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Jochen
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« Reply #50 on: February 06, 2006, 04:11:52 pm »

(continued)

2. Hermes Trismegistos
While Hermes is seen as one of the earliest and most original greek gods he enjoyed so great popularity even belatedly that he must be seen as archetypus which was responsible to mediate between contradictions and to unify them. This anticipates his future part as master magician and alchemist as which he was obtained in Egypt and in Europe of the Renaissance. The origin of these important features was the development of a new Hermes worshipping in Egypt. Emerging from the three egyptian main archetypes of divinity we find three great forms of initiation religions which spread over the mediterranean coasts: The cults of the Mother Goddess Isis, the Victim God Osiris and the Wisdom God Hermes which all appears in different shapes. To the supreme and most esoteric of all Hermes developed as Trismegistos which was called also the one and only god. He played an important part at the Gnostics but also at Raimundus Lullus, Paracelsus and the mystics f.e. Meister Eckhard or Jacob Böhme. Because this kind of religion was open only for the adept our word 'hermetic' means 'closed'.

3. Background
The name Hermes today is derived from greek herma, hermaion, meaning heap of stones. These are found on Crete and other regions of Greece. In this sense Hermes would be the personification of a hill mark made of many stones resp. of the monolithic pole which originally was sticking out of the heap as type of the 'pole idol' or the animated phallos in the domain of aniconic stone cult. From this ancient kind of stone depictions originated the so-called 'herms', stone columns with a bust above. The origin and the primal meaning of these objects is controversial. So I don't know wether there is any connection to the menhires in the Bretagne or on Malta. Anyway if you see in Hermes the numen of the frontier, grave or doorway stone the important functions of the guardian of the doors and gates, of the ways and the wanderer, the frontier runner and nightly companion (into the world of the deads too) are addressed. Whereas the obvious secondary aetiology as voice stone in connection with the interpretation of the stoneheap as curse or expiation mark points back to the connection  between the underworld relation of Hermes and his ability to eliminate way and life menacing monsters (f.e. as Argeiphontes the killer of Argos). As god of the shepherds he was the guardian of the heards aginst wild beasts. His care for the herd's animals who as Kriophoros carried back a lost sheep was the paradigm for the Good Shepherd a picture which later was taken for Christ.

Sources:
Der kleine Pauly
Pseudo-Homeric Hymn to Hermes
Robert von Ranke-Graves, Greek Mythology

As additional pics I have chosen
1) the famous relief which shows Orpheus and Eurydike together with Hermes as Psychopompos. It is a Roman copy of a Greek original from about 420 BC probably from the Agora of Athens, now in the Villa Albani, Rome.
2) and the famous herm with the bust of Sokrates.

Best regards
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« Reply #51 on: February 07, 2006, 08:27:08 am »

Melikertes and the Isthmian Games

Corinth, Marcus Aurelius AD 161-180
AE 25, 11.25g
obv. M AVR AN[TONI] - NVS A[VG]
      bust, laureate, r.
rev. CLI - COR
      The young Melikertes laying on a dolphin, swimming r., behind a pine-tree(?)
SNG Copenhagen 329; Lindgren 1619; BCD 700; Edwards 150, pl.IV
rare, good F-about VF, green-brown patina

Corinth at this time was a Roman colony, therefore the Latin inscriptions. The revers legend CLI - COR is solved to COLONIA LAUS IULIA CORINTHUS.

1. Mythology
With this coin we come to the myths around the Thebean king Kadmos and his daughters. Melikertes was the son of Athamas and Ino, one of Kadms' daughters. Kadmos, king of Theben in Boiotia, had four daughters with his wife Harmonia: Agaue, Autonoe, Ino and Semele, mother of Dionysos. Ino was married to Athamas, king of Orchomenos, at first married to Nephele, who vanished one day, but left him two children, Phrixos and Helle. These stepchildren Ino pursued with hate. She convinced the women to roast their seed and to make Phrixos responsible for the following bad harvest. But Nephele appeared and abducted her children by a ram with golden fleece. On the flight with the winged ram Helle fell down into the sea which is named by her Hellespont (the todays Dardanelles). Phrixos came to Kolchis and hung the Golden Fleece on a tree for Ares.

Ino had two childen from Athamas, Learchos and Melikertes. After the death of her sister Semele, Hermes brought to her the child Dionysos to nurse him. She dressed him as a girl to deceive Hera, who from all illegitime sons of her husband most hated Dionysos and Herakles. Hera drove Ino mad, Ino vanished in the wilderness and Hermes gave Dionysos to the nymphs of Nyssa disguised as baby goat. Athamas married a third time, Themisto, who gave birth to many sons. One day Ino returned cured from her madness and unrecognized became nurse at Themisto. Themisto, jealous of Ino's children (like Ino of Nepheles' children), decided to kill them. But Ino deceived Themisto by changing the diapers and she killed her own children and finally herself.

But Hera pursued Ino furthermore with her fury. She commanded Tisiphone, one of the Erinys, to beat Athamas and Ino with madness. After that Athamas killed his son Learchos seeing him as a wild beast, and Ino jumped with Melikertes in her arms from a cliff into the sea. Sisyphos, brother of Athamas, found the body of Melikertes and founded in honour of him the Isthmian Games in Corinth (referring to others Melikertes was landing with a dolphin at the coast of Corinth). Aphrodite, grandma of Ino, begged Poseidon to help her and he transformed Ino into the Sea-goddess Leukothea and Melikertes into the Sea-god Palaimon. Leukothea later played an important role when she helped Odysseus when he was lost in the sea (Ovid Met. IV, 416ff.)
Palaimon became patron of the sailors and was equated in this function with the Roman god Portunus.

2. Background
Melikertes-Palaimon had his cult in Corinth. The missing of archaelogic evidence from Greek times has misled some scholars to assume that this cult was a Roman invention. But there is an ode from Pindar to the Isthmian Games where Melikertes is mentioned. Pausanias could see only the Roman buildings but he reports that the body of Melikertes was concealed in the Palainionion. He was the heroe of the Isthmian Games besides Poseidon. These games were one of the four panhellenic games:
1) the Isthmian Games at Corinth
2) the Pythean Games at Delphi, each year before and after the Olympic Games
3) the Nemean Games at Nemea (northwest of Argos)
4) and the Olympic Games at Olympia.
The Isthmian Games are well-known to Germans by Schiller's ballade 'Die Kraniche des Ibykus'.
Sometimes it is said that because of the etymological similarity of the words there are relations to Melquart, Lord of the Cities. Referring to that the cult of Melikertes was brought to Greece by Phoenicean sailors (look at the allusion of the Melikertes' landing on a dolphin at the coast of Corinth). But this interpretation is denied by 'der kleine Pauly'.

Sources:
- Ovid Met. IV, 426 ff.
- Der kleine Pauly
- Robert Ranke-Graves, Greek Mythology
- for the Isthmian Games:
  http://humanities.uchicago.edu/orgs/isthmia/publications/hero/hero.html
- for the archaeologic excavations of the University of Chicago near Corinth:
  http://humanities.uchicago.edu/orgs/isthmia/isthmia.html
  Here you could find nice computer generated 3D-pics of the temple area of Melikertes-
  Palaimon near Corinth

I have added a pic of the phase V of this temple from about AD 161/169. It is a nice small round temple left of the great Poseidon temple which you can see right above.

Best regards
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« Reply #52 on: February 10, 2006, 07:09:19 pm »

Omphale - owner and lover of Herakles

Here I want to present a Provincial coin of Maionia in Lydia. It shows a motive belonging to the myths around Herakles, but more rare than those depicting the 12 famous well-known deeds of Herakles. Sadly the pic is not very nice (and the preservation of the coin too is not the best), therefore I will change it, when I got a better one. Today I got a better one and have changed the pic.

AE19, 4.67g
struck in the time of Faustina jun. when Appa was strategos for the third time
obv. MAIO - NWN
       bearded head of Herakles, l.
rev. CTR TO G - APPA (starting on upper right)
      Omphale, advancing r., holding club over l. shoulder and lion skin.
BMC 20
rare, about VF, brown patina with some earthen highlights


1. Mythology:
This myth leads us into the time after the 12 famous deeds of Herakles. Eurytos, King of Oichalia, had promised his daughter Iole to whom who was able to beat him in a archery conquest. Herakles tried and beat him. But Eurytos refused the delivery of his daughter. Herakles in his rage destroyed Oichalia, raped Iole and killed Iphitos, the son of Eurytos. Then he went to Delphi to ask the oracle and to purify from murder. But Pythia didn't answer, which made Herakles so furious that he seized Apollo's tripod. Apollo had to struggle with Herakles for the sacrified tripod. Because of this crime Herakles was sentenced to do service as a slave. Hermes brought him on a slave market and there he was bought by Omphale, queen of Lydia. For her he performed several heroic deeds, but had to spin wool and to wear female clothes too. Furthermore he became lover of Omphale. He resisted Sileus, who usually forced people passing by to work in his vineyard, killed him and devastated his vineyard. He took the caudate Kerkopes, two funny but predacious dwarfs, which want to steal his weapons. And finally he shot the huge snake Ophiuchos. After three years he was released by Omphale. He left her and continued in fighting giants and other phantastic beings.

2. Background:
Omphale, daughter of Iordanos, as successor of her husband Tmolos was the mythical queen of the Lydians (Maionians). Because of the murder of Iphitos and the fight against Apollo for the Delphic tripod Herakles had to be selled as slave to Omphale and to serve for 3 years and to pay monetary fine to Eurytos. In this time were laid the capture of the Kerkopes, the overcoming of Sileus and Herakles' participation in the journey of the Argonauts up to Kios. It is said that Herakles had 2 sons by Omphale, Lamos and Agelas. These two were considered as ancestors of the Lydian Mermnades (Gyges to Kroisos). These genealogic attempts were arguably the main reason that the myth of Herakles and Omphale was transferred from Malis and Trachis to Lydia. In this myth the idea of a 'employment marriage' in the social order of the matriarchy is expressed. The changing of clothes (Omphale with club and lion-skin, Herakles with female clothes and activities) based upon cult rites. Both motives gave reason to comedy and satyr-drame to show this myth in the sense of erotic dependence. (Ov. fast. 2, 305ff.)
To interpret Omphale as primal Earth- and Death-Goddess is very questionable.
From 'Der kleine Pauly'

Omphale is the female form of Omphalos = umbilicus, navel. Ranke-Graves therefore assumes that Omphale is identical with Pythia, the guardian of the Delphic Omphalos, and that Herakles had to serve her as Hierodule, as temple servant. The transfer of the myth from Delphi to Lydia was much later done by the mythographs. The story is related to an early phase of  the development of the Holy Kingship from matriarchy to patriarchy when the king as husband of the queen was allowed to replace her in ceremonies and sacrificing but only wearing her dresses. Reveillout has shown that this was practice in early Sumeric times in Lagasch. And in numerous Cretic artworks men are seen which wear female clothes for sacrificial rites - not only the spotted trouser skirt as on the sarkophagus of Hagia Triada, but the broad skirt as on the palace fresco of Knossos.   
From 'Ranke-Graves, Greek Mythology'

Other sources:
Aghion/Barbillon/Lissarrague, Reclams Lexikon der antiken Götter und Heroen in der Kunst

I have added the famous painting 'Hercules and Omphale' of Lucas Cranach the Elder from AD 1537. It unfortunately was destroyed 1945 by the impact of war.
 
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« Reply #53 on: February 11, 2006, 10:09:36 pm »

Jochen,
You have invested lots of time in these posts.  I appreciate the information because it has taught me quite alot!
Best, Noah
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« Reply #54 on: February 13, 2006, 05:04:25 pm »

The snake cult of Alexander of Abounoteichos (called the FALSE PROPHET)

To avoid withdrawal symptoms here a new contribution. It is a coin of Geta from Augusta Trajana.

Geta AD 209-211
AE 30, 16.5g
obv. AVT KP CEPT - IMOC GETAC
        Bust, cuirassed, seen from behind, radiate, r.
rev. AVGOVCTHC - TRAIANHC
      Snake in four elaborate coils erecting, with nimbus and radiated
not in Varbanov

On ancient coins we find many depictions of snakes. I remind of the snake as attribute of Salus, or the famous Cistophori where a snake is climbing out of a Cista mystica, the snake basket, belonging to the cult of Dionysos and playing an important role in the  Eleusinic Mysteries too. But this is not the matter with the snake on this coin.

There is some evidence that the snake erecting here in four elaborated coils and has a radiate head with nimbus is Glykon, the Snake God. This god was invented in the midth of the 2nd century AD by the Greek prophet Alexander of Abounoteichos. This we know from the books of the Greek author Lukian of Samosate (c. 120- c. 190 AD). In one of his scripts he mocks in a cracking mode the charlatan which he calls Alexander the oracle trader. Apart from his affronts we can accept that this cult, at least the snake which was worshipped by Alexander, has its origin in Macedonia, where snake cults are known since the 4th century BC. It is told f.e. that the mother of Alexander the Great became pregnant after sleeping with a snake. The prophet Alexander brought the god, a very great snake, to his home city Abounoteichos in Paphlagonia and built up a temple which became then a famous oracle.

An interesting inscription was found in Caesarea Trocetta in Asia Minor which mentions an Apollo priest which calls himself 'Miletus, son of Glykon and Paphlagonia'. Perhaps the parents of this man couldn't create children and visited the temple of Glykon after which the wife was pregnant. Children being born in this manner by divine intervention often got the name of the god to commemorate his help. So this inscription confirms to a certain extent the claim of Lukian that the charlatan Alexander has helped the women to become pregnant in a much more profane sense.

Numerous votive donations, statues and coins found in the whole area between Danube and Euphrat prove that the cult of the Snake God was still alive at least one century after the death of the prophet. Alexander which finally was seen as son of Podalirus and great-son of Asklepios(!) received after his death religious honours and was considered as prophet of  the god himself. 

His big success in inventing a new religious cult seems to be symptomatic for the change in religious conception off from the traditional belief which escalated in the late 2nd and 3rd century and culminated in the rise of Christianity.

I have added a pic of a sculpture from the museum of Constanzia/Romania (the ancient Tomis) which closely matches the Snake God Glykon. It is from Pat Lawrence. You see that this snake has a more human- or lion-like head. About this snake Lukian writes:
"Then long before they had prepared a snake head from linen and completed which had  a kind of human appearence, which was full painted and which looked very alive. It could open and close the mouth by using horse-hairs, and a cloven tongue also controlled by horse-hairs could be outstretched."

Literature:
Lukian of Samosata, Alexandros or the False Prophet

Online information:
1) http://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/lucian/lucian_alexander.htm
2) http://gutenberg.spiegel.de/gregorov/hadrian/hadr215.htm
3) How to invent a new cult? (German)
    http://66.249.93.104/search?q=cache:GhAtty4VaisJ:archiv.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/volltextserver/volltexte/2004/5103/pdf/ChaniotisAlex.pdf+glycon+lukian+heidelberg&hl=de

Thanks to Pat Lawrence for her invaluable help.

Best regards
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« Reply #55 on: February 14, 2006, 04:52:53 am »

A curious depiction of Asklepios

The next coin has some relations to the last contribution about the Snake God. Therefore I will put it here. The explanation of the reverse is still unclear. It is a coin of Caracalla from Pautalia struck ca. 202-205 due to his youthfull portrait.
 
AE 28
obv. AV KM AVP CEV - ANTWNINOC
        Youthful, beardless bust, laureate, drapery over l. shoulder
rev. OVLPIAC P / AVTALIAC / C in three lines
       Asklepios, bearded, laureate, head r., nude to hips, holding snake-rod in his l. arm,
       sitting l. between the wings of a dragon (or winged snake) with beard and fish-tail,
       which in several coils is flying r. With his raised r. hand he holds the wings
Ruzicka 616 var. (only rev., different obv. legend); Mionnet cf. 1084
very rare, good VF

Mythological background:
This depiction could not be related to the usual snake cults. This depiction has no match in the whole ancient numismatics. Even if the coin 'Melquart galopping on a winged hippocampus r.' due to the similarity of the idea could be consulted for comparing and also the 'Nereid on a winged dragon' on the famous Aktaeon-sarcophagus in the Louvre, it is not thinkable that Pautalia could have taken the paradigm for this coin from that. More likely I (that is Ruzicka!) want to see this winged snake joined with Asklepios in connection with the False Prophet Alexander of Abounoteichos as he is called by Lukian, as incarnation of the Snake God Glykon, for which Alexander by his juggleries and the propaganda throughout the whole Empire could attract so many believers that even in his city Abounoteichos coins were issued with the snake and the legend Glykon.

This Glykon issue occured under Antoninus Pius whereas the coins of Pautalia appeared not before Marcus Aurelius. The oracle of the Asklepios-Glykon was in great veneration yet in the time of Marcus and Verus, so that their strategos Severianus didn't  despised to ask it before he started fighting against the Parthians. It is not impossible that in the Asklepeion of Pautalia an original votive panel or a copy of a votive image of another cult sanctuary has existed which has shown the dragon depiction we can see repeatedly on coins.

From 'Leo Ruzicka, Die Münzen von Pautalia, Sofia 1933'

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« Reply #56 on: February 18, 2006, 07:58:43 am »

The heritage of Greek mythology in modern literature

The Greek mythology as a vast theatre of human passions, emotions and fates since ancient times has inspired artists of all genres to create their famus works. So in our modern time too a great number of authors has choosen themes and motives for their works. Some important works of world literature are amongst them. I have compiled a list which by no means is complete.

- Jean Anouilh, Eurydice (1942), Antigone (1944), Orest (1945), Medea (1946)
- Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Firebrand (1987)
- Albert Camus, Le Mythe de Sisyphe (1942)
- Jean Cocteau, Orphee (1926), La machine infernale (1936), Bacchus (1951)
- Joseph d'Arbaud, Pan im Vacares (1926)
- Vitorio do Canto, Orpheu negro (1956)
- Theodor Dreiser, The Titan (1914)
- Andre Gide, Oedipe (1932), Persephone (1934), Thesee (1946)
- Jean Giraudoux, Amphitryon 38 (1929), La guerre de Troie n'aura pas lieu (1935), 
   Pour Lucrece (1953)
- Gerhart Hauptmann, Iphigenie in Aulis (1943), gamemnons Tod (1947), Elektra
   (1947), Iphigenie in Delphi (1941), Der Bogen des Odysseus (1914)
- Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Ödipus und die Sphinx (1906)
- Hans Henny Jahn, Medea (1926)
- Robinson Jeffers, Medea (1947)
- James Joyce, Ulysses (1922)
- Nikos Kazantzakis, Odissia (1938)
- Oskar Kokoschka, Orpheus und Eurydike (1915/16)
- Pär Lagerkvist, Sibylle (1956)
- Joan Margall i Gorinna, Nausica (1912)
- Eugene O'Neill, Mourning becomes Elektra (1931)
- Ezra Pound, The Cantos (1948)
- Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonette an Orpheus (1923)
- Jean-Paul Sartre, Les Mouche (1943)
- George Bernard Shaw, Pygmalion (1913/14)
- Giorgios Theotakas, Argo (1936)
- Kostas Varnalis, Diary of Penelope (1947)
- Frank Wedekind, Die Büchse der Pandora (1902)
- Thornton Wilder, Alkestiade (1955)
- Tennesseee Williams, Orpheus descending (1957)
- Christa Wolf, Kassandra (1983)

May be one or the other who reads this list go for one!

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« Reply #57 on: February 22, 2006, 02:52:57 pm »

The madness of Aias the Great

Here I have one of the few coins which have as subject the Trojan War. I am proud to be able to present it here!

Bithynia, Prusa ad Olympum, Caracalla AD 198-217
AE 25
obv. AVT KM AVR AN - TWNINOC CEB
        bust, laureate, r.
rev. PRO - VCAEW - N
       Aias, nude, helmeted, kneels on r. knee l., l. leg stretched behind,
       holding with r. hand sword against his belly to throw itself in his sword;
       heap of rocks before and round shield below him.
BMC Bithynia, p.197, 22
very rare, nice patina

Mythology:
The revers shows a famous scene of the Trojan War, the suicide of Aias the Great. Aias (Latin Aiax) was the son of king Telamon of Salamis, therefore called 'the Telamonian' too. He was called Aias the Great in contrary to Aias the Lesser, the son of king Oileus of Lokris, therefore called 'the Locrian'. Aias the Great was the bravest heroe behind Achilleus in front of Troy. He wounded Hektor in duel, he could repel the attack of the Trojans against the Greek ships and he helped to save the body of Patroklos. After Achilleus was killed by a poisoned arrow of Paris who hit his only vulnerable point, his heel, Aias wore his body from the slaughter field and then required Achilleus' weapons for himself. But a greek jury awarded them to Odysseus. In his rage Aias wanted to kill all Greeks. But Athena beat him with madness and he killed a whole herd of sheep. When he came to consciousness again and saw what he had done because of shame he throw itself in his sword. From his blood arose a flower, the delphinium, from whose petals one could read AI, the first letters of his name and a greek cry of soreness too.

Background:
The madness which caused Aias to massacre a herd of sheep doesn't occure on Homer. But this subject is broad worked out by Aischylos, in Sophokles' 'Aias' and in Ovid's Metamorphoses. The myth of the origin of the flower from
Aias' blood was introduced by Ovid because the story should match his Metamorphoses by this transformation motiv.
A tomb of Aias stood on the Rhoiteic Cape. At Salamis he was worshipped as divine; here and in Athens the Aianteia, the fest of Aias, was celebrated; the attic phyle Aiantis has a preferred position.
The fact that there were two Aias has baffled me when I read the greek myths for the first time. Now the scholars Robert and v.d.Mühll assumed, that the two Aias originated by doubling or splitting a single being. The separation of these figures would be promoted by the fact that most of the divine saviours appear as pairs.

I have added a pic of the famous 'Torso of Belvedere', a work of the great greek artist Apollonius of Athens in the 1st century BC, now standing in the Musei vaticani in Rome. It could be identified by supplementation as sculpture of Aias who is throwing itself in his sword.

Source:
- Ovid, Metamorphoses Lib.XII 624 - Lib.XIII 398
- Der kleine Pauly
- Aghion/Barbillon/Lissarrague, Reclams Lexikon der antiken Götter und
   Heroen in der Kunst
- Gerhard Fink, Who's who in der antiken Mythologie

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« Reply #58 on: February 22, 2006, 04:13:54 pm »

Generally regarded as the most profound and unforgettable depiction of the compulsive madness of the suicidal Ajax (but not so frequently seen, being in a small museum), here is the Boulogne amphora.  It is nearly a century earlier than Sophokles' tradgedy, and it triumphs stupendously over what frivolous writers regard as a limited technique: black figure, incised silhouette, vase-painting.  Sir John Beazley, in his famous Sather Classical Lectures, said, "Exekias is alone in showing not the dead hero, or the moment of his death, but the slow preparation for the final act...The face--and this is rare in black-figure--is furrowed with grief." The Development of Attic Black-Figure, Ch. VI (page number differs in the two editions).  Pat L.
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« Reply #59 on: February 22, 2006, 04:47:38 pm »

Thanks, Pat, for sharing this beautiful painting of Exekias! There is another famous painting of Exekias too where he shows Achilleus and Aias in a more peaceful situation playing a board game. It is now in the Musei Vaticani.

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« Reply #60 on: February 27, 2006, 07:30:48 am »

Kronos - father of gods

CILICIA, Flaviopolis, Domitian. AD 81-96
AE 18, dated ZI =17 (AD 89/90)
obv. DOMETIANOC KAICAP
        laureate head right
rev. ETOVC ZI FLAVIOPOLEITWN
       veiled head of Kronos right, harpa at his shoulder
SNG Levante 1531; RPC II 1760; BMC Lycaonia -; SNG Copenhagen 136; SNG von Aulock 5558. rare, about EF

Harpa is the old poetic name for a denticulated sickle. This and the veiled head are his attributes.

There is much confusion about Kronos. The Romans has identified him with Saturn, and already in ancient times he was melted with Chronos, the god of time.

Kronos
Kronos, son of Gaia and Uranos, was the youngest but most violent Titan. He overthrew his father Uranos by mutilating him by a sickle given him by his mother Gaia because Uranos had hidden als their children deep in the earth. Then he married his sister Rhea and became father of Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, Poseidon and Zeus, the third generation of gods. Because he was said to be overthrown by one of his children he devoured them immediately after the birth. Instead of the last born Zeus Rhea gave him a swaddled stone and hid Zeus in a cave on Crete. Kronos regorged the stone and his swallowed children too. This stone thereafter was set up in Delphi as omphalos of the world. Zeus gave his father Kronos the same fate Kronos had given to Uranos, he mutilated him and send him to Tartaros. Later he was made the master of the Elysean Fields.

Saturn
He was an old deity of agriculture and ruled over the Capitolium once called mons Saturnius. He too was dethroned by Jupiter and had to leave the Capitol. His reign was
a happy time and obtained as the Golden Age. To honour Saturn the Saturnalia were celebrated, a carefree festival beginning on December 17, where the masters had to serve their slaves. Saturn too has a sickle as attribute and adopted the veil from Kronos.

Chronos
Chronos is the personification of time. He is found at Solon and Pindar, Sophokles and others. All these places are philosophical and religious speculations later spread under the influence of the Orphic and the Mysteries.These movements held Chronos for more than a symbol of becoming and changing namely one of the primordial gods of the kosmos. The melting with Kronos was due to the etymological similarity of their names and the fact that like Kronos devouring his children Chronos is devouring the time.

Some background
Kronos is an old, pre-hellenic god. His name probably can be connected with the semitic Baal Qarnaim, master of the two mountain peaks. So the mountain cult of the Elean priest-kings of the Kronos-hill in Olympia and the worshipping of Kronos by the Lycians and Solymers in Asia Minor matches this thesis. The archaic character of Kronos and his  myths, the linking with the mediterranean Earth- and Mother Goddess, confirms the suggestion that an old anatolic Height God was repelled by the indogermanic Zeus. His instrument, the denticulated sickle, a conglomerate of lunate mowing knife and short crooked fighting sword, touches in its complexity the Roman Sickle God Saturn which is enrooted in the etruscean-phrygean culture (see 'Satrapes-Sadrapa'). The Saturnalia whith its fairy character reminds on the paradisiac situations of the Golden Age. So perhaps by these associations Kronos was made the Master of the Elysinean Fields.

Sources:
Der kleine Pauly
Hederich, Gründliches Mythologisches Lexikon
Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology

Attached is
1) The relief from the western pediment of the Artemis temple in Korfu showing Zeus and
     Kronos
2) the famous painting of Francisco de Goya 'Saturn Devouring One of His Sons' from 1819/23
    now in the Prado Museum in Madrid.

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« Reply #61 on: February 28, 2006, 03:27:44 pm »

Asteria - the Star Goddess

Here I want to present a coin of Philadelphia. Now there are several different cities called Philadelphia. This at first has made me trouble in attributing the coin. Actually it is a coin of the arabic Philadelphia. Today it is Amman the metropole of Jordan. In the time the coin was struck it belonged to the Dekapolis. Arabia was made Roman provincia in AD 106.

Syria, Dekapolis, Philadelphia, Commodus AD 177-192
AE 22, 7.52g
obv. L AVR KOM - MODOC KAIC
       Bust, draped and cuirassed, bare-head, r.
rev. FIL K CV - THEA ACTERIA
      Bust of Asteria, draped and veiled, r.; star above
Spijkerman 32
rare, about VF

FIL K CV should be decoded to FILADELFEWN KOILHC CYRIAC

Mythology:
Asteria as daughter of the Titan Koios and Phoibe was a Titan herself. Her sister was Leto (Apollod. 1, 8 and 21). She was married to Perses and by him she became mother of Hekate (Hesiod. Theog. 409). Jupiter fell in love to her, but Asteria refused him. The revengeful Jupiter transformed her into a quail and threw her in the sea where the island Ortygia emerged from her. Ortygia has its name from 'ortyx', that is greek for quail (Hygin Fab. 53).
Another version tells that Asteria herself has wished to be transformed into a quail, and as bird to escape from Jupiter over the sea, but Jupiter transformed her into a stone and she fell down into the water and was hidden for a long time. But Leto could rescue her by begging the gods for her sister.
For the first time Asteria or Ortygia was a swimming island until Leto gave birth to Apollo and Artemis. Then the island was fixed and called Delos.(Pind. pae. 65, 4; Kallim. Hymn. 4, 36)
Ovid tells (Metam. VI, 108) that Asteria was raped by Jupiter in the shape of an eagle, and (Metam. XV, 337) that Ortygia was a swimming island. I don't understand why Ovid had not added the motiv of the transformation which would match his subject much better.
Asteria is depicted on the Altar of Pegamon as participant of the Battle of Titans together with Phoibe, Leto and Hekate. She is named by an inscription.

A little background:
The main god of Philadelphia was Herakles-Melqart. In the time of Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus additional coins with Asteria reverses occured. Asteria is said to have given birth to the Phoinicean Herakles by Zeus and so became mother of Herakles- Melqart (according to Cicero and Eudoxos of Knidos). Generally Asteria is seen as hellenized form of Astarte and so by the greek name her astral character is emphasized. This is expressed too on the coin by the star above her head.
In contrary Astarte is paredros of the Phoinicean Herakles. It is suggested that Astarte was already the paredros of the Ammonitic State God Milkom who is obtained as ancestor of Melqart in the Iron Time. Unknown is wether the inhabitants of Philadelphia considered Asteria/Astarte to be their City Goddess. If that was true then the depicted Tyche was only another depiction of our goddess.
The higher denominations always show Herakles motives but Asteria is to be found on the third highest denomination even at Elagabal. This could be another advice for her role as City God.

Paredros = A daimon who accompanies the gods and assists the human. He acts as a substitute for his god. So the bulls Apis and Mnevis stood for Osiris in the Underworld. Selene was accompanied by twelve paredroi which were the twelve hours of night. Humans too have these protection spirits. The famous Daimonion of Sokrates was such a spirit. This idea is the base of the Christian belief in angels.

I have added a pic of the Pergamon Altar showing the concerning detail. This pic comes from the site of the Institut für Klassische Archaeologie der Universität Erlangen known as AERIA. This site was recently in a poll at the Forum. It is highly recommended. It contains one of the biggest collection of photos of ancient artworks.

Sources: 
Hederich, gründliches Mythologisches Lexikon
Der kleine Pauly
Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
http://64.233.179.104/search?q=cache:nnv6iZ02KvQJ:www.diss.fu-berlin.de/2005/155/Kapitel3Philadelphia.pdf+elagabal+philadelphia+asteria&hl=de&gl=de&ct=clnk&cd=1
http://www.phil.uni-erlangen.de/~p1altar/aeriahome.html

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« Reply #62 on: March 03, 2006, 02:27:17 pm »

Perseus and Andromeda

I couldn't resist to add this coin to my collection because of its important mythological theme.

Cilicia, Coropissos, Maximinus I AD 235-238
AE 32, 15.62g
obv. AVT KG IOVH - MAXIMEINOC
      bust, draped and cuirassed, seen from behind, r.
rev. KOROPICCEWN THC KHTWN MHTROPOLEW
      Perseus, nude except chlamys, stg. l., holding harpe and head of Medusa in his l. hand,
      clasping hands with Andromeda, stg. r. in long chiton, holding with her l. hand fold of her
      garment under her chin; below Perseus the sea-monster Ketos.
SNG Levant 590; SNG Levante Supp. 157 (this ex.); SNG France 770; this obv. die was used in Philadelphia too, see SNG Levante 580
rare, about VF, brown-green patina

The myth of Perseus is one of the most beautiful myths of ancient times. From all of his several adventures here only the detail of the freeing of Andromeda should be of interest. This subject was very popular already in ancient times as could be seen on ancient wall paintings and mosaics. Naturally many artists have adopted this theme too since Renaissance until present days. I think it is very attractive to depict a nude defenceless young girl saved by a strong heroe.

Perseus, the heroe of Argolis, was the son of Zeus and Danae. After defeating the Gorgo Medusa helped by Athena and cutting her head he was on the way back to Argos. Besides the head of Medusa which turned everyone into stone who looked at it, he had several other magic things: The harpe, a adamantine sickle from Hermes, golden sandals from the nymphs by which he was able to flight, a helmet of invisibility from Hades and the
kisibis, a bag for Medusa's head.

When he was just above Phoenicia he beheld from his height a nude young girl chained to a rock at the seaside. That was Andromeda, daughter of the Aethopean king Kepheus of Joppe and his wife Kassiopeia. Because Kassiopeia regarded herself for more beautiful than the ocean nymphs, the nereids, and was bragging with that, Poseidon was revenging his daughters by inducing big floods in Phoenicia and sending the terrible sea-monster Ketos. The oracle of Ammon promised rescue from these menaces only if the innocent Andromeda would be sacrificed to Ketos. Kepheus even though reluctant let chain Andromeda at a rock on the beach of the ocean. When Perseus saw her he fell in in love with her and promised to save Andromeda if she was given to him as his wife. When Ketos appeared Perseus went up in the sky so deceiving Ketos by the shadow on the water-surface, then jumped at him and cut his head with his sickle-knife.

When after Andromeda's rescue a great wedding ceremony took place Phineus, brother of Kepheus, her uncle, appeared and declared older rights on Andromeda. Probably he was called by Kassiopeia who didn't wish to see Perseus as her son-in-law. An awfull massacre of the party guests started until finally Perseus transformed all enemies to stones using the head of Medusa.

After that Perseus and Andromeda lived in Argos. By one of their sons, Elektryon, they became ancestors of Herakles. Another of their sons, Perses, became ancestor of the Persian kings, a fact which was used for propaganda when the Persians attacked Greece under Dareios.

Ketos is Greek for whale. So this sea-monster reminds on the whale which swallowed Hiob in the Old Testament. It is reported that the bones of Ketos were found near Joppe (todays Jaffa) by the Romans and Marcus Aemilius Scaurus had brought them to Rome.

The story of Perseus is put together by several different strings of fairy tales. Many motives resemble the stories of Thousand-And-One-Nights. They are full of orientalic narrating pleasure. Already Homer mentioned Perseus in his Ilias (XVI 319f.) and Hesiod reports the death of Medusa in his Theogonia (270-286). There is an amphora from the 7th century BC with the motiv of Perseus and Andromeda too (Eleusis, museum).
 
Andromeda, like Perseus, Kassiopeia and Ketos were set to the sky already by hellenistic poets, Kassiopeia in a basket which in some seasons is shown upside-down as  punishment for her betrayal.

Sources:
Ovid Met. IV, 663-752
Apollod. 2, 4, 3

I have added two pics:

1) The most beautiful picture in my opinion with this motiv, a wall painting from the 1st century BC found in the Casa dei Dioscuri in Pompeji (Naples, Museo Nazionale). It is a copy of an original from the 4th century BC.

2) Then the pic of a mosaic from Zeugma in Anatolia. Zeugma somtimes is called a second Pompeji because of its wonderful mosaics. Perhaps it is new for some Forum's members: Zeugma now is disappearing - despite the massive protest of scientists and the public of the whole world - under the water of a huge storage lake which was built by Turkey at the upper Euphrat. 

Best regards
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« Reply #63 on: March 04, 2006, 12:29:11 pm »

In case someone had a perfect one, I waited a day.  The Deultum coin, though, is remarkable.
09 08 02 AE24  Thrace, DeultumMacrinus, laureate (ribbons), bust in armor and cloak, to r.  The obv. legend should be IMP C M OPEL SEV MACRINUS AVG.  Rev., Perseus, with harpe, holding the head of Medusa in his l., reaches up to Andromeda, still manacled to the rock, to free her left arm; the sea serpent cowers at their feet.  Certainly inspired by the famous composition attributed to Nikias, but Perseus does not raise his r. foot on the rock.  He does seem to wear winged boots.  COL FL PAC     DEULT.  Jurukova 1973, no. 61; Varbanov II (Bulg.) no. 1844 = Lanz 92, June 1999, no. 891.
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« Reply #64 on: March 04, 2006, 03:21:11 pm »



I know that mine is another Deultum like Pat's but I would like to show it off anyway!

Mine is a Gordian III  depicting the same scene.

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« Reply #65 on: March 06, 2006, 07:29:15 am »

Wonderful coin, Gordian_guy!!!
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« Reply #66 on: March 07, 2006, 07:58:24 am »

HELIOS
Rhodos, Caria, West Asia Minor, c. 394 - c. 333 B.C.

12264. Silver didrachm, ANS DB 1944.100.48605, SNG Cop -, BMC -, SNG Von Aulock, SNG Helsinki -, VF, 6.649g, 19.2mm, 0o, Rhodos mint, head of Helios three-quarter facing to right; reverse RODION, rose with bud on stem to right, bee on left, magistrate name above, NI lower left; rare.

This variety is missing from the major references and collections, except the American Numismatic Society collection.


This is a coin that I am sure is familiar.  The obverse device is, of course, Helios.  "He was represented as a youth with a halo, standing in a chariot, occasionally with a billowing robe. A metope from the temple of Athena in the Hellenistic Ilium represents him thus. He is also shown on more recent reliefs, concerning the worship of Mithra, such as in the Mithraeum under the St. Prisca at Rome. In early Christian art, Christ is sometimes represented as Helios, such as in a mosaic in Mausoleum M or in the necropolis beneath the St. Peter in Rome " (http://www.pantheon.org/articles/h/helios.html). "Helios was known by the name Sol in Roman mythology" (http://www.loggia.com/myth/myth.html).  "There are indications that he [Constantine the Great] was already in a state of grave religious uncertainty, and was increasingly tending towards monotheism: after 310 his coins depict one god only--Sol Invictus, the Unconquered Sun--of whom Constantine also claimed to have had a vision some years before" (Norwich, John Julius. A Short History of Byzantium. London: Viking, 1997. 7).
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« Reply #67 on: March 07, 2006, 12:42:15 pm »

Thanks, Cleisthenes, for your contribution! Naturally Sol/Helios is one of the most depicted deities especially since the times of Aurelian and then as forerunner of the Christianism. Very interesting is the question wether SOL INVICTVS is identical to Mithras. I think yes! We have had a nice thread about that subject here http://www.forumancientcoins.com/board/index.php?topic=15637.msg105586#msg105586

The pic shows an altar for Mithras found in England where no differences could be found to Sol. The dedication is: For DEO INVICTO MITRAE.

From the description:
On the front of the shaft is the relief of the torso of Mithras rising from the Living Rock. He wears a cloak and a radiate crown, the rays of which are cut through to a hollow niche at the back of the altar in which an oil lamp would have been placed; when lit the light of the lamp would have shone through the openings into the gloom of the Mithraeum. Mithras's link with the sun is further emphasized by the Sun God's Whip which he holds in his right hand.

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« Reply #68 on: March 08, 2006, 04:37:48 am »

The Ephesian Boar

This is a rather inconsiderable coin, an AE17 of Septimius Severus from Ephesos in Ionia.
AE 17, 2.6g
obv. AV KL [CEP - C]EVHROC
        bust, draped, laureate, r.
rev. EFEC - I / WN
      boar running r., transfixed by spear
unpublished
rare, good F
A similar type is known for Caracalla, BMC 280, and for Macrinus, SNG Copenhagen 438
 
But looking closer at the rev. we find an interesting mythology::
This coin shows a motiv of the foundation myth of Ephesos. The Ephesian local myth of the city founder Androklos, son of king Kodros from Athens, seems to originate rather late in the 5th century  under Athenian influence. Our oldest source is Kreophilos. Referring to him the Delphic oracle gave Androklos the order to settle with his colonists where a fish and a boar would give them a sign. After a longer quest the Greek landed their ships in the bay of the river Kaystros and fried fishes. One of them together with some coal fell from the pan and from the thus ignited bush a boar sprung up. Androklos chased the boar over the mountain side and finally killed him with his spear at the Hypelaios well. From Strabon and Pausanias we know that thereafter Androklos expelled the native Karic-Lelegic inhabitants except those who settled at the Artemision and then lost his life while fighting against the autochthons when he helped the city of Priene against them..

Background:
Androklos is characterized by his high parentage (son of a king) and his great courage (killing of the boar), but he served too for the general greek matter against the barbars when he helped to defend Priene. By the way Priene did not so when Ephesos was attacked by the Persians at the beginning of the Persian Wars.

The boar appears in the myth of Androklos in the same way as in the Herakles myth in a territory belonging to Artemis. The killing of the boar allows the colonists on the one hand to reclaim the land, his very existence then again suggests that the future city could be built in a widely uncultivated land without a threat of an older local community to the small group of greek colonists. The fishes symbolize the nearness of the sea and another food base like the mentioned Hypelaios (olive tree well) which indicates the existence of freshwater and olives.

The oracle's clue to the boar gives the colonists one of several basic conditions which allows the foundation of a city but it doesn't mean that the wild game was a source of food. Wild game like today doesn't play a big role in ancient cities as several archaeo-zoological studies has proofed. Another idea could be that beyond the general meaning of the boar as inhabitant of a uncultivated land it is a pointed advice to the 'land of Artemis Ephesia'.

If this is right then the myth could be a very early - that means before the colonisation -
happened identification of the Ephesian goddess (Astarte?) with Artemis, and then again an advice to the knowledge of the Delphic priests of an ancient Mycenic trading post on the mountain today called Ayasoluk. It was planned since the 8th/7th century BC to built the Artemision at the base of this mountain as a monumental temple destrict. This place was at least looked at in Mycenic times as recently summarized findings proof.
 
Source:
Forum Archaeologiae - Zeitschrift für klassische Archäologie 14 / III / 2000
online under http://homepage.univie.ac.at/elisabeth.trinkl/forum/forum0300/14scherr.htm

Added pic:
Androklos killing the boar, relief-frieze from the so-called Hadrian's temple  at the Embolos in Ephesos (Österreichisches Archäologisches Institut, Archiv, Photo Th. Römer)

Once again this coin shows to us what plenty of information and knowledge you can get from it if you take time to explore it deeply even if it is such an unimpressive coin! Good luck!

Best regards
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« Reply #69 on: March 08, 2006, 09:20:38 am »

PEGASUS

Perhaps this thread has been discussed; perhaps I have a penchant for the obvious, but Pegasus captured my imagination long ago. 

"Winged horse of Greek myth, symbol of the sacred king's or hero's journey to heaven; an image of death and apotheosis, like the mythic death-hordes of northern Europe. Pegasus had archaic, matriarchal origins. He sprang from the "wise blood" of the Moon-goddess Medusa, who embodied the principle of medha, the Indo-European root word for female wisdom . . . Pegasus represented divine inspiration as well as god-like apotheosis. A man who rode him could become a great poet" (http://www.pegasusproducts.com/myth.html).

It has always seemed ironic that a creature so beautiful could be the offspring of Medusa.  Although Bellerophon was unsuccesful in trying to ride Pegasus to Mt. Olympus, Pegasus made it (in some myths).

I am sure that many are also acquainted with the Pegasus Constellation.
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« Reply #70 on: March 09, 2006, 02:59:23 pm »

The Calydonean Boar

The boar in ancient times was a huge dangerous animal. So it is not amazing that the boar plays a big role in the Greek mythology - but not only there. Especially there are two boars standing in the centre of myths:

1) The Erymanthic Boar, the boar of Herakles, and
2) The Calydonean Boar, the boar of Meleagros.

Here I want to present the latter. The coin is a silver denar of C. Hosidius C.f. Geta.

AR - Denar (Serratus), 3.79g
        Rome 68 BC
obv. bust of Diana, diademed, bow and quiver over shoulder, GETA behind, III VIR in
       front
rev. The Calydonean boar stg. r., transfixed by arrow and attacked by dog
      C.HOSIDI.C.F. in ex.
Crawford 407/1; Sydenham 904; Hosidia 2
a bit rarer than the type with smooth edge, VF


Mythology:
Oineus, king of Kalydon in Aitolia, once had feasted the gods at an harvest festival but forgotten to butcher an animal for Artemis. The goddess was enraged and sent a big boar who wasted the fertile fields of the king. Oineus called for help and from all parts of Greece the heroes came to help him. There were the Curetes from Pleuron, the brothers of Althaia, the wife of Oineus. There were the Dioscurs Kastor and Polydeikes and their Messenian cousins Idas and Lynkeus. Theseus came from Athens, Iphikles, half-brother of Herakles, came from Thebens, Iason, Admetos, Peirithos, Peleus and Eurytion came from Thessalia, Telamon from Salamis, Amphiaraos from Argos, Ankaios and Atalante from Arcadia and much more. Herakles was prevented by his labours. On top of the heroes stood Meleagros, the son of Oineus and Althaia.
The hunt for the Calydonean boar ended very disastrous. Many heroes lost their lifes. Ankaios was the first killed by the boar. Peleus accidentally hit his father-in-law Eurytion with his spear. A second hunter too was killed by the boar.
The big catastrophe happened at the 6th day of the hunt. On this day Atalanta hit the boar with her arrow and Meleagros gave him the deathblow. Then he awarded head and skin of the boar to Atalante. But his uncles, brother of his mother Althaia, didn't tolerate that. They insisted on the rights of their clan. A dispute occured, they snatched the trophies from Atalante and then a fight began in which Meleagros slew his uncles. Now we have several different sequels of the myth. 
When Meleagros was born the fates predicted that he will live only as long as the log in the oven. Althaia pulled it out of the fire and hid it in a secret place. When she heard of the death of her brothers she enraged, got the log and threw it in the fire. When it was burnt Meleagros break down dead when he was dissecting the boar.
Another version tells about a revenge campaign of the Curetes against Kalydon. Meleager is told not having fighted until the Curetes nearly had conquered Kalydon and then was killed in the battle. In the Underworld he was the only dead Herakles was afraid of his shadow. And when Meleagros told him the story of the Calydonean hunt it was the first and only time Herakles was moved to tears.

Background:
Important for generalizing examinations is the relation between the boar and Artemis which is continuated after the hunt by the revenge campaign of the Curetes. Curetes were called in Ephesos the mythic warriors whose weapon noise drowned the birth cry of the goddess, later as Prytaneion a collegium of priests. The killing of Meleagros is the essential and indispensable expiation for the mortification done to Artemis by killing her boar and at the same time the legitimation of the goddess' sentinels which could do their duty only by campaigning against Kalydon. 
So it is explicable that the Curetes despite of Meleagros' death don't take Kalydon but removed from the city. Only later versions of the chase myth - no more understanding the sakrilegium - need the murder of the uncles and the curse of the mother respectively the old wive's tale of the log which connects the fates to the end of Meleagros. There are many other parallels for the unforgiving position of Artemis and her uncompromising brother Apollon too. We bear in mind the innocent Niobides, the unhappy Hippolytos or poor Aktaion. In this sense we can see Meleagros as the mythic prototype of the loser who run for the 'Holy King'  but failed the examination.

Sources:
Ovid lib.VIII, 385-414; 437-444; 515
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalydonischer_Eber
Karl Kerenyi, Die Mythologie der Griechen - Die Heroen-Geschichten; dtv
Robert von Ranke-Graves, Griechische Mythologie, Rowohlt

The pic shows the frieze of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford

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« Reply #71 on: March 09, 2006, 08:59:55 pm »

The Calydonean Boar

The boar in ancient times was a huge dangerous animal. So it is not amazing that the boar plays a big role in the Greek mythology - but not only there. Especially there are two boars standing in the centre of myths:

1) The Erymanthic Boar, the boar of Herakles, and
2) The Calydonean Boar, the boar of Meleagros.



Jochen,

I hate to admit that I knew nothing about the significance of this intiguing creature.  Wow!  The hunting party for the Calydonean Boar is a veritable who's who of ancient heroes.  Your posts whetted my appetite for more boar!  I made a series of internet forrays, and I will only add a very brief digest to what you have generously provided.  It seems there may be a bit of a "feminist" twist to the tale.

Cheers, Jim (Cleisthenes)

p.s. Now, I'd really like a coin with a device of a boar!



"This Calydonian Boar, which some say is the offspring of the Crommyonian Sow, was killed by Atalanta, who shot it first, by Amphiaraus, who next shot it in the eye, and by Meleager, who killed it by a stab in the flank. When Meleager received the skin, he gave it to Atalanta, but the sons of Thestius 1, who took part in the hunt representing the Curetes, did not approve Meleager's gesture, for in their simple minds they were of the opinion that a woman should not get a prize in the face of men. So if Meleager did not choose to take it, they reasoned best as they could, then it belong to them by right of birth. Meleager, disliking the way in which his will was not respected, slew the sons of Thestius 1 and gave the skin to Atalanta. But having heard of her brothers' death, Althaea, mother of Meleager, caused his [sic] own son to die. Some have said, however, that the boar's skin caused a civil war between the Curetes, represented by the sons of Thestius 1, and the Calydonians, represented by Meleager, and that Meleager killed his mother's brothers in battle, and perished himself in the same war.

The Calydonian Hunt took place shortly after the voyage of the ARGONAUTS, and not few among those who hunted the boar also participated in that expedition."
(http://homepage.mac.com/cparada/GML/CALYDONIANHUNTERS.html)

The italicized text above is my doing.--Cleisthenes



The names of the CALYDONIAN HUNTERS according to four authors; Pausanias, Ovid, Hyginus, Apollodorus; are as follows:

 Acastus (Ovid); Admetus (Ovid, Hyginus); Amphiaraus (Pausanias, Ovid, Apollodorus) Alcon3 & Alcon 4 (Hyginus); Ancaeus (all four authors); Asclepius (Hyginus); Atalanta (all four authors, of course!);  Caeneus (Ovid, Hyginus); Castor (all four authors); Cepheus (Apollodorus); Cometes (Pausanias); Cteatus (Ovid);
Deucalion (Hyginus); Dryas (Ovid, Hyginus, Apollodorus); Echion(Ovid, Hyginus); Enaesimus (Hyginus); Epochus (Pausanias); Euphemus (Hyginus); Eurypylus (Apollodorus); Eurytion (Apollodorus); Eurytus 1 (Ovid); Eurytus 2 (Hyginus); Evippus (Apollodorus); Hippasus (Ovid, Hyginus); Hippalmus (Ovid);  Hippothous 2 (Ovid, Hyginus); Hippothous 6 (Pausanias); Hyleus (Ovid); Idas (Ovid, Hyginus, Apollodorus); Iolaus (Pausanias, Ovid, Hyginus);
Iphicles (Apollodorus); Iphiclus (Apollodorus); Ischepolis (Pausanias); Jason (Ovid, Hyginus, Apollodorus); Laertes (Ovid, Hyginus); Lelex (Ovid); Leucippus (Ovid, Hyginus); Lynceus (Ovid, Hyginus, Apollodorus); Meleager (all four authors, of course!); Mopsus (Ovid, Hyginus); Nestor (Ovid);  Panopeus (Ovid); Pelagon (Ovid); Peleus (all four authors); Phoenix (Ovid, Hyginus); Phyleus (Ovid);
Pirithous (Pausanias, Ovid, Apollodorus);  Plexippus (Ovid, Hyginus, Apollodorus); Polydeuces (all four authors); Prothous (Pausanias); Telamon (all four authors) Theseus (all four authors); Toxeus (Ovid).
 
 
 

 

 
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« Reply #72 on: March 10, 2006, 03:42:34 am »

Thanks, Jim, for the interesting additions and the nice pics!

The matter with Atalante is a special one. She is very similar to Artemis as hunter and perhaps an ancient pre-indogermanic goddess from the time of the great goddesses. If that is true then Meleagros could have been the 'Holy King' who was married to the Great Goddess for only one day and then was killed in a ritual sacrificing.
(Robert von Ranke-Graves, Greek Mythology)

Best regards
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« Reply #73 on: March 10, 2006, 08:52:24 pm »

Bull Mythology

I would, if anyone is interested, like to begin to discuss the mythological significance of the bull.

In ancient Mediterranean cultures, the bull was a symbol of strength and heroism.
Lion and bull coin types were depicted on the world's first silver coins struck for Kroisos. The coin features a lion similar to that on the earlier Lydian electrum coins but without the sunburst or "nose wart," as well as a bull, with the reverse being an incuse square used in the minting process of very early coins.

The lion attacking the bull motif on this coin type has been variously theorized as symbolizing the sun and moon, spring and winter (the fall of the constellation Taurus corresponded to the date of the spring sowing), strength and fertility, Asia Minor and Europe, and Lydia and its neighbor Phyrgia. One possibility,perhaps, is that the lion represents the Lydians' supreme god, or Baal, and the bull represents Zeus, the supreme god of the Greeks, though Henri Frankfort in his 1956 book, The Art and Architecture of the Ancient Orient, suggested a "conflict between divine forces." A lion comprised the heraldic emblem of the kings of Lydia. Zeus took the guise of a bull in his seduction of Io (see Titian's beautiful Rape of Europa below). The lion and bull motif was featured on other ancient coins as well, and the bull was used, as well, on figural art.  The bull, obviously, symbolizes many things to many different cultures.(http://coins.reidgold.com/lion/kroisos.html).

Among the most important animal cults were the bull cults, which appeared in Egyptian writings as far back as the First Dynasty. The ancients believed that the powerful bull represented the personality of the king; slate palettes dating back as far as 3100 BC even show kings as bulls. This animal was chosen because it symbolized the king’s courageous heart, great strength, virility, and fighting spirit. Bulls’ horns even embellish some of the tombs of courtiers who served the first Saqqara kings.

The Apis Bull was originally considered to be the incarnation of the god Ptah, the creator of the universe and master of destiny, but this was a lesser-known association. Later the Apis became widely known as the incarnation of Osiris, god of embalming and cemeteries, when Ptah himself took on funerary characteristics and became associated with Osiris. Plutarch wrote that the "Apis was a fair and beautiful image of the soul of Osiris".

When Egypt fell under the rule of the Ptolemies, a new god was created by Ptolemy I in an effort to unify Greeks and Egyptians by establishing a deity that would be familiar to both cultures.  The new god was named Serapis, which combined components of the Greek gods Zeus, Asklepios, and Dionysys as well as the Egyptian deity Osiris and the sacred Apis bull cult. Although the god had a Greek appearance, it also had some of the features of an Apis bull as well as an Egyptian name. Serapis was declared a god of fertility and the underworld, but even though Egyptians tolerated this new deity, they never truly accepted it. On the other hand, because Greek leadership supported the new Serapis cult, many Greeks did accept and follow it, but the artificially created cult never achieved its goal of religious unity between Greeks and Egyptians (http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/bull.htm).

I know that I have only scratched the surface of this very ubiquitous and intriguing symbol.  Bulls are found struck on coins from the era of archaic kings to Byzntium's, Julian the Philosopher (Apostate).  Taurus graces the night sky.

See www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/news/content.asp?aid=28879 for an interesting 2003 art exhibition featuring this mythological creature.
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« Reply #74 on: March 12, 2006, 01:57:11 pm »

Some notes on the river-gods

Moesia inferior, Nikopolos ad Istrum, Septimius Severus AD 193-211
AE 17, 12.21g
struck under the legate Aurelius Gallus
obv. AV.KL CEP - CEVHROS P
bust, laureate, r.
rev. VPA AVR GALLOV NEIKOP / PROC IC
rivergod (Istros?), bearded, laureate, nude to hips, leaning l., head r., resting l. arm on
rocks (or urn) from which water flows, holding with r. hand tree with four
foliate twigs (or whinetree).
AMNG 1310; not in Moushmov
rare, VF, dark-green patina

Moesia inferior, Nikopolis ad Istrum, Macrinus AD 217-218
AE 25, 11.24g
obv. AV K OPPEL CE - [VH MAKRINOC]
bust, bearded, laureate, r.
rev. VP CTATIOV LONGINOV NIKOPOLITWN / PROC ICT / RW
Youthfull rivergod (Istros?), nude to hips, leaning l., holding in l. arm reeds, in
raised r. hand branch; water flows from vase behind him.
Pick 1763 var.; cf. Lindgren 272 (same rev. for Diadumenian!); Moushmov 1272
rare, F/VF

In Greece and Italy there was a famous cult of river gods. This cult in ancient times was not unknown.Especially at the idogermanic peoples the worshipping of the flowing water was wide spread. It is known from the Indians, the Persians, the Thrakes and the Celts. From the Germans it is not sure. The designation as 'river gods' is not from ancient times. Homer and Hesiod were talking of 'potamoi' (Greek = rivers). Wether they have differentiated between the rivers itself and river gods (who lived at the bottom of vthe rivers or in caves) is not clear!

Referring to Homer all rivers originated from Okeanos. Hesiod calls the rivers children of Okeanos and Thetis. But Skamandros is known as son of Zeus. They are immortal and participate on meetings of the gods. They are seen with many children and as ancestors of aristocratic families.

Characteristic for their cult was the consecration of hair, perhaps the substitute of human sacrifice. Peleus vows the river Spercheios a ringlet of Achill if his son will come home safe. Elsewise they got the usual offerings, bulls and sheep. There were regular sacrificing f.e. in Messenia, one was sacrificing before crossing a river, so Xerxes before before crossing the Strymon or Lucullus at the Euphrat. The river-gods had priests too, temples and altars.

Already Homer knows the river-gods as human-shaped. When in his Ilias (lib. 22, 237) Skamandos yells like a bull then this is a reminiscence of older beliefs. The most early depiction of a rive-god, Acheloos, is the mix of a bull and a human being. The later typus had only small horns. In Graeca Magna and in Sicily they appear as youthful men on coins of the 5th century BC. The well known type as leaning river-god as on these two coins could be from the same century if one suggest Pausanias is right with his description of the figures at the Easter pedement of the Zeus temple of Olympia as Alpheios and Kladeios. But this today is seen as not correct. So this typus seems to be more probably hellenistic. The suggestion that the Centaurs are originally river-gods is shortend to Nessos only.

There are known about one hundred names of river-gods, mostly from Greece, from Asia Minor, Sicily and Italy. But this list is not complete. In the Greek area the most famous are Acheloos and Alpheios. Italian river-gods with supra-regional cult in the Roman-Italian area were Clitumnus and Tiber (as Tiberinus pater too). He also was seen as master and father of all other rivers and called by prayer. He had a sanctuary too. In the old almanac of ceremonies he was substituted by Volturnus.

At last a fundamental addition which should clear the way for a deeper understanding of the ancient conception of river and other gods:
The river-gods depicted on coins are not personifications in our sense. Rivers had not been gods! They had been the expression of something divine behind the things. And that is something very different! In rivers, wells, trees or mountains turned up the divine. In this sense the depicted river-god was the visible expression of this divine behind the things. In different shapes, depending on the kind of the depicted river. It is understandable that they were depicted anthropomorphic, bedded like a tired wanderer (the feet pointing to to the mouth!). Nevertheless it was the matter of a transcendental experience, valid for wells, trees, mountains and other deities too. This has been heavily misunderstood by the Christian monks who fell the sacred trees and claimed the gods to resist it. The reminiscence on Christ at the cross should have disabuse them: He too was called to climb down if he really was God.   

We all have remains of this understanding of nature when we say about a river: He is hopping and jumping, is streaming majestically or is restricted and violated by channels. May be the actual situation of our nature could be more hopeful if we would bethink ourself of this buried view! 

Sources:
Der kleine Pauly
http://staff-www.uni-marburg.de/~aegypt/ow/zeus.htm
Reinhart Falter, Fluß- und Berggötter in der Spätantike, Cadmus 1999

The attached pics show the two figures from the East pediment of the Zeus temple in Olympia which were described already by Pausanias.
http://www.phil.uni-erlangen.de/~p1altar/photo_html/bauplastik/giebel/olympia/ebene4.html

Best regards
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