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« Reply #400 on: June 08, 2014, 12:25:24 pm »


Dear friends of ancient mythology!

After a long time I have a new article for this thread. I hope that it is interesting for others too. But the subject of this article is not only mythology but the kind in which we he have solved the riddle of the presented coin. So I will begin with mythology and then in the second part turn to the coins.

1. Pygmalion I was king in Cyprus, who has fallen in love to an ivory statue of Aphrodite. He treated her as a living woman, laid her in his bed and dealt with her like his spouse. (Philostephanos, after it also Clem. Alex. protr. and Arnobius adv. nationes).

According to Ovid (Met. X., 243ff.) Pygmalion was a sculptor, who, because of bad experiences with women, the so-called Propoetides, has decided to stay unmarried. But when he once has created a beautiful maiden from ivory he felt in love with her and treated her as his lover. He gave her gifts and caressed her. On a feast in honour of Aphrodite he prayed to the gods to give him a consort like this ivory statue. And Aphrodite has heard his prayer. When he came home and kissed his statue he felt that she became warm and alive. The Kleine Pauly is seeing in this invention a prize for the creating artist, who - when he is laying his soul into his creation - comes near to the creative deity or nature.

Religio-historically Pygmalion is probably the Cyprian form of Adonis in whom the vitalizing power of spring is incarnating (Pauly). The name of Galatea was added to his mistress not before the 18th century AD. Pygmalion has with her a daughter (or son) Paphos, who again has a son Kinyras. From Paphos later the whole island of Cypros got its name. Roscher suggests that this is the original myth and that the variant of Philostephanos is only an abbreviation.

[1] In Greek mythology the Propoetides are the daughters of Propoetus in the city of Amathus (Ovid, Met. X., 220ff.). They are seen as the first women of antiquity who prostituted themselves publically. When they refused to present offerings to Venus they were punished by the loss of any sense of shame so that soon nobody wanted to be concerned with them. Venus then turned the Propoetides to stones (Wikipedia).

In psychology 2 further terms are used which originate from the mythology of Pygmalion:
[2] Agalmatophilia (Pygmalionism): This is the strong affection (even sexually) to (nude) statues. Also other inanimate human depictions like paintings or (sex-)dolls can serve as fetish.
[3] The Pygmalion effect (= Rosenthal effect) was described in social psychology. By experiments in 1965 the American psychologist Robert Rosenthal detected that the idea which a teacher has of a student has an impact on the IQ of this student. If the teacher takes a student for highly talented this student makes more improvements than if he takes him for less able. This is a kind of  "self-fulfilling prophecy". 

2. Pygmalion II., Phoenician Pu'mayatton, 831-785 BC, son of Belos II (or of Mutto), was king of Tyre.His sister was Elissa, Phoenician meaning "heroine" or "the divine", later called Dido (probably from Phoenician 'didas' = "who moves around'. Because of greed he killed Sychaeus (or Sicharbas), the husband of Elissa and one of the most wealthy Tyrians, to get his treasures. In a dream the dead appeared to Elissa and revealed the crime. Thereupon Elissa took the treasures and with some faithful she fled from Tyre. On her flight she first came to Kypros, where she took a priest of Herakles and 80 virgins. To this connection between Tyre and Kypros we will come later. The further story of Elissa you can read in the proper article about Dido in this thread. By the way, she has had a sister Anna Perenna whose fate is subject of another article in this thread. This story is told by Vergil in his Aeneis, I, 347.

Roscher writes: It is possible that a king with this name has ruled besides Tyre in Kitium too, the Tyrian part of Kypros. Pumay probably is the name of a Phoenician god. Pumaj, the god, was called 'eljon (= geljon), so Pumaj-geljon which was made by the Greeks to Pygmalion. Thus Pygmalion actually is a deity and that fits the concept of breathing life into dead statues. As a  foundation of Pygmalion is seen Karpasia on Cyprus. Adonis sometimes is called Pygmaion too after his grandfather Pygmalion. In turn the name of Pygmalion can be traced back to Pygmaion too. Anyway we have a strong relation to Adonis. And we have found a close interconnection between Pygmalion II and Pygmalion I.
Now we come to the coins. Origin of the whole recherche was this coin of Elagabal from Tyre, which has a reverse that has confused me.

Coin No. 1:
Phoenicia, tyre, Elagabal, AD 218-222
AE 30, 12.34g, 30.2mm, 180°
       Bust, draped and cuirassed, seen from front, laureate, r.
       Male figure, nude, cloak (or animal skin) over extended r. arm, advancing l.,
       chlamys around neck waving r., in his raised l. hand holding transverse spear and
       an unknown object (shield?); r. behind him 4 stags leaping r., where he possibly
       is holding the reins; all on a base line.
       in upper field star, beneath stags murex shell
       (Gitler/Bijovsky type I)
ref. Rouvier VII, p. 80, 2388; BMC Phoenicia p. 277, 408; Babelon ("Les Perses 
        Achemenides") 2244; Mionnet V, 657; not in SNG Copenhagen, SNG UK,
        SNG Deutschland, SNG Righetti, Lindgren
very rare (only 6 ex. known), S, porous
ex coll. Adrian W.
ex FAC

Note (FAC): The legend here is TYRIORVM, not COL TYR, because after the revolt of the legio III Gallica and its suppression by Elagabal the status as colonia was transferred to Sidon.

FAC has called the male figure Kadmos, son of the Tyrian king Agenor. But Stephenson (Dictionary of Roman Coins) writes about this type of coins:
Quadriga of Stags - A first brass of Gordian III. exhibits a car, drawn by four stags, and in which a naked male figure stands, holding in his right arm a garment, and in his left hand a wand.  There is a star in the field of the coin and the usual shell-form symbol of Tyre, beneath the fore-legs of the stags.
[Vaillant quotes several passages from Nonnus in support of his opinion that the man in the car is meant for the Tyrian Hercules, who, it seems, was amongst other names called Astrochiton, as if the leader of the stars (Dux Astrorum). The Tyrians furnish the chariot of this god of theirs with stags instead of horses, in allusion to the rapidity of his movements. A stag was the emblem of the sun's velocity; and Hercules and the sun, according to Macrobius, was the same.]

By the way, the garment over the right arm on my coin looks like a lion's skin, so strengthening the interpretation as Herakles. Thereupon I have checked Macrobius' 'Saturnalia' and in book I, XX he says, that Hercules is the sun. And Nonnus.'Dionysiaka', s. 40, 366-410 celebrates him hymnically as Hercules Astrochiton. Bit I have never found a source for his claim that stags are a symbol for his rapidity!

(will be continued!)

* tyros_elagabal_Rouvier_2388 #2_2.jpg (70.34 KB, 641x343 - viewed 24 times.)

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« Reply #401 on: June 08, 2014, 12:31:19 pm »


The solution was found by Charles Rhodes (gordian_guy) of our forum. He has the Tyrian coin of Gordian III, which was described by Stephenson, in his collection.

Coin No.  2:

Phoenicia, Tyre, Gordian III, AD 238-244
AE 30, 21.48g, 180°
        Gordian, draped and cuirassed, laureate, r.
rev. C-O-L TVR MET
       (Description of the seller:) Uncertain male figure stg. r., holding chlamys and
       sceptre, on the right side 4 stags, galloping r., beneath the stags murex snail
ref. cf Rouvier 2434
ex coll. J. S. Wagner

This revers type first appears under Elagabal (Type I) and has been struck for Gordian III, Valerian, Gallienus and Salonina. In contrast to to my coin, the coin of Gordian III (Type II, Phase I) has in the lower field an inscription of Phoenician letters,  , which at first couldn't be explained. This coin type has been published in 1954 by H. Hamburger. The translation from the Phoenician was done by Dr. I Ben Dor and resulted in Bodmelqart. But this translation was incorrect. Robinson in 1997 supposed, that this name should have a reference to king Pygmalion and read PGMLYN. In Gitler/Bijovsky 2002 we finally find the reading PGMLYON! They too have divided these coins in Type I and II, were Type II was further divided in 4 different phases, according to the existence of the Phoenician inscription and the distribution of the attributes on the reverse.

So it is not Herakles-Melqart, but Pygmalion = Pu'mayyaton, king of Tyre (here called Pygmalion II)!

Sadly not all problems of this coin type are solved. Pygmalion II, king of Tyre, actually was not an example that could be glorified on coins. Because of greed he has killed the husband of Elissa and Dante Alighieri in his 'Comedia Divina' has put him into the purgatorium as example for  human greed. A different figure is Pygmalion I, king or sculptor from Cyprus. May be that here both figures are melted, or the Cyprian Pygmalion was transferred to the Tyrian Pygmalion. We know of historical relations between Tyre and Cyprus:
- Elissa (Dido) is said to have landed at Cyprus when she fled to North-Africa. A hint
   that Tyre has turned towards the Western Mediterranean.
- In Kition on Cyprus existed a sanctuary of Melqart, the City God of Tyre. Roscher: It
   is possible that in this Tyrian part of Kypros a king Pygmalion has ruled. At any way
   it is the proof, that the influence of Tyre has reached to Kypros.
This connection between Pygmalion I and Pygmalion II is denied categorically by Schmitz-Evans, but she didn't know these coins.

And then the four stags are unexplained. Actually they are symbols for hunting. But either Pygmalion I nor Pygmalion II are connected to hunting. An attempt we find at Gabriella  Bijovsky in 'More about Pygmalion from Tyre':

In 1950 Hill proposed to identify the male figur with Ousoos the hunter, who, according to Philo of Byblos, was the founder of Tyre. This was affirmed by Mesnik du Buisson in 1965 and Will 1973. Bijovsky refuses this proposal, because Ousoos was indeed a hunter, but above all the founder of Tyre.  But that is not depicted on the coins.

According to Barnett and Seyrig there are enough reasons to believe that Herakles-Melqart, the main deity of Tyre, has been a hunter too. But on these coins his main attributes are missed: the club and the lion's skin around his neck.

The suggestion of Robinson to take the figure just for king Pygmalion of Tyre is not convincing because he was not an appealing figure and he is not known as hunter.

Bijovsky proposes to see Pygmalion in context to a local hunter hero, in Syro-Phoenician tradition. This was mentioned already by Will in 1952 and Seyrig 1963, but was not developed further. We do know that Pygmalion is connected to Adonis, who is known as hunter. Aphrodite has fallen in love with him and has protected him on his hunting expeditions. Nevertheless he was killed by a boar and buried near Byblos in Phoenicia, beside a river, bearing his name. Thus he became a local hero of Byblos. Interestingly he was never depicted on coins. But in this way Adonis as well as Pygmalion were directly connected to Cyprus, which at this time indeed was a colony of Tyre. And additionly Pygmalion was one of the several names of Adonis, under which name he was worshipped in Kypros. Hesychios calls Pygmaion the Adonis of the Cyprians.

So it is well possible that the Greek myth of Adonis is based on a Phoenician figure of a young mythical hunter. This myth existed in several different local manifestations. If this assumption is correct then the male figure on our coins can be Pygmalion, a syncretistic version of Adonis, depicted as hunter, holding his trophies, 4 stags, with reins, and standing beside a river.

History of Literature:
We know of several literary adaptations of the Pygmalion stuff. I list some by chance:
[1] Johann Wolfgang Goethe (1749-1832), Pygmalion - Eine Romanze, 1767
      By the way, when Goethe in his Tour of Italy enters Rome he speaks of Pygmalion
      and Elise, for sure a confusion with Elissa
[2] George Bernard Shaw (1856- 1950), Pygmalion, 1913/14 (after Ovid)
      Here Pygmalion is Henry Higgins, professor of phonetics, and Elissa is the
      flower girl Eliza Doolittle. Higgins tries to teach Eliza the fine English,so that she
      can pass as duchess on a garden party. He succeeds, but because Eliza for Higgins
      is only his work and not an emancipated human being, she separates from him.
[3] 'My Fair Lady', Musical after Shaw, 1956, Music: Frederic Loewe, Text: Alan Jay
      Lerner. I think, the song "It greens so green when Spain's blossoms bloom", is
      known by all of us.
[4] Joseph Weizenbaum (1923-2008), ELIZA, A computer program. Look at the
      following excursion!

History of Art:
The story of Pygmalion and Galatea was a favoured subject in paintings and literature.

Of the many pictures I have choosen these two:
[1] Jean Leon Gerome, Pygmalion and Galatea, 1890-1893, private coll. Gerome was
      a representative of the Academic Classicism. For the theme Pygmalion and
      Galatea he created a series of different sculptures and paintings. 1892 he painted a
      marble group he has created which hereafter served as model for different
      paintings. The scenes always are playing in his atelier, so that he is seeing himself
      in the role of Pygmalion.
[2] Paul Delvaux (1897-1994), Pygmalion, 1939, today in the Musees Royaux des Beaux-
     Arts, Brussels. Delvaux was one of the most importat surrealists. This painting is
      remarkable in that we see a change of roles: Here Pygmalion is the sculpture and is kissed
      by Galatea. But in contrast to the ancient myth she will not succeed, then on Pygmalion is
      missed the lower part of his body.

  [1] Ovid, Metamorphosen X, 243ff.
  [2] Vergil, Aeneis I, 340-368
  [3] Apollodoros,
  [4] Nonnos, Dionysakia
  [5] Macrobius, Saturnalia
  [6] Dante, Göttliche Komödie, Purgatorium, Canto XX, 103-105
  [7] Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Pygmalion
  [8] Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Italienische Reise
  [9] G.B.Shaw, Pygmalion, 1913/14
[10] "My Fair Lady", Musical nach Shaw, Music: Frederic Loewe 1956, Text: Alan
        Jay Lerner (1956)

Secondary literature:
[1] Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches Mythologisches Lexikon
[2] Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der Griechischen und
      Römischen Mythologie, 1897-1902
[3] Robert von Ranke-Graves, Griechische Mythologie
[4] Der Kleine Pauly
[5] Wikipedia, Pygmalion of Tyre
[6] Wikipedia, Pygmalion (mythology)
[7] Monika Schmitz-Emans, Literatur und Mythos (lecture), 8. Pygmalion (und

Numismatical literature:
[1] Jules Rouvier, Numismatique des Villes de la Phenice [8]: Tyr, 1903/1904 
      (Google Books)
[2] Ernest Charles Francois Babelon, Les Perses Achemenides, les satrapes et les
      dynasties tributaries de leur empire, Cypre et Phenicie, Paris, 1893 (Google
[3] H. Hamburger, A Hoard of Syrian Tetradrachms and Tyrian Bronze Coins from
      Gush Halav, 1954 (Jstor)
[4] M. Robinson, Phoenician Inscriptions on the Late Roman Bronze Coinage of Tyre,
      Part I - A Coin Depicting Pygmalion, The Numismatic Circular, volume CV, No.
      6, July 1997, pp. 199-201 (not available!)
[5] Gabriela Bijovsky, More About Pygmalion From Tyre, 2000 (
[6] Haim Gitler/Gabriela Bijovsky, The Coins of Pygmalion from Tyre, A
      Chronological Sequence from Elagabal to Gallienus, 2002 (
[7] Alfred Hirt, Bild und Kontext - Eine Annäherung an die tyrische Bronzeprägung
      des 3. Jhs. n.Chr., Hefte des Archäologischen Seminars der Universität, HASB

I want to thank Charles Rhodes (gordian_guy) for solving this intricate riddle!

Best regards

* 2008.240.3GordianTyrePygmalion Forum Size[1].JPG (74.33 KB, 869x411 - viewed 25 times.)

* GordianTyrePygmalionPhoenicianScript.jpg.png (138.76 KB, 416x156 - viewed 454 times.)

* Gerome_pygmalion-and-galatea.jpg (39.75 KB, 437x500 - viewed 454 times.)

* delvaux_pygmalion.jpg (27.98 KB, 495x391 - viewed 451 times.)

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« Reply #402 on: June 08, 2014, 01:52:36 pm »

Excursion: Joseph Weizenbaum's ELIZA

Joseph Weizenbaum, born in 1923 in Berlin, emigrated with his family to the  USA, where he was professor of computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MITS) and became one of the pioneers of artificiel intelligence (AI). In broad circles he became famous by his computer program ELIZA, named after G.B.Shaws Eliza from his  'Pygmalion'.  In later years he became a strong critic of the unconsidered application of computers, caused too by the abuse of his ELIZA program. A problem that is today more acute than formerly. He died 2008 in Gröben near Berlin.

ELIZA is an early example for using artificial intelligence for human language.  It was written in 1966 in LISP, a typical computer language for artificial intelligence. During a simuilated psychoanalytical session the program imitates a psychoanalyst who is talking with the patient. Weizenbaum has chosen the name ELIZA because Prof. Higgins was a professor of phonetics. His model for the sessions was the method of Carl Rogers.

Carl Ransom Rogers (1902-1987) was an important American psychologist, who has developed the so-called "client-centered  conversational therapy", a therapy which today belongs to the fund of the ordinary talk therapy but to the pedagogical labour too. In this method the leader of the session doesn't intervene in the  trains of thought of the client but causes - by picking up only keywords of the client - the release of more own thoughts. This form of therapy matches perfectly Weizenbaum's programm ELIZA. His program consists  essentially of a list of keywords which then lead to stored sentences, consisting of questions, invitations or simply repetitions. If the client mentions for example his mother, ELIZA answers with the invitation "Tell me more of your mother!". There is naturally no understanding or empathy for the personal problems of the clients. It is only a mechanical analysis of the client's sentences and the clever choice of answers which were stored in advance.

Here I have an example of a typical "talk", where > means ELIZA and * is the input of the client:

> Hello, I'm ELIZA.
* I have problems.
> Don't you ever say Hello?
* Sorry. Hello!
> Apologies are not necessary.
* ok.
> Tell me more...
* I hate my mother.
> I see.
* Why do you can see that?
> We were discussing you, not me.
> *** Are we going to Chat? ***
> I can't help you without a dialog!

And so on and so on.
Weizenbaum was shocked when he recognizes that there were psychologists who his program used for the work with their clients,  and clients who were using this program for their own therapy, although they were clarified about the character of ELIZA. This was a further reason for Weizenbaum to change from a renowned specialist of artificial intelligence to one of the main critics of computers, at least insofar that they take over human tasks. In his book "Kurs auf den Eisberg", an allusion to the "Titanic", he writes that nowaday all big computer systems (especially from the governments and military systems) are inscrutable, in particular the mammoth systems which are used to decide about peace and war. Therefore they couldn't be waited like our personal computers.  The end is inevitable the dehumanisation of our society.
If you look today on I-Phones and similar devices you can see that Weizenbaum was right with his predictions. In January we went to Berlin by train, a trip of 7 hours. But their was no talk possible with the other passengers! All of them were swiping on their displays. And this is called "social network"? That is ridicule!

[1] Joseph Weizenbaum, Die Macht der Computer und die Ohnmacht der Vernunft,
      Suhrkamp 1978
[2] Joseph Weizenbaum, Kurs auf den Eisberg, Piper 1987
[3] Joseph Weizenbaum, Wer erfindet die Computermythen?, Herder 1993
[4] David Ahl, Creative Computing, July/August 1977
      With ELIZA von Steve North in BASIC (MITS 8k), based on one written by Jeff
      Shrager. Originally 1966 by Joseph Weizenbaum written in LISP. Based on the
      psychoanalytic techniques of Carl Rogers.
[5] An emulation, where you can simulate a session with ELIZA, you find under

Best regards

* Joseph_Weizenbaum.jpg (20.77 KB, 320x343 - viewed 448 times.)

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« Reply #403 on: June 09, 2014, 02:06:47 pm »

Theseus, the National Hero of the Athenians

Theseus is undoubtless the most famous hero of Athens. As much more it was pitiful that I had no coin of Theseus in my collection. But all of his coins are rare and sought after. Some years before I was outbid on CNG by a sum of which I could only dream. The more happy I am that now I could add a Theseus coin to my collection.

Coin No. 1
Bithynia, Nikaia, Commodus, AD 177-192
AE 17, 3.71g, 16.93mm, 210°
       laureate head r.
rev. QHC - E - A - NIKAIEIC
      Youthful, unbearded head of Theseus r., head covered with lion's scalp, knotted
      under chin
ref. Rec. Gen. I/3, 274, pl. LXXIV, 12; RPC online temp no. 6026 (Paris Bibliotheque Nationale
      no. 630); not in Weise
rare, about VF, sligtly excentric
(Yes, there are more coins of Nikaia than the boring standard types!)

QHCEA NIKAIEIC: QHCEA is accusativus, so it means "the Nikaians (honour) Theseus"

King Aigeus of Athens was unable to get children, although he was married twice. From fear that his brother could take his kingdom he turned to the oracle of Delphi and got - as usually -  a dark answer: "Don't untie the foot of the wineskin until you are in Athens". On the way back he came to Troizen to king Pittheus, the wisest man of his time. And really Pittheus understood the sentence, which says that Aigeus should not drink wine until he came back to Athens. By chance Pittheus was owner of the best Greek wine. He inebriated Aigeus and laid his daughter Aithra to Aigeus into the bed. When Aigeus recognized that Aithra was pregnant, he hid his sword and his shoes under a big rock and told Aithra to lead Theseus - when he was grown up - to this rock that he should raise the rock and take the sword and the shoes. Then she should send him to Athens.

So Theseus was educated in Troizen by his grandfather Pittheus, who propagated that his true father was Poseidon. Already in early years Theseus attracted attention by his courage. Once when Herakles was in Troizen and put down his lion's skin all other children ran away from fear. But Theseus, no more than 7 years old, went straight up to the lion's skin with a weapon suggesting that it was a real lion (Pausanias).

When Theseus was 16 years old his mother led him to the rock which he raised easily. He took sword and shoes and started his way to Athens. His grandfather and his mother recommended to go by ship because the country roads were too dangerous because of the predators. But Theseus wanted to emulate the deeds of Herakles and equally gain honour. First of all he defeated Periphetes near Epidauros, whose iron club he took as his new weapon. On the Isthmus he conquered Sinis, whose daughter Perigone fell in love with him, then the Crommyonian Sow Phaia, at Megara Skiron, then Kerkyron and Prokrustes, father of Sinis (called Damastes sometimes). Thereby he punished all the predators in the same way they have killed their victims (so-called principle of talion):
Periphetes with the iron club he slew with his own club.
Sinis, called Pityokamptes (= he who bends firs), tied his victims to downwards bent firs, so that they were ruptured when the treetops shot up. And exactly the same way he died by the hand of Theseus.
Skiron was pushed off the Skironian Rocks, the steep slopes of the Onia mountains at the Isthmus of Corinth.
Kerkyron, the wrestler, was strangled.
Prokrustes, a giant and son of Poseidon, who made trouble in the vicinity of Eleusis, put travellers on a bed and chopped arms and legs if they were too long, or pulled apart their joints when they are too short. And so died Prokrustes now himself (Diodor).

Then Theseus came to Athens.

At this time his father Aigeus was married with Medeia. In fear that Theseus could challenge her own son for his heir to the throne she sent him against the Marathonian Bull who caused heavy harm to the Athenians. This was the very bull whom Herakles in his seventh labour has brought from Crete. Theseus could conquer him and sacrificed him. When Theseus came well back to Athens, Medeia advised Aigeus to kill the foreign guest by poison. But when Theseus portioned the meat with his sword Aigeus recognized it as his own sword and saw that he was his son Theseus. He was welcomed cordially and a big feast was celebrated. Medeia was sent to exile. But the sons of Pallas, the brother of Aigeus, were in fear for their future reign in Athens and turned against Theseus. In a bloody fight he defeated Pallas and his 50 sons and killed them all.

Athens was tributary to Crete. When Minos claimed once more - as all 9 years - 7 youths and 7 virgins, turmoil occured in Athens because Aigeus alone was unconcerned. But Aigeus was the guilty one for this tributary which was the atonement for the murder of Andregonos, son of Minos and Pasiphae. Theseus decided to go as leader of the young people with them to Crete. He succeeded in killing the Minotaur in his labyrinth, with help by Ariadne, daughter of Minos.  She has fallen in love with Theseus and gave him a ball of wool by which he found his way out off the labyrinth again. So was Athens freed from this terrible tributary. This is probably the most famous story of Theseus.

On his way back he had to leave Ariadne on the island of Naxos where Dionysos attended to her. Theseus stopped at Delos where he donated to Apollo the statue of Venus which he has got from Ariadne thereby deleting the memory of his unhappy love. On Delos he invented with the saved young people a dance in memory of the labyrinth of Knossos. This dance was called Geranos, the dance of the cranes. Some are thinking that this was the dance of Ariadne teached her by Daidalos. This dance was performed in Athens for a long time. In honour of Apollo Theseus invented games, where for the first time a palm branch was donated to the winner as sign for his victory (Plutarch).

Theseus was sailing on to Athens. But in sorrow of the loss of Ariadne he forgot to change the black sail with a white one as sign of the happy outcome, as agreed. So his father Aigeus suggested that Theseus too was perished in Crete and throw himself from a cliff into the sea. In honour the sea was called after him "Aegean Sea". As his successor Theseus became king of Athens.

His political most important success was to unify all over Attica dispersed Athenians in Athens (so-called synoikism). He was founder of the Isthmian Games and was the first who has struck coins, with the depiction of a bull on them. Together with Herakles he undertook a campaign against the Amazons and took home the Amazon Hippolyte as his wife. Then the Amazons subsequently invaded Attica and Theseus had to make peace with them with the mediation of his wife. According to others he destroyed the Amazons at the Areopag where his wife met her death. After that he married Phaidra known by her incestuous love to her step-son Hippolytos. After recognizing that her love was unreturned, she defamed him at Theseus and committed suicide.

Together with Adrastos he went to war against the Thebans and achieved that the fallen of the last war were allowed to bury in honour. At the wedding of his friend Peirithoos, king of the Lapiths, he fought together with him against the Centaurs, and finally made friendship with them. After that he and Peirithoos went to Sparta and robbed the young Helena. The attempt to rob for Perithoos Persephone from the Hades failed. Peirithoos was thrown to Kerberos and Theseus was fixed to a underworld rock. This opportunity was used by the Spartan Dioscuri to free their sister Helena. Herakles later could release Theseus from the Hades.

It is reported that Theseus has participated in the hunt for the Calydonian Boar and also in the Journey of the Argonauts (Hygin. Fab.; Plutarch)

In the first time Theseus has ruled in Athens as law-abiding king. But later on he began to rule
more abitrary and the Athenians began to hate him. When he was fixed in the Hades they used the opportunity to enthrone Menistheus as new king. When Theseus after his release came to Athens and saw that it was in foreign hands he fled to Lykomedes on the island of Skyros. Now it is possible that he claimed from Lykomedes support against the Athenians, or that Lykomedes feared the courage and strength of Theseus, or that Lylomedes wanted to do Menistheus in Athens a pleasure, in any case he led Theseus on a high mountain and pushed him into the depth. So Theseus died. Some said that Theseus has tried to seduce the wife of Lykomedes. The Athenians have Lykomedes charged with murder and executed.

At this time the Athenians didn't bother much about the fate of Theseus. But then the spirit of Theseus should have been seen at the battle of Marathon, leading the Greek army against the Persians. Thereupon the oracle ordered to bring back his bones from Skyros to Athens. That occured under Kimon about 475 BC. And from then on Theseus was venerated as great hero and on each 8th day of a month offers were made to him, especially in the month of Pyanepsion, which is October/November. A Theseion was built in honour, where the today preserved temple probably is the Hephaisteion.

Nevertheless some argue that he as punishment for the rape of Persephone by Peirithoos had to sit eternally on a glowing rock (Vergil Aen. VI).

Theseus has had several wifes and many love affairs by which he has numerous children. His legal wife was the Amzon Hippolyte (or Antiope). By her he has the son Hippolytos (or Demophoon). After her death he married Phaidra, sister of Ariadne, who bore him Demophoon and Athamas. After her he is said to have married Periboia, mother of Ajax. From Perigone, daughter of Sinis, he has Melanippos, from Ariadne Oenopion and Staphyloos. From Helena, who is said to have been his wife too, he has Iphigenia. Love affairs he has further with Aigle, daughter of Panopeos, and others.

From Hesiod there was a poem about the descent into hell of Theseus. Tragedies existed from Sophokles and Euripides. They all, like the Theseis from Kodros, are lost.

I have added:
(1) The picture of the relief on which Theseus raises the rock under which the sword and the
     sandals of his father are located. Behind him his mother Aithra (Terracotta Campana
     Relief, 100 BC - AD 100; found in Cerveteri, today in the British Museum)
(2) The picture of an extremely rare coin of Commodus from Troizen with the same motive:
     Argolis, Troizen, Commodus, AD 177-192
     AE 22, 8.85g
     obv. M AVR ..KOMODOC..
            laureate head of Commodus r.
     rev. TROIZH - NIWN
           Theseus, nude, stg. r., raising the rock near Troizen, underneath sword and sandals of
            his father Aigeus
     ref. BCD Peloponnesos 1341; Borrell in NC 1844, 3
     ex coll. BCD
     ex CNG Electronic Auction 81, Lot 2890
(3) A picture of this motive from Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665), showing how the Classicistic
     Baroque saw this scene.

(will be continuated)

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* poussin_theseus.jpg (71.13 KB, 754x551 - viewed 22 times.)

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« Reply #404 on: June 09, 2014, 02:11:01 pm »


The mythology of Theseus over the years and centuries was embroidered more and more. Especially many older myths were incorporated so that Theseus could keep pace with the myths of Herakles. Therefore we have many parts which are differing considerably or were inconsistent with one another. But that is true for many Greek mythologies as we have already seen.

The version which I have represented above comes mainly from Plutarch and is therefore a very late version. The mythology itself is much older. Already Homer knows Theseus. In his Ilias appears the Battle of the Centaurs (Il. I, 265) and the rape of Helena (Il., III, 144). The tale of Ariadne and the decent into hell we find in his Odyssee (Od. XI, 321ff., resp. Od. XI, 631), though some suggest that these are later Athenian insertions. Hippolytos was originally a Troizenian demon figure, the battle with Pallas a local form of the Gigantomachia. May be that Theseus was a pan-Hellenic Hero, who possibly is arisen from different hero figures. Since curiously enough the oldest evidence, e.g. shrines, don't come from Athens. The Athenians, who have recognized this too, have explained it so, that Theseus in gratitude for the rescue from hell has leave them to Herakles!

An increase of Theseus depictions occurs actually not before the last century of the 6th century BC. At this time the mythology was enhanced by the deeds of his youth. It is believed that in this time the lost (hypothetical?) Theseis has been originated. It is remarkable that now from the old wild fighter arose the protagonist of the Athenian law. So a large part of his heroic deeds are rather young and comes from the time in which political disturbances dominated Athens, in which tyrants and aristocrats were fighting against another to assume power (Fürstenberg).

The depicted conflicts surely had a political importance. Skiron originally was a Megaritic local hero who scarcely unintentionally was degraded to a common brigand, because the Peisistratids have had a high interest in the Megaris (Herter, in Pauly). Similar was the case of the Eleusinian Kerkyron who was added to the cycle of Theseus not before the death of Hippias. After the fall of the tyrants Theseus rose up to the Athenian national hero. The aristocrats who were ruling now wanted to link to the heroic past of the Mycenaean era. But always Theseus remained the hero of the polis, not the hero of a political party (Parker).

Wether the voyage to Crete and the killing of the Minotaur is a hint to the end of the old Mycenaean supremacy is possible, but should be seen only carefully (Roscher)

Theseus and Herakles
On my coin Theseus is wearing a lion's scalp on his head. It is clear that he should be seen as Athenian Herakles. And so the mythology of Theseus was parallelized too to the mythology of Herakles:
He is wearing a club (from Periphetes).
He defeated several brigands on his way to Athens.
He kills the Krommyonian sow.
He conquered the Marathonian bull.
Together with Herakles he fought against the Amazons.
Together with Herakles he fought against the Centaurs.
He joints like Herakles the Voyage of the Argonauts.
Like Herakles he decends to hell.
There was a canon of the 7 deeds of Theseus as a parallel to the 12 labours of Herakles.

But there are differences too:
Everytime he is depicted much youthfuller than the bearded Herakles. His hairs should have been short anterior and long posterior. This hairstyle was called Theseis. Even his club was narrower and more diminutive. Always Theseus acts much more considered than the choleric Herakles. So he made peace with the Amazons and with the Centaurs. And then he is venerated as founder of the Athenian democracy. Of Herakles we don't know any political activities. Originally Herakles was the divine hero of the Doric Spartans. Theseus in contrast is the Ionic-Attic hero (and was never a god!). The difference between Dorians and Ionians was felt too by the Athenians and emphasised, especially in the Peloponnesian Wars.

Why this coin of Theseus from Nikaia?
Plutarch (Vita Theseus, 26) cites a report from Demosthenes Menekrates in whose History of the City of Nikaia, that Theseus with Antiope on board has stayed with his ship some time in this region, as proof that Nikaia was founded by Theseus. The Nikaians wanted to affirm their Attic-Ionic origin. Waddington in contrast suggests that the singular propagation of a herakleslike Theseus in this case can be explained more easily by the veneration of Herakles by Commodus. So Theseus is not found as ktistes in the long inscription of the gate of Lefke.

History of Art:
While only few is leftover from the epic poetry, the situation in the vase painting is much better. Here the deeds of Theseus are praised manifoldly. We see how Minos throws his ring into the sea to test Theseus. On a bowl of Onesimos Theseus is in the companion with Athene at Amphitrite (495 BC, today in the Louvre/Paris).On an amphora of Taleides he stabs the Minotaur (about 530 BC, Metropolian Museum of Art,New York). On a wall painting in Pompeii is depicted that the saved children were kissing him hands and feet. A wall painting from Herculaneum shows the awakening Ariadne on the beach of Naxos, pointing to Theseus who is sailing away (British Museum). On the famous Francois-Vase of Kleitos the return of the children is celebrated (about 570 BC, Museo Archeologico, Firenze). The entire deeds of Theseus (the whole Theseus canon) is found on the picture inside of the bowl of the Kodros painter (British Museum). And then the deeds of Theseus are depicted on the reliefs of the metopes of the treasury house of the Athenians in Delphi and of the temple of Hephaistos (the so-called Theseion) on the agora in Athens, where they are confronted with the labours of Herakles. Sometimes the famous statue of the Diadumenos from Polykleitos is called Theseus, but in error.

Even in later times Theseus was the subject for artists. It is known that Bocaccio has written an epos about Theseus, which then became a rather sentimal love story (I myself have not read it). Shakespeare's "Midsommer's Night" is about the wedding of Theseus and Ariadne too. Andre Gide has written in 1946 his narration "Thesee" about the possibilities of human self-fulfilment. Paintings with motives from the Theseus myth we know from Carpaccio ("Hippolytos before Theseus", before 1525, Paris), Rubens ("Battle of Amazons", about 1615, München) or Nicolas Poussin "Theseus discovers the weapons of his father", about 1630-35, Chantilly). From Antonio Canova exists a statue "Theseus slays a Centaur", 1804-1819 (today in Wien).


(1) Homer, Ilias
(2) Homer, Odyssee
(3) Apollodor, Bibliotheke
(4) Pausanias, Voyage in Greece
(5) Plutarch, Theseus (and Romulus)
(6) Hyginus, Fabulae
(7) Ovid, Metamorphoses
(8) Vergil, Aeneis

Secondary Literature:
(1) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon, Facsimile
(2) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, online
(3) Robert von Ranke-Graves, Griechische Mythologie, rororo
(4) Der Kleine Pauly
(5) Paul Kerenyi, Die Mythologie der Griechen, Band II: Die Heroen-Geschichten, dtv
(6) Aghion/Barbillon/Lissarrague, Lexikon der antiken Götter und Heroen in der Kunst, Reclam
(7) Michael Fürstenberg, Theseus als Nationalheld der Athener, Studienarbeit 2003
(8) Hans Herter, Theseus (in Paulys Realenzyklopädie der classischen
     Altertumswissenschaften, Supplementband XIII)
(9) Robert Parker, Athenian Religion. A History, Oxford 1996
(10) Henry J. Walker, Theseus and Athens, Oxford 1995

(1) Wikipedia

I have attached:
(1) a pic of the wonderful wall painting from Herculaneum which I have mentioned above
(2) a pic of the so-called temple of Theseus at the agora in Athens, which actually is the 
     Hephaisteion. It is considered as the best preserved Greek ancient temple.

Best regards

* herculaneum_wandgemälde.jpg (74.91 KB, 600x546 - viewed 438 times.)

* Theseustempel Athen.jpg (37.83 KB, 500x381 - viewed 436 times.)

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« Reply #405 on: June 12, 2014, 03:47:26 pm »

Rhodope and the Rabbit -  A Beauty from Markianopolis

This article I had added to the mythology supplement. I think it is worth to share it here. This coin is remarkable not only because of its beauty but because of its interesting background too.

The Coin:
Moesia inferior, Markianopolis, Macrinus & Diadumenian, AD 217-218
AE 27, 13.58g, 26.91mm, 45°
struck under governor P. Furius Pontianus
        beneath in 3 lines
        Confronting heads of Diadumenian, bare-headed, r., and of Macrinus, laureate, l.
       Female figure, in long girded chiton, hairs bound in knot, std. on rock l., holding
       in extended r. hand branch with leaves (or flowers?), resting with l. arm on
       source, from which water flows; r. below a rabbit r.
ref. a) AMNG I/1, 755, pl. XVIII, 8 (1 ex., Bukarest, rabbit not mentioned!)
      b) Varbanov (engl.) 1265 (cites AMNG 755, rabbit not mentioned!)
      c) Hristova/Jekov (2013) No. (this coin)

The reverse has presented several challenges. Who is the depicted female figure? Pick, a knowledgable and precise scientist, who has written the standard work about the coins of Northern Greek (AMNG), writes 1898: mountain goddess,city goddess, Gaia? The great Eckhel discusses Rhodope, a mythological princess after whose the mountain range of the Rhodopes on the Balkans are named. But that should be discarded because the obligate crown is missed.

The coin attached below shows the pic. from Seguin, Sel. Numismata,1684, p.150. It is Antoninus Pius from Philippopolis,Varbanov (engl.) 706. The legend across the field is RODOPI.

After a longer debate in our Forum with numismatists and art historians we have agreed that it is most probably a geographical personification, probably the personification of the province of Moesia, because the same depiction is found in Nikopolis too.

Then I have discovered, that right below at the rock the long ears of a rabbit could be seen, a fact which previously no one has seen. But what has a rabbit to do with Moesia? Nothing at all! But there was a Roman province which has had as symbol a rabbit. That was Spain! Rabbits were so numerous in ancient Spain, that according to Plinius they have even undermined Spanish cities (Stevenson).

Hadrian, AD 117-138
AR – Denarius, 3.48g, 225°
         Rome, ca. AD 132
       Bare head r.
      Hispania, draped, leaning l., holding in raised r. hand olive branch and resting with l. arm on
      rock; behind her a rabbit r.
ref. RIC II, 306; C. 834; BMCR 849 var. (laureate bust)

This denarius of Hadrian depicts on the rev. HISPANIA, the personification of the province of Spain. And right below we see the long ears of the rabbit! This rev. could well have been the model of the coin of Markianopolis. The personification std. l. is a standard depiction. We can suggest that the die cutter had a number of submittals which he used to cut his coins. When he needed the personification of a province he pulled out the depiction of HISPANIA without mentioning the rabbit which here was out of place (Curtis Clay).

Because of fairness: Already Pick writes on p.194, note 4, that this type reminds on some depictions of provinces of Hadrian, e.g. of that of HISPANIA.

Now a historical excursion:
When the Phoenicians came to Spain about 1100 BC, they hold the rabbits - which they don't know -  for dassies (rock hyrax) of their homeland. Their name was Phoenician "shaban' and therefore they called Spain after their dassies 'i-shapan', coast of the dassies. From this name the Romans made HISPANIA, from which came Espagna and Spain. So Spain is originally the 'country of the rabbits", actually the 'country of the dassies'!

I have attached a pic of a dassie (Procavia caspensis) from South Africa (from Wikipedia). He looks a bit like a rodent, but is actually a relative of - the elephant!

Pat Lawrence was delighted with my coin. As expression of my reverence I want to add what she has written to this coin:

These coins always remind me of lines from my early
   And the nymphs of the fountains
   Descend from the mountains
   Like elegant willows
   On their deep barouche pillows

Edith Sitwell, Façade, Waltz (set to music by the very young William Walton)
The classical tradition is so strong in everything we know (my generation at least); Sitwell toured the USA performing Façade in 1950, and everyone in my art school also had the 10" vinyl LP recording of it (still have it).

The painting of Roger Eliot Frey shows the portait of Edith Sitwell (1887-1964), the English avant-garde poetress.

(1) Plinius, Naturalis historiae
(2) Pierre Seguin, Selecta Numismata Antiqua, Paris,
(3) Joseph Hilarius Eckhel,  Doctrina numorum
      veterum,  Wien 1792-98  
(4) Bernhard Pick, AMNG Bd.I
(5) Stevenson, Dictionary of Roman Coins
(6) Wikipedia

The entire discussion you find here:

The attached pics are:
(1) the coin of Markianopolis
(2) the coin from Seguin
(3) the denarius of Hadrian
(4) the pic of a dassie
(5) the portrait of Edith Sitwell

Best regards

* markianopolis_macrinus&diadum_HrJ(2012)6.24.5.jpg (83.41 KB, 1144x575 - viewed 24 times.)

* Seguin.jpg (18.81 KB, 443x243 - viewed 421 times.)

* Hadrian_306.jpg (46.57 KB, 600x300 - viewed 420 times.)

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* Edith Sitwell.jpg (48.12 KB, 441x540 - viewed 420 times.)

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« Reply #406 on: February 27, 2015, 11:38:23 am »

The Ichthyocentaurs

This coin I have already presented in this thread, but under the wrong determination as Skylla, which I have then adopted from the seller. But now I could correct the attribution (Thanks to benito!). It is actually an ichthyocentaur! I'm deeply ashamed to admit that I have never heard before of these mythological beings. In my estimation it is the sole type of coin depicting it.

The coin:
Bithynia, Nikomedeia, Plautilla, AD 202-211
AE 20, 3.17g, 19.94mm, 225°
        Bust, draped, r.
       Female ichthyocentaur, diademed, nude, with forefeet of horse and serpentine-shaped
       fishtail, riding l. over waves; holding rudder over l. shoulder and in extended r. hand
       unknown object (dolphin?)
ref. Gen. Rec. 253 var. (has only CEBA); Lindgren 172
very rare, F/F+, dark, nearly black patina (not green as on the pic!)
note: Gen. Rec. writes "Monstre marin, ayant un corps de femme".

Wikipedia writes of 2 ichthyocentaurs, the twins Aphros and Bythos. But actually they appear in a greater number. And there are not only male, but female ones too, as can be seen on this coin. This is rather rare on the other centaurs. They are sea monsters with a human upper body, a serpent-shaped fishtail and forefeet of a horse. Often they are horned. Usually these horns are lobster claws. Sometimes they are crowned. Or they are winged where the wings sometimes are from seaweed or other sea plants. Whereas the common hippocentaurs, except the wise Cheiron and a few others, are very rowdy guys, usually wearing a club, the ichthyocentaurs are rather peaceable beings, often wearing musical instruments like a lyra or a flute. But like the hippocentaurs who are chasing nymphs they are chasing nereids.

On the other side they are said to place value on family and friends. They are able to breath underwater and couls swim very fast. Their relation to the nereids made possible that they could live hundreds of years because the nereids warned them always against upcoming dangers. Under water they could communicate with all other marine races.

The best-known ichthyocentaurs were the twins Aphros (= sea foam) and Bythos (= sea depth). There parents are said to be the Titan Kronos and the nymph Philyra, a daughter of Okeanos. Kronos approached her in the shape of a horse to hide his infidelity from his wife Rhea, and created Cheiron with her. When Philyra saw her offspring for the first time she was so horrified  by his appearence that she asked Zeus to be changed into a limetree and that happened.

This mythology seems to be transferred to Aphros and Bythos so that they become the brothers of Cheiron. But usually they were called his half-brothers. Here the mythology seems to be confused a bit. But that is well known from other ancient mythologies too. The reason are sometimes changes over time or regional modifications. There was no coherent codex at all.

Pseudo-Hyginus (Fabulae 197) writes that the seacentaurs have been derived from the fish god of the Syrian mythology, sometimes called Dogon (please take a look at the referring article in this thread), who has carried Aphrodite, the later Astarte, after her sea birth to the beach. Little-known is the hypothesis that these twins have been placed as zodiac sign of the fishes (pisces) to the sky.

Etymology of Afrika:
The presennt name of Africa was used first by Scipio Africanus, conqueror of Carthago, and has meant originally only the region around Carthago and Utica where the Libyan people of the Afri were living. The Afri claimed their descent from Aphros, therefore the name Aphroi (Lat. Afri). After the victory over Carthago in 146 BC the name Africa was extended by the Romans under the name Africa proconsularis up to the border of Egypt. The continent itself was called Libya.

According to Georgios Kedrenos, a Byzantine historian of the 11th resp.12th century, who has written in his Concise History of the World about the etymology of the Afri, Aphros was the husband of Astynome, who bore Aphrodite to him. Naturally Aphrodite and Aphros have the same etymology (Gr. aphros = foam). Astonyme herself came from the "island" of Lakeria, which is nothing other than the Thessalian city of Lakereia at Magnesia the home of Cheiron and Philyra too. These all was a explanation remodelled especially for the African etymology (Pauly's Realenzyklopädie). And here seems to be the source of the mythology that Aphros was the son of Kronos and Philyra and thereby the brother of Cheiron.

History of Art:
The first depictions of ichthyocentaurs we find under Skopas (about 420 - about 330 BC), besides Praxiteles probably the most important Greek sculptor. From Skopas on the fine art of the Greeks and the Romans populated the depiction of the sea with this genus of fishcentaurs with many different species like sea-rams, sea-dragons, sea-stags, sea-lions, sea-panthers, sea-horses, sea-bulls and calves, see-elephants and so on (Roscher).
At Claudian (about 370 - after 404 AD), court poet under Honorius and Stilich, Venus is riding over the sea on an ichthyocentaur, here called Triton.  But tritons actually don't have animal forefeet and usually are holding big shells and not a lyra or a flute. We see, that already in ancient times these sea monsters are not well distinguished

On a mosaic from Zeugma/Commagene (today in the museum of Gaziantep/Turkey) with the titel "Birth of Aphrodite" the two ichthyocentaurs are lifting the cockle with the goddess from the sea. Here Aphros and Bythos are named directly. It is suggested that Aphros is seen as foster-father of Aphrodite.

A similar motiv "The Birth of Aphrodite Anadyomene" we find on a relief of a sarcophagus in the Villa Borghese from the 3 century AD. 2 ichthyocentaurs are holding a cockle shell in which Aphrodite is crouching with a boy beside her holding a torch. Beneath the shell 2 cupids are playing with a young sea-dragon and a young sea-lion.

Basically we are knowing not much of the ichthyocentaurs, except that what we can conclude from the depictions of fine art and from a short note in the Byzantine Lexicon of the Suda. Here Aphros is called the first king of the Carthaginians who were named Aphroi after him.This is affirmed by a mosaic found in Tunesia near Carthago, today in the Bardo museum in Tunis. We see Poseidon in his chariot accompanied by 2 African sea gods. One of them is Aphros, the other the twin-tailed Triton, the god of the Libyan lake Tritonis.

Both sea gods appear too on a pair of matching sculptures (today in the Louvre and in the Musei Vaticani) which show them carrying satyrs from the companions of the god Dionysos, after his company was driven into the sea by king Lykurgos of Thracia..

Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574), the great court painter of the Medici (he invented the term "Renaissance") has painted a picture "First fruits of the Earth Offered to Saturn" (1555-1557, Palazzo Vecchio/Firenze), where in a detail 2 ichthyocentaurs are seen amusing themselves with beautiful nereids.

- Hesiod, Theogony
- Apollonius of Rhodos, Argonautika
- Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae, online at
- Suda, Byzantine Greek Lexikon, online under
- Joannes Tzetzes, ad Lykophron

- William Smith, A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, online too
- Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und römischen  
  Mythologie, online to

- Wikipedia

I have attached:
[1] A pic of the mosaic from Zeugma/Commagene
[2] A pic of the mosaic from the Bardo museum in Tunis
[3] A pic of the relief from the sarcopgaus in the Villa Borghjese
[4] The detail of the painting of Giorgio Vasari

Best regards

* nikomedeia_plautilla_RecGen253var.jpg (18.32 KB, 443x208 - viewed 375 times.)

* Aphrodite_Zeugma_Commmagene.jpg (73.43 KB, 409x439 - viewed 373 times.)

* Poseidon_Bardo.jpg (108.91 KB, 525x506 - viewed 371 times.)

* Aphrodie_Anadyomene_Villa_Borghese.JPG (94.37 KB, 819x543 - viewed 22 times.)

* Vasari Detail.jpg (115.63 KB, 800x499 - viewed 23 times.)

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« Reply #407 on: February 27, 2015, 01:49:40 pm »

For your files Jochen.
A statue of a icthyocentaur having fun with nereid # 37. Pio-Clementino  museum ( gallery of animals)

Another from Spain ( mosaic found in the baths of a Roman villa near Emerita)

* ictcent.jpg (81.99 KB, 575x383 - viewed 368 times.)

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« Reply #408 on: February 27, 2015, 01:55:02 pm »

Thanks, benito, for the pics. And again for your advice.


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« Reply #409 on: November 06, 2016, 10:27:41 am »

Dear friends of the Mythological Thread!

After a long time I want to write today about a coin which in contrast to all other coins in this thread doesn't belong to my collection. This coin have had stimate value of €50.-, but then raised up unexpectedly to €450.-+ fee, a sum significantly higher than my bid.

Otreus and Aineas

The coin:
Phrygia, Otros, Geta as Caesar, AD 193-209
AE - AE 26, 9.41g
         struck under asiarch Alexandros
        Bust, draped and cuirassed, seen from behind, bare-headed, r.
rev. AΛEΞAN - ΔP - OC OTPOHN - ΩN (in r. field)
       in l. field in 2 lines from bottom up ACIAP / X ANE[Θ?]
       Otreus, nude, except chlamys over l. shoulder, stg. facing, head r., with r. foot stg. on
       prora, holding spear in l. arm and pointing with raised r. hand to the left.
ref. cf. von Aulock Phrygiens I, 829-2; cf. SNG von Aulock 3907; cf. Barclay V. Head,
      Catalogue of the Greek Coins of Phrygia, London 1906, p. 343, 11/12
      Possibly unpublished
Has cleaning capability!
Naumann Numismatik, Auction 47, Lot 340, October 2016 (Wrong description and wrong references!)

(1) Otros (lat. Otrus), today Yanikören, was one of the 5 cities of the Phrygian Pentapolis (together with Eukarpia, Hierapolis, Stektorion and Brouzos) on the Eucarpian Plain at Sandikli and could have get its name Otros after an emigration from Otroia at the Ascanian Lake in Bithynia, which according to Strabo (XII, 266) was founded by Otreus, king of Phrygia.

(2) AΛEΞANΔPOC ACIAPXHC ANEΘHKE: This is an established wording meaning "The asiarch Alexandros has bestowed this (to the people of Otros)". This is proof that Alexandros has paid these coins from own resources.

(3) Asiarch: The title asiarch (literally "Ruler of Asia") is known from several cities of the province Asia. An asiarch is known from Mysia (Cyzikos and Pergamon), from Phrygia (Laodikeia and Otros), from Lydia (Hypaipa and Sardeis) and from Ionia (Smyrna, Ephesos and Magnesia). The asiarch was a high official and probably presided over the Provincial State Diet (koinon). He has to arrange the games in honour of the emperor and the gods and to accomplish them at his own account. He was elected by the polis but had to be confirmed by the Roman Proconsul. In science it is discussed wether the asiarch and the achiereus (the highpriest of the province Asia), whose charge too was connected to the imperial cult, were identical. This is affirmed by the traditional opinion (Wikipedia).

(4) The depiction on the rev. is known from coins of Sidon and Tyros, where Kadmos is depicted in the same position. The hero is pointing forward and turns his head back asking his companions to follow him. The assumption that it could be Aineas embarking from Troy was rejected by Head, Imhoof-Blumer, von Aulock and Carrington. They identified the depicted male figure with Otreus. The scene seems to deal with an emigration myth. Ramsey has supposed that one part of the settlers came from Greece, another part from Bithynia (Otreia). Already the ancient Greeks knew that the Thracians and the Phrygians are akin. Von Fritze/Gaebler has a different explanation. He thinks that
the embarking Otreus can be explained by the campaign he undertook with Mygdon against the Amazons which must have been started from the Propontis (See of Marmara).
(1) Ancestry:
Ottreus was the son of Dymas, the brother-of-law of Priamos, king of Troy. Dymas himself was king of Phrygia from Sangarios and father of the unfortunate Hekabe, wife of Priamos, and father of Asios (Hom. Il. 16, 717ff.; Apollod. 3, 147: Hyg. Fab. 91; Ov. met. 11, 761). But Sangarios, Kisseus or Bioneus were sometimes too called father of Hekabe.
Father of Dymas was Eioneus, son of Proteus. According to Scholia in Euripidem his wife was Eunoe, daughter of river-god Sangarios, who was a son of Okeanos and Tethys. Homer called the Phrygians "people of Otreus and the godlike Mygdon".

(2) Battle against the Amazons:
These events took place one generation before the Trojan War. At this time Otreus together with Mygdos ruled over the Phrygians. When the Amazons attacked their realm it came to a battle at the river Sangarios. The Sangarios arises in Central Phrygia near Pessinos, flows northwards across the plateau of Central Bithynia and then empties west of Herakleia Pontika into the Black Sea. In this battle the Phrygians got support by king Priamos of Troy and so they succeeded in defeating the Amazons.
Pausanias (10, 27, 1) mentions a grave of Mygdon near the Phrygian Stektorion and bears witness that the Phrygians were called Mygdones by the poets (cf. Hor. c.3, 16, 41)

(3) Support in the Trojan War:
As a reward for the support against the Amazons Koroibos, son of Mygdon, came to help king Priamos in the Trojan War. He was killed by Diomedes when during the sacking after the fall of Troy he tried to defend Kassandra against Ajax the Locrian (Homer Il. 3, 184). Asios, uncle of Hektor, was a hero too in the Trojan War. According to Homer Apollo adopted the shape of Asios to induce Hektor to fight against Patroklos. Following Dictys Cretensis he was killed by Ajas.

(4) Anchises and Aphrodite:
The most interesting mythology however is the descent of Aineas. According to Homer's Hymns Kalykopis, daughter of Otreus, should have been the actual mother of Aineas. Kalykopis was known for her beauty. Aphrodite, goddess of beauty and love, was fallen in love with the young Anchises. The beauty of Kalykopis and the hospitality of her father with the Trojans induced Aphrodite to seduce Anchises on the mountain Ida under the name of Kalykopis. She bore him Aineas and brought him up. Later she revealed her secret to Anchises under the seal of strictest secrecy:

Kalykopis was married to Thoas, general of Rhadamantes, from whom he got the island of Lemnos. Thoas was known for his lyra playing and was thus named too Kinyras (from sem. knr = lyra). Clemens Alexandrinus believes that this is why the mother of Aineas and the wife of Thoas were made the same person. With her Dionysos fell in love and was surprised by Thoas during a love meeting. But Dionysos gave him wine and made him king of Byblos and Cypros. So he could appease him. Yes, after that he erected temples for his wife and appointed priests to them (Isaac Newton, Opusc. T.III).

The tradition of a Phrygian emigration from Europe to Asia minor and then inside Asia minor itself was widespread in Greek literature (Whereas Howgego writes: Otreus was made founder of Otros only because the similarity of their names!). The emissions which were donated by Alexandros (and Nigrinos) in about AD 202 were so enormous that die cutters from 2 different officinas had to be called on. The combination of coins of Aineas and Otreus, who certainly was symmachos of king Priamos, suggests to judge the bronze coins as hint to the alliance going back to mythological times between Otros and Troy, resp. its successor Rome (Lindner). So it is lesser the manifestation of affinity to the Greek cultural sphere as much more the expression of the close political relation to the Romans. Thus the loyalty of the people of Otros to the Romans is projected back to the heroic past and mythological inflated as an eternal alliance (Lindner).

History of Art:
I have added a photo from my travel to Turkey in 2011. It shows a relief from the Sebasteion in Aphrodisias, now in the local museum. Depicted are the youthful Anchises and Aphrodite. Aphrodite has a small Eros on her lap as sign for an erotic encounter. It is a nocturnal scene: From the upper left Selene is looking on them. This relief belongs to a series of 3 ones, which describe the myth of Aineas. The next one shows Aineas' escape from Troy, the last one his arrival in Italy.

(1) Apollodoros, Bibliotheke
(2) Homer, Ilias
(3) Homer, Hymn in Venerem
(4) Horaz, Carmina
(5) Hyginus, Fabulae
(6) Ovid, Meamorphoses
(7) Pausanias, Periegesis
(8) Dictys Cretensis, Ephemeris belli Troiani
(9) Isaac Newton, Opuscula, Lausanne, 1738

Secundary literature:
(1) Getzel M. Cohen, The Hellenenistic Settlements in Europe, the Islands and Asia
      Minor, University of California 1995
(2) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon, 1770
(3) Howgego/Heuchert/Burnett, Coinage and Identity in the Roman Provinces, Oxford  
      University Press 2006
(4) Ruth Lindner, Mythos und Identität - Studien zur Selbstdarstellung kleinasiatischer      
      Städte in der römischen Kaiserzeit, Stuttgart 1994
(5) Der Kleine Pauly, dtv 1979
(6) W. M. Ramsay, The Historical Geography of Asia Minor, London 1890
(7) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und römischen
      Mythologie, Leipzig 1884
(8) Von Fritze/Gaebler, Untersuchungen auf dem Gebiete der antiken Münzkunde, 1974

(1) Wikipedia

Best regards

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« Reply #410 on: November 06, 2016, 10:36:12 am »

Apollo Karneios - The national god of the Dorians

Dear friends of ancient mythology!

After a longer time I have found a coin again worth to explore its mythology.

The coin:
Magna Graeca, Lukania, Metapontion, ca. 300-250 BC
AE 11, 1.59g, 11.2mm, 0°
obv. Horned head of Apollo r.
rev. META (l. field upward)
       Barley ear with leaf to r.
       in r. field above leaf fly (control mark)
ref.: Johnston Bronze 64; HN Italy 1700; cf. SNG ANS 587 (control mark); SNG  
        Copenhagen 1256 (same); SNG Morcom 287 (same); Macdonald Hunter 67
VF, green patina, well centered on tight flan

From Forum Ancient Coins, thanks!

The rev. shows an ear of the six lined barley, Hordeum polystichum pyramidatum, the most important grain of the Greeks, and in Metapontion the symbol of the polis. Barley was eaten only roasted and given to the dead for their voyage to netherworld. This too would be an interesting theme. But here we will concentrate on the obv.: the horned Apollo Karneios.

The origin and the meaning of Karneios was obcure already in ancient times. According to Praxilla of Sikyon, a Greek poetess of the 5th century BC, Karneios was the son of Zeus and Europa, nursed by Leto and Apollo who was fallen in love to him.

For the origin of his name there are different explanations:
(1) An old myth tells, that the Greeks when building the Troian Horse have cut down trees of the cornel cherries at the Ida mountains (Greek κράνεια). They have grown in a sacred  grove of Apollo, and to soften his anger they began to worship him under this name (Pausan. in Lacon.c.13.p.184.; Schol. Hymn, in Apollon v.72.). Today this explanation is obsolete although it is well known that is was strictly forbidden to cut down trees in his sacred groves, to cut off twigs, in fact to carry foliage out of the grove. There were serious punishments: Slaves were whipped, free men were subject of  the judgment of the Council.

(2) Referring to Pausanias (3, 13, 3.4) his name was originally Karnos and he came from Acarnania. He was an Apollonian seer in the army of the Heraclids, but was suspected to be a spy and therefore slain by Hippotes, a great-grandson of Herakles, when the Dorians were crossing over to the Peloponnesos at Naupaktos (Paus., schol. Theokrit). Apollo's anger, who send them a plague, they softened by rendering divine honour to Karnos and bestowing Apollo himself the surname Karneios. Hippotes was exiled for 10 years by a verdict of Delphi. Konon (narr. 26) calls Karneios a phasma Apollinis (spook of Apollo), that was following the army of the Dorians and finally shot by Hippotes. But because it is hardly possible to shoot a spook he was made a seer of Apollo. But this explanation is rather an aitiological legend, which has been invented in the interest of the Spartans.

(3) Today the most probable explanation is the following: Karneios was an old pre-Dorian shepherd and ram god (Greek karnos = ram), who was already found by the Dorians when they invaded the Peloponnesos and whom they melted together with their own Apollo. He is closely related to Apollo Kereates, to Apollo Keraton (Plut. Thes. 21) and to Kertinos (Plut. de soll. anim. 35; Callim. hymn in Apoll. 61).

The cult of Apollo Karneios:
The cult of Apollo Karneios extended mostly to the Peloponnesos and the Dorian colonies. Main places of worshipping Apollo Karneios were Sparta, Sikyon, Thera, Kos and the colonies of Magna Graecia and Kyrene. In Sikyon his priests have had such a high credit that finally they ruled the city instead of the kings (Euseb.). But this is doubted by a number of scientists (Hederich).

Referring to Ferdinand Tönnies he should have been worshipped in the oasis of Shiwa before the cult of Zeus Ammon became prevalent. There were sacred groves (so-called Karnesia) for him in Andania/ Messenia and Megalopolis/Arcadia. Apollo Karneios was the most important common deity of the Dorians. He was something like their national god.
It is remarkable that the cult of the god took place mainly in Western Laconia, in the region of the Taygetos mountains where the Dorian influence never was very great. In contrast the distribution of the Laconian and Messenian cult of Karneios covers that of the ancient Minyae whose residencies were found especially in the regions of the Taygetos mountains. This is a strong hint that the cult of Karneios belongs to a yet older cultural stratum (Roscher).

The Karneia:
The Karneia, the festival in honour of the god, took place in the 1st half of the August and lasted 9 days. Regarding the festival the month was called Karnetos (Greek actually Metageitnion). For the Spartans it was a very importent festival. So it was not allowed during the festival to go to war. This was the reason that the Spartans came too late to the battle of Marathon!

The festival consisted of athletic competitions and of a contest of kithara players. The mayor feature of the festival however was the race of the staphylodromoi. From each phyle were  drawn by lot 5 unmarried young men (Karnetes) for 4 years who have to organize the festival under guidance of a priest (Agetes). A young volunteer, decorated with woollen garlands (the Agetes?), who had made special prayers to the city deities, was hunted by young men, the staphylodromoi (= wine grape runners). If he was caught, it was a good omen for the city, if not it was a bad omen. Probably the staphylodromoi had wine grapes in their hands (hence the name). This race has had the features of vintage, harvesting and expiation rites. May be that the race originally has ended with the killing of the caught ram demon (Pauly).

Then the convivial part started. On 9 locations tents were erected (Skias), in which always 9 men, representing the 3 phyles (or better obes), were eating together under the command of an herald. This appears to be the imitation of war life. Obviously the immigrated Spartians have melted their own Apollo cult with the encountered cult. By this the character of the festival has changed to a warrior festival.  

Of course sacrifices were made to Apollo Karneios, so a ram in Thurioi, or a boar in the Karnesian grove in Messenia.

History of Art:

(1) In Kyrene/Libya, founded by Dorians from Thera, large parts of his temple are found until today. Apollo Karneios was regarded as mythological founder of the city. To honour him a special monument was erected at the end of the 4th century BC. Here too were celebrated Karneias. These were mentioned by Pindar in his Odes (Pythia 5.80)

(2) In the National Archaeological Museum in Taranto/Italy exists a red-figured volute krater from Ceglie del Campo from the 5th century BC, showing dancing girls and youths near a pillar inscribed KARNEIOS. Probably it is the dance of virgins decorated with the Spartian leaf crown for the Karneias (Pauly)


Phyle: Tribe, family group (cult community); had beside religious also social, legal and military relevance and was divided in phratries (sodalities).

Obes (Greek obai), name for the accommodations (Greek Komen) of the Spartan full citizens.

Praxilla was an ancient Greek poetess in the 5th century BC from Sikyon whose works were mostly lost. Survived has only one rhyme in hexameter. It is said that she has written a hymn to Adonis too, as well as wine and drinking poems. At the end of the last century BC the Greek poet Antipater from Thessalonika has made a list of the most important Greek poetesses. On this list she has the first place, before Sappho or Erinna.
Of Erasmus of Rotterdam a proverb is known: "More stupid than the Adonis of Praxilla (Stupidior Praxillae Adonide)". That goes back to a fragment of her hymn to Adonis, quoted by Zenobius, in which Adonis answered to the question, which of all things he was leaving on earth was the most beauty "The sun, the moon, the cucumbers and the apples." This answer seems ridiculous and  stupid to the reader.

Konon was a Greek mythograph living around the Nativity. His work Diegeseis is mostly known by an excerpt by Photios from Byzantine times. It is a collection of narratives, founder myths, aetiologies (myths explaining the origin of things) and love stories, which should entertain the reader.

The Minyae were an ancient Greek tribe in Boiotia around the city of Orchomenos. As their ancestor is seen Minyas. In Mycenean times they were bearer of a highly developed culture. In the Trojan War they manned 30 ships. The mythical Erginos is said to have made Theben tributary. At the end of the 2nd century BC their empire collapsed and the people as a whole disappeared. Even archaeologically it is not identifiable. The claimed connection to the Argonauts ist a post-Homeric construction.

(1) Apollodor, Bibliotheke
(2) Kallimachos, Hymns to Apoll
(3) Pausanias, Periegesis
(4) Pindar, Odes
(5) Plutarch, Biographies
(6) Herodot, Histories
(7) Theokrit, Poems

Secondary literature:
(1) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und  römischen  
(2) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon
(3) Der Kleine Pauly, Lexikon der Antike

Online sources:
(1) Wikipedia

I have attached
(1) a pic of the temple of Apollo Karneios in Kyrene (
(2) a pic of the monument for Karneios in Kyrene (
(3) a pic of the volute krater of Ceglie (Photo Scala, Florence)

Best regards

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« Reply #411 on: September 09, 2017, 02:47:54 pm »

Pallor - Goddess of Paleness and Fear

In the moment I have discovered my love for Republican coins again. And indeed we find interesting and exciting depictions. Here I have an example:

The coin:
Roman Republic, L. Hostilius Saserna, gens Hostilia
AR - Denarius, 3.38g, 18.7mm, 35°
         Rome, 48 BC
obv. Bare head of Pallor, with dishavelled hair, falling down, behind a wind instrument
rev. Cult statue of Diana Ephesus, stg. frontal, laureate, long hair falling down over her        
       shoulders, long floating garment, resting with raised l, hand on spear and holding with r.
       hand stag, stg. l., at antlers
       in l. field SASERNA in a curve upward, r. L.HOSTILIVS downward
ref.:  Crawford 448/3; Sydenham 953; Hostilia 4; Sear Imperators 19; BMCRR Rome 3996;
        SRCV I, 419; Kestner 3541
scarce, well centered, toned, some flat areas
From Forum Ancient Coins, thanks!

The rev. of this coin refers to the conquest of Massilia (Marseille) by Julius Caesar 1 year before at the begin of his war against Pompeius after a siege and a naval battle. Artemis Ephesia was particularly worshipped in Massilia, an ancient Greek foundation, and had its own temple.
The obv., the subject of this article, is disputed. Today you often can read that the depicted portraits of the Hostilius coins represent Gallia and Vercingetorix. But that the Romans put on the obv. of their coins the portrait of their enemies would be very unusual. I went into the matter and actually these designations came into vogue not before the end of the 19th century, and of cause in France, when the French national sentiment was at its height. And naturally coins with the name of Vercingetorix are selling much better than without, especially today in the time of Asterix.

L. Hostilius Saserna, the moneyer of this coin, was a follower of Caesar, about whom we sadly know nothing. But it is much more credible that he wants to point out that the genealogy of his family goes back to the mythical king Tullus Hostilius. This kind of propaganda we find often on Republican coins, it was usual and is historically confirmed.

Actually the obv. shows Pallor, the goddess of paleness and fear, depicted with dishavelled hair. A 2nd coin of Hostilius Saserna shows Pavor, the god of dread, depicted with raised hair. Both are attendants of Mars. Their names are given too to the 2 moons of the planet Mars, Phobos the greater one, Deimos the other.

Pallor (m.), paleness (Lat. palleo = to be pale, related to Ahd. falo = German fahl), then metaphorical: fear, fright, dread, the Lat. analog to Greek Deimos. Stevenson calls her: Goddess of Paleness and Fear.

Pavor (m.), fear, fright, horror (Lat. paveo = to tremble, to be frightened), Lat. analog to Greek Phobos. Stevenson calls her Goddess of Consternation and Dread.

Panofka assumes that the name of Hostilius (Lat. hostilis = hostile) is an allusion to Mars, such as Artemis to Diana Hostilina, a kind of Enyo-Bellona, an archaic goddes of war. He calls the head with dishavelled hair Pavor, the head with raised hair Pallor (Creuzer).

The Hostilii were a plebeian gens. Their name can't be explained for sure. It is known at the Veneti, the Illyrians, and the Etruscans too. Its great age is testified by Tullus Hostilius, and by the Curia Hostilia too, the precursor of the Curia Julia, the assembly hall of the Roman Senate. In the 1st century BC all lines of the gens seem to be dead. (Wikipedia)

After Romulus and Numa Pompilius Tullus Hostilius was the 3rd Roman king. He was famous for his militant attitude. When Rome has conquered Alba Longa, the Albans urged the neighboring cities of Veji and Fidena to fight against Rome. During the battle against Veji and Fidena the Albans, allies of Rome, left the battlefield and the Romans came into desperate straits. In this great distress Tullus promised to introduce 12 Salian priests and to erect a temple for Pavor, god of terror, and a temple for Pallor, god of fear. The Romans recovered themselves and caused a crushing defeat to their enemies. Livius writes: There was no Roman battle before which was more horrible than this one (Livius I, 27, 7).

History of Religion:
At first glance it seems to be absurd that Tullus promised temples for deities so contrary to warlike courage. But "pagan superstition" (Jacob Burkhardt) had no scruples to consecrate a temple to impiety or to worship obscenity or to erect a temple to "fever" (Valer. Max. II, 5, 6). So it is not surprising at all to deify trepidation and hedlessness. The Greek were sacrificing to Pavor (and Pallor too) to appease these horrible goddesses at war (Stevenson). In Corinth the Oracle had ordered the introduction of the cult of "Horror (Greek deima)", in Sparta the cult of "Fear". The Spartans built its altar near the Syssition of the Ephores (Plutarch). After the murder of Kylon at the altar in the temple of Athena, c.632 BC, (the so-called "Kylonian Sacrileg", the Athenians consecrated altars for "Outrage" and "Lack of Shyness" for expiation (Jacob Burkhardt).

Wether Tullus has de facto erected the promised temples is not known. We have no further evidence, and because in a parallel report of Dionysios from Halikarnassos they are not mentioned, it seems to be at least doubtful (Wissowa).

History of Literature:
Already at Homer (Il. 4, 440) Demos and Phobos belonged to the demonic entourage of Ares. They accompanied him and harnessed his horses (Il. 15, 119). At Hesiod they appear as sons of Ares and Aphrodite. Antimachos regarded them as the horses of Ares, coming from Thyella (bride of the wind), probably in misunderstanding the scene at Homer. This is true for Valerius Flaccus too in his Argonautika. At Nonnos they both are sons of Enyalios, an epiklesis of Ares. Here they are additionally assistants of Zeus in his combat against the monster Typhon. He has armed them with thunderbolts.
Semos of Delos (FHG 4, 495, frg. 18a) makes Deimos the father of Skylla by the nymph Krataiis. Beside the face of Gorgo Deimos and Phobos are depicted on the aegis of Athena (Hom. Il. 5, 739), and on the shield of Agamemnon (Il. 11, 37). At Quintus of Smyrna they are found on the shield of Achilles beside the war goddess Enyo and Eris.
At Apuleius (met. 10, 31) the personifications Metus (fear) and Terror appear.
In ancient poetry Ovid (Ov. met. 4, 485) calls Luctus (misery), Pavor (horror) and Terror (fear) attendants of Tisiphone, messenger of evil.

Paleness is an usual sign of death. Horaz in his famous carmen (Lib. I.IV) writes: pallida mors aequo pulsat  pede pauperum tabernas / regumque turris (The pale death knocks with equal pace on the huts of the poor and the castles of the kings)  

History of Art:
In classic art both were depicted as inconspicous youths where Phobos sometimes has a lion's head or is given a  leontine mane. Depictions which could destinctly be identified as Deimos are unknown, in contrast to Phobos.

I have added:
(1) A wall painting (fresco) from Pompeij from the House of Mars and Venus, 1st century AD, today in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples. It shows Aphrodite leaning backward in the arms of her lover Ares, and the winged love god Eros and Phobos, playing with arms of the god (
(2) A mosaic fom the villa in Orbe-Bosceaz (Waadt/Switzerland) from the 3rd century AD, showing Ares with shield, spear and helmet, accompanied by Phobos and Nike (
(3 A mosaic from Halikarnassos from the 4th century AD, today in the British Museum. It shows Phobos with wide open eyes, mouth opened for a cry and leontine mane (

(1) Ephores: "Supervisors", 5 officials in ancient Sparta, which were elected each year. Eligible was each free citizen. This office probably was introduced as counterweight to the powerful Gerousion (Council of Elders)
(2) Epiklesis: Surname or cult name of a deity, by which a special feature of the deity was invoked.
(3) Syssition: Daily table fellowship of the Ephores. This should strengthen solidarity and the love for the polis.

There are numismatists too, who see in the portraits depicted on the coins of Hostilius the image of a female captive and on the other ("Vercingetorix") the image of a male captive, without giving them an individual name. Andrew McCabe, our approved specialist for Republican coins in the Forum, has suggested the following: May be all this is true: Pallor/Pavor, a Gallic captive, or Gallia/Vercingetorix. So each Roman could select his favourite conception. Such playing around with different meanings was very popular among the Romans.

(1) Hesiod, Theogony
(2) Homer, Ilias
(3) Ovid, Metamorphoses
(4) Nonnos, Dionysiaka
(5) Apuleius, Metamorphoses
(6) Livius, Ab urbe condita
(7) Horaz, Carmina
(8) Plutarch, Kleomenes
(9) Julius Caesar, De bello Gallico

Secondary Literature:
(1) Abhandlungen der Königlich Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1841  (
(2) Georg Friedrich Creuzer, Symbolik und Mythologie der alten Völker: besonders der Griechen, 1842
(3) Jacob Burckhardt, Griechische Kulturgeschichte, 1898-1902, Neuausgabe 2014 (
(4) Georg Wissowa, Handbuch der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft, 1902 (
(5) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon, 1770 (online too)
(6) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und römischen
     Literatur, 1886-1937 (online too)
(7) Seth William Stevenson, A Dictionary of Roman Coin, 1889, reprint 1964
(8) Der Kleine Pauly, dtv, 1979
(9) Hans-Joachim Hoeft, Münzen und antike Mythologie, Eigenverlag, 2011

Online Sources:
(1) Wikipedia

Best regards

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« Reply #412 on: September 18, 2017, 12:55:55 pm »

Some Notes on the Cock

Dear friends of ancient mythology!

This article I have written for the German Forum some time before. But now I found the opportunity to translate it to English. So I want to share it.

First I met the cock on coins as companion of Hermes like on the next coin:

1st coin:
Moesia inferior, Nikopolis, Macrinus, AD 217-218
AE 28, 12.56g, 28.14mm, 0°
struck under governor Marcus Claudius Agrippa
       Bust, draped and cuirassed, laureate, r.
       Hermes, nude, chlamys over l. arm, stg. frontal, looking l., holding kerykeion in l. arm
       and purse in the extended r. hand: at his feet l. the cock stg. l.
 ref. a) not in AMNG:
           cf. AMNG I/1, 1693 (rev. only)
        b) nt in Varbanov
        c) Hristova-Hoeft-Jekov (2017) No. (plate coin)
rare, VF/about VF, dark green patina
This rev. is known for Diadumenian too, HrHJ (2017) No. An example for the parallel issues for members of the imperial family.
The obv. is Pat Lawrence's type M, but not listed with this rev.

Recently I was lucky enough to add the following coin to my collection. This coin was the real cause for this article, because I want to know the meaning of this depiction.

2nd coin:
Moesia inferior, Nikopolis ad Istrum, Septimius Severus, AD 193-211
AE 16, 3.26g, 15.64mm, 180°
       Bust draped and cuirassed, laureate, r.
       Cock advancing r., stepping with l. foot on snake, which is erecting in front of him
ref. a) AMNG I/1, 1416, pl. XX, 7 (1 ex., Bukarest)
      b) not in Varbanov
      c) Hristova-Hoeft-Jekov (2017) No. (plate coin)
extremely rare (R9), about SS, dark green patina

The rev. is known for Caracalla too, HrHJ (2017) No. Another example for a parallel issue for members of the imperial family. And one should regard, it is not an eagle fighting with the snake, but a cock! Only on a coin from Apollonia pontica this motive is found.

Please note: I'am referring here to the German word "Hahn" (= cock). The common germanic word Middle High German hana, Old High German hano, Got. hana, Old English hana, Swedish haene is a substantive to the Indogerm. root *kann (= to sing, to sound), cf. Lat. canere (= to sing, to sound) and Greek ει -κανος "Hahn, cock" (really "singing in the early morning"). So the original meaning of Hahn is "the Singer" (Wikipedia)

In Greek mythology I have found only a short refernce for the cock: Alektryon was a favourite of Ares. When Ares met Aphrodite for an erotic tete-a-tete, Alektryon should keep guard at the door. But he fell asleep and so Helios was able to detect the love affair in the morning. He informed Hephaistos, Aphrodites' husband, about his detection, who surprised them still on their bed of love. He captivated them in an elaborated, undestroyable net and presented them to the congregated Olympic gods, who broke out in ringing laughter (so-called "Homeric laughter"). But Ares was so angry that he transformed Alektryon into a cock, who from then on bears this name. And as constant remembrance of this incident he used to crow when the sun is raising (Eustach. ad Hom. Iliad. 1598, 61; Lukian. Gall. 3; Liban. narr.26).

That the cock appears at companion of Hermes is dated to newer times. At Homer this idea was still unknown. Probably the Greeks have borrowed this concept from Asisa minor. Here the cock was known as companion of the Anatolian moon god Men. Surely the cock bears lunar aspects because of his remarkable sickle-shaped tail feathers.

At Mithras in contrast the solar aspects have priority. He died and was reborn like the sun. As god of light he has the attributes of the sun, the purifying fire and the cock announcing the morning.

Attis, favourite of Kybele, lost his life by a boar, but was brought to life again by Kybele, and this event was repeated on every beginning of spring. His companion as herald of daylight and victory over darkness was the cock. We can see in the motive of resurrection of the dead already ideas reminiscent of Christianity.

An important role the cock played in the cult of Asklepios, coming from Pergamon. The cock as symbol of sun was an attribute of Apollo, and cocks were sacrificed to Asklepios, son of Apollo, in large quantities, partly because the cock as herald guided the souls of the dead to the underworld. Furthermore Asklepios was the god who could bring back dead to live again.

Why the cock became an attribute of Hermes is not explained yet convincingly. It is possible that it was the role of Hermes as herald of the gods, who, like the cock is greeting the beginning day, is announcing the arrival of the Olymic gods.

But it is possible too that like the Anatolian deities Mithras, Attis and finally Asklepios have participation in all different levels of the world so Hermes as herald has travelled through all 3 levels of the cosmos and has taken over the cock as symbol of light.

The prototype of all our fowls is the red jungle fowl (Gallus gallus), coming from East Asia (India, Sunda Islands), today threatened with extinction. From its origin it spreads out as cultivated form to China, Bactria, Mesopotamia and Asia minor. In Aristophanes' "The Birds", 414 BC, ist is called "Median Bird". The point of time when it came to Greek can be specified very exactly by its occurence in the Batrachomyomachia, in the works of Pindar and Aischylos, where it is named αλεκτωρ, or as αλεκτρυων at Theognis: It was the end of the 6th century BC. From there it got to Sicily and Lower Italy. That matches well the depictions on coins of Himera/Sicily, 530-482 BC.

The cock was appreciated as guardian and for announcing the time, moreover as fighting cock. He occured in gymnasia, palaces and on public places. Various localities were famous for its breeding. His natural agressiveness was strengthened by feeding him with garlic and onions. Cockfights, introduced possibly by Themistokles following models of Asia minor, were one of the most popular amusements  of the Greeks. Depictions  of such fights you can find on many vases, reliefs and gems (Pauly).
And now we came to the explanation of the motive on the 2nd coin: The cock is depicted as protective and battlesome animal and symbolizes vigilance and battle readiness against threats. So there is no connection of this coin with Hermes!

The Roman regarded the fowl as mantic animal. Plinius writes about its role in the Roman state cult. Grains were scattered on the ground and from acceptance or rejection of the food the will of the gods before big undertakings and wars has been calculated (auspicium ex tripudiis). But it came to manipulations, Caesar laughed at it, and during imperial times it disappeared (Pauly)

Especially because of his distinct reproductive drive the cock was a favoured gift with erotic meaning. There are many gems of Eros together with a cock (Imhoof-Blumer/Keller).

The cock in Christianity:
In Christian interpretations early on we find a connection of the various symbol forms. The best known is his role in the New Testament in the course of Judas' betrayal: "Truly I tell you, That this night, before the cock crow, you shall deny me trice." (Matthew 26:34). Here we have him in his function as guardian. But the cock became too the symbol for Christ's victory over the hostile darkness and the horror of the evil spirits; because Christ in the resurrection has blown the sound of life against the power of death. And he is who once will awake us from the sleep of death!
Exceptional is a mosaic in the Basilica Santa Maria Assunta in Aquileia/Italy from the Early Christianity (4th century). We see the fight between a cock and a turtle. The turtle, usually not belonging to the stock of Christian pictures, symbolizes as reptil on the ground the evil, whereas the cock naturally is the symbol of heaven. I think it is clear who will be the winner!
(1) New Testament (NT)
(2) Eustach. ad Hom. Iliad.
(3) Lukian. Gall.
(4) Liban. narr.
(5) Aristophanes, The Birds
(6) Plinius, Historia naturalis

Secondary Literature:
(1) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon, 1770
(2) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und römischen
     Literatur, 1884-1937
(3) Der Kleine Pauly, 1979
(4) Imhoof-Blumer/Keller, Tier- und Pflanzenbilder auf Münzen und Gemmen des klassi-
      schen Altertums, 1889

Online Sources:
(1) Wikipedia
(2) Wikimedias Commons
(3) Wildwinds

I have added
(1) The picture of a Red Jungle Fowl (,Edward Neale, Wikimedias Commons)
(2) The picture of the mosaic from Aquileia (
(3) The picture of the silver drachm from Himera,, Kraay 135, before c.484 BC.
      The depiction shows a cock stg. l. and a hen stg. r. (Wildwinds)

Best regards

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« Reply #413 on: February 02, 2018, 04:40:56 am »

Sexism in Mythology

The Manchester Art Gallery has according to a report in the German "Spiegel Online" today taken down the painting "Hylas and the Nymphs" (1896) from John William Waterhouse because it shows a perception of women from the Victorian era which we actually have overcome. It shows the wife either "passive-decorative" or as "femme fatal". Because I have used this painting in my article about Hylas, I want to apologize and at the same time to warn my readers that my articles could content passages  which not always matches their own ideology. Because I can't know their ideologies it is not possible for me to delete these passages (at least as long as the "thought police" does permit it!). So I have to beg them to simply skip these passages. Thank you!


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« Reply #414 on: February 02, 2018, 09:26:55 am »

What a disgrace- and they call themselves an "art" museum!

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« Reply #415 on: February 02, 2018, 01:47:45 pm »

I've never been to Manchester, but my understanding is that the art gallery is known to have a strong collection of Pre-Raphaelite Art, such as this Waterhouse. It is sad when a major museum cannot contextualize its artwork. If the trend continues, there will soon be little left on the walls of art museums. Stkp

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« Reply #416 on: February 26, 2018, 01:24:30 pm »

Jupiter Stator

To write an article about Jupiter Stator wass my intention for many years, but there was no matching coin in my collection. But now I got it!

The coin:
Gordian III, AD 238-244
AR - Antoninianus, 4.13g, 22.38mm
         Rome, 4th issue, AD 241-244
        Bust, draped and cuirassed, radiate, r.
       Jupiter, nude, stg. frontal, looking r., holding in l. arm thunderbolt and resting
       with raised r. hand on long sceptre
ref. RIC IV, 84; C. 109
about EF, fine die break on obv.

Statori is dative of dedication of Stator, from Lat. stare = to stay. He is who brings the army to halt. It is well possible that a similar cult was known by the Sabines too. Among the Osci there was a Versor, a counterpart to the Roman Stator. All explicable in these warlike times. Originally Stator was its own iconic name, then lost its peculiarity and degenerated to an epitheton of Jupiter (Roscher).  

Literary first mentioned was Stator by Livius in his description of the Sabine wars. The Sabines, living on the Quirinal Hill, one of the seven hills of Rome, had captured already the Capitoline Hill by the infamous betrayal of Tarpeia and pressed hard the Romans in the valley, the later Forum Romanum. The Romans began to flee up to the Palatine. In this situation of greatest distress, Romulus, leader of the Romans, invoked Jupiter Stator (translation by B.O. Foster):

“O Jupiter, it was thy omen that directed me when I laid here on the Palatine the first foundations of my City. The fortress is already bought by a crime and in the possession of the Sabines, whence they are come, sword in hand, across the valley to seek us here. But do thou, father of gods and men, keep them back from this spot at least; deliver the Romans from their terror, and stay their shameful flight! I here vow to thee, Jupiter Stator, a temple, to be a memorial to our descendants how the City was saved by thy present help.”

And then he exclaimed as if he has got already the promise: “Here, Romans, Jupiter Optimus Maximus commands us to stand and renew the fight!”

And the Roman army rearranged itself, raised its weapons and withstood the attack. This happened at the Porta Mugionia (called too Porta Mugonia or Porta Palati). We know the follow-up: When the Romans threatened to defeat the Sabine army the Sabine women threw themselves between the two armies and could stop the slaughter. From then on Romans and Sabines formed a joint nation, called "Quirites" according to the Sabine city of Cures (Livius, Ab urbe condita, I, 12).

Romulus has not honoured his promise. In fact he dedicated only a spot (fanum) to Jupiter Stator, directly in front of the Porta Mugionia, but did not built the promised temple. That happened not before 294 BC by Marcus Atlius Regulus (Liv. I, X.37). He was consul in 294 AD and got in desperate straits in the 3rd Samnite War. This is depicted by Livius in the 10th book of his "Ab urbe condita (History of the City of Rome)". He succeeded not before he has promised Jupiter Stator to erect a temple for him. This temple was located at the Via nova of the Palatine Hill. Livius (X, 37) tries to unify these two versions: Romulus has consecrated only a fanum. Jupiter however has honoured his promise even twice!

In this temple M. Tullius Cicero has called together the Senate on November 8th 63 BC and made his famous 1st oration against Catalina ("Quo usque tandem, Catilina, patientia nostra abutere?") in which he revealed his conspiracy against the state which thereafter was suppressed pitilessly.

The Temple of Jupiter Stator:
Sadly the exact place of this temple is not known. The literally sources give some hints like: near or outside of the Porta Mugionia (but nobody knows its location!), at the higher end of the Via sacra or on the Palatine Hill.

Several suggest a place directly beside the Arch of Titus at the Northern slope of the Palatine Hill as possible. When in 1827 a medieval tower was demolished ruins of an ancient building were found below, and these remains often were seen as fundament of the Temple of Jupiter Stator.

This first temple was destroyed by the great fire of Rome under Nero in AD 64. Feast day probably was January 13.

The Italian archeologist Filippo Coarelli in contrast places the temple of Jupiter Stator nearer to the Forum, between the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina and the Basilica of Maxentius, at that place where formerly the so-called "Temple of Romulus" was located. His reason is the old course of the Via sacra before the Basilica of Maxentius was built. Thus the circular building of the so-called "Temple of Romulus" is actually the ancient Temple of Jupiter Stator.

A second temple for Jupiter Stator was consecrated by Q. Caecilius Metellus Macedonicus after his triumphal procession in celebration of his conquest of Macedonia in 146 BC at the Circus Flaminius. This temple was combined with the Temple of Iuno Regina by a columned hall (porticus). The material he has specially brought from Liguria so that this temple was the first made of marble.This temple was gorgeously decorated with statues and effigies which Metellus has robbed from Macedonia. In front of the temple stood 2 equestrians made by Lysippus, court sculptor of Alexander the Great. As dies natalis was held the 5th of September.

Under Augustus this temple was restaurated. The Porticus Metellus was replaced by the Porticus Octaviae after the name of his sister, and the fiest day was rescheduled on September 23, probably because this was the birthday of Augustus. This temple is desribed by Vitruv in detail. Around the Porticus Pope Paul IV. established in 1555 the Jewish Ghetto of Rome. From here 1007 persons were deported by the Germans in 1943. Only 7 of them  returned. Parts of the Porticus can be seen today. I have added a pic.
Note: Despite its ending of -us porticus is grammatically female!

It is suggested that the statue of Jupiter Stator was depicted as seen on the coin of Gordian III. But Iovis Stator on this antoninianus of Gordian III is no longer only the god who can turn the fortune of war. Here he is meant in the sense "who takes  care for the strength of the State" (Cicero, Cat. 1.33: "whom we rightly call the stay of this city and empire") At this time the Empire was under great pressure by the Persian Empire in the East and the coin refers surely to the defensive battles against the Sasanids which reached under Gordian III a new culmination and determined the 2nd half of his reign.

(1) Titus Livius, Ab urbe condita, Libri, Teubner, Leipzig 1910
(2) Livius, Römische Frühgeschichte, Goldmann 1962
(3) Catilina, Briefe und Reden, Goldmann 1957
(4) Sueton, Kaiserbiographien, Goldmann 1957
(5) Cassius Dio, Römische Geschichte,

Secondary literature:
(1) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon, Leipzig 1770
      (auch online)
(2) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und
      römischen Mythologie, Teubner,  Leipzig 1884-1890 (auch online)
(3) Der Kleine Pauly, dtv
(4) Wikipedia

I have added the following pictures:
(1) a pic of the ruins near the Arch of Titus

(2) the pic "Roman Capriccio" made by Giovanni Paolo Panini (1691-1765), a well-known painter of vedutas. We see on the right side the 3 columns belonging to the Temple of Jupiter Stator near the Arch of Titus which can be seen behind. In the nackground the Colosseum, on the left side Trajan's Column. These monuments are arranged artistically and don't correspond with their actual locations. Today this pic is located in the Museum of Art in Indianapolis.

(3) a pic from the so-called "Temple of Romulus", which possibly is the place of the 1st Temple of Jupiter Stator.

(4) a pic of the Porticus Octaviae from today (Joris1919). The place before it was renamed in 2002 in "Largo 16 ottobre 1943" in memory of the deportation of the Roman Jews.

Best regards

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« Reply #417 on: February 26, 2018, 05:00:52 pm »

I do not know , if the word Impressive will do you justice , thank you Jochen.
A  reference thread !

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« Reply #418 on: February 27, 2018, 12:07:53 pm »

Thank you so much, Sam, highly appreciated!

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« Reply #419 on: February 27, 2018, 02:01:09 pm »

If I may, in the   The poet Stesichoros (Tisias)   study of yours , Molinari ( Nick )

I have one question: how do we know the person on the coin is Steisichoros?  I ask not having looked at my Calciati copy for his rationale. Is it because of his notoriety in Katane?
I, and I believe , so everyone follows your studies, like to know if you ever searched that.
Could it be an old statue for him, was destroyed or disappeared as some other object on ancient coins?
Thank you, Jochen the Ocean of Knowledge.
I do really enjoy your studies , always something new to learn.  Thumbs Up


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« Reply #420 on: February 27, 2018, 03:09:09 pm »

Dear Sam!

Thank you for your questions. When I saw the coin of Thermai Himeraiai from Forum Ancient Coins I must confess that I have never heard of Stesichoros before. And I have sadly no access to Calciati nor BMC Sicily. But a similar coin was listed by Barclay Head in his Historia Numorum. Therefore I have had no reason to doubt the references of Forum Ancient Coins. Then I found a better preserved coin at where another coin of Stesichoros is listed too.

I kow that this is scientifically not satisfying.

Best regards

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« Reply #421 on: February 27, 2018, 07:39:35 pm »

Thank you So Very Much.
Actually , the question was from Nick , after I read your amazing write up then at that day ( I remember you mentioned the coin from the German Forum) , but I noticed you never mentioned anything in your thread as part of the study about that question of Nick ( before even he asked ) , I told myself , when someone with knowledge in the field as the ocean like Jochen writes a study  that high , will never ever miss an important point  like this if it were known or proven , so I told myself : definitely it seems to have a good reason . ( since as you know I am not in the Provincials , but interested as a coin collector in the first place )

I was checking everyday , to see if there is an answer , so I said I am going to bring attention , and here we go the answer from you.
Your sincere answer is an answer , and it is satisfying ,I also did a humble search try at that day with no answer.
No one can know the unknown, a mystery on the top of a lot of other mysteries maybe one day a discovery will come up and solve it.

I cannot honestly compliment your amazing knowledge 😊 anymore (Honestly, I should not even call it a compliment, it is your right on the reader.), I am afraid members will say he is going too much , but if they read your threads , they will know why I keep on saying so.
The time , the thoughts , the hard work ,  the search , and the  indexes for the reader's convenience , you put in your studies at FORVM ,  are valuable and appreciated yet  impressive valuable  references to collectors and non-collectors . The cup of coffee tastes a lot better with your studies. Everyday I read some. Every study of yours is worthy of the reader time ,it will add something new to the reader 's knowledge , and deserves an honest Thank  Thumbs Up

We are not greedy 😊  , one thread a month from you  is perfect   Thumbs Up

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« Reply #422 on: December 02, 2018, 09:32:14 am »

Talos - The first robot in history

It has been a long time that I have posted a mythological article in this thread. All the more I hope that I can bring with this new article something new to many readers.

The coin:
Crete, Phaistos, 3rd c. BC
AE 17, 3.70g, 17.1mm, 225°
obv. Talos advancing r., hurling stone in raised r. hand, holding another in l. hand
rev. Hound on the scent to r.
        ΦΑΙΣ / ΤΙΩΝ in 2 lines, beginning above, ending in ex.
ref. Svoronos Crète 74; SNG Copenhagen 520; BMC Crete p. 64, 27-28
rare, F, a bit rough

Talos was a bronze man at the island of Crete. As giant he was described only by Orpheus in his Argonautika. He was a gift of Zeus to Europa when he has abducted her from Sidon, together with a bronze dog and other magical things, to protect her. He lived in the cave of Melidoni and it was his task to walk round the shores of the island and keep them free of pirates and invaders. Agressors he killed from a distance by hurling stones. In Crete he was depicted as young man, with wings, probably to show his great velocity.

There is another story too that he was created by Hephaistos in Sardinia (Simonides) and handed over to Minos as a present. Minos, Rhadamanthys and Sarpedon were the three children that were born by Europa to Zeus. Later on he has introduced the boy's love in Crete, has been the lover of Rhadamanthys and was together with him a guardian of Justice (Ibykos).

Apollodor, author of the Bibliotheka, suggested, that the bronze nature of Talos shows, that he could have been a survivor of Hesiod's mythical Bronze Age. Lukian, the satirist, has mocked about that.

When the Argonauts under Jason and Medea came to Crete on the voyage to the Golden Fleece came, he was throwing stones on their ship, the Argo, as usual. They can't come ashore until Medea, who has magic forces, as you know, has made him innoxious. Talos owned only a single blood vessel, running from his neck down to his ankles. There the vessel was closed by a bronze nail. On Medea's advice - may be that she has made him mad by her evil glance or has promised him immortality - he removed this nail and his Ιχωρ (Ichor) poured out like melted lead (Apollod.; Apoll. Rhod. ). So Talos died. Other authors report that it was Poias, father of Philoktetes, who has shot an arrow in his heel and he died like Achilles.

Exkursion: Blood Circulation
Ichor was a colourless or golden liquid flowing in the vessels of gods and immortals, the very blood of gods. It was hold as poisonous for mortals so that they die immediately after contact. Homer (Ilias 5) describes it as dark or black. The Giants should have possessed it too (Strabo). It's etymology is unclear. Originally it was synonomical with Αιμα (Haima, Greek blood).

In ancient times the blood circulation was unknown. Because after death normally no blood is found in the arteries, they were hold for channels for the essential pneuma, the breath of life. Arteria is folk-etymological "air vessel". The mighty Aorta was hold for the suspension of the heart. Hippokrates (460-c.370 BC) has described by Aorta the Trachea with the 2 main bronchi, from which the 2 lungs were hanging down. Since Aristoteles (384-322) it was the main artery like today.

It was the British physician and anatomist William Harvey (1578-1657) who published in 1628 his famous work "De Moti Cordis", in which he described the blood circulation and became the founder of physiology. How and in which way the blood comes from the arteries into the veins first the Italian Marcello Malpighi (1628-1694) could show with the aid of a microscope by which he discovered the capillaries in 1661.

The bronze dog:
The bronze dog on the reverse of the coin was initially a companion of Talos and helped him to find intruders. After the death of Talos he became the guardian of the sanctuary of Zeus in Crete. But there was a golden dog too, who has guarded Amaltheia, the goat which has brought up the little Zeus, and who became later the guardian of the temple of Zeus. Anyway this dog was stolen by Pandareus. Pandareus was the example of a prankster who was able to cheat even Zeus himself. He took the dog to the mountain of Sipylos and handed him to Tantalos for safekeeping. Whe he wants to take him back Tantalos swore that he never have had a dog. As punishment Zeus throw the Sipylos over him. Pandareos was transformed into a stone.

Ταλως (Talos) is the old name for the Cretan sun god. Αλως (Halos, beginning with digamma) = Ηλιος (Helios, beginning with spiritus asper). This derivation matches the regular intervals of his circuits arround the island, typically for the course of the sun.
The cult of Talos is known only from coins of Phaistos. Roscher writes: But one should not look at the south of Crete alone. He seems to have been a mountain god and on the highest mountain of the Taygetos the top was sacred to Helios, the sun god. That Talos was throwing stones is known as the most archaic kind of defence and is originated from the times of the heroes.
Referring to Plato, he was the guardian of laws. Three times a year he went through the villages of Crete and proclaimed the laws of Minos, which were laid down on bronze plates. Rhadamanthys was responsible for the cities, Talos for the villages. Three times a year matches the 3 Greek seasons where the autumn was not known.

Altogether the reports about Talos are very vague. More precise details are known only from his death. This confirms the opinion that his mythology belongs to a an older, pre-Greek time. In Attika for instance he has never taken root. And the tradition which connects him with Sardinia doesn't match well his role as guardian in Crete. Possibly it was the attempt to explain the "sardonic laughter" that has made difficulties already to the ancients. Similar can be seen his genealogy which made him the son of Kreas and so the father of Rhadamanthys.

It is reported that he embraced his victims after he has made his body red-hot; dying they (or he?) show the σαρδανικος γελως called distorted grin (Lat. risus sardonicus = sardonic laughter), meaning a painful grin. It is told that in Sardinia (Sardoni = inhabitants of Sardinia) in this way delinquents and old people were killed. Today it is suggested that it was the poison of the hemlock water dropwort (Oenanthe crocata) by which they were killed and which caused a spasm of the facial muscles. In medicine the risus sardonicus is the typical symptom of tetanus.

The death by a red-hot bronze figure is reported too for Baal and the Canaanite moloch whose cult has spread out to Carthago. That speaks for an originally oriental cult with human sacrifice, a cult that later was replaced by the cult of helios. An equivalent process we know of the anthropophagic cult of Kronos which was replaced by the milder cult of Zeus. Then the bronze nature of Talos is not ascribed to his invulnerability but rather to the bright glance of the bronze. The relation of Talos to Helios is caused not only etymologically but has remained too in Zeus Tallaios, who was venerated in Crete and was nothing else as the Cretan sun god. Orientally is surely the ambiguity ofv the sun, that on one side is responsible for the fertility of the vegetation, but on the other side by its consumptive ardour this vegetation destroyed.

Ranke-Graves writes, that it is too little noted that in Bronze Age each tool, each weapon and each object of utility has been ascibed magical attributes, and that the smith in that time was seen as a kind of magician with magical forces. In that way he was linked to poets and physicians. Often it is told that they were lamed. We know that from Hephaistos or Daidalos. Possibly this was done intentionally to prevent running away, as it is told for Weland the Smith in the Saga of Thidrek.
Pauly writes: Talos seems to be the imagination of a robot which is playing with the possibilities and dangers of bronze casting. I think that is very interesting and leads me relaxed to my next excursion "Man and Machine", which will come soon.

History of art:
There are only few descriptions of Talos in ancient times. Strictly speaking I have found only one! This too is an indication that the mythology of Talos is pre-Greek. I have added:
(1) The red-figured vase painting of the so-called Talos-painter on an Apulian velute krater,
       c.400-390 BC, today in the National Archaeological Museum Jatta in Ruvo di Puglia, Italy.
       The front shows Talos, slain by the magician Medea. The Dioscures are sitting on their
        horses, holding his arms, Poseidon and Amphitrite (upper r. corner) are witnesses.
(2) A picture of Sybil Tawse from the book "Stories of Gods and Heroes", 1920, by Thomas
      Bulfinch. Sybil Tawse (1886-1971) was at that time a famous illustrator of the so-called
      golden age of illustration at the begin of the 20th century.
(3) A pic of the cave of Melidoni, as shown to tourists today. This cave is a national symbol
      too for the resistance of the Greek against Turkish occupation. In 1824 in this cave
      aspyxiated 340 inhabitants and 30 Cretan partisans by fire, laid by the Turks, because
      they denied to surrender.

(1) Apollodor, Bibliotheka
(2) Apollonius Rhodios, Argonautika
(3) Hesiod
(4) Hesychios, Lexikon
(5) Homer, Ilias
(6) Lukian
(7) Orpheus, Argonautika (actually published by  J. M. Gesner, Leipzig 1764)
(8) Pausanias, Voyages through Greece
(9) Strabo, Geographika
(10) Suda (Byzantinisches Lexikon)
(11) Thidrekssaga

Secondary literature:
(1) Der Kleine Pauly, Lexikon der Antike in 5 Bänden, dtv 1979
(2) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon, 1770 (Reprint), online too
(3) Robert von Ranke-Graves, Griechische Mythologie, rororo 2003
(4) Karl Kerenyi, Die Mythologie der Griechen, Band II, Die Heroen-Geschichten, dtv 1966
(5) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und römischen
      Literatur, 1884-1890, online too
(6) Voss-Herlinger, Taschenbuch der Anatomie, Gustav Fischer Stuttgart 1963

(1) (Sybil Tawse)
(3) Wikipedia

Best regards

* phaistos_SNGcop520.jpg (81.62 KB, 804x398 - viewed 23 times.)

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« Reply #423 on: December 04, 2018, 02:32:05 pm »

Excursion: Man and Machine

Pauly has written: Talos seems to be the imagination of a robot which is playing with the possibilities and dangers of bronze casting. We see that already in ancient times there were people that have had a critical look at the progress. That reminds me immediately of the Chinese story of Zhuangzi (365-290 BC) about the dangers of machines which I want to share.

In his book "Zhuangzi", probably the most important  work of Daoism he writes (translation by myself, be merciful):
When Dsi Gung came through the region north of the Han river he saw a man in his vegetable garden. For watering he had digged ditches. He went down himself into the well and  brought up in his arms a vessel with water that he poured out. He laboured extremely and achieved so little.
Dsi Gung said: "There is a device with that you can water hundred ditches a day. Do you like to use it?"
The gardener stood up and said: "And what should that be?" Dsi Gung said: "You take a wooden lever arm that is weightened behind and light at the front. In this way you can scoop water so that it is bubbling extremely well. It is called a draw well."
There his anger was writ large in his face and he said: "I have heard my teacher saying: If somebody uses a machine he is running all his affairs like a machine; who is running his affairs like a machine will have got a machine heart. But if somebody has a machine heart in his breast he looses the pure simplicity. Who has lost his pure simplicity will be uncertain in his emotions. Uncertainty of emotions does not get along well with the true mind. It is not that I don't know such things but I am ashamed of using them."

You can laugh at that. Especially because it was only about a draw well and the true mind. And where we were today with our civilization (not culture!) if the machine breakers in England at the beginning of the industrialisation would have succeeded, or if the Silesian weavers in 1844 would have stopped the modern weaving looms?

We see that progressophobia has existed all the way. The problem in that times was that the industrial progress was not cushioned socially and has led to pauperism what is not so today, at least in our countries.

But today the problem is not the social cushion of the technical progress but much more: It is the dismissing of dignity of man (Precht). It is the uncritical faith in progress that is threatening not only us but the whole world.

Oneof the first important critics was Joseph Weizenbaum, co-founder and developer of artificial intelligence at the MIT. He writes that the governmental big computers couldn't be serviced today because nobody has the overview after so many years. They are a big black box especially if interconnected with each other. Turning a adjusting screw has effects that can't be foreseen in its entirety. And at the peak of the Cold War these monsters were provided to make the decision between  war and piece automatically, because of the short advance warning time. The human mechnisms of decision making have had beome too long. Thankfully the USA have said goodbye to this horror idea.

Last week German chancellor Angela Merkel had to turn back of her way to the G20 summit in Buenos Aires because the entire electronics of her aeroplane has been fallen out. A speaker of the Bundeswehr (German Army) explained in tv news: "It ws just the classical complete failure of an electronical device that regulary can happen. It occurs in under 2 percent of flights and we have had all under control." I can say only: Great!

But when we speak about self-driving cars we have a dilemma that we didn't have before: How the car shall decide when there is only one alternative: to run somebody over? The little child or the the old lady, or the little child or 5 ladies? I hope you see what I mean. It's a question of ethics. And ethics is not computable. There is no algorithm. All human beings are equally, Nobody is less worthy. The philosopher Precht: To program artificial intelligence how it shall act in ethical borderline cases is an attack against the dignity of man.

Stephen Hawking:  Artificial intelligence can become the worst occurence of mankind.

Videant consules...

(1) Daoism beside Confucianism and Buddhism is one of "The Three Teachings",
      that have shaped China until today. Dao means such as "the right way". Its meaning is
      especially in its ethics.
(2) Dilemma: In logics a kind of syllogism in which the opponent is trapped independently of
      his decision (double mill). In this way too a situation with 2 possibilities which both lead
      to an unwanted outcome. Hopelessness

I have added:
(1) The pic of a draw mill from Kiung valley, Khakassia, Siberia (Autor: Dr. A.Hugentobler)
(2) Käthe Kollwitz "Weberzug", aus "Ein Weberaufstand", 1893/97, Käthe Kollwitz Museum,

(1) Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Flug nach Arras
(2) Stephen Hawking, The Dangers of Artificial Intellligence (Internet)
(3) Aldous Huxley, Brave new world
(4) Richard David Precht, Maschinen ohne Moral, Spiegel Nr.48, 24.11.18
(5) Sophokles, Antigone
(6) Joseph Weizenbaum, Die Macht der Computer und die Ohnmacht der Vernunft,
      Suhrkamp 1978
(7) Joseph Weizenbaum, Kurs auf den Eisberg, Piper 1987
(8) Wikipedia

Best regards

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* kaethe kollwitz Weberzug_1.jpg (52.56 KB, 600x420 - viewed 111 times.)

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« Reply #424 on: December 04, 2018, 02:37:47 pm »

The Phrygian Rider-God Sozon

It is recommended to read the legends on coins very carefully. Then you can make surprising discoveries. That happened to me with this coin, that I have bought actually only because of its double-axe.

The coin:
Caria, Aphrodisias, Augustus, 27 BC - AD 14
AE 15, 3.36g, 15.01mm, 180°
late issue, struck 2 BC - AD 14 (MacDonald)
obv. CEBA - CTOC
Laureate head r.
rev. [AΦPO]ΔI - C - I - EΩN CΩ[Z]
in r. field [ΩN]
Double axe, decorated with ribbons
ref. BMC 90 var.; SNG Copenhagen 115 var.; SNG München 130 var.; RPC 2838; MacDonald Type 45, pl. V, 092/R160
rare, about VF, dark-green patina

The name Aphrodisias the city got from its important cult of Aphrodite. In the war against Mithridates VI it sent troups to the Romans and in the civil war after Caesar' death it has decided to join the right side. Therefore it received significant privileges from the Romans. Aphrodisias was a favourite city of Augustus and was heavily promoted by him. So it developed to one of the leading cities in Asia minor. Because of the nearby marble querries Aphrodisias could establish a famous marble industry. Its marble works were sold in the entire Roman empire. One of the most beautiful buildings is the "Tetrapylon", a gate with 4 pillars that was costly restored. Aphrodisias belongs to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage.

Aphrodisias was the birthplace of the philosopher Alexander of Aphrodisias, a Peripatetic (school of Aristoteles), who lived at the turn of the 2nd century to the 3rd century AD. He was the most important ancient commentator of Aristoteles. From Aphrodisias to was Chariton of Aphrodisias, author of "Chareias and Kallirrhoe", one of the earliest ancient novels we have in full. Its time of origin today is laid on the end of the 1st century AD.  

But now to Sozon, whose name CΩZΩN is found on the coin. He is an Anatolian, probably not before the Hellenismus characterized god (Roscher). His homeland is Pisidia from where his cult spread to Phrygia, Caria, Pamphylia and Lycia. Only few is known about him. His name is found only on inscriptions and on coins:
(1) Coins from Antiochia ad Maeandrum in Caria
(2) Aphrodisias in Caria: A coin of Augustus, which I have presented here, with the name CΩZΩN on rev.
(3) Coins from Masturia in Lydia: Here the depiction recalls Apollo with branch and lyra. Named sometimes Apollo Tyrimnaios or Hero Mastauros, when he is depicted as Rider-God
(4) Coins from Themisonion in Pamphylia

The name Sozon is certainly Greek, even if his character bears distinct oriental features. So he shows a peculiar combination of Greek mythology and local belief (Roscher). Ramsay has assumed that Sozon is a Greek remodelling of the Thracian-Greek Sabazios. Cumont has recommended this equalization because the worshippers of the Sozon cult have merged with Jewish believers and have identified Sabazios with Zebaoth. This was already thought by Plutarch not least because of the similarity of their ceremonies. Sabazios was a Anatolian deity that was connected by the Greeks with Dionysos and Zagreus. Zebaoth is a attribute of the majesty of God in the combination Jahwe Zebaoth, meaning "Lord of hosts".

On votive tablets he is depicted as horseman with club or double-axe. The insciption sometimes is referring to Apollo or a riding Helios. In the ambit of these perceptions belongs too the Thracian Rider-God who sometimes is called Helios too. Here Sozon converges with Apollo and Helios.

Sozon is known too as epithet of Zeus and means in this context such as Soter (= Redeemer). In this case Zeus is seen as harvest god who on the other side can destroy the harvest by his hailstorm. This dual-sided chsracter is known of Apollo too.

In late antiquity Apollonia in Pisidia was named Sozopolis. It is considered certain that Sozon was the eponym of this city. It is interestíng too, that Apollonia Pontika in late antiquity was named Sozopolis as well" Today it is Sozopol in Bulgaria. It was famous for its sanctuaries of Apollo. The 12m high statue of Apollo made by Kalamis was brought to Rome when Lucullus has conquered the city.

Near by Cap Palos in Spain an anchor has been found with the inscription Zeus Kasios Sozon. Here Zeus is the guardian of seafaring and Sozon means nothing else than Soter (saviour).

Just as Soter has the female counterpart Soteira so Sozon the saviour has a female counterpat in Sozusa, an epiklesis for female deities. It is known for Panakeia, the daughter of Asklepios, for Eileithya, for Isis and even for Aphrodite, because of the inscription on an anchor, found in Spain too, as guardian of the sailors.

It is of interest that the orthodox church has an early martyr in Lykaonia (7th September), who became martyr under Maximianus because he has destroyed an idol in Pompeiopolis. We see that Sozon has penetrated the Christian mythology. That strengthens the conception that there was a connection between Sozon followers and Jewish believers.

Summarizing we can say: Sozon is a Phrygian Rider-God with labrys, related to the Thracian Rider-God Heros, who in Greek times was associated with Zeus, Apollo and Sabazios.

This result is not at all satisfying. Sometimes it is not possible to say more. But to concede this is part of science.

I have added:
(1) A pic of the Tetrapylon in Aphrodisias (own photo from 2011)
(2) A pic of a painting, showing Sanct Sozon with attributes of a shepherd.

(1) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Mythologie
(2) Wikipedia

Best regards

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* HPIM5983.JPG (137 KB, 953x811 - viewed 22 times.)

* sozon.jpg (140.2 KB, 760x1246 - viewed 22 times.)

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