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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Types ▸ MusicView Options:  |  |  |   

Music on Ancient Coins

Roman Republic, L. Marcius Censorinus, 82 B.C.

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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 (€330.60)
 


Olynthos, Chalkidian League, Macedonia, 420 - 348 B.C.

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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 (€269.70)
 


Kingdom of Bithynia, Prusias II Kynegos, 185 - 149 B.C.

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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 (€243.60)
 


Macedonian Kingdom, Philip III Arrhidaeus, 323 - 317 B.C.

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Minted shortly after Alexander's death, under the rule his brother, Philip III Arrhidaeus. Philip III was mentally disabled and power was divided among his advisers and Alexander's generals. Philip was murdered in October 317 by Olympias, Alexander's mother, to ensure the succession of her grandson.
SH75320. Silver drachm, Price P43, Müller Alexander P50, SNG München 938, aEF, some die wear, weight 4.238 g, maximum diameter 18.1 mm, die axis 0o, Ionia, Kolophon mint, c. 323 - c. 319 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean lion scalp headdress; reverse ΦIΛIΠΠOY, Zeus Aëtophoros seated left on throne without back, nude to the waist, himation around hips and legs, right foot drawn back, feet on footstool, eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left, lyre left; ex Forum (2005); $225.00 (€195.75)
 


Gordian III, 29 July 238 - 25 February 244 A.D., Pella, Macedonia

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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 (€169.65)
 


Kolophon, Ionia, c. 375 - 360 B.C.

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The Kithara (Cithara) was an ancient stringed musical instrument resembling the lyre, a simpler two-stringed folk-instrument, but with seven strings and a flat back. A symbol of Apollo, credited with inventing it, the Kithara's origins were likely Asiatic. The kithara was primarily used by professional musicians, called kitharodes. In modern Greek the word kithara has come to mean "guitar."
GS73924. Silver diobol, Milne Kolophon 52b; BMC Ionia p. 37, 11; SNGvA 7907, SNG Cop -, VF/aVF, toned, scratches, corrosion, silver deposits, weight 1.003 g, maximum diameter 10.5 mm, die axis 0o, Kolophon mint, magistrate Hermonax, c. 375 - 360 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo left, short hair; reverse KOΛOΦΩ upward on left, EPMΩNAΞ (magistrate's name) downward on right, Kithara; $140.00 (€121.80)
 


Kolophon, Ionia, 330 - 285 B.C.

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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; $135.00 (€117.45)
 


Trajan Decius, July 249 - First Half of June 251 A.D., Tarsus, Cilicia

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The inscription AMKΓB is a boast of Tarsos: Πρωτη Mεγιστη Kαλλιστη, First (A is the Greek numeral one), Greatest, and Most Beautiful of the three (adjoining) provinces (Cilicia, Isauria, Lycaonia). With a history going back over 6,000 years, Tarsus has long been an important stop for traders and a focal point of many civilizations. During the Roman Empire, Tarsus was the capital of the province of Cilicia, the scene of the first meeting between Mark Antony and Cleopatra, and the birthplace of Paul the Apostle.
RP72149. Bronze AE 34, SNG Levante 1162 (same dies), BMC Lycaonia -, SNG BnF -, SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, F, green patina, corrosion, flan adjustment marks, weight 20.274 g, maximum diameter 34.0 mm, die axis 0o, Tarsus, Cilicia mint, 249 - 251; obverse AY KAI Γ MEΣ KYIN ∆EKIOC TPAIANOC Π Π, radiate, draped and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse TAPCOY MHTPOΠOΛEΩC, Apollo standing facing with legs crossed, head left, nude, laurel branch downward in right, leaning with left forearm resting on lyre sitting on a column base, A M K − Γ B in two columns in fields; big 34mm bronze!; very rare; $125.00 (€108.75)
 


Herennius Etruscus, Early 251 - First Half of June 251 A.D., Kolophon, Ionia

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The Clarian sanctuary lies in a small valley between Colophon and its harbor city Notium, and was surrounded by a sacred grove, as were the shrines of Didyma and Gryneum and many other temples of Apollo and his son Asclepius. The priest of Apollo Klarion would drink water before giving oracles. Pliny insisted that the Clarian water, while it inspired the priest, also shortened his life. Christian writers would later cite Apollo Klarios in a collection of pagan arguments for monotheism. When asked, "What is God?," he answered in a long hexametrical text which begins: "Born from itself, teacherless, motherless, unshakable, not giving in to one name, but having many, living in fire: this is god, and we, his messengers (angeloi) are a tiny bit of God." -- Apollo by Fritz Graf
RP72150. Bronze AE 30, Milne Colophon 252; BMC Ionia, p. 44, 57 - 58; SNG Cop -; SNGvA -; SNG München -; SNG Tübingen -, aF, well centered, green patina, porous, pitted, weight 9.256 g, maximum diameter 29.7 mm, die axis 180o, Kolophon, Ionia mint, as caesar, 249 - early 251 AD; obverse KV EP ETP ME ∆EKIOC KAI, bare-headed, draped and cuirassed bust right, from front; reverse EΠI CTPA ΦΛ AΓAΘOKΛEOVC KOΛOΦO,NIΩN (ΠI and TP ligate, ending in exergue), Apollo Klarios seated left, laureate, nude to waist, himation around waist and legs, left leg drawn back, laurel branch downward in right hand, kithara resting on seat behind held with left; very rare; $100.00 (€87.00)
 


Kyzikos, Mysia, 1st - 2nd Century A.D.

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In 74 B.C. Cyzicus, allied with Rome, withstood a siege by King Mithridates VI of Pontus. Rome rewarded this loyalty with territory and with municipal independence which lasted until the reign of Tiberius. When it was incorporated into the Empire, it was made the capital of Mysia, afterward of Hellespontus. Cyzicus was one of the great cities of the ancient world.
RP72665. Bronze AE 13, RPC I 2239 (same dies); Von Fritz X 41; SNG BnF 515; SNG Cop 85; BMC Mysia, p. 41, 170; McClean 7592, Choice gVF, nice green patina, weight 2.344 g, maximum diameter 13.4 mm, die axis 0o, Kyzikos (Kapu Dagh, Turkey) mint, 1st - 2nd Century A.D.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right; reverse lyre, K-Y/Z-I flanking in two lines; ex Roger Liles Collection; $90.00 (€78.30)
 




  



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