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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; $270.00 (€240.30)
 


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; $240.00 (€213.60)
 


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; $225.00 (€200.25)
 


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

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In 243, Timesitheus, Gordian's father-in-law and praetorian prefect became ill and died under suspicious circumstances. Gordian III appointed Philip the Arab as his new praetorian prefect.
RB76166. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC IV 303a, Hunter III 117, Cohen 262, SRCV III 8732, Choice VF, attractive green patina with red earthen fill, nice portrait, well centered, light marks, small edge cracks, weight 17.522 g, maximum diameter 30.5 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 4th issue, 242 - 243 A.D.; obverse IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AVG, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse P M TR P V COS II P P, Apollo enthroned left, laurel-branch in right hand, left forearm resting on lyre on back of his seat, S C in exergue; $225.00 (€200.25)
 


Macedonian Kingdom, Philip III Arrhidaeus and Alexander IV, 323 - 317 B.C., Struck in the Name of Philip

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Struck in the name of King Philip III Arrhidaeus, Alexander the Great's half-brother, under the regent Perdikkas. Philip III and Alexander's infant son, Alexander IV, were made joint kings after Alexander's death. Philip was the bastard son of Philip II and a dancer, Philinna of Larissa. Alexander the Great's mother, Olympias, allegedly poisoned her stepson Philip III as a child, leaving him mentally disabled, eliminating him as a rival to Alexander. Neither Philip III nor Alexander IV was capable of actual rule and both were selected only to serve as pawns. Perdikkas held power, while Philip III was actually imprisoned. In 317, Philip was murdered by Olympias 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); $200.00 (€178.00)
 


Maximinus II Daia, Late 309 - 30 April 313 A.D., Antioch, Syria, Civic Christian Persecution Issue

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In 311, after the death of Galerius in late April or May, representatives from Nicomedia presented themselves before Maximinus, bringing images of their gods and requested that Christians not be allowed to live in their city. Late in 311, an embassy from Antioch, led by their curator Theotecnus, also requested permission to banish Christians from their city and its territory. Other cities followed with the same request. Maximinus support for Antioch's requests is advertised by this coin type. Fearing his co-emperors, however, Maximinus changed his mind. His edict in May 313 restored privileges and property to Christians. Later in 313, Licinius captured Antioch and executed Theotecnus.
RY77124. Billon quarter follis, McAlee 170(c), Van Heesch 3(a), Vagi 2954, SRCV IV 14927, Choice VF, black desert patina with red earthen highlighting, weight 1.508 g, maximum diameter 15.6 mm, die axis 0o, 3rd officina, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, c. 312 A.D.; obverse GENIO ANTIOCHENI, Tyche of Antioch seated facing on rocks, turreted and veiled, stalks of grain in right; upper body of river-god Orontes below, standing facing in waist deep water, arms outstretched; reverse APOLLONI SANCTO, Apollo standing facing, head left, pouring libations from patera in right hand, kithara in left hand, Γ right, SMA in exergue; $180.00 (€160.20)
 


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; $120.00 (€106.80)
 


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; $110.00 (€97.90)
 


Commodus, March or April 177 - 31 December 192 A.D.

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The Temple of Apollo Palatinus, on the Palatine Hill, was dedicated by Octavian on 9 October 28 B.C. in return for vows made for his victories over Sextus Pompeius at the Battle of Naulochus in 36 B.C. and over Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium 31 B.C. It was built on a site where a lightning bolt had struck. Augustus' private house was directly connected to the terrace of the sanctuary. Ancient sources state the temple had ivory doors and held numerous works of sculpture. The remains were excavated in the 1960s.
RS76904. Silver denarius, RSC II 25, BMCRE IV 292, RIC III 218 (S), Hunter II 53, Szaivert MIR 18 805, SRCV II 5629, VF, uneven toning, crowded flan, weight 3.020 g, maximum diameter 17.2 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, Dec 190 - Dec 191 A.D.; obverse M COMM ANT P FEL AVG BRIT P P, laureate head right; reverse APOL PAL P M TR P XVI COS VI, Apollo Palatinus standing facing, head right, laureate and wearing long robe, plectrum in right hand, lyre resting on a column in left hand; scarce; $100.00 (€89.00)
 


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; $90.00 (€80.10)
 




  



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