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

FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numism  |  Reading For the Advanced Collector  |  Topic: Coins of mythological interest 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
Pages: 1 ... 13 14 15 16 17 [18] Go Down Print
Author Topic: Coins of mythological interest  (Read 427660 times)
Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11593

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« 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
Offline Offline

Posts: 1508

« 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)

 Thumbs Up
Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11593

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

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

Thank you, Steve, for your encouraging words!


Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11593

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« 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
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11593

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
Offline Offline

Posts: 11593

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
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11593

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« 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

Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11593

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #432 on: November 01, 2019, 12:44:37 pm »

Sauroktonos revisited

The most important type for Nikopolis ad Istrum is undoubtedly the Apollo Sauroktonos, the "lizard killer", an unique feature of Nikopolis. This type is also available from Philippopolis (but scarce and only later) and 1x from Prusa ad Olympum, but these are probably borrowed from Nikopolis (Pick in AMNG). Therefore it is assumed that Nikopolis possessed at least one copy of this famous statue of Praxiteles. Common to all is the representation of Apollo stg. r. with crossed legs and with his right hand outstretched on a tree stump on which a lizard crawls upwards. It is interesting that Apollo does not hold an arrow in his hand at the first 3 emperors. And even under Severus, where first Apollo appears with arrow, as many types also occur without arrow! An observation that astonished me early on, because it doesn't really fit the lizard killer.

The Apollo Sauroktonos has long been one of my favourite types in art history as well as in numismatics. During my occupation with it I have been able to clear up a rare type for Commodus and have been able to show that a type for Severus actually holds a branch at the hip.

Here are 2 examples of early coins from Nikopolis:

1st coin:
Antoninus Pius, AD 138-161
AE 20, 5.85g, 20.28mm, 180°
struck under governor M. Antonius Zenon, c. AD 145 (Pick)
          Bare head n.r.
          Apollo Sauroktonos, nude, with crossed legs standing r., with outstretched left  
          hand resting on tree stump on which a lizard is crawling upwards; right hand at
Ref:: a) AMNG I/1, 1225 var. (head laureate)
         b) Varbanov 2111 var. (= AMNG 1225)
         c) Hristova-Hoeft-Jekov (2018) No (this coin)
         d) RPC online temp no. 4328
Rare, almost SS, black patina

This is the earliest and most elegant representation of Apollo Sauroktonos on a coin, but without an arrow.

2nd coin:
Commodus, AD 177-192
AE 22, 6.83g, 22.15mm, 105°
          Bust, cuirassed, laureate, r.
          Apollo Sauroktonos, nude, with crossed legs standing r., with outstretched left  
          hand resting on tree stump on which a lizard is crawling upwards; right hand at
          hip holding an (olive) branch; left behind him on his bow and quiver
Ref:: a) not in AMNG
         b) not in Varbanov
         c) Hristova-Hoeft-Jekov (2018) No (this coin)
         d) cf. Gorny&Mosch, auction 212, lot 2321 corr. (Heavily tooled and then
             misinterpreted as Artemis!)
Extremely rare (R9, only 2 specimens known!), F+, dark green patina, corroded

Although corroded, this is a nice and interesting example of the coinage of Nikopolis at the time of Commodus!

The representations for Severus with the arrow in the raised hand do not correspond with the arm position of the traditional statues in the Louvre and the Vatican, nor with the bronze statue of Cleveland, which is claimed to be the original. All of them have the right arm at hip height! Here is the list of the 30 types known from Nikopolis so far:

Sauroktonos types from Nikopolis, after Hristova-Hoeft-Jekov (2018):
1. Antoninus Pius
--- 4 Hand at hip, without object
2. Marcus Aurelius
--- 1 Hand at hip, without object
3. Commodus
--- 1 Hand at hip, without object
--- 3 Hand at hip with branch
4. Severus
--- 2 Hand on chest / at hip, without object
--- 2 Hand raised, with arrow?
--- 1 Hand raised with a branch
--- 1 Hand at hip with branch
--- 3 Hand raised with arrow
5. Caracalla
--- 1 Hand hanging down with branch
--- 2-3 2 Hand raised with arrow
--- 1 Hand hanging down with branch
6. Plautilla
--- 1 Hand raised with arrow
7 Geta
--- 1 Hand raised with arrow
--- 1 Hand at hip, without object
8. Macrinus
--- 1 Hand raised with arrow
--- 1 Hand at hip with branch
--- 1 ???
9. Diadumenian
--- 1 Hand hanging down with branch
10. Elagabal
--- 1 Hand hanging down with branch
11th Gordian III
--- -

With the exception of Gordian III, all emperors have issued coins with the depiction of Apollo Sauroktonos, of the empresses only Plautilla. Altogether we have 30 types so far. They are arranged in the following 3 groups according to their arm position::

(1) right hand at hip:
      a. Hand without object 10
      b. with branch in hand 3
      c. with branch to tree stump 1
(2) right hand retracted at shoulder height
      a. with branch in hand 2
      b. with arrow in hand 8
(3) right hand hanging down
      a. with branch in hand 4
(4) unclear 2

Accordingly, all coin representations with raised arm (group 2) and also those with hanging arm down (group 3) are irregular, because they do not correspond with the preserved marble copies. If we omit these, only 14 types remain, not a single one of which shows an arrow. This corresponds well with the preserved marble statues and the bronze statue from Cleveland, which also have no arrow in their hands. The description with the arrow goes back only to Pliny the Elder, who writes: (Nat. Hist. 34, 70): "Fecit et puberem Apollinem subrepenti lacerate comminus sagitta insidiantem quem sauroctonon vocant" (= He also created a juvenile Apollo, which closely pursues a crawling lizard with an arrow; this one is called Sauroktonos, the lizard killer)

Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717-1768), the founder of scientific archaeology and art history, who was appointed overseer of Roman antiquities shortly afterwards (1763), identified the statue described by Pliny in 1756 as Apollo Sauroktonos in the copy belonging to the Borghese Collection at that time. It is now in the Louvre after Camillo Filippo Ludovico Borghese sold part of the famous collection to his brother-in-law Napoleon Bonaparte in 1807.

But if so many facts, especially the "evidence of the coins (Pat Lawrence)" as shown above, speak against an arrow, then one must also consider that Pliny may have been wrong. In particular, one should consider that the inhabitants of Nikopolis will have known this statue and could have compared it with the coin depictions!

The interpretation of this statue has always caused problems. That the lizard is an allusion to the Python is implausible. It would degrade, even make ridiculous, at best ironic the memorable fight of Apollo against the dragon. The lizard has always caused difficulties. I had already once published an article about the Sauroktonos (Coins and Ancient Mythology, 2011), describing the obvious contrast between the youthful, playful type of Apollo and the merciless murderer of an innocent little animal, a contrast characteristic of Apollo. But now there is a new interpretation that I do not want to withhold from you.

I became aware of them through the article "Apollo Sauroktonos: No Lizards Were killed in the Making of These Coins" by Roman Collector in CoinTalk of September 8, 2019, which goes back to Irving Lavin, "The Fable of Apollo Sauroktonos and the Beauty of Apollo Medicus", which recalls the important work of Renate Preisshofen, "Der Apollon Sauroktonos des Praxiteles, 2002. But if Apollo has no arrow in his hand and doesn't want to kill the lizard, what is it about?

Like snakes, lizards also skin themselves. The ancients believed that the "newborn" lizards were blind after moulting and would only regain their sight through the rays of the sun. And that is where Apollo comes into play. As sun god and as Apollo Medicus only he could renew the sight. Hyginus writes that Apollo, the father of Asklepius, was the first to practice ophthalmology. Apollo doesn't want to kill the lizard, but his bright sunbeams heal it and give it back its sight. And that is why the lizard does not seek a hiding place here, as it would normally do in this situation, but crawls upwards towards the sun. A representation that can even be found in St. Peter's in Rome.

And so Apollo here is not the merciless killer, but the charitable youth. So not Apollo Sauroktonos, the lizard killer, is depicted, but Apollo Medicus, the charitable healer. An interesting thought. And a good possibility to finally break the knot of interpretation, not to cut it, but to loosen it!

I have attached
(1) a picture of the statue of Sauroktonos from the Louvre (Wikipedia)
(2) the detail of a bronze relief by Gianlorenzo Bernini: "Lizard creeps towards the sun" on a column of the canopy in St. Peter, Rome, ca. 1625

(1) Pliny the Elder, Naturae Historiae
(2) Hyginus, Fabulae
(3) Behrend Pick, The ancient coins of northern Greece, Vol. 1: Dacien and
      Moesia, 1898
(4) Patricia Lawrence, Apollo Sauroktonos: "The Evidence of the Coins". Online at
(5) Renate Preisshofen, Der Apollon Sauroktonos des Praxiteles, in "Antike Plastik 28  
      (2002): 41 115"
(6) Hans-Joachim Hoeft, Münzen und antike Mythologie - Reise in ein fernes Land, 2011
(7) Irving Lavin, The Fable of Apollo Sauroktonos and the Beauty of Apollo
       Medicus, Institute for Advanced Study. Online at
(8) Roman Collector, Apollo Sauroktonos: No Lizards Were killed in the Making of  
      These Coins, Cointalk, 8 September 2019

Best regards

Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11593

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #433 on: November 01, 2019, 01:01:23 pm »

Herakles and the Lernaean Hydra

The coin:
AE 18, 2.77g, 17.56mm, 210°
obv.: TON KTI - CTHN
         Bearded head of Herakles r.
         Herakles, nude, stg. l., has grabbed the Lernaean Hydra with her several heads, entangling already his r. leg, with his l. hand and holding in his raised r. hand his club to slay the Hyda; behind him on the ground the quiver and his bow
ref.: Mionnet Suppl. II, 604
very rare, almost VF, dark green patina, slightly corroded

From Nikopolis coins are known for Macrinus and his son Diadumenian with almost the same depiction, also with the foot already entangled by the Hydra, so that there are some indications that this is the representation of a statue.

What happened before:
Herakles, the illegitimate son of Zeus and Alkmene, was persecuted from birth by the jealousy of Hera. After marrying Megara, the daughter of King Kreon of Thebes, she struck him with madness amd he killed his children with Megara and threw them into the fire. When he came to his senses again, he banished himself from Thebes and was atoned by King Thespius. Then he turned to the Pythia in Delphi to ask what he should do further. Pythia told him to serve his cousin Orystheus, King of Tiryns, for 12 years.

The killing of the Lernaean Hydra is the 2nd work in the Dodeka catalogue of the 12 works of Herakles. The Hydra, a daughter of Typhon and Echidna, from which other monsters came, was a huge water snake with seven heads, raised by Hera, living in the swamp of Lerna in the Argolis. She covered the land with her deadly breath, devastating the flocks and everything she came to. Herakles, together with Iolaos, climbed his cart and set off. On Athena's advice he chased her out of her cave under a plane tree on the river Amymone with glowing arrows. With effort he overpowered her - she was already wrapping herself around his legs - and struck her heads off with the sword. But each time two new ones grew out of the cut off head. Hera also sent a giant crab to bite Herakles in the foot. Then Heracles called his companion Iolaos for help. He ignited the nearby forest and then burned out the stumps of her neck with fire, so that they could no longer grow back. Finally Herakles cut off her middle head, which was immortal, and buried it under a heavy boulder on the road from Lerna to Elaios. He immersed his arrows in the poisonous blood of the Hydra, making them absolutely deadly.

The Hydra was so poisonous that her breath already killed when someone passed by her, even when she was asleep. The river Anigros in Elis stank unbearably just because once the centaur Chiron, hit by an arrow of Heracles, had bathed his wounds in it. Herakles himself had been bitten by the Hydra during his battle. As a result, he was constantly suffering from incurable ulcers. He asked the oracle in Delphi for help and the oracle advised him to look for a medicinal herb similar to the Hydra in Phoenicia. He found it near the city of Aka, today's Acre in Palestine, which then got its name from the Greek ακεομαι (= I heal, from ακος = healing). Unfortunately it is not handed down which plant it was.

There were problems with Erystheus because he did not want to accept the killing of the Hydra as one of the 12 works. He accused Heracles of using the help of Iolaos. But Herakles replied that he had only called Iolaos when the giant crayfish had helped the Hydra. So the killing of the Lernaean Hydra is considered a valid work of Herakles.

In the end Herakles also died from the poison of the Hydra: The blood of the centaur Nessos, whom he had killed with an arrow, had become so poisonous that he suffered insatiable pain from the blood-soaked nettle shirt that Nessos had given to Deianeira as a gift for him, and in his desperation he sought death by fire.

Lerna lies about 7km from Argos on the southern Peloponnesos and was notorious for its swamps, which were bounded in the north by the river Pontinos and in the south by the river Amymone. These had a dozen strong sources (Greek: κεφαλαι = heads), which were mythologically personified by the Lernaean Hydra with its numerous heads. There was also the "halcyonic pond", which was regarded as an entrance into the underworld. A holy plane tree grove was consecrated to Demeter Prosymna (a nurse of Hera) and Dionysos Saotes with the mystery cult of the Lernaeai. After Apollodoros Rhodios there was also a Poseidon cult (Pauly).

The number of heads the Hydra is said to have had varies from three to five, seven, nine, up to one hundred. Originally the hydra probably had only one head.
It is said to have been Pisander of Kamiros on Rhodes (about 640 B.C.), who first increased the number of heads to make them even more terrible (Pausanias).

Iolaos was originally a Heros who was worshipped in Thebes, but was later suppressed by the Herakles cult. As son of Iphikles and Automedusa, he was the nephew of Herakles and became his companion and charioteer. He helped Herakles in various of his works. At Plutarch and Euripides he is the lover of Herakles. He took part in the hunt for the Kalydonean Boar and in the voayage of the Argonauts. He was the first Olympian winner. Herakles gave him Megara, his first wife, as his wife. After the death of Herakles he had built the big burial mound and took care of Herakles' children. In their defense against Erystheus he died. In Thebes the Iolaeia took place in his honour with chariot races and sacrifices.

Palaiphatos the rationalist, writes:

Lernos was the king of Hydra in the Lerna area and an enemy of Eurystheus, the king of Mykenae. Erystheus sent Herakles to devastate the city. But Hydra was strongly fortified and guarded by 50 brave archers. Whenever Herakles met an archer with his arrow, 2 new ones took his place. When the distress by Herakles grew stronger, Lernos recruited a troop of Carians under the leadership of the great Karkinos (Greek cancer). Thereupon Iolaos helped Herakles with an army from Thebes, set Hydra on fire and the city and the enemy army were destroyed. From this the myth was made (Palaiphatos, middle of the 4th century BC).

History of Art:
I have added 2 pictures:
(1) The picture of an Attic black-figured Stamnos, middle of the 5th century B.C. It shows "Herakles, Iolaos and the Hydra" and is today in the Louvre in Paris. It is attributed to the Princeton painter. On the left you can see Athena, who helps Herakles.

(2) A picture by Antonio del Pollaiuolo "Herakles and the Hydra of Lerna", ca.1480, today in the Uffizi/Florence
This is a pair of paintings to which the painting "Hercules kills Antaeus" belongs too. It is often difficult to decide which of the two brothers Antonio or Piero is the artist. But these two works are attributed to Antonio Pollaiuolo. They show scenes of Greek mythology in the light of Christian philosophy. They were probably commissioned by the Medici. In 1609 they were first mentioned in the inventory of Palazzo Gondi, where they hung as a diptych. In the 2nd World War they were lost and were only rediscovered in Los Angeles in 1963 and returned in 1991. This success was due to Rodolfo Siviero (1911-1983), an Italian secret agent, historian and intellectual who was dedicated to retrieving the artworks stolen by the Nazis.

(1) Hesiod, Theogony
(2) Apollodor, Bibliotheke
(3) Apollonius Rhodios, Argonautika
(4) Pausanias, Travel in Greece
(5) Palaiphatos, Incredible Stories, 38

(1) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon, 1770
(2) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Mxthologie, 1884-1900
(3) Robert von Ranke-Graves, Greek Mythology, 1984
(4) Karl Kerenyi, The Mythology of the Greeks, Volume II: The Heroic Stories, 1966
(5) Der Kleine Pauly, 1979
(6) Aghion/Barbillon/Lissarrague, Lexikon der antiken Götter und Heroen in der Kunst, Reclam 2000

Online sources:
(2) Wikipedia

Best regards

Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11593

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #434 on: December 03, 2019, 07:15:45 am »

Excursion: The Hydra as Allegory of the Enemy

Today, the Hydra has become an allegory of the enemy, especially of an insidious and dangerous one who is constantly growing up. Here are a few examples:

(1) First, the infamous commemorative medal of St. Bartholomew's Night, struck under the French king Charles IX. (1550-1574):
AE - Bronze, 51mm, 60g
         struck 1572, medalist Alexandre Olivier (restrike from 1880)
          Bust in armour and sash, laureate, r.
         in ex. 1572
         Hercules, nude, in lion's fur and with lion's scalp on his head, stg. r.
         holding in his raised r. hand the club and in his extended l. hanf a burning torch
         towards the Hydra, which is a scale monster with claws and 3 heads on the right
         in the front of him; in the background a landscape
Ref: Armand III, 286, 1; Jones I, 108; Mazer Roll II, 168

1572 was the year of the terrible St. Bartholomew's Night. Hercules represents Charles IX, who with fire and sword exstirpates the Hydra of heresy. The motto on the back translated reads: "If he does not fear the sword, I will also meet him with fire", that meant the 3 million Protestants (Huguenots).
(2) Commemorative coin on the battle of Millesimo and the battle at Dego as an example of the defamation of the military opponent as Hydra:
Italy, Napoleon Bonaparte, 1796
AE - Bronze, 43mm   
       minted 1796, medallion by Lavy   
         Napoleon in the shape of Hercules stands to the left, fights with club
         seven-headed hydra
         in the field: LE / PEUPLE / FRANCAIS / A / L'ARMEE / D'ITALI
         (legend in 6 lines)
Ref:: ECR Julius 494, Hennin 733

The so-called Battle of Millesimo, rather the loss-making siege of Cosseria Castle on April 13, 1796, and the Battle of Dego on April 14, 1796 were part of several small battles of Napoleon Bonpartes' Italian campaign in the 1st Coalition War (1792-1797) between the revolutionary army of France and the allied armies of Austria and Sardinia-Piedmont in northern Italy, which Napoleon was able to end victoriously.
According to the republican calendar introduced after the French Revolution, the Floreal was a month from April 20 to May 19.

(3) Medal from Germany from the 1st World War:
AE - Iron medal, 85mm, one-sided
           in the field RJA (Medailleur)
           The German Michel as Hercules fights against the hydra of his war opponents

The saying 'VIEL FEIND - VIEL EHR!' = 'Much enemy, much honour' is attributed to Georg von Frundsberg (1473-1528), the lansquenet leader of the Habsburgs. In 1513 he surprisingly defeated a numerically superior army of Venetians at La Motta in Northern Italy.

Today the terror network of the Islamic state is regularly referred to as Hydra, but also the daily terror in the social networks, which is so difficult to deal with.

Best regards

Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11593

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #435 on: December 03, 2019, 07:17:35 am »

Sobek - the Egyptian crocodile god

This coin has been in my collection for 10 years. I always thought it was a crocodile on the back. But now Broucheion from CoinTalk has made me aware that the crocodile has a sun disk on its head. So it's not a simple crocodile, it's Sobek, the crocodile god! I had overlooked the sun disk, but I'm not alone: Förschner doesn't mention it either!

So now naturally follows an article about Sobek - the Egyptian crocodile god.

The coin:
Egypt, Alexandria, Arsinoites Nome, Hadrian, AD 117-138
AE - Dichalcum, 2.01g, 12.87mm, 30°, 2.01g
         struck in Alexandria AD 126/127 (year 11)
Obv.: laureated head n.r.
Rev.: Crocodile with sun disk above the head, r. (Crocodile God Sobek)
          in the upper field LIA (year 11)   >
          in ex. APC (for Arsinoites)
Ref.: Milne -; Dattari 6212; Geissen 3383f.; SNG Copenhagen 1085; Förschner 1344
          (Sun disk not mentioned!)
Not common, SS, light green patina

This coin is a so-called Nome coin. In the Old Kingdom Egypt was divided into 32 districts (Greek: Nomoi), which had emerged from the principalities of the Neolithic (Wikipedia). At their head stood a ruler (Strategos), who was relatively independent of the central power of the Pharaoh. Each district (Nomos) was assigned a deity who was especially worshipped. Many of these local gods did not have their own name, but were named after their main place of worship. The goddess of the city Bast in the Nile delta, the famous cat goddess, was simply called "Bastet = the goddess of Bast".

This coin was struck in Alexandria (like all Nome coins) for the Arsinoites district. This had been added to the ancient districts  in Greek-Roman times as the 21st district Noret-Pehet and belonged to Upper Egypt.

Arsinoites was located on the Fajum at the confluence of a contributary to the Nile and the ancient Fajum Lake. The Fajum was an extensive marshland, an ideal hunting ground, which was largely drained only under Ptolemaios II to settle his Greek mercenaries there.

The crocodiles living there since ancient times instilled admiration and fear in the people. So it is understandable that they were worshipped there in the shape of the crocodile god Sobek (Egyptian "sbk"). The Greeks called the city Krokodeilopolis because of this worship of the crocodile. Sobek was called Souchos. Sobek was also considered the ruler of water and the god of fertility. He was worshipped as a protector, but was also regarded as evil in part. In the New Kingdom he appears in the underworld books. In the late period he was even regarded as the creator god.

Sobek was depicted as a god with a human body and crocodile head. As a national emblem he carries the Was. scepter in the left and the Ankh in the right. In the New Kingdom around 1400 B.C. Sobek additionally received the sun disk, because he was considered at this time a revelation of the sun god Re and was known as Sobek-Re. We therefore have reason to believe that Sobek-Re is also meant on this coin.

Its importance was so great at that time that a number of pharaohs took its name as an addition, e.g. Queen Nofrusobek or Pharaoh Chankre Sobekhotep, which translated means "Sobek is satisfied".

To the crocodile god Sobek were consecrated numerous temples with ponds for the holy animals. Besides Krokodeilopolis, the most important were found at Kom Ombo in Upper Egypt and at Tebtunis. The ancient Egyptians knew two different crocodile species: the larger Nile crocodile and the smaller West African crocodile. The West African crocodile was usually used for religious purposes, probably because it was less dangerous. The crocodiles who died in this temple were embalmed like humans and buried as mummies. At Kom-Ombo and in the caves of the crocodile necropolis of El-Maabdeh thousands of these crocodile mummies were found, especially young animals.

The Romans renamed Krokodeilopolis to Arsinoites, the city of the Arsinoites. Besides Memphis, Pelusium and Alexandria, it was the court of the governor. Numerous papyri in Greek, Coptic and Arabic script came from there. Today it is Al-Fayum, a large city with over 475000 inhabitants.

I have added
(1) A drawing of the crocodile god Sobek, and
(2) a pic of the front of the Temple of Sobek-Re (Roland Unger, Wikipedia), Qasr Qarun, at Al-Fayum

(1) Old Kingdom ca. 2707 - 2216 B.C. (3rd to 6th Dynasty)
(2) New Kingdom ca. 1550 - 1070 B.C. (18th to 20th Dynasty)

(1) Wikipedia
(2) Gisela Förschner, Die Münzen der römischen Kaiser in Alexandria - Historisches Museum in Frankfurt, 1987
(3) Der Kleine Pauly

Best regards

Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11593

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #436 on: December 04, 2019, 03:36:30 pm »

Eirene - the Greek goddess of peace

The Coin:
Egypt, Alexandria, Vespasian, 69-79
AE - Tetradrachm, 12.89g, 24mm
         struck 69/70 (RY 2)
          Laureate head r.
          under the chin LB (year 2)
Rev.: EI - PH - NH
         Eirene in long robe standing frontal, holding kerykeion in her left arm and
         in raised l. hand grain-ears
Ref: Milne 388; Dattari 357; SNG Copenhagen 165f.; Cologne 274f: Förschner 188

Eirene was the Greek goddess of peace. As Hora she was a daughter of Zeus and Themis and therefore a sister of Eunomia (good order) and Dike (justice). Originally they were the deities of growing, blooming and maturing in nature. The word Eirene is etymologically connected with the Greek word ear = spring. It is fitting that in ancient Greece spring was the time when warlike ventures were resumed and peace was in great danger (Wikipedia). Pauly writes that the origin of the name is probably pre-Greek. 

Later the Horai, especially Eirene, were raised to the moral-political level. She stood for the fact that disputes were settled by negotiations and not by weapons. In 371 B.C. she was at the centre of the Peace of Sparta between Athens and Sparta, which ended the Peloponnesian War. With the participation of Dionysus I of Syracuse and the Persian Great King, a general peace (koinh eirene) was agreed upon for the entire eastern Mediterranean region. Already in 465 B.C. the Athenians are said to have built an altar for Eirene after Kimon had defeated the Persians at Eurymedon in Pamphylia (Plutarch). The feast of Eirene was celebrated on 15-16 Hekatombaion (July/August), the mythical day of Synoikia, on which Theseus had united the Attic small states.

Eirene is at the centre of Aristophanes' comedy "The Peace", with which he had won the 2nd place of the  Dionysia in 421 B.C.: The Attic winegrower Trygaios was fed up with the eternal war and went to heaven to reach the end of the war from Zeus. But the gods had left their castle out of anger against the Greeks and had given everything to Ares, the god of war. He had locked Eirene in a cave and was about to crush the Greek cities in a huge mortar. Only the pestle, the Athenian commander Kleon and the Spartan Brisidas were still missing: they had been lost in Thrace, both had fallen. So Trygaios had time to call the Greeks together and unite them. And together they could free Eirene and peace and prosperity reigned in Greece again. Only the manufacturers of weapons and war material were ruined.

History of art:
(1) Detail of the 3 Horai of a red figured Attic Kylix of the Sosias painter,
from the late archaic period, ca. 500 B.C. Each Hora bears an attribute of her season. Eirene, the middle one, carries a branch with spring flowers. Today in the Antikensammlung Berlin

(2) The most famous and significant statue of the Eirene is that of Kephisodotos (around 400-370 B.C.), the father of Praxiteles. It shows Eirene with the infant Plutos and a cornucopiae in her left arm. The symbolism is clear: the little Plutos, which stands for economic prosperity, can only thrive in the security of divine peace. This statue has been handed down in numerous Roman marble copies. The Greek original was made of bronze and was probably erected on the Agora in Athens on the occasion of the peace of Sparta in 371 BC. This image comes from the Glyptothek in Munich.

Best regards

Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11593

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #437 on: February 13, 2020, 04:31:47 am »

Pax - the Roman goddess of peace

Pax, the Roman goddess of peace, is not an ancient goddess of the Romans, this warlike people. She was adopted, like so many other things, of the Greeks. She does not appear on coins until 44 BC, after the end of the civil war. The Pax cult was introduced to Rome by Augustus in 10 B.C. (Dio Cassius). In 9 B.C. the Ara Pacis was erected on the Mars field to celebrate the return of the emperor from his campaigns in Hispania and Gaul.

In 71 under Vespasian a magnificent Temple of Peace was erected on the Peace Forum (Forum Pacis) north of the Basilica Aemiliana. It was a miracle, full of the most important works of art of Greece (Roscher). It celebrated the victory over the Jews. Under Commodus it was destroyed by fire in 191, but rebuilt by Severus.

The Romans probably only knew the victory peace. Not for nothing a Roman proverb says "Si vis pacem, para bellum (= If you want peace, prepare for war)". On coins, the pax is therefore usually decorated with attributes of the Victoria, the Fides, the Honor or the Virtus.

Here is a series of illustrations of the Pax on Roman coins:

1st coin:
Claudius, 41-54
AU - Aureus, 7.71g, 18mm, 180
         Rome, 46/47
       Laureate head r.
Left to right: PACI AVGVSTAE
        Winged Pax-Nemesis, in long robe, Walking r., holding in left hand
        winged caduceus, pointing to a snake that is coiling r.,
        with the right hand pulling the tip of its garment in front of its chin
Ref: RIC I, 38; C. 57 (Lyon 45!); BMC 39; v. Känel 628
ex Glendining&Co, Auction, London 3.12.1929, No. 666
ex Adolph E. Cahn auction no. 68, Frankfurt, 26.11.1930, lot 232
(coll. Moritz Simon, banker in Berlin)
ex Münzen und Medaillen AG, Basel
ex Classical Coins, Dr Brandt, February 2002

Nemesis is the goddess of just compensation. This representation wants to show that peace and balancing justice provide prosperity.

2nd coin:
Philip I. Arabs, 244-249
AR - Antoninian, 5.10g, 22mm, 180
        Antioch, 244, before the elevation of Philipp II to Caesar
        Bust, draped and cuirassed, radiated, r.
        Pax, in long robe and diademed, Standing l., holding in left Hand  
        transversal sceptre and in the right hand olive branch.
Ref: RIC IV/3, 69; C. 113
Philip's first great task was to end the war in the East. To this end he bought a peace treaty from the Persians under King Shapur for 50 Millions of sestertii and probably an annual tribute as well. Here one could truly not speak of a victory.

3rd coin:
Carus, 282-283
AR - Antoninian, 3.84g, 21mm, 0
         Ticinum, 1st Office
        Bust with breastplate, radiate, r.
       Pax in long robe standing l., holding with left hand standard and in the
       extended r. hand olive branch.
Ref: RIC V/2, 75; C, 56
The olive branch is the standard attribute of Pax and stands for economic well-being. The legend and the standard are rather an indication that the peace between the emperor and his army is meant here. After all, Carus is one of the few soldier emperors who was not killed by his soldiers. He died by a lightning strike near Ktesiphon.

4th coin:
Moesia superior, Viminacium, Trajan Decius, 249-251
AE - Sesterz, 19.19g, 29.14mm, 15°
        Bust, draped and cuirassed, laureate, r.
Rv.: P M S C - OL VIM
        Moesia-Pax, standing l. in long robe between bull and lion, Holding in r. hand
        an olive branch and in the left arm a sceptre, on which is a
        little Victoria with a wreath and palm branch floating towards her.
Ref.: AMNG I/1, 123, pl. I, 12; Varbanov 174 corr.; Jekov/ Hristova No. 46 (R6)
This type celebrates the restoration of peace on the lower Danube (Pick). In fact Decius did not succeed in stopping the Goths, but together with his son Herennius he fell in the battle of Abrittus in 251.

(will be contued)

Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11593

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #438 on: February 13, 2020, 04:35:23 am »


Cities of peace:
Augustus had the idea to found so-called peace cities. They were to celebrate the Pax Augusta, which he had proclaimed in the entire empire. Among them was Pax Iulia in Lusitania (Portugal), today Beja, and the Colonia Pacensis (or Forum Iulia Pacatum) at today's Frejus in the province of Gallia Narbonensis.

This custom was taken up again by Nero after he had proclaimed general peace and closed the temple of Janus in 64 AD. These included Eirenopolis-Neronias in Cilicia and Sepphoris/Diocaesarea in Galilaia, both of which were given the name Eirenopolis under Nero.

5th coin:
Nero, 54-68
AE - Dupondius, 13.3g, 27mm, 210
         Rome, about 65
       Radiate head r.
        Temple of Janus Geminus with barred window left and closed
         double door on the right with a garland hanging over it:
         in left and right field large S - C
Ref: RIC I, 284; C. 150; BMC 198 (Var. #1)
With this piece Nero wanted to show that he had achieved peace for his time.

6th coin:
Cilicia, Eirenopolis-Neronias, Domitian, 81-96
AE - AE 19, 3.7g, 45
       struck 93/94 (year 42 of the era of Eirenopolis)
       Laureate head r.
Rv.: Pax/Nemesis, winged, naked to the hip, Walking r., holding in lowered l. hand
        kerykeion and pulling with right hand the tail of the garment in front
        of the chin; in front of her the wheel.
        [in right field BM (= year 42)]
Ref: RPC 1765; SNG Levante 1602; Karbach in JNG 42/43 (1992/93)
This piece is taking up Claudius' motive again!

(1) Hesiod, Theogony
(2) Aristophanes, Peace
(3) Plutarch, Kimon
(4 ) Pliny, Historia Naturae
(5) Sueton, Vespasian
(6) Pausanias, travel in Greece

(1) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Detailed Encyclopedia of Greek and Roman Mythology
(2) Benjamin Hederich, Thorough mythological dictionary
(3) The little Pauly
(4) The Great Ploetz

Online sources:
(2) Wikipedia

Best regards

Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11593

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #439 on: February 13, 2020, 04:36:57 am »

Selene - the Greek goddess of the moon

In the last weeks I have been studying the mythology of Selene. Here are some results.

First coin:
Egypt, Alexandria, Commodus, AD 177-192
AE - BI Tetradrachm, 12.44g, 26.5mm
         Alexandria, 189/90 (RY 30 of Marcus Aurelius)
          Laureate head r.
Rev.: Bust of Selene, diademed, l., crescent on her head, l. large crescent
         in the right field L Λ (year 30)
Ref:: Milne 2686; Cologne 2252; Dattari 3889; Emmet 2558.30; BMC 1404; SNG
         Copenhagen 582; SNG Munich 101; SNG Oxford 2686; Demetrio 2286;
         Förschner 785

It was already known in antiquity that the name Selene was derived from Greek. Σελας (= shine, glow).

Since the beginning of time the change of day and night has determined the life of the people. So it is understandable that there were deities for it. According to Hesiod, Apollodor and others the parents of Selene were Hyperion and Theia, but also Hyperion and Euryphaessa (Homeric hymns). Hyperion was also the father of Helios and Eos and hence Helios and Selene were brother and sister, which fits well with our two main stars. Theia was a daughter of Uranos and Gaia. So all of them are Titanids. Thus they belong to the ancient dynasty of gods from the time before the Olympians, which is appropriate to their importance.

Euryphaessa is another name of Theia and means "the shining one", so she is closely related to the moon. Theia had a sad fate. She demanded her share of the Titan rulership and was punished for it: Hyperion was killed and Helios drowned in Eridanos, whereupon Selene threw herself to death. Theia, however, fainted deeply, where Helios appeared to her and announced that he under the new Oöympian gods would walk across the sky as  sun and Selene would shine as the moon. Then Theia awoke again, went through the land with drums and cymbals and disappeared in a storm when they tried to seize her (Kerenyi).

The trinity of the siblings Helios, Selene and Eos ruled the day, the night and the early morning. An equal trinity results if we look at the phases of the moon: waxing moon, full moon, waning moon. So change is the characteristic of the moon.
She is usually depicted with the crescent moon on her head. Since the "horns" of the crescent moon resemble the horns of a bull, she is often depicted in a bull league or even riding on a bull.

Later on Artemis, Diana and Hecate came to the fore, all of whom have a reference to the moon. This is a sign that the old gods had now been replaced by the new Olympic gods.

For Selene, there are only few cult testimonies, in contrast to the moon god Men, who was widely worshipped in Asia minor. It is interesting, of course, that there was a male moon god! See the article in this thread "Men - the Anatolian moon god".

Virgil tells us that Pan, who is known to have often persecuted the nymphs, harassed the moon goddess with special love. But Selene rejected him. So Pan hid his hairy and goat-like figure under a white sheepskin. She didn't recognize him, so he was able to lure his beloved to him. She rode on his back and he could do with her what he wanted. Ranke-Graves writes that the seduction of Selene refers to the moonlight orgy on the eve of the May Day celebrations, when the young May Queen rode into the woods on the back of her chosen one to celebrate the forest wedding.

But her most famous love story is about her love for Endymion. Endymion was a handsome young man who lived as a shepherd in Caria. His parents were Aethlios (or Zeus himself) and Kalyke. Because of his justice (Ibykos) Zeus loved him and granted him a request. And Endymion asked for immortality and eternal youth. So Zeus put him into everlasting sleep. During her nocturnal journeys across the sky, Selene saw the sleeping youth and fell in love with him and placed him in a cave on Mount Latmos in Caria. There she visited him every night and always kissed him shyly without waking him up. This myth of Endymion is so beautiful because it is so pure and the delicate image of a slumbering man kissed by the moonbeam is covered with such sweet magic of the gods.

And this brings to mind one of my favourite poets, the tragic Friedrich Hölderlin (1770-1843) , who writes in his poem "When I was a boy":
"And as you delight the heart / Of plants, / When they stretch out their tender arms against you, / So you have delighted my heart Father Helios! and, like Endymion, / I was your favourite, / Holy Luna!"

But others say that Selene fathered 50 daughters with him.

Pausanias writes that Endymion was king of Elis and that he and his wife Asterodia (or Chromia, daughter of Iton) had the sons Aitolos, Paion and Epeios. In order to arrange his succession, he had a race between them in Olympia, which was won by Epeios. Paion then emigrated and founded Paionia. Aitolos, on the other hand, was banished due to a self-inflicted accident with fatal outcome and went to Kuretia. A daughter of Eurykyda had begotten a son Eleios with the sea god Poseidon, who after the flight of his uncle Aitolos had become his successor as king of Elis.

But this mythology does not fit at all to the Selene-Endymion myth, so that I believe that this Endymion must be a different figure. This is already mentioned by Hederich. He should be called Endymion(2), unlike the Endymion(1) of the Selene myth.

History of Art:
Hellenistic art did not actually deal with the mythology of Selene and Endymion. Only the Romans took up this topic. In Pompeii the first wall paintings are found. On sarcophagi it was understandably a popular motif because of the eternal sleep and eternal youth.

I have added the following pictures:
(1) Selene, Attic red-figured Kylix, early classical, c. 500-450 B.C., attributed to the Brygos painter, now in the Berlin Collection of Classical Antiquities. On a tondo we see the moon goddess Selene in a biga, drawn by 2 winged horses. The goddess wears a nightcap and is crowned with the moon disk.

(2) Selene and Endymion, Apulian red-figured volute crater, late classical-early Hellenistic, ca. 4th century B.C., attributed to the underworld painter, today in the Museum of Art, Dallas, USA. The upper panel of the vase shows the shepherd Endymion, who leads Selene, the goddess of the moon, down from heaven. The goddess stands in a quadriga and is crowned with the crescent moon and a radiant aureole.

(3) Selene and Endymion, sarcophagus, Roman, 3rd quarter of the 3rd century AD, sarcophagus relief in Parian marble, found in Saint-Medard-d'Eyrans, Gironde, France. Today in the Musee du Louvre, Paris.

(4) The motif of Diana and Endymion was very popular in the Renaissance and Baroque periods and there are countless paintings with this theme. I have chosen this one: Diana y Endimion, 1780, by Domingo Alvarez Enciso (1737-1800), now in the Museo Provincial de Bellas Artes in Cadiz, Spain.

(will be continued)

Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11593

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #440 on: February 16, 2020, 02:57:23 am »


In ancient times Selene appeared too as an epithet of two queens from the house of the Ptolomeans. Cleopatra II Selene, daughter of Ptolemy VIII and Cleopatra III was Queen of Syria from 82-69 B.C. She was married to Antiochos VIII, Antiochos IX and Antiochos X and was a symbol for the continuity of the Seleucid rule until its end.

The famous Cleopatra VII. (69-30 B.C.) had 3 children with Marcus Aurelius. Ptolemy Philadelphos and the twins Akexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene, born 40 B.C., thus "sun" and "moon". You can see the high standards she had!
Cleopatra Selene was married to Juba II of Mauritania, who both grew up in the household of Octavia in Rome. There they founded a flourishing community which served as a Roman client state.

Second coin:
Mauritania, Juba II, 25 BC - 23 AD.
AR - Drachm, 3.24g, 17.83mm, 18
         struck AD 11 (?)
          Head of Juba, diademed, r.
         Isis crown with ears of grain, below crescent
Ref.: SNG Copenhagen 574
ex Harlan J. Berk.

The French name Celine (e.g. Ferdinand Celine, Celine Dion) is said to come from Selene.

(1) Hesiod, Theogony
(2) Pseudo-Apollodor, Bibliotheke
(3) Pausanias, travel in Greece
(4) Vergil, Georgica

(1) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon
(2) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Lexikon der griechichen und römischen Mythologie
(3) Robert von Ranke-Graves, Greek mythology
(4) Karl Kerenyi, The Mythology of the Greeks
(5) Drr Kleine Pauly
(6) Hans-Joachim Hoeft, Coins and Ancient Mythology, 2017
(7) Echtermeyer/von Wiese, German poems

Online sources:
(2) Wikipedia

Best regards

Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11593

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #441 on: February 16, 2020, 02:59:02 am »

Pelops and Hippodameia

The occasion for this article is this beautiful coin, which I could add to my collection. There is already an article about Pelops in this thread under "Pelops and the Curse of the Atrides". But here I will focus a bit more on Hippodameia.

The Coin:
Ionia, Smyrna, Antoninus Pius, 138-161
AE 35, 25.20g, 34.91mm, 0°
struck under the Strategos Theidianos, ca.147 AD
          Laureate head r.
          Hippodameia, in long robe and veiled, standing r., lifting fold of her robe on the
          left shoulder, holding with the right hand the right hand of Pelops, who ist
          standing frontally beside her, naked except for chlamys over left shoulder, head
          turned left, with his raised left hand resting on a long sceptre, both stg. in biga
          driving r.
          in the upper right field ΠEΛO [Ψ]
Ref:: BMC Ionia, 342; SNG von Aulock 2213; Mionnet 3, p.230, nr. 1289; Klose
         Series A (sixes)
S+, stripped

(1) The coin shows the moment when Pelops and Hippodameia get into the car to start the race with Oinomaos. This coin type is already mentioned by Roscher, Volume I, p.2670, 1884, and according to A. von Sallet refers to the celebration of the Olympic Games in Smyrna (Ztschr. f. N. 14, 1887). This motif appears on numerous representations.
(2) ANEΘHKE is a standard formula: Theudianos gave it to the people of Smyrna.

Hippodameia (Greek = mistress of horses) was the beautiful and much sought-after daughter of Oinomaos, king of Pisa at Elis, a fertile landscape in the west of the Peloponnesos, and the Pleiad Sterope (or the Danaid Eurythoe). Oinomaos himself was a son of Ares and Harpina, daughter of the river god Asopos. He was a great lover of horses. So he forbade his subjects to mate horses with donkeys, on pain of cursing. Oinomaos had been prophesied by the oracle that he would be killed by his son-in-law. It is also said that he was in love with his daughter and had an unseemly relationship with her (Hyginus). In any case, he did not want to give her to any suitor unless he was defested by him in a chariot race. Otherwise he would pay for it with his life.

The goal of the race was the Altar of Poseidon at the Isthmos of Corinth, and it was not only about Hippodameia, but about the whole country through which the track passed. The suitor had to take Hippodameia with him in his carriage, of course, to divert his attention from the carriage. Oinomaos, however, gave him an advantage of half an hour, as he sacrificed a ram to Zeus Areios (after others to Ares or Hephaistos) before the race. But he had been given two horses by his father Ares, Psylla, the flea, and Harpinna, the plucker, which we must imagine winged. These were faster than the north wind and were steered by the skilful Myrtilos, so that no suitor had a chance against him. He caught up with them and pierced them from behind with a spear he had also received from Ares. 12 (some say 13) suitors had already paid their application with death. He nailed their heads over the gates of his palace.

When Pelops, who came from his homeland, Mount Sipylos in Lydia, landed at Elis, he asked his lover Poseidon to give him the fastest car in the world for his advertisement to Hippodameia. Poseidon provided him with a winged chariot pulled by two immortal winged horses. There are two different versions:

(1) Pelops had fallen in love with Hippodameia and came to court her. He brought Myrtilus, the charioteer of the Oinomaus, on his side by promising him a night with Hippodameia. Myrtilos was a son of Hermes and Cleobule. He too had fallen in love with Hippodameia, but did not dare to take part in a chariot race. Or Hippodameia had fallen in love with Pelops at the first sight of him and persuaded Myrtilos to help her by promising him a night with her.
(2) The other version: Pelops came to Elis actually to win the kingdom of Oinomaos. Then Hippodameia would have been only a nice sideline, so to speak. It fits to this version that he is said to have promised Myrtilos half of the empire.
In any case, Myrtilos manipulated the wheels on Oinomaos' chariot by replacing the nails on the axle with wax nails. When Oinomaos had just caught up with Pelops on Isthmos, the wheels flew off the chariot, Oinomaos got entangled in the reins and was dragged to death. But before that he cursed Myrtilos and prayed to the gods that he would be killed by Pelops. But Pelops received Hippodameia and the kingdom of Elis by this deceit. He became one of the greatest founding fathers of the Greeks and gave the "Peloponnesos" (= Island of Pelops) its name. By the way, in the Middle Ages the Peloponnesos was also called Morea (mulberry) after its shape!

On the return journey, Myrtilos tried to approach Hippodameia as promised. But she defended herself and Myrtilos was pushed into the sea by Pelops at the Geraist promontory, which is called the Myrtoic sea after him.
But there is also the Phaidra motif: Hippodameia had feigned thirst and sent Pelops for water. So she could seduce Myrtilos in his absence. When Myrtilos rejected her,
she accused him of rape at Pelops and Pelops pushed him into the sea. But before his death, Myrtilos cursed the family of Pelops. This is the real Curse of the Atrides! So it did not help that Pelops erected a cenotaph in Olympia to atone for him. Hermes remained a bitter enemy of his family.

At first, her happiness with Pelops was so great that she donated special games to Hera in Olympia, the Hereia, which took place every 5 years and where young girls competed against each other. Pelops sired with Hippodmeia among others the Hippalkos, the Atreus and the Thyestes.

But Pelops had another son, the handsome Chrysippos (= the one with the golden horses) of Danais, who was his favourite son. Laios, the son of Labdakos and later father of Oidipous, had escaped from Thebes and was taken in as a guest by Pelops. Here he was entrusted with the education of Chrysippos. So he taught him e.g. how to drive a chariot. He fell in love with Chrysippos and abducted him to Thebes when he was allowed to return. But Atreus and Thyestes were able to bring him and Laios back. Pelops forgave him when he saw how much Laios loved Chrysippos. Euripides calls him in his "Chrysippos" the inventor of boy love.

But Hippodameia hated Chrysippos above all else, because she feared that he would deprive her children of their inheritance. So she tried to persuade Atreus and Thyestes to kill him. When they refused, she took action herself. At night she went to the sleeping chamber of Laios, where he slept with Chrysippos. She took the sword of Laios and plunged it in his body. Of course, Laios was suspected of murder, but with his last breath Chrysippos could name Hippodameia as the murderer. Pelops banished her and she fled to Midea in the Argolis (Pausanias). There she died or killed herself. Pausanias tells that Pelops had her bones brought back by order of the oracle and buried her in Olympia. There she already had a sanctuary, the Hippodameion, which the women were allowed to enter once a year.

There are indications in this mythology that this race must have taken place somewhere else than it is told in the myth. The distance from Pisa in Elis to the Isthmus of Corinth alone is too long for a chariot race. The description of the horses of the Oinomaos as well as the horses of Pelops as winged rather fit for a race over the sea. Thus it is described how Pelops tries his horses before the race, in which he drives from Sipylos to Greece (rather flies!), so fast that the horses' hooves do not touch the water and his charioteer Kylas dies. In Euripides' "Orestes" Myrtilos is thrown out of the chariot into the sea. This happened at the geraistic promontory and this is in the south of the island Euboea. In Scholion C and already at Pherekydes of Syros Oinomaos was king of Lesbos. That fits well also geographically; because the Geraistos lies in the air-line distance between Lesbos and the Isthmus of Corinth. Here the distance does not matter, because it was a flying competition with winged horses. The motive of the father's love for his daughter fits culturally more to Lesbos than to Elis. Kylas, the charioteer of Pelops, is written by Theopompos of Chios as Killas and he is the eponymous hero of the Lesbian town of Killa, where he had a burial mound that Pelops is said to have built for him. Therefore there is the opinion that the mythology of the abduction of Hippodameia originally comes from Asia Minor and was only transplanted to Greece with the migration of the Pelopids to Greece.

The Hippodameia myth was treated dramatically by Sophokles in his "Pelops or Hippodameia", which is lost, and by Euripides in his "Oinomaos", which is preserved in fragments, and in the play of the same name by Lucius Accius (c. 170 B.C.- c. 90 B.C.)

History of Art:
I have added the following pics:
(1) Pelops and Hippodameia in a quadriga r.. Attic red-figured amphora, around 410 B.C., today in the Museo Archaeologico in Arezzo/Italy
(2) Pelops and Hippodameia in a biga r.; terracotta tablet with relief, Roman, Augustan or Julian-Claudian, 27 B.C.-68 A.D., today in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

(3) The race and the accident in which Oinomaos lost his life was often depicted on Roman sarcophagi. This one is Roman, ca. 230-240 AD, 1615 in the Villa Borghese/Rome, since 1808 in the Louvre in Paris. This detail shows the death of king Oinomaos. The king lies with his knees drawn up under the horse and holds the reins with his left hand.

(1) Apollodor, Epitomes 2, 3-10
(2) Apollonios Rhodios, Argonautica
(3) Hyginus, Fabulae
(4) Pausanias, Periegesis
(5) Pindar, Olympic Odes

Secondary literature:
(1) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon
(2 ) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der griechoschen und römischen Mythologie
(3) Der Kleine Pauly
(4) Karl Kerenyi, The Mythology of the Greeks
(5) Robert von Ranke-Graves, Greek mythology

Online sources:
(2) Wikipedia

Best regards

Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Offline Offline

Posts: 11593

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.

« Reply #442 on: February 24, 2020, 03:30:26 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
Sauroktonos revisited
Herakles and the Lernaean Hydra
Excursion: The Hydra as Allegory of the Enemy
Sobek - the Egyptian crocodile god
Eirene - the Greek goddess of Peace
Pax - the Roman goddess of Peace
Selene - the Greek goddess of the moon
Pelops and Hippodameia

Index of this thread

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

Recent Price Reductions in Forum's Shop

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
Page created in 10.141 seconds with 57 queries.
All coins are guaranteed for eternity