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Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
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« Reply #425 on: February 26, 2019, 01:19:08 pm »

Astakos and the founder myth of Nikomedeia

The Coin:
Bithynia, Nikomedeia, Severus Alexander, AD 222-235
AE 20, 4.26g, 20.24mm, 30°
        Bust, draped and cuirassed, seen from behind, laureate, r.
        Astakos, nude to hips, stg. r., looking back, with l. foot stg. on prow, in l. hand
        holding long sceptre and with r. hand pointing back
ref.: Rec. Gen. p. 557, 319, pl. XCVI, 24
about VF, black green patina

Astakos, eponym of the city, is depicted in the typical position of a city founder who prompted his companions to follow him.

According to Stephanos of Byzanz and Arrian Astakos was the son of Poseidon and the nymph Olbia. In a speech on occasion of the severe destruction of the city by an earthquake 358 BC Libanios tells, that the first city founders has sacrified to the gods at the wrong place. But an eagle and a snake have pointed them to the correct place where they then have built the city. This myth reminds strongly of the 2nd founder myth of Alexandreia Troas depicted on coins where an eagle is carrying the head of a bull.

According to Memnon of Herakleia Astakos was a descendant of the Spartoi (= the Sowed), the ancestors of the Thebans who have grown from the dragon teeth which Kadmos has sown. Astakos was father of Ismaros, Amphidikos, Leades and Melanippos who became famous when they defend their home city against the Seven against Thebens. He is said to have found the city of Astakos in Bithynia (Roscher).

Nonnos wites in his Dionysiaka that at the Gulf of Astakos the first battle was fighted between the army of Dionysos and the Indians. Dionysos has won the battle because he changed the water of the sea into wine and so have made the Indians drunken.
The nymph Olbia is said to have found a city named Olbia too, not the Sarmatian Olbia but an Olbia in the neighbourhood of Nikomedeia. Wether this was an independent city or only the surname or an earlier name of another Bithynian city is discussed. The assumption that it could be Astakos is close but there is no ancient evidence (Pauly).

In ancient times Astakos was known for its lobsters which must have lived in huge numbers in the shallow watersides. αστακος (Astakos) is the Greek name for the lobster. So there is some evidence that the founder myth of Astakos was invented according to the occurence of the lobsters. In this way it is an aetiological myth.

Astakos, the City:
Astakos was situated at the Gulf of the same name (today Gulf of Izmit) of the Propontis (today Sea of Marmara) whereby the exact location is not known until today. Therefore the position of Astacus on the attached map is questionable.

Astakos was founded 712/11 BC by colonists from Megara. It was member of the Delian League. After the settlement of Athenian colonists it lost its independence. Under Doidalses Astakos first came under Bithynian supremacy (about 405 BC). Zipoites (356-281 BC), son of the dynast Bas, was the first king of Bithynia. He tried to conquer Astakos but without success. To enlarge his territory he fought among others against strategists of Lysimachos and defeated him finally in the Battle of Kurupedion (281 BC) where Lysimachos lost his live. With this battle the Wars of the Diadochi ended and the Hellenistic world of states was established. During his war against Zipoites 281 Lysimachos had destroyed  Astakos. Some time later Zipoites died and his son Nikomedes I followed him to the throne. In 264 BC he founded the city of Nikomedeia that he called αντικρυ Αστακου (= ancient Astakos) and resettled the inhabitants of the ancient city to the new founded Nikomedeia. After the death of king Nikomedes IV 74 BC Bithynia came by will to the Roman Empire.

I have attached a map of ancient Bithynia (Source: summagallicana,it)

(1) Nonnos, Dionysiaka
(2) Stephanos of Byzanz, Ethnika
(3) Libanios, Orationes
(4) Arrian, Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker (FGrHist)
(5) Memnon, Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker (FGrHist)

(1) Der Kleine Pauly
(2) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon (auch online)
(3) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und
      römischen Mythologie (auch online)
(4) Wikipedia

Thanks to Frank Dapsul for important references.

Best regards

Steve P
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« Reply #426 on: March 01, 2019, 04:48:08 pm »

Wow, this is amazingly extensive work! ... Jochen, this seems to be a very cool way to spend your coin-time (I'm glad to see that you're enjoying your hobby)

Thanks for all of your info/research (you rock)

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Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
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« Reply #427 on: March 04, 2019, 11:20:48 am »

Thank you, Steve, for your encouraging words!


Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
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« Reply #428 on: March 04, 2019, 11:33:33 am »

Dione and the Oracle of Dodona

Recently I could add this coin to my collection. Here I want to share the results of my research.

The Coin:
Epeiros, Ambrakia, 238-168 BC
AE 18, 4.97g
obv. Head of Dione, veiled and laureate, r.
rev. A - M / B - R
       Obelisk of Apollo Agyieus, pointed, on two-stepped base, all in laurel wreath
ref. SNG Cop 23; SNG München 525; SNG Evelpidis 1770; BMC Thessaly p. 94, 5 
rare, F+, dark green patina, corrosion
Apollo Agyieus (Greek αγυιευς = guardian of the ways) was the the protector of ways and public places. He was worshipped as baetylic, pointed obelisk, that often was placed before house entrances, but never in a temple. The statue was maintained by priestesses (agyatides) and decorated with ribbons and laurel wreaths. These columns were found too on the stages of Greek plays. That Apollo was worshipped as aniconic stone column is known already from the Hittites where such a column was found at the entrance of a temple in Bogazköy with the inscription "apulunas" (= Apollo). In Kolophon we have the baetylic Apollo Klarios.

With Dione we are deep in the oldest Greek mythology. Etymologically like Zeus too originated from Greek διος (= divine), she was at first not an own goddess, but as "the divine" rather the female form of Zeus. When the later Greek mythology developed she was removed by Hera. Her ancient position being equal with Zeus she has kept only in Dodona.
According to Hesiod she was the daughter of Okeanos and Tethys, an Oceanid. She belonged to the most noble godesses. In the Homeric Hymns for Apollo it is told, that she together with Themis, Rhea and Amphitrite has supported Leto on Delos during the birth of Apollo.

By Zeus she had a daughter, the love goddess Aphrodite, who is called sometimes Dione to, so by Ovid (Fastes). In his Ilias Homer tells us that Aphrodite once fled into the bosom of her mother when she was wounded by Diomedes. Yes, at these times it was possible that mortals could hirt deities! Dione consoled her that she was not the only one and prophesized Diomedes an unlucky return.

In his "History of Phoenicia" Sanchuniathon, who has lived before the Trojan War, tells that Dione was the daughter of Uranos and Gaia and such the sister of Kronos/El. He has given Byblos to her. The real identity of this Dione remains unclear. It is possible that Sanchuniathon has meant the Phoenician goddess Ba'alat Gebal. But the ancestry from Uranos and Gaia, heaven and earth, was taken by the Orphics in their theology.

In Pergmon was found a bronze tablet from the 3rd century AD where Dione, Phoebe and Nyche were named as healer goddesses, probably used als magic device. In Homer's Ilias Dione tells her daughter Aphrodite that she once has healed Plutos the god of Underworld using the plant Paionia, when he was wounded in a struggle by Herakles. In the same way she has healed Ares who was wounded by Diomedes. Because she has supported too Leto at the birth of Apollo she was regarded here as healer goddess and midwife.

Dione can't be thought without Dodona. And this is the reason that coins with the depiction of Dione could be found only in Epeiros. Dodona in Epeiros was the oldest oracle in Greece and one of the biggest, after Delphi the second one. Already about 800 BC a sanctuary of Zeus has been located there. And here Zeus Naios and Dione Naia together were worshipped. Naios just is Greek = dweller and this name is evidence of the old age of this sanctuary. Pyrrhos I later has introduced games called Naia.

The priestesses of her sanctuary were called doves, birds sacred to Aphrodite. In later times they became as Dodonean Nymphs who should have suckled Zeus the nurses of Dionysos. And so we can find Dione too on vase pictures with Bacchanalian scenes.

In the centre of the oracle stood the famous oak of Dodona. The oak spoke by the murmur of its leaves and the curring of its doves. This then was interpreted by the priestesses. The visitors wrote their questions on tablets of lead and throw them in a jug. Therefore many of them are preserved and can be read in the museum of Ioannina. Until now c.4000 of these tablets were found, an inavaluable look into the ancient oracle practice. In 2012 however many of them lay still unevaluated in the Antikensammlung of the museums in Berlin.

The Dodonian Oak has played too a role in the myth of the Argonauts. When the ship Argo was built with the aid of Athena wood of the oak was mounted into the prow. It should warn the Argonauts against dangers by its power of forecasting (Apollonius of Rhodos). In AD 392 the oak was logged by Christian zealots who - as we all know - are responsible for an immense number of destroyed ancient artworks.

The mythological founder of Anbrakia was Ambrax, son of Thesprotos (after him this region is called Thesprotia), but according to Dionysos of Halicarnassos he was the son of Dexamenos, son of Herakles. Ovid in his Metamorphoses tells us that he has ruled as king at the time when Aeneas on his flight from Troy came to Epeiros. In this narration he calls the city "embattled in the struggle of the gods". That goes back to the following myth that we know from Antoninus Liberalis who has taken it from older sources: Apollo, Artemis and Herakles quarrelled about the control over the city. Because they couldn't find a solution they called Kragaleus, son of Dryops, a wise old man, who just pastured his herds. He awarded the city to Herakles whereupon Apollo in his rage turned him into a rock. The Ambriakotes have offered sacrifices to him always after the feast of Herakles.

In the 3rd century BC Pyrrhos I made Ambriaka the capital city of his kingdom of Epeiros. Pyrrhos I is known by his statement "Another such victory and we are lost!", that according to Plutarch he should have made after his victories involving heavy losses in his campaigns against the Romans in Lower Italy (Graeca Magna). Hence the phrase "Pyrrhic victory".

History of Art:
Dione is depicted on the east pediment of the Parthenon in Athens. Aphrodite is laying stretched out in the bosom of her mother Dione both infolded by in rich folds falling garments. Probably this depiction shows the scene were Dione consoles her daughter after she was wounded by Diomedes.
Furthermore Dione is found on the frieze of the Pergamon altar (Pergamonmuseum in Berlin), depicting the Gigantomachia. At the place where the north frieze continues the east frieze Aphrodite starts the series of deities. Because the frieze has to be seen continuous she is fighting beside her lover Ares. In the depicted moment she draws a spear out of a killed Giant. Beside her are fighting her mother Dione and her son Eros. Unfortunately only remnants of Dione are left.

I have added:
(1) a photo showing the sanctuary of Dodona, in the background the Tomaros
(2) a photo of the east pediment of the Parthenon
(3) a photo of the detail of the Pergamon altar
(4) a photo of the bronze tablet from Pergamon

(1) Hesiod, Theogony
(2) Homer, Ilias
(3) Homeric Hymns
(4) Apollodor, Gods and Heros of the Greeks
(5) Apollonios von Rhodos, Argonautika
(6) Ovid, Fastes
(7) Ovid, Metamorphoses
(Cool Plutarch, Vitae parallelae
(9) Cicero, De natura deorum
(10) Pausanias, Voyages

(1) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches Lexikon der Mythologie, 1770 (online too)
(2) William Smith, A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology,
      1813-1893 (online too)
(3) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und
      römischen Mythologie, 1884-1937 (online too)
(4) Barclay Head, Historia Numorum (HN), 1886 (online too)
(5) Richard Wünsch, Antikes Zaubergerät aus Pergamon, 1905 (google books)
(6) Karl Kerenyi, Die Götter- und Menschengeschichten, 1978
(7) Robert von Ranke-Graves, Greek Mythology
(Cool Der Kleine Pauly
(9) Wikipedia

Best regards

Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
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Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #429 on: March 04, 2019, 11:34:45 am »


These coins have been in my collection for a long time. Now I got myself up to write about them. Because she is an important deity this article will be more detailed.

1st Coin:
Cilicia, Korykos, Valerian I, AD 253-260
AE 32, 22.19g, 32.07mm, 135°
obv. AV K ΠO - ΛIK OVAΛEPIAN / OC (in field)
        Bust, draped and cuirassed, radiate, r.
rev. [KΩPV (in ex.) - KIΩ TΩ - N AV] NAV[AP]
        in upper field one below the other XI / C
        Decorated prize basket inscribed with ΘEMIA, with palm branch between
        kerykeion and aphlaston, stg. on a table with dolphin-shaped feet, below a bellied
        wine jug with handles and long neck, on the r. side Dionysos stg.l, nude,
        wreathed, with nebris around hips, resting with raised l. hand on ribboned thyrsos
        and holding in lowered r. hand bunch of wine grapes, at his feet l. the panther
        with raised r. paw std. l., looking r.
ref.: BMC 21; SNG Levante 820; SNG Copenhagen 123; SNG Paris 1123; SNG von
         Aulock 5686; Klose & Stumpf 259
about VF/VF

According to Edith Specht the pumpkin-shaped objects are not crowns nor urns, as one often reads, but prize baskets.

The Themian Games:
The presiding goddess of the Themian Games was Themis, the personification of right and order. Themia too means deposit, usually of money, and the Themian Games were exceptional because the prize for the winner was cash, and not like at the other games wreaths, wine, oil or celery.

From Side in Pamphylia are known a series of coins where a female deity is depicted throwing a pebble in an urn. This goddess is called not only Athena, but Athena-Themis or Themis-Athena too. So I have decided to add this coin to my article. This goddess differs from Athena by holding not a spear but a palm branch in her l. arm. In Anazarbos she is called Themis of the Koinonboulion. Koinoboulon was the assembly of the town councils (Gaebler).

2nd Coin:
Pamphylia, Side, Valerian II. as Caesar, son of Gallienus, AD 256-258
AE 30, 18.04g, 0°
        Bust, draped and cuirassed, bare-headed, r.; beneath eagle with open wings stg.
        r., head l.,; before chin c/m E in circular incus (Howgego 805)
       Themis-Athena, helmeted, in narrow peplos, stg. frontal, head l., palm branch
        over l. shoulder, throwing pebble in urn with 2 handles, r. beside her
        pomegranate on twig
ref. cf. SNG Pfälzer Privatsammlungen 882 (Gallienus); probably unpublished
F/about VF, a bit rough, rev. partially weakly, with distinct traces of smoothing process

The E of the c/m probably devaluates the coin from 10 units down do 5 units,
Coins of Sif´de regularly show a pomegranate. Cause: Side is Pamphylian the word for pomegranate and so became the symbol of the city.
It is not clear for what the goddess is voting. Gaebler assumes that it the voting after a competition. In each case it is an explicit democratic motive (Pat Lawrence).

The name Themis has the Greek root θη- as in τι-θη-μι (= to set, to prescribe). In this sense Themis is "who sets (laws)". The derivation from Phoenician them (= honest, fair) today is obsolete.

Her parents were Uranos and Gaia, heaven and earth, this evidence too of her great age. So she was older than Zeus and the other Olympean gods. As Titanide she was sister of Tethys, Rhea, Mnemosyne, Phoibe, Dione and Theia (Apollodor). And sister of Kronos. When Zeus wants to take she as wife she fled from him but was caught up at Ichnai in Makedonia, probably because she has left traces (ichnos)

She gave birth to Zeus the three Horae Eunomia, Dike and Eirene (just order, just retribution and peace) and the three Moira (goddesses of fate) Klotho, Lachesis and Atropos (Hesiod. Theog.). In a later mythology the Horai were at first the two seasons Thallo (flourishing, for springtime) and Karpo (maturing, harvesting, for summer). Later on Auxo (growing) joined in. It was told that these goddesses have dressed Aphrodite after her birth from sea foam. According to Herodot Themis was the mother of Prometheus too.

It is told that she as the first has introduced the art of fortune-telling, which is logical, because fortune-telling is only possible if the future is put in order and is unchangeably certain. She as the first has got the oracle of Delphi from her mother Gaia, in the first time together with Poseidon, until Apollo after he has killed Python has taken over the oracle. Another oracle existed in Kephisos in Boiotia which played a role in the myth of Deukalion and Pyrrha (see there). So she was able to warn Zeus and Poseidon against the marriage with Tethys foretelling that their sons would become greater than they were (Pindar).

Sometimes she can be regarded as Parhedros (guardian spirit) of Zeus: She advises him to wear the skin of the goat Amaltheia (Aigis) in the battles of the Gigantomachia and she helps him to find the Giants by pursuing their traces (ichnos).
She was involved in the education of the young Zeus, then together with Rhea, Dione and Amphitrite she helped Leto at the birth of Apollo and nourished him with nectar and ambrosia whereby he became immortal. She helped Aphrodite at the birth of Beroe (Nonnos, Dionysiaka). This is the reason that Themis often is seen as assistant of delivering women. Roman mythologists sometimes has identificated her with Carmenta, a Roman goddess, who originally was an assistant of delivering women and known too for her art of fotrune-telling. But some are assuming that this was told only because her connection to Zeus was morally indecent since she was the sister of Kronos, Zeus' father.

After Themis has prevented the marriage of Zeus and Poseidon with Tethys she advised them to give her up to the hero Peleus. As much as Tethys resisted finally she was defeated by Peleus. From this connection emerged Achilleus, the greatest but short living hero from Troy. At their wedding, told by Pindar, Eris threw among the goddesses Hera, Athena and Aphrodite a golden apple inscribed “For the most beautiful.”. To settle the dispute that's about to arise the goddesses choosed Paris and his judgement then triggered the Troyan War.

But actually the Troyan War has had a prehistory: Gaia, mother of Themis, has complained to her that she could no longer bear the burden of so many people. Then Themis advised Zeus to start a great war to help her mother. And so it came to the Trojan War, which did not only break out through the theft of Helena, as one thinks, but which Zeus and Themis had planned for a long time. This is told in detail in the Kypria, which describe the time before the Trojan War. Homer will have known them. That is why Raoul Schrott in his newly translated Iliad is also of the opinion that the invocation of the muse at the beginning of the epic means Themis: "Announce resentment, Themis, about Peleus' Son Achilles and his wrath"

Themis also plays an important role in the myth of the Great Deucal Flood. But I would like to deal with that in a separate excursus.

Themis is the personification of an abstract concept, a higher power that stands above the gods, undisturbed from primeval times, the embodiment of a sacred order. She comes from a time when it was not yet valid to say: "Nothing is more powerful than man" (Sophocles, Antigone). Without her holy order no society can exist. To this order basically belongs marriage and the inherent rule of nature in the interaction of the sexes, to which also belongs modesty (Pindar). Therefore their daughters, the Horai, immediately dressed Aphrodite when she ermerged from the sea. This includes the observance of oaths and treaties. She is the guardian of the right to hospitality and takes care of the protection of the needy. She even protects the murderer at her altar, if he is begging for blood atonement.

Themis takes care of the peace of God that reigns during the Olympic Games, something that no longer exists in our time. She is responsible for the correct functioning of an agon, and therefore we see her for example on the coins of Anazarbos, Tarsos or Side, as on the coin above. She is responsible for convening meetings, the Agora or the Koinoboulion.

Themis punishes the hybris. This is why the deed of Tantalus, who presents his son Pelops as food to the gods, including Themis, is so terrible. This challenges their heaviest revenge. And so she comes into close contact with Nemesis: If Themis is hurt, she will be avenged by Nemesis. Therefore both goddesses are worshipped together in Rhamnous.

Art of History:
Pausanias still knows the golden ivory statue from the Heraion in Olympia and the marble statue from Thebes. In Troizen even several Themides were worshipped! But only a colossal statue from Rhamnous in the north of Attica has survived, which today stands in the National Theatre in Athens.  There she was worshipped together with Nemesis, whereby later Nemesis came to the fore. The cult in Rhamnous was forbidden in 399 AD by a decree of the Eastern Roman emperor Arcadius, who ordered the destruction of the remaining "pagan" temples.
She is depicted on the frieze on the Pergamon Altar in Berlin, where sadly only parts of the chiton and the mantle can still be seen.

I have added
(1) a pic of the statue of Themis from Rhamnous, made by Chairestatos, 315 B.C., made of pentelic marble. She is missing the left hand in which she probably Held scales (from the Store norske leksikon, Lars Maehlum)
(2) a pic of the tondo on an attic red figure Kylix, which is attributed to the Kodros painter, ca. 430 BC, highly classical, today in the Antikensammlung Berlin. Depicted is the childless King Aigeus, to whom Themis is currently predicting the birth of a son. The goddess sits on the delphic tripod in the role of Pythia, the prophetess of this oracle. She holds a phiale in one hand and a laurel branch in the other.

(1) Hesiod, Theogony
(2) Apollodor, Bibliotheke
(3) Homer, Ilias
(4) Pindar, Odes
(5) Aischylos, Prometheus Bound
(6) Sophokles, Antigone
(7) Kypria
(8) Nonnos, Dionysiaka

(1) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisxhes Lexikon, 1770 (online too)
(2) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und
      römischen Mythologie, ab 1884 (online too)
(3) Karl Kerenyi, Die Götter- und Menschheitsgeschichten, dtv
(4) Robert von Ranke-Graves, Griechische Mythologie, rororo
(5) Der Kleine Pauly
(7) H. Gaebler, Die Losurne in der Agonistik, ZfN 39 (1929)
(8) Edith Specht, Kranz, Krone oder Korb für den Sieger, in "Zeitschrift für klassische
      Archäologie 14/III/2000
(9) Ilias. Neu übertragen von Raoul Schrott. Hanser, München 2008

Online Sources:
(2) Wikipedia

Best regards

Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
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Posts: 11453

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #430 on: March 18, 2019, 01:16:29 pm »

Excursus: Deukalion and Pyrrha

The mythology of Deukalion and Pyrrha is so comprehensive that I have decided to remove it from the article about Themis and summarize it in a separate excursus.

The legend of the Deucal Flood comes from the East, probably from Mesopotamia. There is the mighty Gilgamesh Epos, in which Utnapishtim is saved, and the story of Noah, described in the 1st book of Moses in the Bible. In Greece these flood legends had a rather small meaning and their traditions were so contradictory that finally three large floods were distinguished (Nonnos, Dionysiaka):

1. the flood of Ogygos
2. the Deucal flood, and
3. the flood of Dardanos

The fact that the Flood was caused by the eruption of the Santorini volcano (so-called Minoan eruption 3600 years ago) is not possible because the myths of the Flood are older. The new hypothesis that the Flood describes the breakthrough of the Mediterranean Sea through the Bosporus into the Black Sea is interesting, but is rejected by most scientists.

The human eras:
The Deucal flood is the middle one. In order to understand it, we must hear something about the history of mankind that Hesiod tells us. According to him, there were four human races who lived in four successive eras.

The first one was the Golden Age. It was under the rule of Kronos. People descended from the gods and lived like the gods themselves, without trouble or worries. It was a kind of Garden of Eden. Age and diseases were unknown to them. They died as if in sleep and then became good spirits, protecting the people.

The second race, the silver one, was created by the Olympians and was inferior to the golden one. Here people lived for a hundred years like small children with their mother, then for a short time they behaved like fools and madmen, did not honor the gods, and perished. But they are still revered by men as blessed.

Then Zeus created a third race: the bronze one. These people were strong and terrible. They built everything out of bronze, because iron did not yet exist. Their houses were made of bronze, their weapons and all their equipment. They fought against each other all the time and so wiped themselves out and came to Hades.

After they had perished by their own hands, a fourth human race came, the iron one, which still exists today. This people made everything out of iron and did not stop working, day and night, and fought against each other without end. The parents did not respect their children any more and the children did not respect their parents. There was no more hospitality and promises were broken at will. Also this race will end badly one day, Aidos (shame) and Nemesis will leave the people, so that mankind will perish defenceless. Dike (justice) had already retreated into the mountains, since the people no longer respected her. When things got worse, she will leave the earth and can be seen on the sky as virgin (Pindar).

The Deucal flood:
Zeus wanted to see for himself whether the people were really so bad and came to Lykaon, the king of Arcadia. Lykaon wanted to test the wisdom of the God and presented him the flesh of a killed, innocent guest. Thereupon Zeus destroyed his house with lightning and turned him into a wolf. And he decided to destroy all the people, not by fire, because it could have lit the heaven, but by a flood of water over Greece, so that all people and animals drowned. Except for two: Deukalion and Pyrrha.

Deukalion, son of Prometheus and Klymene, was king over the Phthiotis in Thessaly (Strabo) and had Pyrrha (the "redhead"), daughter of Epimetheus and Pandora, as his wife. These two were the most righteous and pious people on earth. Prometheus advised them to build a wooden box which Deukalion and Pyrrha entered. When the flood ended after 9 days, they landed at the Parnassos mountain (according to other tradition at Othrys). When Zeus saw the rescued, he ended the flood by making a deep hole in which the water ran off. This hole was still visible 1000 years later in the sanctuary of Olympia.

Deukalion came out of the ark and sacrificed to Zeus Phyxios. The latter sent him Hermes and granted him a wish. He asked for people, and in the sanctuary of Themis at the river Kephissos they were instructed by Themis to cover their heads and throw their mother's bones behind them. They realized that Themis had meant Mother Earth by this. So they threw stones behind them, and from the stones of Deukalion emerged men, from the stones of Pyrrha women. Therefore the new people were "a hard race, experienced in tribulation". The ancient Greeks thought that their word for people (λαοι) derived from stone (λαες), as we know today a so-called folk etymology.

Apollodor reports in his Bibliotheke that other people too who had saved themselves on mountains had survived: Megaros, Kerambos and the inhabitants of Parnassos, some of whom emigrated to Arkadia and there revived the terrible customs of Lykaon. So the flood had been of little use.

Deukalion, after his lucky rescue, built the first temple for Zeus in Athens and was buried there after his death (Pausanias). With Pyrrha he had five children, Protogeneia, Hellen, who became the progenitor of the Greeks (Hellenes), Graikos, Thyia and Orestheus, perhaps also Amphiktyon.

History of Art:
The representation of Deukalion and Pyrrha in antiquity is rare. I only found the mention of a stucco relief from Ostia around 120 AD. But in the Renaissance this theme was taken up. There are arrangements of this motive by Schiavone (1563, Galleria Nazionale in Parma), by Tintoretto (around 1541, Modena, GE; 1543/44, Padua, Mus. Civico) and later by Peter Paul Rubens (1636, Prado) and Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (1655, Denver Art Museum), to name only the most important.

I have chosen
(1) the painting of Rubens and
(2) the painting of Castiglione.
(3) Interesting is also a marble sculpture "Pyrrha or the population" from 1773, which is today in the Louvre. It shows Pyrrha and the people created by her stone throws, here represented by children. It was commissioned by Abbot Terray, the last financial controller of Louis XV and short-term director of the king's buildings before Louis XVI's arrival. Population here is meant as activity, not in the sense of "total number of inhabitants", but of "to populate", as in the peupulation policy of Frederick the Great. This peupulation was an important instrument of population policy in absolutism.

(1) Hesiod, Theogony
(2) Apollodor, Bibliotheke
(3) Ovid, Metamorphoses
(4) Pausanias, Voyages
(5) Strabo

(1) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon (online too)
(2) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Mythologie (online too)
(3) Der Kleine Pauly
(4) Karl Kerenyi, Die Mythologie der Griechen
(5) Robert von Ranke-Graves, Griechische Mythologie
(6) Aghion/Barbillon/Lissarrague, Reclams Lexikon der antiken Götter und Heroen in der Kunst, 2000

Online Sources:
(1) Wikipedia

Best regards

Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
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« Reply #431 on: April 10, 2019, 06:31:44 am »

Apollo Lairbenos

Asia Minor is known as home of an infinite number of deities. Here I would like to tell something about the Phrygian Apollo Lairbenos.

1st coin:
Phrygia, Hierapolis, pseudo-autonomous, 2nd-3rd century A.D.
AE 24, 7.34g, 180°
        Bust of Apollo Lairbenos, draped and laureare, r.
       Roman she-wolf l., suckling he twins Remus and Romulus, above a star
ref. BMC 95 var.
about VF, dark green patina

The name means "holy city" and it is said to have been founded by Apollo. It was famous for its holy hot springs, whose gases were associated with Pluto, the underworld god. Hierapolis had an important Jewish community and is mentioned by Paul in his letters to the Colossians. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The white sinter terraces of Pamukkale are world famous.

In 1889 Ramsay and Hogarth were the first to discover the ruins of a small temple near Badliner near Dionysopolis in Phrygia, dedicated to a native god identified with Apollo. According to the inscriptions found, he was also worshipped in Dionysopolis. in Hierapolis, Motella and Atyochorion. His name is not uniform. In Hierapolis he was called Lairbenos. In the inscriptions, however, also occur: Lairmenos, Larmenos, Larbenos, Leimenos and Luermenos. This epithet of the Asia Minor Apollo is not Greek. In former times some have derived it from Greek labrys (= double axe), others from Hittite labarnas (= "Lord"). But rather a toponym or an ethnicon underlies it. The name can come from the place name Lyrbe near the found inscriptions. It was probably the case that the pronunciation of this Phrygian sound could not be accurately reproduced in Greek. Ramsay assumes that he might have been similar to the German "ö".

In the inscriptions he is often called Apollon Lairbenos or Apollon Helios. Epiphanes (the shining one) and Megas (the great one) are also mentioned, all references to his solar character. He was worshipped together with the maternal goddess Leto, who had an extensive cult in the southern and western Asia minor. Ramsay saw him as her son. A coin from Hierapolis with the legend ΛΗΤΩΕΙΑ.ΠΥΘΙΑ shows that there must have been a common celebration in both honours. Ramsay writes that the couple Leto and Lairbenos Apollo had their equivalent in Kybele and Atys in northern Asia Minor. In the course of time it became a triad through the arrival of Artemis. The priests of their cult also called themselves "Priests of Asklepios Soter", which shows that he additionally had the qualities of a healer god and that he must have been closely related to the god Sozon (Roscher).

Inscriptions in the temple of Badliner show that slaves were released in his name if they placed themselves for some time or forever as hieroi in the service of the deity (as so-called hierodouls, temple servants). But there were also steles which spoke of terrible punishments for those who had sinned against him in the service of God. This could also have been malaria, which was endemic in this valley. As offences that had been punished, are described: A woman had slept with her husband although she was a hiera. A man had not let his wife go, although she was a hiera (actually understandable!). A man had eaten the meat of a goat, which was intended as a sacrificial animal. The purpose of these steles was to warn others.

A building connected to the Apollo-Lairbenos cult was excavated in Hierapolis in 1960. It stands above the Plutonion (an entrance to the underworld), which was a cave filled with poisonous gases, of which Pliny writes that only the priests of the Great Mother (the so-called Galli) could come out of it undamaged. With Great Mother (= Kybele) Leto is meant here with security, who was called also MHTHP LHTΩ. Somehow in this time many deities were mixed with each other
On coins Lairbenos is regularly depicted with a crown of rays, which proves his function as sun god. The twins suckled by a she-wolf on the reverse of the coin are deliberately not called Remus and Romulus by Roscher, because exposed children who are raised by an animal are also found in many other myths.

Lairbenos also occurs on a horse riding r., not only on steles, but also on coins:

2nd coin:
Phrygia, Hierapolis, pseudo-autonomous, 3rd century A.D.
AE 24, 8.16g, 0°
obv. BOVΛΗ
        Bust of Boule (= council), draped and laureate, r.
       Apollo Lairbenos trotting on horse r., with l. hand holding the reins, in r. hand
       holding double axe
ref. BMC 240, 77
F+, black-brown patina, flan crack at 7h, perforated at 6h

From Thyatira there are coins on which a figure rides on a horse and holds a double axe (labrys) over the shoulder. For a long time this figure was thought to be an Amazon. Gerhard then realized that it had to be a male deity, but thought it was Men. Only Pick realized that it was Apollo Tyrimnaios. Also here it concerns the Lydo-Phrygian sun god, who appears on the coins of many cities in Lydia and Phrygia in this representation. This god is also depicted on coins of Eumeneia in Phrygia, here standing frontally with a double axe and a raven:

3rd coin:
Phrygia, Eumeneia, Nero as Caesar, 50-54 A.D.
AE 20, 4.60g, 0°
issued under the Archiereus Julius Kleon
       Bust, draped, bareheaded, r.
rev. from right to left, always from top to bottom:
       Apollo Tyrimnaios, nude, chlamys over left shoulder, standing frontal, looking l.,
       holding double axe in left arm and in extended r. hand raven
ref. SNG Copenhagen 394; SNG by Aulock 3591; SNG Munich 207; RPC 3149;
       BMC 41
Rare, VF, black, shiny patina

Julius Kleon was together with his wife Bassa high priest of Asia.

Excursus: The double axe
The double axe (Greek labrys, Latin bipennis) served for craft purposes, but also as a weapon, in Homer's case, however, only for the opponents of the Achaeans, above all for the Amazons. It had its special meaning in the cult. Originally coming from the Near East and then in Asia Minor, especially in Caria, it was the attribute of numerous native gods until the latest time. In Crete it became one of the most important religious symbols. There only goddesses are represented with the labrys. This is seen partly as evidence of a matriarchy, but partly also as an indication of the male partner of the Great Goddess and as insignia of the priest king. Double axes were set up as cult symbols and consecration gifts, partly made of precious material, and carved into the supporting foundation stones of the Cretan palaces as divine protection. In Asia minor, besides Demeter and Kybele, many male deities also carry a labrys, e.g. Zeus as Labraundos, Men and Apollo, as here on the coin. This is often interpreted as a sign of the weather and thunderstorm god, but without sufficient reason.

On the Greek mainland the Labrys passes completely into the hands of male figures. Since the so-called geometrical time the Labrys appears as a sign of holiness, e.g. with Herakles, Theseus, Hephaistos etc. In Italy it plays, except in eastern cults, no big role. The axe in the Fasces bundle has nothing to do with the Labrys. The Kleiner Pauly thinks that the actual character and the ritual use of the labrys needs further clarification.

Unfortunately the esotericism of this device has taken over again. On the Internet you will find the most peculiar explanations, especially from so-called feminists.

I have attached:
(1) a picture of the Plutonion (Mach, Wikipedia)
(2) the picture of a stele with the riding Lairbenos (Wikipedia)

(1) W. M. Ramsay, Artemis-Leto and Apollo-Lairbenos, The Journal of Hellenic
      Studies, Vol. 10 (1889) (via
(2) Kevin M. Miller, Apollo Lairbenos, in Numen, Vol. 32, No. 1 (Jul., 1985) (via
(3) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und
      römischen Mythologie, 1895
(4) Der Kleine Pauly
(5) Wikipedia

Best regards

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« Reply #432 on: April 10, 2019, 06:33:41 am »

Index of this thread

Titles in Italics refer to Roman mythology!
Apollo Smintheus
Apollo Sauroktonos - The Lizardkiller
Amphilochos - The seer
Apollo Lykeios
Apollo Lykeios - or rather not?
The Rape of Persephone
The Stymphalean Birds - an ancient Bird Influenza?
The Sword Dance of the Kuretes
Gigantomachia - The battle of the Giants
The two Nemeseis of Smyrna
Haimos - the Mountain God
Astarte, or Ba'alat Gebul, the Lady of Byblos
Baetyl, the sacred stone
Erichthonios - King of Athens
Marsyas - the skinned
Triptolemos - the bringer of culture
Men - the Anatolean Moon God
Ma-Enyo - the archaic War Goddess
Ares - the bloodthirsty killer
Aphrodite Pudica
The infant Dionysos
Dionysos and the panther
Dionysos with Kantharos
Mount Argaios - the Sacred Mountain of Cappadocia
Some notes on the Roman god Liber
The Aegis - the wondershield of Zeus
The Gorgoneion - the head of Medusa
Asklepios - the Healing God
The gods of the Underworld
Dea Caelestis - the ancient City Goddess of Carthage
Kybele - the great Earth Mother
The Dioscurs - the divine pair of brothers
Hermes - the frontier runner
Melikertes and the Isthmian Games
Omphale - owner and lover of Herakles
The snake cult of Alexander of Abounoteichos (called the FALSE PROPHET)
A curious depiction of Asklepios
The heritage of Greek mythology in modern literature
The madness of Aias the Great
Kronos - father of gods
Asteria - the Star Goddess
Perseus and Andromeda
The Ephesian Boar
The Calydonean Boar
Bull Mythology
Some notes on the river-gods
Mt. Gerizim - the holy mountain of Samaria
The mysterious Cabiri
Herakliskos Drakonopnigon - The infant Herakles strangling the snakes
Atargatis or Dea Syria, the Great Syrian Goddess
Orpheus taming the wild animals
Telephos, the son of Herakles
Dionysos and Nikaia - the founder myth of Nicaea
Dido - founder of Carthage
The Minotaur
Battos - the untrue herdsman
Kadmos - Founder of Thebes
Darzalas - The Great God of Odessos
Tyre and the Ambrosial rocks
Artemis Tauropolos and Iphigenia
The Lokrian Aias
The Herakles Farnese
Europa and the bull
The auloi
Leda and the swan
Tomos - the Ktistes
Hippolytos and Phaidra
An interesting depiction of Zeus-Ammon
Alpheios and the nymph Arethusa
The Dioskouroi
The myths of Arne
Artemis and Kallisto
The Lares
The white sow of Lavinium
The Catanian Brothers
The rape of the Sabine women
Veiovis and Amaltheia
Herakles with kantharos
Laurel wreath with berries
Some notes on Pan
Miletos - founder of Milet
Herakles and the Nemean lion
Venus Verticordia
The love of Ares and Aphrodite
The fourth labor of Herakles, the Erymanthian Boar
Zeus Kasios
Zeus Kataibates
Venus Cloacina
The struggle between Xanthos and Achilleus
The Erymanthian Boar II
Herakles and the giant Antaios
Anna Perenna
Iuppiter Optimus Maximus
Ganymedes - the beautiful
The three Graces
Juno Sospita
Apollo with double-axe
The Amazons
Cheiron, the wise kentaur
The Kentaurs
Aeneas, carrying Anchises
Apollo Patroos
Hekate Triformis
Poseidon and the nymph Beroe
Some notes on Mithras
Hector - Heroe of Troy
Juno Caprotina
The Thracian Rider-God Heros
The unlucky King Kyzikos
Hylas - Herakles' favorite
Aphrodite Urania
Sandan of Tarsos
Diana Nemorensis
Acca Larentia
Apollo Smintheus and the herdsman Ordes
Hera Lacinia
The Egyptian Sphinx
The river Nile
Agathodaimon and Uraeus
The crowns of ancient Egypt
Zeus Olbios and the Priest-Kingdom of Olba
Some notes on Nemesis
The Star of Bethlehem: Mythology or not?
The myth of Tereus and Prokne
Mars and Rhea Silva
Faustulus and the twins
Romulus and the first triumph
Byzas - founder of Byzanz
Herophile - the Sibyl
The voting pebble of Athena
The second labour of Hercules, the Lernaean Hydra
The Garden of the Hesperides
The Cult of Dionysos in Nysa-Scythopolis
Eshmun - The Phoenician Healer God
The pre-Islamic goddess Al-Lat
Aineias escapes from Troy
Pyramus and Thisbe
The Genius
The Genius Cucullatus and Christophorus
Artemis with child
Nymph Nysa and the Dionysos Child
Dionysos and Ariadne
The Samian Hera
Shamash - The Babylonian sun-god
A founder myth of Lanuvium
A word about Aequitas
Doros - son of Poseidon
The bound Ares
The drunken Hephaistos
Leto - mother of the twins Apollo and Artemis
Ptah - the Creator God of Memphis
The Sibyl Mantho
The mysterious Pigmies
Poseidon and Troy
Hadad - Jupiter Heliopolitanus
Io/Hathor (and Marnas)
Saturn - the old Roman God of Agriculture
Herakles and the Cretan Bull
Artemis Perasia, the old Kubaba
Apollo Philesios and the movable stag of Kanachos
The Greek Sphinx
Derketo and Triton(?)
Juno Martialis
Some notes on the Phoenix
The Sothic Cycle
Amor and Psyche
Some notes on Eros
The Greek sun-god Helios
Aphrodite Stratonikis
Gordios - Founder of Gordion
The Griffins
Tyche Euposia
Apollo Karinos, the stony Apollo
Apollon Iatros - Apollon the Doctor
Apollon Klarios and the Oracle of Klaros
Silen and Dionysos
Who is the boy between Asklepios and Hygieia?
Zeus Syrgastes
Pelops and the Curse of the House of Atreus
Some notes on Aeternitas
Aphrodite Aphrodisias

Until here the articles are in the book 'Coins and Ancient Mythology'
Thoth, Hermes Trismegistos
The Caduceus (Kerykeion)
Crescent and the ash-grey moonlight
The Mythology of Tenedos
Maron - Eponym of Maroneia
The Return of Odysseus
Excursion: The island of the Phaiakians - Homer's Atlantis?
The so-called Tyche of Antioch
The horrible fate of Tarpeia
Janus - the God with 2 Faces
Excursion: 'The Mourning Penelope' - An Addentum to 'Tyche'
Phrixos and Helle
Excursion: The Dardanelles
The standing lake-god of Savatra
Zeus Olybrios
Philoctetes - the Story of a Lonely and Tortured
Midas (and Mida)
Athena Itonia
Herakles and Kerberos
El/Kronos of Byblos
Excursion: Joseph Weizenbaum's ELIZA
Theseus, the National Hero of the Athenians
Rhodope and the Rabbit - A Beauty from Markianopolis
The Ichthyocentaurs
Otreus and Aineas
Apollo Karneios
Pallor - Goddes of Paleness and Fear
Some Notes on the Cock
Jupiter Stator
Talos - The first Robot in History
Excursion: Man and Machine
The Phrygian Rider-God Sozon
Astakos and the founder myth of Nikomedeia
Dione and the Oracle of Dodona
Excursion: Deukalion and Pyrrha
Apollo Lairbenos

Index of this thread

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