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Home>Catalog>CollectingThemes>Types>Music PAGE 1/212»»»

Music on Ancient Coins


Roman Republic, L. Marcius Censorinus, 82 B.C.
Click for a larger photo The moneyer selected the design to play on his name, Marsyas sounds like Marcius.

Marsyas found Athena's flute. Inspired by the breath of a goddess, it played beautifully. Foolishly he challenged Apollo to a musical contest. Apollo won by singing to the music of his lyre. As a just punishment for his presumption, Apollo flayed Marsyas alive. His blood was the source of the river Marsyas, and his skin was hung like a wine bag in the cave out of which that river flows.
SH73011. Silver denarius, SRCV 281, Sydenham 737, Crawford 363/1, RSC I Marcia 24, VF, nice style, attractive iridescent toning, weight 3.650 g, maximum diameter 19.0 mm, die axis 45o, Rome mint, 82 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right; reverse the satyr Marsyas standing left with wine skin over shoulder, L·CENSOR before, a column topped with Victory behind; scarce; $380.00 SALE PRICE $342.00

Quietus, Fall or Winter 260 - Late 261 A.D.
Click for a larger photo Samosata was the walled capital of the Commagene Kingdom founded in 69 B.C. The town remained a regional center under Rome, and until the Ottoman period. The old town of Samsat and all its history were flooded behind the Atatürk Dam in 1989. The new town was built beside the new waterline by the government to house the displaced residents.
SH70589. Billon antoninianus, Göbl MIR 1728n (Samosata), RSC IV 4a, RIC V 3 (R2, Antioch), SRCV III 10819 (uncertain Syrian Mint), VF, porous, weight 3.628 g, maximum diameter 22.8 mm, die axis 180o, Samosata (Samsat, Turkey) mint, obverse IMP C FVL QVIETVS P F AVG, radiate, draped and cuirassed bust right; reverse APOLINI CONSERVA, Apollo standing left, radiate, nude but for cloak on shoulders and draped behind, branch downward in right, left rests on grounded lyre, star upper left; rare; $350.00 SALE PRICE $315.00

Olynthos, Chalkidian League, Macedonia, 420 - 348 B.C.
Click for a larger photo In 432 B.C. Olynthos broke away from Athens and, with several other cities, formed the Chalkidian league. In 393, Amyntas III of Macedonia temporally transferred territory to Olynthos when he was driven out of Macedonia by Illyrians. When he was restored and the league did not return his lands, he appealed to Sparta. Akanthos and Apollonia, also appealed to Sparta, claiming league membership was not voluntary but enforced at the point of a sword. After a long war, in 379 these cities were made "autonomous" subject allies of Sparta. Weakened by the division, the league was destroyed by Philip II of Macedon in 348 B.C.
SH64053. Silver tetrobol, Robinson-Clement group D, 38 (same dies); Traité pl. 313, 10; SNG ANS -; SNG Cop -; BMC Macedonia -, VF, weight 2.043 g, maximum diameter 14.8 mm, die axis 0o, Olynthos mint, c. 420 - 348 B.C.; obverse OΛYNΘ (counter-clockwise), laureate head of Apollo left; reverse XAΛKI∆EΩN, kithara with eight strings, squared legend around, all within a shallow incuse square; scarce; $310.00 SALE PRICE $279.00

Kingdom of Bithynia, Prusias II Kynegos, 185 - 149 B.C.
Click for a larger photo Prusias II, son of Prusias I, inherited his father's name but not his character. He first joined with Eumenes of Pergamon in war against Pontus, but later turned on Pergamon and invaded. He was defeated and Pergamon demanded heavy reparations. Prusias sent his son Nicomedes II to Rome to ask for aid in reducing the payments. When Nicomedes revolted, Prusias II was murdered in the temple of Zeus at Nikomedia.
SH71012. Bronze AE 21, SNG Cop 636; Rec Gén 26; BMC Pontus p. 211, 12; SNGvA 256 var (monogram); HGC 7 629; SGCV II 7266, VF, flan adjustment marks, weight 5.468 g, maximum diameter 20.7 mm, die axis 45o, Nikomedia (Izmit, Turkey) mint, c. 180 - 150 B.C.; obverse head of young Dionysos right, wreathed with ivy; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΠPOYΣIOY, centaur Chiron standing right, playing lyre, his cloak floating behind, ΠM monogram inner right under raised foreleg; $280.00 SALE PRICE $252.00

Nero, 13 October 54 - 9 June 68 A.D.
Click for a larger photo Legend claims Nero fiddled while Rome burned. While this rumor is probably not true, Nero did sing and play the lyre at other times. He even composed songs that were performed by entertainers across the empire. At first, Nero only performed for private audiences, but in 64, when this coin was struck, he began singing in public in Neapolis. Nero craved the attention, but also he was encouraged to perform in public by the Senate, his inner circle and the people. Nero's famous dying words were "Qualis artifex pereo," which translates, "What an artist dies in me!"
RB72097. Orichalcum as, BnF II 102, RIC I 417, Mac Dowall WCN 547, BMCRE I 377, Cohen 246, SRCV I 1975 var (head right), aVF, centered, excellent portrait, rough, weight 10.064 g, maximum diameter 29.1 mm, die axis 180o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, 65 A.D.; obverse NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG GERMANICVS, bare head left, globe at point of neck; reverse PONTIF MAX TR POT IMP P P, Nero as Apollo Citharoedus, advancing right in flowing robes, singing and playing the lyre, S - C flanking across field, I (mark of value) in exergue; ex Morton & Eden auction 59 (14 Nov 2012), part of lot 873; ex Seaver Collection; $250.00 SALE PRICE $225.00

Nero, 13 October 54 - 9 June 68 A.D.
Click for a larger photo Legend claims Nero fiddled while Rome burned. While this rumor is probably not true, Nero did sing and play the lyre at other times. He even composed songs that were performed by entertainers across the empire. At first, Nero only performed for private audiences, but in 64, when this coin was struck, he began singing in public in Neapolis. Nero craved the attention, but also he was encouraged to perform in public by the Senate, his inner circle and the people. Nero's famous dying words were "Qualis artifex pereo," which translates, "What an artist dies in me!"
RB72098. Orichalcum as, BnF II 101, RIC I 416, Mac Dowall WCN 543, BMCRE I 376, Cohen 247, SRCV I 1975, F, excellent portrait, porous, scrape, weight 10.108 g, maximum diameter 28.1 mm, die axis 225o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, 65 A.D.; obverse NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG GERMANICVS, bare head right, globe at point of neck; reverse PONTIF MAX TR POT IMP P P, Nero as Apollo Citharoedus, advancing right in flowing robes, singing and playing the lyre, S - C flanking across field, I (mark of value) in exergue; ex Morton & Eden auction 59 (14 Nov 2012), part of lot 873; ex Seaver Collection; $250.00 SALE PRICE $225.00

Gordian III, 29 July 238 - 25 February 244 A.D., Pella, Macedonia
Click for a larger photo
Pan is depicted in the pose of the life-size marble statue known as the Barberini Faun (Drunken Satyr) in the Glyptothek in Munich. A Faun is the Roman equivalent of a Greek Satyr. The position of the right arm over the head was a classical artistic convention indicating sleep. The statue is believed to have once adorned Hadrian's Mausoleum. The historian Procopius recorded that during the siege of Rome in 537 the defenders had hurled down upon the Goths the statues adorning Hadrian's Mausoleum. When discovered, the statue was heavily damaged; the right leg, parts of both hands, and parts of the head were missing. Johann Winckelmann speculated that the place of discovery and the statue's condition suggested that it had been such a projectile.Barberini Faun
RP66884. Bronze AE 26, cf. Varbanov III 3757 (R4), BMC Macedonia p. 95, 46; AMNG III 35; SNG Hunterian 660; SNG Cop 287 (bust obscure); SNG ANS 639 (laureate); Lindgren -, VF, weight 10.082 g, maximum diameter 25.8 mm, die axis 135o, Pella mint, obverse IMP C M ANT GORDIANVS, radiate, draped and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse COL IVL AVS PGLLA (sic, error not in refs), Pan seated left, on a rock, right arm over head, left elbow resting on syrinx; ex Gorny & Mosch Giessener Münzhandlung auction 208, lot 1783; $195.00 SALE PRICE $176.00

Kolophon, Ionia, 330 - 285 B.C.
Click for a larger photo Colophon was destroyed by Lysimachus c. 285 B.C., after which Colophon failed to recover and lost its importance. The name was actually transferred to the port village of Notium.
GB59094. Bronze AE 18, Milne Kolophon 140A-C; Waddington 1498; BMC Ionia -; SNG Cop -; SNGvA -; SNG München -; SNG Tübingen -; SNG Keckman -, VF, nice patina, weight 4.8191 g, maximum diameter 17.0 mm, die axis 315o, Kolophon mint, magistrate Telegonos, 330 - 285 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right; reverse KOΛ, horseman prancing right, chlamys flying behind, spear in right hand, lyre upper left, magistrate's name THΛEΓONOΣ below; rare with this magistrate; $150.00 SALE PRICE $135.00

Chalkidian League, Olynthos, Macedonia, c. 432 - 348 B.C.
Click for a larger photo In 432 B.C. Olynthos broke away from Athens and, with several other cities, formed the Chalkidian league. In 393, Amyntas III of Macedonia temporally transferred territory to Olynthos when he was driven out of Macedonia by Illyrians. When he was restored and the league did not return his lands, he appealed to Sparta. Akanthos and Apollonia, also appealed to Sparta, claiming league membership was not voluntary but enforced at the point of a sword. After a long war, in 379 these cities were made "autonomous" subject allies of Sparta. Weakened by the division, the league was destroyed by Philip II of Macedon in 348 B.C.
SH69954. Silver tetrobol, BMC Macedonia p. 68, 13; SNG ANS 537, SNG Cop 235; SNG Dreer 266, SNG Berry 22, aVF, grainy, scratches, weight 2.146 g, maximum diameter 13.5 mm, die axis 315o, Olynthos mint, c. 432 - 348 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right, circle of dots around; reverse XAΛKIAEΩN (clockwise from upper left), kithara (lyre) with seven strings, all within incuse; $135.00 SALE PRICE $122.00

Brundisium, Calabria, Italy, c. 217 - 212 B.C.
Click for a larger photo Although one legend has Taras himself as the founder of the Taranto, in another Phalanthos was a divine hero who led the Spartan Partheniae and founded the city. Strabo tells us that Phalanthos died and was buried at Brundisium, explaining the significance of the dolphin-rider on coins of the city. In 244, Brundisium became a Latin colony.
GB72289. Bronze semis, cf. BMC Italy p. 155, p. 10; HN Italy 749; SNG Cop 727; SNG ANS 782; SGCV I 601, F, green patina, smoothing, weight 3.791 g, maximum diameter 17.5 mm, die axis 315o, Brundisium mint, c. 217 - 212 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Poseidon right, crowned by small Nike over a trident head behind, S below; reverse Phalanthos seated on dolphin left, Nike crowning him in his right hand, lyre in left, BRVN below, Σ right; rare; $100.00 SALE PRICE $90.00



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