (Paus. I, 4 1; Ov. Met.VIII 15).
Echepolis, one of the sons of Alcathous, was killed during the Kalydonian hunt in Aetolia, and when his brother Kallipolis hastened to carry the sad tidings to his father, he found him engaged in offering a sacrifice to Apollo, and thinking it unfit to offer sacrifices at such a moment, he snatched away the wood from the altar. Alkathoos imagining this to be an act of sacrilegious wantonness, killed his son on the spot with a piece of wood. The acropolis of Megara was called by a name derived for that of Alkathoos. (Pausanias)

Pausanias reports:
"As you go down from the market-place [of Megara] you see on the right of the street called Straight a sanctuary of Apollo Prostaterios (Protecting). You must turn a little aside from the road to discover it. In it is a noteworthy Apollon, Artemis also, and Leto, and other statues, made by Praxiteles. In the old gymnasium near the gate called the Gate of the Nymphai is a stone of the shape of a small pyramid. This they name Apollo Karinos, and here there is a sanctuary of the Eileithyiae." (Pausanias I, 44, 2)

In honour to Apollo the city of Megara has introduced the lesser Pythian Games.

The epitheton Karinos I think goes back to Kar, an predecessor of Alkathoos as king of Megara. Another explanation which I have found, that it comes from Greek 'karine' = lamentation at funeral rites, is farfetched, I think.
The worshipping of Apollo Karinos in the shape of a stone is not exceptional. We know of several stones which were worshipped in Greece. Here is a list which is surely not complete:
Zeus Kasios in Seleukeia Pierias,
Zeus Teleios in Tegea,
The stone of Zeus in Gythio, harbour of Sparta
Zeus Meilichios in Sikyon in the shape of a pyramid,
Artemis Patroa in Sikyon in the shape of a pillar,
Artemis Pergaia in Perge,
Aphrodite of Paphia in the shape of a black stone
the stone of Astarte in Sidon,
the stone of Kybele of Pessinus, brought to Rome in 205 BC,
Heliogabal, the sun god in Emesa, the famous stone of Elagabal,
Dusares in Petra,
Apollo Agyieus as conical column standing as protection in front of house doors
The stone in the Apollo sanctuary on the Palatine in Rome
and the famous Omphalos of Apollo Delphinios in Delphi
Most of them were meteorites. We know from the stones fallen at Aigospotamoi 467/6 BC during the 78th Olympiade. This cosmic shower has had an important influence on the pre-Sokratic nature philosopher Anaxagoras who thereafter postulated that the sun is a glowing stone of the size of the Peloponnesos and the moon gets his light from the sun.

In Greece the usual sign that a stone is itself an object of cult is when it is 'translated' into person-language: it is given the name of a god. At Megara in the 2nd century AD 'in the Old Gymnasium next to the Nymph Gates there is a stone shaped like a small pyramid. They call it Apollo Karinos and there is a sanctuary of the Eileithyiai [goddesses of childbirth, usually singular] here' (Pausanias 1, 44, 2). The shape recall the Cave of Eileithyia at Amnisos (Crete), known to Odysseus (Odyssee 19, 188), where a stalagmite was marked off for worship. In that case we are clearly dealing with the remains of worship going back to before Greeks arrived. And this picture is confirmed by the prominence given, in religious contexts, to stones and pillars on Minoan seal-rings and more generally in Minoan and Mycenaean religion. So here we see a strange form of cult object, somewhat alien to classical Greek practice, perhaps reaching back to Phoenician influence in the Dark Age, perhaps to the pre-Greek population of Greece and Crete, but in either case representing the continuation by persistent religious tradition of something from a very different past. Sacred stones and barely representational non-statues are in fact felt and respected by the Greeks for the special things that they are. In the sacral landscape of Sikyon,

after the heroon ('hero-shrine') of Aratos there is an altar [a stone?]
to Poseidon Isthmios, and a [statue of] Zeus Meilichios and Artemis
Patroa, neither made with any skill - the Meilichios is like a pyramid,
the Artemis like a pillar. (Pausanias,2.9.6)

The lack of skill highlights, and reinforces, the fact that these statues are talking a different language. It is important that they should not display that sort of skill which privileges form over material. (Ken Dowden)

Homer, Odyssee
Ovid, Metamorphoses
Pausanias, Description of Greece
Diels/Kranz, Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker

Ken Dowden, European Paganism: the realities of cult from antiquity to Middle Ages

Best regards

* Megara_BMCmegaris30-34.jpg (41.4 KB, 732x356 - viewed 20 times.)

Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11684

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #316 on: September 22, 2010, 02:58:19 am »

A note on Apollo Karinos by Pat Lawrence:

I think that the roots of such worship of unworked objects is far older than the "Phoenicians", i.e., far older than the early Iron Age.  I think that it is generally Mediterranean, eastern half probably, and was a part but not the whole of early worship.  Tree and Pillar cults certainly are very old, but not specifically Cretan or Cypriote or Phoenician, I think.  Stone markers at crossroads, also, probably belong in their category.  Even in early modern Greece (but not there alone) rural people had deep but inexplicit beliefs about such objects, often associating them with Christian stories, too.


Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11684

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #317 on: October 25, 2010, 05:34:34 pm »

Apollon Iatros - Apollon the Doctor

1st coin:
Thrace, Serdika, Caracalla, AD 198-217
AE 31, 15.37g, mm, 0°
       Bust, laureate, l., with decorated aegis and sword-belt over l. shoulder (rare bust variant)
      Apollon Iatros, nude, stg. frontal, head l., resting with r. hand on snake-staff and l. hand
      akimbo; at his r. side infant Asklepios stg. frontal, looking up to him and stretching the r.
      hand to him.
ref. a) Ruzicka online 169-177 var. (this coin)
      b) not in Varbanov (engl.)
      c) Hristova/Jekov No. (this coin)
Very rare, VF+, brown-green patina
The small companion usually is called infant Asklepios. But there are doubts. More in this article.

2nd coin:
Moesia inferior, Markianopolis, Elagabal, AD 218-222
AE 28, 10.69g, 28.04mm, 210°
struck under governor Julius Antonius Seleucus
       bust, draped and cuirassed, laureate, r.
      Apollon Iatros, nude, unbearded, chlamys over l. shoulder, stg. frontal, head l, resting on
      snake-staff set in arm-pit
ref.: a) AMNG I/1, 832, pl. XVII, 4 (3 ex., Löbbecke, Rollin, probably Wizcay too)
           called by Pick Asklepios
       b) Varbanov (engl.) 1559 (Asklepios)
       c) Hristova/Jekov No. corr. (writes in error CELE - VKOV and has in ex. TWN)
           here correctly named Apollo Iatros!
rare, F+/about VF, blue-green patin
Clearly his nudity and the lack of the himation is evidence for Apollo!

Apollon Iatros, lat. Apollo Medicus, is literally "Apollo the Doctor". Already at Homer Apollon not only was the bringer of evil and plagues but too the healer who could end the plagues. I refer to the first article in this thread about Apollo Smintheus. But here we have Apollon Iatros who satisfies a special function by which he is closely related to his son Asklepios, whom he had by Koronis.

Origin of the Cult
Walter Burkert discerned three components in the prehistory of Apollo worship, which he termed "a Dorian-northwest Greek component, a Cretan-Minoan component, and a Syro-Hittite component." As an eastern component in both Greek and Etruscan civilization Apollo came to the Aegean from Anatolia during the Iron Age (i.e. from c. 1100 BCE to c. 800 BCE). Homer pictures him on the side of the Trojans, fighting against the Achaeans, during the Trojan War, and he has close affiliations with the Luwian deity Apaliunas, who in turn seems to have traveled west from further east.
The Late Bronze Age (from 1700–1200 BCE) Hittite and Hurrian deity Aplu, like the Homeric Apollo, was a god of plagues, and resembles the mouse god Apollo Smintheus.

Apollo Iatros himself originally came from Asia Minor too. He was worshipped everywhere in Ionia, especially in Milet, where he was called Apollon Ietros due to the Greek dialect in Ionia. From Milet he was taken by the Milesians to the new founded colonies at the northern coast of the Black Sea. C. 600 BC Olbia was founded, where a large cult complex of Apollo Ietros was located. Together with Apollon Delphinios, Zeus and Athena he belonged to the main deities of the city. A Tempel of Apollon Ietros existed on the Akropolis of Pantikapaion too. Possibly north of the Black Sea, with its large swamps of the opening rivers, Danube, Tyras, Borysthenes or Tanais, the danger of diseases was greater and the help of the gods more required.

To Greece Apollon Iatros came not before the late 5th century. He was first mentioned literarily by Aristophanes in his "Birds", 414 BC.

The kind of Healing
In Attica we had beside Asklepios other healers too: Amphiarchos, Amynos and last not least the anonymous Heros Iatros. The latter had sanctuaries in Athens, Marathon, Rhamnos and Eleusis. His cult is not attested before the 4th century. The methods of healing of these Attic healers corresponded to that of human doctors. They must have acquired their knowledge somewhere, like Asklepios who was teached by Chiron the wise Centaur. This in contrast to Apollon who had his healing powers already since his birth. And so Apollon doesn't use to heal by surgery, bandages, salves, poultices or similar procedures, as we know from doctors, but by his presence only or touching. Therefore his sanctuaries have no special features: An altar, a temple and a retaining wall. Prayers and sacrifices were sufficient enough for divine help. Another relative unknown aspect of his healing power was the assistance in the desire to have children especially male children. A number of names like Apollodoros are evidence of this side of Apollon Iatros. It is interesting that Apollon was not able to remedy his own sufferings as we can see in the myths of Daphne or Koronis.

This difference between Apollon and Asklepios rests on two different conceptions of what illness is. In the cosmology to which Apollon belongs disease is part of the larger world of evil that confronts and limits human freedom and happiness. In this sense there is no essential difference between diseases and other troubles that affect humanity and have the potential to destroy individuals or to wipe out entire cities, like an earthquake f.e.
In contrast according to Asklepios diseases are entirely different from other evils and can be often treated as a bodily defect. That needs knowledge and experience, This conception is more modern and equals our view. In 5th and 4th century BC the healing priests of Apollo became the objects of polemic and ridicule by the more modern-minded. We should not mock about them. What else is Lourdes today?

Paeon is a healing god whom we know from Homer. He appears only rarely but is famous for his knowledge of herbs and drugs. When Ares was wounded by Diomedes (Il. 5), he rushed to Zeus to show him his 'immortal blood'. Zeus ordered Paeon to heal him. And Paeon applied a salve that brought immediate relief. The same he has done for Hades, a generation before, when he received an arrow in his shoulder by Herakles. He was quasi the private doctor of the gods!

It seems as if Paeon was an own, independent god of healing. But outside these Homeric passages Paean is mentioned only once in a fragment (no.3037) by Hesiod who treats Apollon and Paean as two different divinities. Everywere else Paean is used as epithet of Apollon especially if he is defined as healer. So it is possible that at Homer Paean actually means Apollo because in Greek (and Latin too) the epithet could stand for the god himself.

The name Paean comes from the late Greek Bronze Age where he is known in Mycenaean Linear B as pa-ia-wo. He disappeared together with other divinities and their cults when the
Mycenaean culture collapsed and was handed down only orally by epic singers.

Apollon was not known in Mycenaean times and it is sure that he doesn't belong to the Greek pantheon of the Bronze Age. He must have arrived later replacing Paean whose name then became Apollo's epithet. We don't know when, but it must have happened early, probably before Homer. Here Apollo is worshipped as healer but not for gods as Paean but for humans only, f.e. at the wounded hero Glaukos (Il. 7, 528), who calls for Apollo, who abducted him to his temple where he was tended by Leto and Artemis.

Already at Homer Paeon was not only the god but a song as well, both apotropaic or triumphal. Such songs were originally addressed to Apollo, and afterwards to other gods: to Dionysos, to Helios, or to Asklepios too. About the 4th century BC, the paean became merely a formula of adulation; its object was either to implore protection against disease and misfortune, or to offer thanks after such protection had been rendered. It was in this way that Apollo had become recognised as the god of music. Apollo's role as the slayer of the Python led to his association with battle and victory; hence it became the Roman custom for a paean to be sung by an army on the march and before entering into battle, when a fleet left the harbour, and also after a victory had been won. (Wikipedia)

The small boy beside Apollon
Usually the small figure is called the infant Asklepios. That is possible because Asklepios was the son of Apollo. But normally he is depicted adult and wearing a himation. Here the small figure is nude. On other coins he wears a chlamys. Therefore Pat Lawrence thinks of Telesphoros where a similar statue is known. On her coin the boy seems to hold an unknown object which is missed on my coin. My first idea was Paean, but it is an unsolved riddle.

Apollon Medicus in Rome
In Rome Apollo originally was not indigenous so it is not possible to identify him with a Roman deity. He kept his Greek nature. In Etruria he was known earlier, f.e. in Veii or Cere. He was called Apulu or Aplu by the Etruscans. His arrival in Rome in 443 BC was due to an advice of the Sibylic Books. To avert a plague a temple of Apollo Medicus was vowed and in 431 errected on the Campus Martius outside the pomerium. In 34 BC Gaius Sosius began to restore the temple. The Civil War interrupted the works especially because Sosius took the party of Marcus Antonius. When Because the theatre of Marcellus was erected the temple was modified once again. Today we can visit beside the theatre of Marcellus 3 re-erected columns with its architrav.

When Rome was in great danger by the Carthaginians the Romans vowed games to Apollo Medicus, the ludi Apollinares. Macrobius reports that - when the games took place for the first time - an enemy was attacking the city. When all Romans were hurrying for their weapons a cloud of arrows could be seen hailing down on the enemy and dispelling him. The Romans could return to the games of this hospitable god. So Apollo Medicus changed to Apollo auxiliary in battle.

His greatest importance in Rome Apollo achieved when Augustus choosed him as his special god answering Marcus Antonius who as ruler of the east has chosen Dionysos. After the battle of Actium, where the god from his near sanctuary has contributed to his victory over Antonius, Augustus vowed a temple to Apollo which was erected in 28 BC. This temple stood near his house on the Palatine, with a magnificent adjoining library

Both temples were competing with each other. According to Horace, Odes 1, 21 it is possible that the Palatine Apollo has taken the function of the older Apollo Medicus. Of this temple only some fragments could be seen today.

The Hippocratic oath
This famous oath begins with the invocation of Apollo Medicus:
"I swear by Apollo the healer, by Aesculapius, by Health and all the powers of healing, and call to witness all the gods and goddesses that I may keep this Oath and Promise to the best of my ability and judgment, this oath and this legal agreement."
Actually this oath was not known to Hippokrates, c.460-c.370 BC, although in his time the doctors were organized in schools. Probably it is from the time of Claudius. His most important purpose was the protection against hostile persecutions which were common since Hammurapi where a doctor was draconically punished if a healing failed. And the oath compelled the young doctors to take care of the older doctors even in financial sense. t was a kind of old-age pension. Parts of this oath flow in the Declaration of the World Medical Association.

At the end: Naturally the Christianism take up the idea of the healer. Christus as Saviour is the healer kat' exochen. First at Ignatius of Antioch (c. 110 AD) he was called explicitly Christus Medicus. In this function he played a big role especially in the ancient culture of sarcophaguses. But that is another subject.

I have added
- a pic of the columns of the temple of Apollo Medicus in Rome
- a pic of Apollo Medicus from the Etymologiae of Isidor of Sevilla (560-636 AD)

- Homer, Iliad
- Hesiod
- Livius
- Horaz, Odes
- Ovid, Metamorphoses
- Dion von Prusa, Oration 36

- Fritz Graf,  Apollo
- Norbert Ehrhardt, Apollon Ietros. Ein verschollener Gott Ioniens?, in Istanbuler Mitteilungen
  39 (1989), S.116-122
- Bronwen Lara Wickkiser, Asklepios, medicine, and politics of healing in fifth-century 
  Greece, 2008
- Der kleine Pauly

- Pat Lawrence, Cult OTD: Apollo Iatros

Best regards

* serdika_caracalla_HJ12.18.7.17#.jpg (46.44 KB, 668x331 - viewed 21 times.)

* markianopolis_elagabal_HJ6.26.7.2corr.jpg (46.12 KB, 737x337 - viewed 19 times.)

* 449px-Apollontempel_Sosianus_1.jpg (53.81 KB, 449x599 - viewed 207 times.)

* Apollo Medicus Isidor von Sevilla.jpg (50.88 KB, 371x600 - viewed 205 times.)

Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11684

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #318 on: October 25, 2010, 05:38:53 pm »

Apollon Klarios and the Oracle of Klaros

The coin
Ionia, Kolophon, 480-450 BC
AE 6 (tetartemorion), 0.2g, 6.22mm, 0°
obv. archaic portrait of Apollon Klarios, frontal
rev. rectangular incus with inscription TE (value)
ref. SNG von Aulock 1999; SNG Kayhan 356; Rosen 567; Milne Colophon 8
VF, a bit rough

Klaros was a small site between Kolophon and Lebedos, known for its famous sanctuary of Apollon. Klaros itself never became a city throughout its long history,  but rather served as a prophecy center, oracle, and a sanctuary to Apollon. In this way it resembles Didyma.

I have found two different explanations. The first refers to Klaros, site of the temple of Apollon. Then Apollon Klarios is the Apollon of Klaros. The other leads back to the Doric word 'klaros', meaning 'allotment of land, supervisor over cities and colonies'. Then the Klarian Apollon would belong to the founder myth, as it was usual at the Greeks.

The founding myth of Klaros connects the city with the Epigoni, fleeing after they had sacked the Mycenaean citadel citadel of Thebes; among them was Manto, daughter of the blind seer Teiresias and herself a seer. At the site of Klaros the fugitives were seized by the Cretans: the legend was confirmed by the historic Minoan settlement at Miletos that was discovered in 1995/96 by the German school. In the legend, when Rhakios, son of Lebedos and leader of the Cretan settlers of Caria, learned who they were, he let them settle in the country and married Manto himself. Thus the origin of the oracle at Klaros was remembered by Greeks of the classical period as Minoan-Mycenaean in origin. The Ionian migration from the north of thePeloponnesos dates to the 10th century BC. Revealed proto-Geometric pottery of the 10th century BC found at this site, attesting to the presence hinted at in myth.

Homer made mention of its Temple of Apollon in the 7th century BC. But probably the oracle is much older. A sacred cave found near the temple suggests the presence of a Kybele cult in earlier periods here.

Recording to a myth Kalchas the official seer of the Greeks during the Trojan War has been predicted to die if he met a seer who was superior. At the site of Klaros he met Mopsos, son of Manto, who together with Amphilochos was travelling home after the Trojan War. Kalchas challenged him for a competition and asked him to state the number of figs of a nearby fig-tree. The answer of Mopsos was correct to the last fig. Another version reports this story with a high pregnat sow. They discussed the number of piglets the sow would cast. Kalchas said eight, Mopsos nine. When the sow littered eight, Kalchas triumphed. But then a nineth piglet came and Kalchas died in Kolophon of shame of his defeat.

It is reported too, that Alexander the Great once visited the oracle of Klaros to let interpret a dream in which he founded a city at the Pagos mountain. The oracle explained the dream as demand to rebuilt Smyrna.

In the time of the Hellenism the oracle was famous over the whole ancient world. Many people came to Klaros from neighboring cities and towns to consult the oracle of Apollo. Even though nearby Ephesos and Miletos had their own oracle in Didyma, they envied the position and importance of Klaros. The religious center thrived under the Roman empire. Emperor Hadrian made a considerable contribution to the reconstruction of the temple which was destroyed by an earthquake.

The games held here, every 5th year, in honor of Apollo, were the Claria.

Aelian writes (in  On Animals 10. 49):
"Particularly in Klaros do the inhabitants and all Greeks pay honour to [Apollon] the son of Zeus and Leto. And so the land there is untrodden by poisonous creatures and is also highly obnoxious to them. The god wills it so, and the creatures in nay case dread him, since the god can not only save life but is also the begetter of Asklepios, man’s saviour and champion against diseases. Moreover Nikandros (priest from Kolophon) also bears witness to what I say, and his words are: `No viper, nor harmful spiders, nor deep-wounding scorpion dwell in the groves of Klaros, for Apollon veiled its deep grotto with ash-trees and purged its grassy floor of noxious creatures.'"

The Temple of Apollon:
The temple, which probably replaced an earlier one, is dated to the 4th century BC. It was built upon a stepped platform measuring 26 by 46 meters. The site of the temple was probably chosen over a higher elevation because of its proximity to the sacred spring. 11 columns were placed at the long side of the temple and s6 at the short. In the cella of the temple stood a huge statue of Apollon.

A Sacred Way leads from the propylaea or entrance way to the Temple of Apollon. Inscriptions were later carved on the columns that named delegations from Greece and Asia Minor that had come to worship and consult the oracle. Along the Sacred Way were columns, statuary monuments and some interesting friezes attributed to the vanity of certain influential Romans. Most of these date to the first century BC. These inscriptions belong to the greatest assembly of Greek inscriptions at all.

The Oracle:
The oracles were received in the form of verses in a vault below the temple's cella. This area was the adyton, the holy of holies. Two stairways lead down to a narrow passage that extends to the end of the temple. After a labyrinthine series of bends and turns, the corridor eventually leads to the two small oracular vaults. One of these served as an outer chamber. The inner vault was located directly under the cella. It was in this chamber that the priests drank from the sacred spring in preparation for their duties. A large basin was in the rear of the cavern for this purpose. The oracular staff was composed of thespiodes (composer of the verses), the scribes (recorders), and, of course the prophets themselves. It seems that prophets held office for a year, whereas the priests and thespiodes were appointed for life. The language in which the thespiodes composed the oracles should imitate the language of gods. And for the Greeks this was a poetic and archaic Greek. It consisted of formulas and curious and difficult to understand words, and didn't follow the usual grammar.

Persons seeking advice from the oracle were not permitted to enter into the inner chamber where the mysterious work was done. Apparently, they waited in the passageway or in the outer chamber. Stone benches were found here, as well as the omphalos, the sacred stone of Apollo. This was of blue marble in the shape of an egg, and was found at various sanctuaries dedicated to Apollo, including the oracle at Delphi. And an elegant bench was found with serpent-arms, showing that this sanctuary had a chthonic origin as all of the genuin Greek oracles.

Outside the temple an additional altar for Dionysos was found. This division of deities, or rather separation of worship, was common among the many sanctuaries of antiquity.

The oracle of Klaros was the only one lasting till Christian era. Under the many intaglios found at this site were several invoking a god Jao. Probably this meant Jahwe. In this time Apollo has been decayed to a mediator only between god and men, and he was called angel (angelos) and daimon (probably in the Platonic sense).

The Excavations:
The historic Clarus, referred to by Greek and Roman poets, had been entirely buried in the alluvial silt deposited by the small river at the site, a widespread phenomenon along this coastline during the last century BCE, as the hinterland was deforested. T. Macridy uncovered the monumental entrance to the sanctuary in 1905 and returned for further explorations with the French archaeologist Charles Picard in 1913. Excavations recommenced between 1950 and 1961 under Louis Robert, and a series of important Roman dedicated monuments came to light, as well as the famous Doric Temple of Apollo, seat of the oracle, in its final grand though uncompleted Helelnistic phase, 3rd century BC. The Sacred Way was excavated in 1988 under J. de La Genière, and since then much alluvial spoil has been carted off-site and Clarus has been prepared to receive visitors.

I have added a pic of the Temple of Apollon as we can see it today.

- Apollonius, Argonautika
- Ovid, Metamorphoses
- Strabo

(1) Karl Buresch, Apollon Klarios - Zum Untersuchungen zum Orakelwesen des späteren
     Altertums, 1889
(2) Merkelbach/Blümel, Die Sprache der Orakel, in Philologica, 1997
(3) Reports of the Turkish Government

Best regards

* kolophon_SNGaulock1999.jpg (27.35 KB, 455x227 - viewed 190 times.)

* klaros01.jpg (132.17 KB, 683x512 - viewed 19 times.)

Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11684

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #319 on: October 31, 2010, 09:21:21 am »

Silen and Dionysos

Today I want to share a wonderful and rare coin, showing Silen with the infant Dionysos on his knees. The coin itself I have already posted some time before. Here is the "story behind the coin". As usually this article is overloaded with all kinds of information which I found interesting.

The Coin:
Lydia, Sardeis, pseudo-autonomous, 2nd century AD
AE 22, 5.81g, 21.99mm, 165°
        Head of Dionysos, wearing ivy-wreath
       Silen, bearded, nude, std. r. on basket, holding in r. hand kantharos and with l.   
        hand infant Dionysos std. l. on his knees, stretching his arms to him
ref. L.Beger Thes. Brand.Select. I (1696!), p.501, fig.I; Mionnet supplement (1835), 
      no. 445, cites Beger (Thanks to Mauseus);
      not in von Aulock, Copenhagen, BMC, Lindgren, Imhoff Lydien St., Righetti,
very rare, about VF, sand patina
ex Hauck&Aufhäuser

This coin was originally called 'Dionysos with child', in error, because this motive is mythological unknown. And the kanthoros is known as attribut for Silen too, f.e. on tetradrachms of Naxos/Sicily or obols from Thasos. Furthermore the figure is too muscular for Dionysos. The object on which Silen is seated is not well defined. I vote for a cista mystica - especially because of the structure of the surface. Such a cista you can find f.e. besides Silen on a frieze of a sarcophagus showing the wedding of Dionysos and Ariadne. It belongs to the cult of Dionysos.

1) Origin:
In the Greek mythology Silen or Silenos is the son of Pan, god of shepherds, or Hermes, and a nymph. In Nysa at the river Meander (often confused with an island Nysa in Libya) he was nursed by nymphs and later became king of Nysa. He was married with Nais. From nymphs he had a great number of sons, Silens or Seilenoi, all looking like him: a composite being of man and horse, but looking different than a Centaur: Silen had a snub nose and the tail, the hooves and the ears of a horse.
2) Relations to Dionysos:
Hermes has brought the infant Dionysos to Silen for education. So Silen in Nysa became the teacher of Dionysos and has taught him all sciences. Silen was teacher not only of Dionysos, but for Olympos or Maron too. Eventually this is a relic of his role as a kind of good puck as he was hold in Athens. Later together with the Maenads he was the companion of Dionysos on his wars and traits (thiasos). It was said that Silen almost always was drunk and had problems with the truth. Nevertheless he was praised for his worldly wisdom, which however was biased heavily pessimistic, and for his divinatory skills.

3) Silen before Midas:
When Dionysos once was tracking from Thrace to Boeotia with his wild entourage Silen fell behind and was found drunk by gardeners of king Midas in his rose gardens. He was bound and brought before the king. For five days Silen told Midas wondrous tales of a country in the West beyond the Okeanos. It was decorated with gorgeous cities and populated with huge, happy and long-living inhabitants. And it was famous for its exemplary legal system. Once they have undertaken a big expedition to the Hyperboreans. But when they were told that this country was the best of the Old World they returned heavily disappointed.
Then Silen told about an horrible water whirl at the border of the world. In its vicinity two rivers were flowing with two different kinds of fruits at their banks. The fruits of the first tree made the humans sad, so that they must weep and moan and would slowly but inexorably pine away. The fruits of the other tree made young again even old men. They developed back through youth to infancy and then vanished at all.
Five days Midas listened eagerly to his narrations and then asked him what the best was for men. Only after longer urging Silen answered, that the best thing for a man is not to be born, and if already born, to die as soon as possible.
Dionysos was afraid of the whereabouts of his old teacher and sent a messenger to Midas to ask how much he would demand for releasing Silen. Midas was predicted to became fabulous wealthy and so he asked for the gift that all that he touched with his hands changed to gold. That happened immediately, but dishes and drinks changed to gold too, so that Midas threatened to die of starvation or of thirst. Midas begged Dionysos for help and Dionysos commanded him to go to the river Paktolos near the Tmolos mountain and to have a wash. So Midas was freed from this disastrous gift. But the Paktolos river is famous for the gold of its sands until today. Later Midas was adopted by king Gordios of Phrygia and after his death became king of Phrygia himself.

4) Silen and the Gigantomachia
Silen, riding on his ass, was together with Dionysos participant in the Gigantomachia. By the awful crying of his old pack donkey he has frightened the Giants. They had never heard such a crying and thought that the Gods had created a new unknown beast and sent against them. They fled. It is said that he has killed Enkelados too. But this whole myth is a later Alexandrian invention, in which Silen was involved by his connection to Dionysos.

Silen and Satyr can't be separated (Pauly). The etymology is non-Greek. We have only few literarily  material, more archaeological and in visual art. Homer doesn't know them. Both are composed beings of man and horse, but in contrast to Centaurs more human-like. Originally Silen was an autonomous demon, without any connection to Dionysos, a serious, wise, music loving god of the forest, and like all demons he could do good and evil. Often they are found in plural, and they owned a secret knowledge, deep wisdom and experience. They had a relation to springs and had given hooves because of that because horses in Greek mythology were connected to springs too. So they could cause a spring by beating with their hooves. Some Silens are known by their names: Silen, Marsyas, Maron (called too son of Dionysos, see Euripides), Nysos (equated with Silen too), Astraios (a son of Silen), Sabakchos (who is said to have laid hands on Hera) and others. Their female antagonists were the Nymph, whom they often stalked.

Probably they were originated from Northern Greece, but were known elsewhere too, in Phrygia probably first by Marsyas, but Silens were never river-gods. Midas came from Macedonia and is transferred later to Phrygia (look at the article about Gordios in this thread!). Coessential demons are known from several locations under different names. The Satyroi came from the Peleponnesos and the satyr play probably came to Athens from there. The connection to Dionysos is secondary. But thereby they were connected to wine and drunkenness and changed from the nativ demonic creatures of nature to the ridiculous figures we know today. They were included in the entourage of the god and silly and contemptible features emerged. In this process the satyr play - which was connected with the Dionysos cult - had big influence. As Papposilen he appeared as father of the satyr chorus. Here we have the origin of the senile baldheaded Silen from the 5th century BC. We know that Socrates was called Silen and Satyr too.
Papposilen was the oldest and most serene of them and became the educator of Dionysos, at first in Sophokles' Dionysiskos. The oldest depiction we find on a vase painting in the Museo Gregoriano: Hermes hands over the infant Dionysos to Papposilen. Alexandrinian are the inventions of Nonnos giving him the sons Maron, Astraios and Leneus. Similarly horns and ram-feet are later additions and - complety un-Hellenic - taken over from Pan. That Silen should be a son of Hermes or Pan from a nymph stems from Servius to Vergil's Buc. 6, 13 and lacks any origin.
According to Pausanias Silens have been mortal. Graves should have be seen in the country of Hebrews and in Pergamon.
Cults are barely known. There was a temple in Elis where Methe (drunkenness) presents a cup of wine to him. Usually he was worshipped together with Dionysos, who was said to have worn an amethyst against drunkenness!

Some notes on the Tales of Silen before Midas:
The first story, told by Aelian in his Varia  Historia, resembles strongly Solon's story about Atlantis. Why this story was ascribed to the drunken Silen we can read at Plutarch. Solon has undertaken several journeys to Asia Minor and Egypt. According to Plutarch Solon has believed the story about Atlantis which he has heard in Egypt and also used for an epic poem. Aelian seems to have known a comedy of Thespis in which Thespis has mocked about the utopian lies of Solon and has depicted Solon as restless wandering Silen.
The philosophical part of the story has passed down by Aristoteles (Eudemos, fgr.44) and Cicero (Tusculanae disputationes I, 114f.). "Miserable ephemeral race of hardship and distress, how you can force me to tell you that would better for you not to be heard. Then only in unawareness of your own misery your life can elapse without suffering." And then culminates in the famous sentence: "The best of all is unreachable for you at all: not to be born, not to be, to be nothing. But for you - once you were born -the next best is, to die as soon as possible." This extremely pessimistic sentence we have expected to find rather at one of the Seven Wises than at Silen. But this sentence is evidence for his deep wisdom. Later it was adopted by many philosophers, f.e. Schopenhauer. Alfred Polgar has contradicted this sentence: "Not to be born is the best, says the wise. But who ever has this luck? To whom ever happens that? Under hundreds of thousands barely one."

Note: The term 'satire' previously was ascribed to Satyr in error (hence the older writing satyra), especially to the ram-leaps of the Attic tragedy. Actually it cames from Lat. satira, from 'satura lanx' = bowl filled with fruits.

History of Arts:
In archaic art Silens were depicted often ithyphallic, with thick heads and awkward, f.e. on Chalkidic vases, and often together with nymphs. On numerous Attic vases they became - despite all animal shape - more graceful and human. Here they are already affiliated to Dionysos and subordinated. The Silen no more is the autonomous demon of archaic times. We see him in the Dionysian Thiasos with wine, musik and dance. They are often in company with donkeys and mules, possibly a very old connection. The ass's ears are a typical attribut.
During the so-called Severe Style, as we see at Epiktetos or on the cup of Brygos, to name only few, the depiction under the influence of the satyr play was developed to grotesqueness.
In the following time of the Beautiful Style the Silens and Satyrs became under the influence of Phidias noble, gentle and serene men. Their common attribut now is the thyrsos which was taken from the Menads. They are playing double flute or lyra. Two different types developed: A more youthful Silen and an older, senile one who deserves a walking stick. Here originates the allocation of the role of Dionysos' teacher as it is shown on the - already mentioned - nice vase painting of the Museo Gregoriano, where Silen is seated on a rock and Hermes hands over the infant Dionysos to him. Among the mythological scenes we find depictions of the Marsyas myth and the myth were Silen was captured by Midas.
Lysippos has created a new type in his group with the infant Dionysos. He accentuates the fatherly, clement and wise. Here Silen resembles more a poet or a philosopher. His body is muscular and powerful. We find no flabbiness. Only a slight fullness of his belly points to the gourmand. This depiction we find obviously on my coin!
In Hellenistic times he was a favoured theme on sarcophaguses - and here especially the depiction of the wedding of Dionysos and Ariadne - and as fountain figure, also apotropaic.
In Baroque this theme has been picked up again, f.e. by Anthonis van Dyck and Peter-Paul Rubens. A modern sculpture we know from Alfred Hrdlicka.

I have added
(1) the pic (Satyr with Flute'. Tondo of an Attic red-figured bowl of Epiktetos
      (signed), 520-500 BC, Vulci. Today in the Bibliotheque nationale de France in
(2) A pic of the statue 'Silen with infant Dionysos' from the Louvre/Paris. Found in 
      16th century AD in the gardens of Sallust and belonging to the coll. Borghese until
      the French under Napoleon take it to Paris. Possibly this statue is the Silen from
      Porticus Octavia, mentioned by Plinius (n.h. 36, 4, 8). Probably this is a Roman
      copy of Lysipp's statue (310-300 BC)
(3) A pic of the painting 'The drunken Silen', AD 1616/17, from Peter Paul Rubens (AD
     1577-1640), today in Alte Pinakothek in München/Germany. We see a humanistic
      interpreted scene from Ovid's Metamorphoses. This painting once hung in the house of
      the artist.

- Herodot, Histories
- Ovid, Metamorphoses
- Vergil, Ecloges (VI)

- Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon
- Roscher, Mythologie der Griechen und Römer
- Karl Kerenyi, Die Mythologie der Griechen
- Robert Ranke-Graves, Griechische Mythologie
- Der Kleine Pauly
- Wikipedia

Best regards

* sardeis_pseudo_autonom_Mionnetsuppl501.jpg (40.75 KB, 750x368 - viewed 21 times.)

* Satyr_Epiktetos_Paris.jpg (43.4 KB, 594x599 - viewed 182 times.)

* Silen und Dionysos Louvre.JPG (26.72 KB, 301x495 - viewed 180 times.)

* Rubens_Der_trunkene_Silen.jpg (46.64 KB, 414x400 - viewed 181 times.)

Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11684

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #320 on: November 10, 2010, 04:27:53 pm »

Who is the boy between Asklepios and Hygieia?

This article is dedicated to Pat Lawrence who has teached me so much.

I want to confess at the beginning: I too can't say with certainty who is the small boy. But I want to recapitulate which explanations have been found and why they were rejected at last. The first time I took notice of this problem it was a thread of Pat Lawrence about Apollo Iatros on the FORVM. And then I was confronted again with this problem when I got my coin, here no.3. That was the cause to engage myself more intensively with this matter. But first the coins:

Coin no.1
Nicopolis ad Istrum, Caracalla, AD 198-217
AE 16, 2.82g, 16.6mm, 90°
       Laureate head r.
      Telesphoros, clad in hooded mantle, stg. frontal
ref. a) AMNG I/1, 1593 (1 ex., Vienna; Eckhel, Mionnet, Arneth under Elagabal in error)
      b) Varbanov (engl.) 2991
      c) Hristova/Jekov No. (this coin)
Pick: This coin - in a better state - certainly belongs to Caracalla.

Coin no.2
Nicopolis ad Istrum, Caracalla, AD 198-217
AE 27, 10.32g
struck under governor Aurelius Gallus
       Bust, draped and cuirassed, laureate, r.
       Asklepiad Triad: Hygieia in long garment and mantle, stg. r., feeding snake in r.
       arm from patera in l. hand, and Asklepios in himation, stg.  l., l. hand akimbo,
       resting with r. hand on snake-staff; between them a small boy in hooded cloak stg.
       facing, arms hidden
ref. a) AMNG I/1, 1559, pl.XVII, 9 (rev. same die)
      b) not in Varbanov (engl.)
      c) Hristova/Jekov No.
very rare, yellow-brown patina, VF
ex Numismatik Lanz auction 120, 18.5.2004, lot 415

Coin no.3
Nicopolis ad Istrum, Caracalla, AD 198-217
AE 27(?), 10.7g
struck under governor Aurelius Gallus
obv. AV K.M.AVR. - ANTWNEINO - C (NE ligate)
       Laureate head r.
       Asklepiad Triad: Hygieia in long garment and mantle, stg. r., feeding snake in r.
       arm from patera in l. hand, and Asklepios in himation, stg.  l., l. hand akimbo,
       resting with r. hand on snake-staff; between them a small boy, in short girded
       chiton, and bare arms, stg. frontal, head r.
ref.. a) not in AMNG:
           rev. AMNG I/1, 1549 var. (legend, has ICTRO)
                  AMNG I/1, 1550 var. (depiction, pl. XVII, 9)
            obv. AMNG I/1, 1551
        b) Varbanov (engl.) 3087
        c) Hristova/Jekov No. corr. (writes ANTWNINOC)
rare, about VF, slightly rough

Coin no.4
Serdika, Caracalla, AD 198-217
AE 31, 15.27g
        Heroic bust, laureate, l., with sword belt and decorated aegis over l. shoulder,  
        seen from behind
       Apollo Iatros, nude, stg. l., l. hand akimbo, resting with l. hand on snake-staff; r.
       beside him a small boy, nude, stg. facing, looking up to him and stretching r. hand
       to him.
ref. a) rev. Ruzicka 173 (this coin in Ruzicka online)
          obv. not in Ruzicka
        b) not in Varbanov (engl.)
        c) Hristova/Jekov No. (this coin)
very rare, VF, green-brown patina, slightly smoothed in fields
ex Numismatik Lanz auction 120, May 2004, lot 419

The matter of this article is the small boy, found on all of these coins. Looking a bit closer we can differentiate between three different types:
(1) Boy wearing hooded cloak, arms hidden
(2) Boy in short chiton, arms free
(3) Boy nude, sometimes with chlamys over back (only from Serdika)
I think we should well distinguish these three types. Antiquity was not a time of arbitrary interchangeability as we can find it in many cases today.

Here we have the list of deities which have been suggested as an explanation:

(1) Telesphoros:
This is the most usual interpretation. Take a look at the article 'Asklepios and Telesphoros' in this thread under
Our first coin, a so-called Einer from Nikopolis, shows on its rev. Telesphoros as we know him: A small child in hooded cloak, his arms hidden below. Now after extensive studies about Phrygean steles by the University of Ankara it becomes clear, that Telesphoros was clad in a garment wich in ancient times has been worn in Central Anatolia by peasants and shepherds and especially by children. So the Celtic origin of Telesphoros - prevalent until today - could now be suggested as rather unprobable.
The Celtic origin of Telesphoros comes from R. Egger, Genius cucullatus, who refers to a votiv inscription found in AD 1930 near Wabelsdorf in Carinthia/Austria. But it is well possible that Telesphoros has come to the Celts by the Etruscans who had a similar deity. That would match the suggested origin of the Etruscans from Asia Minor. The first time Telesphoros appeared on coins was in the time of Hadrian in Pergamon.
A different opinion was represented by Hug: He suggested that Telesphoros arose from the Egyptian Harpokrates. He mentioned a coin from Pergamon where together with Asklepios the small Harpokrates occurs (Numismata moduli max. e cimeliarch. Eleutherop. 1704, pl. XII). A misinterpretation?

Some coins of Nikopolis ad Istrum depicts Asklepios and Hygieia. On some of them a small boy is standing between the two. This group is called Asklepiad Triad. The small boy usually is called Telesphoros (Pick, Hristova/Jekov and others). The Asklepiad Triad with Telesphoros in the middle we can see on the 2nd coin.

But then a problem emerges: We know Telesphoros explicitly with a hooded cloak and with hidden arms. Telesphoros was indeed the mysterious daemon who brought healing hidden by visiting the sick people when they sleep. Without hood no Telesphoros. But on the 3rd coin we have a boy without a hooded cloak but with a short chiton and free arms!

Pick writes in a note to this coin: The boy in the middle is by position and garment very different from the usual Telesphoros occuring between Asklepios and Hygieia. He can't be named for sure but it should be mentioned that on coins from Pergamon sometimes instead of Telesphoros another boyish figure appears but nude, either as autonomous type (BMC Mysia 136, 227, 230, XXVIII), or beside Asklepios (ibidem 148, 292, XXIX, 7).

Pat Lawrence (in an article in FAC) considers that this figure in short chiton is Telesphoros too but here clad in Epidaurean style. In Epidauros - together with Pergamon the biggest Asklepios sanctuary in antiquity - Telesphoros was worshipped beside Asklepios too. Here he should have worn not his typical hooded mantle, but his head was still hooded. The hooded head should be seen on coin no.3 if one look more closely. But I'm not sure. And about the garment of Telesphoros in Epidauros I unfortunately haven't found anything

(2) Euamerion
Pick writes further: "Panofka wanted to see in this figure Euamerion, which was with reason declared by Wroth (Num. Chron. 1882, 38ff.) as unprobable."
Euamerion, a daemon of well-being, was hold as son of Asklepios and was worshipped in Titane in the region of Sikyon. Previously it was suggested that his name was composed of Greek 'eu' (= good) and 'hemera' (= day). Today his name is rather led back to Greek 'hameros' (= clement). Pausanias, II, 189 (Titane) writes about him: " Alexanor and Euamerion too have ornamented columns here; and for Alexanor as a hero one brings after sunset offerings to the dead, but for Euamerion is made a sacrifice as a god. If I suggest correctly the Pergameneans calls this Euamerion Telesphoros according to an oracle, the Epidaureans however Akesis". Here we see that Euamerion very early was merged with Telespohoros. And he was depicted very similarly: Boyish and clad with mantle and hood against the influence of the weather.

On a coin of Lucius Verus from Pergamon with Asklepios and a small nude figure Pinofka had recognized Euamerion with a torch in his hand which would well match the daemon of the morning. Between them he saw a pig. But this pig is actually a rat, and a rat never was an attribute of Asklepios, but above all of Apollo Smintheus in Troy, and often he is depicted on coins with a rat. The famous statue of Skopas depicts Apollo with one foot on a rat.
We know that there was a close connection between Asklepios and Apollo Smintheus in Pergamon, almost equal to an assimilation, and therefore this depiction is a hint to this relation. Wroth writes: "Who is the small nude figure beside the god of healing on the coin of Lucius Verus I can't explain. But he has no visible torch. I can't help it but I suppose that the whole scene has a relation to any mystic rites of initiation or divination." And the rat is known not only as bringer of plagues but as symbol of divination too. On a vase painting - he writes - it is said that a scene have been found of an initiation with connection to Apollo Smintheus: A female figure, probably Telete (initiation) receives a boy kneeling before her to mystic rites. He is unclothed and between him and the wife there is a rat.

(3) Akesis
Above we have read that Pausanias mentions Akesis. Akesis is an Epidaurean deity of healing and is equated to the Sikyonean Euamerion and the Pergamenean Telesphoros. His name means 'healing'. He was hold for a son of Asklepios. More I have not found. But we see that there were gods - or rather daemons - of healing at several different locations which later came into the ambit of Asklepios.

(4) Ianiskos
Ianiskos (not to be confused with the mythological king of Sikyon) was one of the lesser known sons of Asklepios. His name could be come from Greek 'iao' (to heal) but I'm not sure for that. In Schol. laudatus (I.c) I have found a text about his origin:
Asklepios was married with Koronis, Epione, Hygieia, Lampetia or Arsinoe. These goddesses often were called his daughters too. And there are more: Aegle, Iaso and Panakeia. As sons were named especially Machaon and Podaleirios, which were mentioned already by Homer and have helped the Greek as physicians at Troy. They became the ancestors of the Messenean family of Asklepiades. Later the Pergamenean Telesphoros, the mythical Ianiskos and the historical Aratos joined the family.
Originally Asklepios came from Thessalia from where his cult spread to Boeotia, to the Attic Eleusis and to the Peleponnesos, where especially Epidauros became an important centre. From there the cult of Asklepios came to Kos and finally to Pergamon. Like his brothers Machaon and Podaleirios Ianiskos too should stem from Perrhaibia in the northern Thessalia. So a version of a Greek myth led Ianus, like Euander, Aeneas and Saturn, immigrate from Perrhaibia. But this strange derivation seems to be a confusion with Ianiskos (Roscher).

It is said that Ianiskos together with Asklepios was worshipped in Pergamon, one of the centres of the Asklepios cult. Svoronos describes in AD 19111 some coins of Pergamon depicting a nude child holding an goose in his outstretched r. hand. Svoronos points out that there are many statues of children where the children have geese in their hands. And the goose was sacred to Asklepios. Because of that Svoronos ascribes this depictions to Ianiskos, the somewhat obscure son of Asklepios who in fine arts often is represented by a bird, living in fever contaminated swamps.

A temple of Asklepios and Ianiskos was found at excavations in Sounion, the most south point of Attica which actually is famous for its important temple of Poseidon. In a report about these excavations Ianiskos is called 'God of Malaria', a name which could be ascribed to the nearby swamps.

Now there are strong objections against Svoronos's Ianiskos theory. A.W.Lawrence writes in an article about a statue from Mesopotamia that the above mentioned statues of children not only are holding geese but equally frequent doves and ducks. So it is more probable that these animals are not the attribute of the god but rather pets used for playing with. So an important argument of Svorons is fallen. The small Terracotta statues are probably votiv gifts for the birth of a son.
Another theory for the meaning of the geese represents Ridgway in his article: "The Boy who strangled  a Goose", 2006: The goose came from the Egyptean mythology and is the symbol for evil forces and the boy as Harpokrates/Dionysos overcomes the evil. But this too has no relation to Asklepios or Ianiskos.

(will be continued)

* nikopolis_caracalla_HrJ8.18.21.3.jpg (33.12 KB, 750x379 - viewed 20 times.)

* nikopolis_caracalla_HrJ8.8.21.1.jpg (67.92 KB, 718x356 - viewed 19 times.)

* nikopolis_caracalla_HrJ8.18.21.2corr.jpg (59.59 KB, 621x315 - viewed 20 times.)

Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11684

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #321 on: November 18, 2010, 05:44:59 pm »


(5)The infant Asklepios:
Now we came to our last coin , from Serdika. On the coins with Apollo Iatros from Serdica we find another, a bit different depiction of the small boy. Here he is nude or sometimes with a chlamys over his back. Sometimes he stretches out his arm to Apollo with an unknown object in his hand. This boy usually is called the infant Asklepios, an explanation which is based on the fact that mythologically Asklepios was the son of Apollo.
Pat Lawrence however is not convinced of that: If he actually would be the infant Asklepios then any attributes should be find as hint. And it would be interesting what object the boy holds in his hand. If it is not the infant Asklepios then one could point to the suggestion of Wroth that there is a connection to mystic rites of initiation.

(6) The Asklepiades:
A last word about the Asklepiades. These were a group of families and persons who led back their origin to Asklepios or his son Podaleirios. Their main places of activity were Trikka in Thessalia, Epidauros, Rhodos and Kos, and the facing Knidos. Belonging to this group were Machaon in Geronia/Lakonia too and his sons Sphyros and Alexanor in Pharai/Messenia. To the ambit of the Asklepiades belong too the Pergamenean Telesphoros and the Sikyonean Euamerion. The latter originally could have been daemons of healing later incorporated in the ambit of Asklepios. This too is true for some epitheta of Asklepios which originally stood for autonomous entities.

The temple service was done in the first time by the Asklepiades themselves as an own guild of priests and physicians where medical knowledge was bequeathed from father to son. At least until Hippokrates it was forbidden to communicate something to strangers. They seem to have cured sick people outside the temple too, and probably the physicians which - according to Lykurgos (886 BC) - have accompanied the Spartan army were Asklepiades. It is sure that their temple service was of great importance for the empirical medical science. By the efforts of Hippokrates of Kos, the most famous of the Aklepiades, the knowledge of the Asklepiades no more stayed the secret of priests. And it was necessary already in the 4th century to accept strangers in their guilds.

The priests of Asklepios were named Asklepiades until later times and it is known that they, without medical knowledge, were busy to obtain their priestly influence on the people by all avaible means which provide superstition. The fact that among them were many swindlers proves Lukian in his 'Pseudomantis'.

Recapitulating we can say that the little boy surely comes out of the ambit of the Asklepiades. The small boy with the hooded mantle naturally is Telesphoros. Sadly we don't know who are the other two figures exactly. The nude figure from Serdika could be the infant Asklepios or an adept of mystic rites. So only the boy with the short chiton is left. But he could be, because of his hidden head(?) , the Epidaurean Telesphoros (Pat Lawrence).

It is interesting that all coins we have seen here are coins of Caracalla. That is not by chance! Caracalla was a psychic sick human. Tortured by the awful spirit of his father and his murdered brother, who in the night stands before him, the emperor sought refuge in strange rites and evocations of dead, and at last he tuurned to the great god of healing (Wroth).

We are situated in the 2nd century AD, in a time where the old gods were no more sufficient to satisfy the need of the people for irrationality. The old gods have lost their mystery, they have become too rational. The people evaded to the secret knowledge of the Celts and especially the deep wisdom of the East, murmured in unintelligible words. On our coins it is obviously depicted how the mysterious powers of the East, here in the shape of a small boy, have barged between the old deities, until they superseded them in the form of Christianism.

All coins which make trouble have been struck in Thrace or Northern Greece. Wether this plays a role or not I don't know.

I have added a depiction of the great temple of Asklepios in Epidauros how it could be seen after a recostruction (Source: www)

- Pausanias, Description of Greece

- Umberto Eco, Das Irrationale gestern und heute, Vortrag zur Eröffnung der 
   Frankfurter Buchmesse 1987, aus Umberto Eco, Über Spiegel und adere
   Phänomene, dtv 1991
- Kay Ehling, Ein reitender Telesphoros, Epigraphica Anatolica 38 (2005), 159-164
- Eduard Gerhard, Griechische Mythologie, Berlin 1854 (online)
- Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon, Leipzig 1770 (online)
- Johann Leonhard Hug, Untersuchungen über den Mythos der berühmten Völker der
   alten Welt, 1812
- A.W.Lawrence, A Crowned Head and a Statue of a Child from Mesopotamia, in The
   Annual of the British School at Athens, Vol.27, (1925/1926)
- Pat Lawrence, Cult OTD: Apollo Iatros (online under )
- Brunhilde S. Ridgway, The Boy Strangling a Goose: Genre Figure or Mythological
   Symbol?, in AJA 110, No.4, 2006 (online)
- Theodor Sigismund Panofka, Asklepios und die Asklepiaden, Berlin 1845 (online) 
- Berendt Pick, AMNG I/1, 1898 (online)
- Brunhilde S. Ridgway, The Boy Strangling a Goose: Genre Figure or Mythological
   Symbol?, in AJA 110, No.4, 2006 (online)
- Wilhelm.Heinrich Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der Griechischen und Römischen 
   Literatur, Leipzig, 1884 (online)
- Joannes.N. Svoronos, Das Kind Ianiskos und Asklepios in Pergamon in Mysien, in
   Nikopolis in Moesien und Serdika in Thrakien, JIAN 13 (1911), S.113-120 (online)
- Warwick Wroth, Asklepios and the Coins of Pergamon, Num. Chron. 1882, pp.1-51

Best regards

* serdika_caracalla_HJ12.18.7.17#.jpg (46.44 KB, 668x331 - viewed 18 times.)

* Asklepios-Tempel in Epidaurus.jpg (73.36 KB, 770x399 - viewed 20 times.)

Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11684

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #322 on: November 18, 2010, 05:46:55 pm »

Zeus Syrgastes

Today I want to share a bit obscure coin about which we actually don't know much. I have tried to gather all I could find. And at the end I have made a discovery which I will present at the end of this article.

1st coin:
Bithynia, Tion, Domitian, AD 81-96
AE 22, 7.45g, 21.74mm, 180°
       Head, laureate, r.
      Zeus Syrgastes, in himation, stg. l., holding patera in extended r. hand and resting with
      raised l. hand on sceptre; l. before him an unknown object (surely an animal but surely
      not an eagle!)
ref. Rec.Gen. II, p.619, no.22, pl.CVI, 25; RPC 702
extremely rare, VF, red-brown patina
Thanks to Pat Lawrence and Markus for attribution!

Syrgastes was a Thracian-Bithynian deity who - as so many others too - was melted with Zeus. Much more we don't know. Coins with his depiction are known only from Tion from Domitian to Gallienus. Inscriptions citing his name we know from Philippi and Amphipolis.

Syrgastes is a Thracian personal name with a sacral value but is used as sacral epithet too. So the epithet of the Bithynian sun-god was Syrgastes, Syrgastor, presumably related to the Thracian personal name Suregethes 'the bright one'. If so, the meaning must have been 'the bright god'. Compare to the Roman 'sur (now still only used for horses) = with whitish fur'. This may be eventually related to Basque 'txuri (tsuri) = white, whitish'. If this relationship with Basque (and it is not unique) is accepted then the Thracian 'sur(e)-' may be of Pre-Indo-European origin. (Sorin Paliga)
Roscher however is of another opinion. It is true that he too suggests that Syrgastes is related to Suregethes, but he writes: Referring to the etymology Tomaschek believes that 'surs-' stems from the ar. 'tsura = strengthen, enhancing', the same stem which is found in the Scythian name for Apollon as 'Goito-syros' (Herod. 4. 59) = 'gaitha-tsura', "strengthen the world of living". And the second part '-gethes' he compares with the Dacian '(Sarmi)ze-gethousa', whose stem is "g'e", enhanced to "g'et" = 'advancing, walking'.

The Burial Society of Philippi:
In Philippi/Macedonia inscriptions were found which gave evidence that a burial society has existed for Suregethes. The most interesting inscription reads:
"I, Valeria Montana, have according to the order of my husband Aurelios Zipyron Dizas given 50 denarii to the burial society of the god Suregethes next to the agora opposite the clock; from that they shall from the interest income sacrifice annually by the sepulchre at the time of the Rosalia. If they don't sacrifice they shall give the double of the sum to the members of the burial society of the hero 'pros ta Torbiana' as punishment."
Dizas is a Thracian name. So the dead person was a Thracian who - may be because he has been in the Roman army - has adopted the surname Aurelios.

The Festival of Roses (Rosalia):
The Rosalia were a festival of roses within the Roman funerary cult but not attested before the 1st century AD (Plin. nat. 21, 11). So it can't be ancient Roman as I have read too. It was a festival celebrated primarily by the ordinary people and associated most of all with the dead. The date of the Rosalia to which several sepulchral inscriptions from Philippi refer depends on the date of the rose blossom which is different from region to region. At the Rosalia the survivors of the society annually betake to the sepulchre of the deceased colleague of the society who had made the donation to lay down roses (some inscriptions in Philippi are talking from burning too). Not only roses were offered but food too. If there was enough money it was cared for the members of the society, a safe way to go on living in grateful memory. The deceased donator and the members of the society celebrated a
joint  dinner or the society was dining at the sepulchre from the money which was left after the decoration with roses.

In principle the Rosalia were a Roman phenomena which initially has nothing to do with the veneration of Dionysos. But just for Philippi the connection of the Rosalia with the veneration of Dionysos was specific. Here the Rosalia so to speak have made an alliance with the Cult of Dionysos. The donations were committed to the myst of Dionysos and the association of mysteries should celebrate the Rosalia and annually hold the dinner of Rosalia at the sepulchre of the donor. This clearly is an amalgamation of Thracian, Greek and Roman religious beliefs. Especially in Thrace the belief in an afterlife was very distinct and the paradise promised by the god to his devotees was painted in brightest colours. This surely was one of the reasons why just here the Christian belief has been fallen on so fertile ground. Philippi - as we all know - was the first Christian parish in Europe. The problem for Christianism was rather the fact that the Philippians were used to venerate several gods side by side without problems.

Now the 2nd coin of Tion:
Bithynia, Tion, Trajan, AD 98-117
AE 27, 11.47g, 26.8mm, 20°
       Bust, laureate, r.
      Dionysos, in himation, stg. l., resting with raised l. hand on garlanded thyrsos decorated
      on both ends with pine cones and pouring from kantharos in lowered r. hand; l. beside
      him the panther std. l., with raised r. paw and head turned r. looking up to him.
ref. Rec.Gen. II, p. 620, no. 28 var., pl. CVII, no. 2 (has DINVCOC!); not in SNG
      Copenhagen, SNG von Aulock, SNG Tübingen, Lindgren, BMC
extremely rare, F+/about VF, nice green patina

Here Dionysos is depicted on the rev. Both gods are explicitly named and both gods are depicted on these coins very similarly: Both are wearing a himation whose end is thrown over the l. shoulder, a garb we see only rarely at Dionysos. And Zeus Syrgastes is resting on a knotty sceptre shaped like the thyrsos of Dionysos. Both gods have an accompanying animal at their side: Dionysos his panther and Zeus Syrgastes usually the eagle. But here it is obviously another animal! Pat Lawrence has addressed it as a snake but not without making a big questionmark to the suggestion of Zeus with a snake. After having learned so much about the close relation of Zeus Syrgaster with Dionysos I have a new explanation: Is it possible that we can see the spotted forepart of a panther behind Syrgastes?
- W.H.Roscher, Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Mythologie, 1884
- Martin P.Nilsson, Das Rosenfest, Lecture given already AD 1914, edited 1951)
- Sorin Paliga, Etymological Lexicon of the Indigenous (Thracian) Elements in Romanian,
  2006 Bukarest
- Peter Pilhofer, Philippi - Die erste christliche Gemeinde in Europa, 1995 Tübingen
- Pat Lawrence, Post to the coin of Domitian in FAC 19.12.2006

Best regards

* tion_domitian_Waddington22.jpg (89.56 KB, 600x321 - viewed 145 times.)

* tion_trajan_Waddington28.jpg (48.82 KB, 750x371 - viewed 19 times.)

Deceased Member
Offline Offline

Posts: 2647

quousque tandem abutere Sadigh pecunia nostra

« Reply #323 on: December 07, 2010, 08:16:17 am »

Wonderful thread. Only two comments.
I miss the Muses.
I do not agree with the legend of Leda.
Following Apollonius Ponticus " of women and birds" VII,2 :

(Leda enters, to have a solitary picnic by the lake.)
Lo! Zeus has transformed!
Now a swan, with mighty wings.
See how he swims to Leda,
where she feeds the fowl from shore.
What bird is this? No duckling you, a giant swan!
Do you forgo the bread I cast upon the water?
Indeed, you come onto the shore, so bold!
So fair a fowl I have not seen.
I would feed thee bread from my own hand.
Alas! Zeus deceives poor Leda!
On his approach, he takes not the offered bread,
But spreads his wings and...
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Back off, swan. I don't like where this is going.
(Zeus stops, looks around, confused. He raises his wings again.)
Sorry, all you get is bread. (Picks up basket.)
Leda fed the swan some bread, who then swam off and left her alone.
She finished her picnic, and went home to her husband, where she lived happily
as queen.
This version is not mine.

Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11684

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #324 on: December 07, 2010, 01:01:36 pm »

Hi benito!

Thanks for your comment. I don't know 'of women and birds'. But I think Apollonius Ponticus is identical with Apollonius Rhodius. And from Apollonius I have this quotation where he calls Leda 'the bride of Zeus':
"[For the gathering of the Argonauts :] Aitolian Leda sent from Sparta strong Polydeukes and Kastor, skilled to guide swift-footed steeds; these her dearly-loved sons she bare at one birth in the house of Tyndareus; nor did she forbid their departure; for she had thoughts worthy of the bride of Zeus." (Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 1. 146 ff.)

And here is a list, surely incomplete, of authors who report or mention the myth where Leda was seduced by Zeus in the shape of a swan:
- Homeric Hymns
- Pindar
- Pseudo-Apollodoros
- Apollonius Rhodios
- Theokritos
- Diodorus Siculus
- Pausanias
- Lukian
- Pseudo-Hyginus
- Ovid
- Seneca
- Valerius Flaccus
- Nonnus

Best regards

Pages: 1 ... 8 9 10 11 12 [13] 14 15 16 17 18 Go Up Print 
FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numism  |  Reading For the Advanced Collector  |  Topic: Coins of mythological interest « previous next »
Jump to:  

Recent Price Reductions in Forum's Shop

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
Page created in 18.118 seconds with 71 queries.
All coins are guaranteed for eternity