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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Military ▸ Nike or VictoryView Options:  |  |  |   

Nike or Victory on Ancient Coins

Victoria or Nike, the Winged Goddess of Victory, personifies victory. She was described variously in different myths as the daughter of the Titan Pallas and the goddess Styx, and the sister of Kratos (Strength), Bia (Force), and Zelus (Zeal). Nike and her siblings were close companions of Zeus. According to classical (later) myth, Styx brought them to Zeus when the god was assembling allies for the Titan War. Nike assumed the role of the divine charioteer, a role in which she often is portrayed in Classical Greek art. Nike flew around battlefields rewarding the victors with glory and fame, symbolized by a wreath of laurel leaves. Victory or Nike is one of the most common figures on Greek and Roman coins.


Syracuse, Sicily, Second Democracy, 466 - 405 B.C.

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SH86312. Silver tetradrachm, Boehringer Series XIVb, 489 (V258/R351); SNG ANS 156 (same dies); Weber 1583 (same obv. die); BMC Sicily, p. 156, 80; Jameson 762; HGC 2 1312, EF, mint luster in recesses, light tone, obverse die wear, uneven strike, reverse off center, weight 17.391 g, maximum diameter 27.5 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, 466 - 460 B.C.; obverse charioteer driving slow quadriga right, holding reigns in both hands, goad in right hand, Nike above flying left crowning driver with wreath, Ketos (sea serpent) right in exergue; reverse ΣYPAKOΣON, head of Arethusa right, wearing pearl or bead necklace and earring with loop and finial pendant, thin band wound once around her head and tying back hair in queue, four dolphins around swimming clockwise; ex CNG auction 102 (18 May 2016), lot 135; ex Colin E. Pitchfork Collection; ex Dr. Neil Geddes (20 Nov 2002); ex Noble auction 54 (22 July 1997), lot 1640; ex Stack’s sale, 6 Dec 1995, lot 65; $2520.00 (€2142.00)
 


Nero, 13 October 54 - 9 June 68 A.D.

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Roma was a female deity who personified the city of Rome and more broadly, the Roman state. The earliest certain cult to dea Roma was established at Smyrna in 195 B.C., probably to mark the successful alliance against Antiochus III. In 30/29 B.C., the Koinon of Asia and Bithynia requested permission to honor Augustus as a living god. "Republican" Rome despised the worship of a living man, but an outright refusal might offend their loyal allies. A cautious formula was drawn up, non-Romans could only establish a cult for divus Augustus jointly with dea Roma. In the city of Rome itself, the earliest known state cult to dea Roma was combined with Venus at the Hadrianic Temple of Venus and Roma. This was the largest temple in the city, probably dedicated to inaugurate the reformed festival of Parilia, which was known thereafter as the Romaea after the Eastern festival in Roma's honor. The temple contained the seated, Hellenised image of dea Roma with a Palladium in her right hand to symbolize Rome's eternity.
SH83947. Silver denarius, RIC I 55 (R), BMCRE I 83; RSC II 257, Hunter I 19, BnF II 224, Mac Dowall WCN 59, SRCV I 1944, Nice VF, excellent portrait, attractive toning, light bumps and scratches, areas of mild porosity, weight 3.281 g, maximum diameter 17.0 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 65 - 66 A.D.; obverse NERO CAESAR AVGVSTVS, laureate head right; reverse Roma seated left on cuirass, shields and grieve, helmeted, right leg drawn back and right foot on helmet, Victory offering wreath in her right hand, left hand on parazonium, ROMA in exergue; ex Münzen & Medaillen auction 46 (15 Feb 2018), lot 700; ex Forum (2017); $1000.00 (€850.00)
 


Kingdom of Thrace, Lysimachos, 305 - 281 B.C., portrait of Alexander

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Lysimachus, one of Alexander the Great's personal bodyguards, was appointed strategos (general) in Thrace and the Chersonesos after Alexander's death. He became one of the diadochi (successors of Alexander) who were initially generals and governors, but who continuously allied and warred with each other and eventually divided the empire. In 309, he founded his capital Lysimachia in a commanding situation on the neck connecting the Chersonesos with the mainland. In 306, he followed the example of Antigonus in taking the title of king, ruling Thrace, Asia Minor and Macedonia. In 281, he was killed in battle against Seleucus, another successor of Alexander.
SH82663. Silver tetradrachm, Müller 517, Thompson -, SNG Cop -, Meydancikkale -, VF, excellent portrait, sculptural high relief, well centered, light uneven toning, light bumps and marks, weight 16.984 g, maximum diameter 30.4 mm, die axis 90o, Ionia, Magnesia ad Maeandrum (near Tekin, Turkey) mint, 297 - 282 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Alexander the Great wearing the horn of Ammon; reverse Athena enthroned left, wearing crested Corinthian helmet, Nike crowning name in right hand, rests left arm on shield, transverse spear against right side, Φ inner left under arm, AP on throne, BAΣIΛEΩΣ (king) downward on right, ΛYΣIMAXOY downward on left; scarce; $850.00 (€722.50)
 


Neapolis, Campania, Italy, c. 275 - 250 B.C.

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Naples is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Bronze Age Greek settlements were established in the second millennium B.C. The city was refounded as Neapolis in the sixth century B.C. and became an important hub of Magna Graecia, playing a key role in the merging of Greek culture into Roman society. Naples remained influential under Rome and more so after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, serving as the capital city of the Kingdom of Naples between 1282 and 1816. Thereafter, it became the capital of the Two Sicilies until the unification of Italy in 1861.
SH86580. Silver didrachm, Sambon 523, HN Italy 586, SNG ANS 395 ff. var., SNG BnF 836 ff. var.; SNG Munchen 250 ff. var., SNG Cop 451 ff. var. (all var., no dolphin control), VF, attractive classical style, well centered and struck, toned, bumps and marks, edge crack, weight 7.118 g, maximum diameter 19.6 mm, die axis 0o, Neapolis (Naples) mint, 275 - 250 B.C.; obverse diademed head of nymph left, wearing triple-pendant earring, dolphin head down (control symbol) behind; reverse man-faced bull walking right, head turned facing, being crowned by Nike flying right above, IΣ (control or magistrate initials) below, NEOΠOΛITΩN in exergue; $400.00 (€340.00)
 


Vespasian, 1 July 69 - 24 June 79 A.D., Alexandreia Troas, Troas

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RPC II notes this extremely rare type was previously attributed to Apamea in Bithynia. The issue, however, included two reverse types, this Victory type and one with Apollo Smintheus, and the cult of Apollo Smintheus was centered on the Troad. Also, an example of the Apollo type was found at Alexandria. Both types are extremely rare. These were the first coins issued by Alexandria Troas, which otherwise did not strike coins before Antoninus Pius.
RP86548. Copper semis, RPC II 896/1 (2 spec., same obv. die); Milne NC 1953, p. 23, 6 (Apamea); Rec Gén p. 252, note 4 (same); Bellinger -; BMC Troas -; SNG Cop -, aF, tight flan, light corrosion, light deposits, reverse a little off center, weight 4.930 g, maximum diameter 20.5 mm, die axis 180o, Alexandria Troas (Eski Stambul, Turkey) mint, obverse IMP VESPASIANVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse VICTORIA AVG (the victory of the Emperor), Victory standing right, wearing long chiton, filleted wreath in extended right hand, palm frond over left shoulder in left hand, D - D flanking low across field; from the David Cannon Collection, ex Beast Coins, ex Sayles & Lavender (2009); extremely rare; $380.00 (€323.00)
 


Titus, 24 June 79 - 13 September 81 A.D.

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This type appears to refer to a victory on the Sea of Galilee during the recapture of Judaea.
RB82679. Copper as, RIC II-1 p. 112, V753 (R); BnF III p. 173, V734; Cohen I 363 var. (head left); BMCRE II -; Hunter I -; SRCV I -, VF, well centered, rough light green patina, small edge chip, weight 7.964 g, maximum diameter 27.6 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, as caesar, 74 A.D.; obverse T CAESAR IMP COS III CENS, laureate head right; reverse VICTORIA AVGVST (the victory of the Emperor), Victory advancing right on prow, wreath in extended right hand, palm across left shoulder in left hand, S - C across field below center; rare; $360.00 (€306.00)
 


Eugenius, 22 August 392 - 6 September 394 A.D.

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Eugenius was the puppet emperor of the barbarian general Arbogastes. Placed on the throne by the barbarian lord, Eugenius was not accepted as co-emperor by Theodosius I. Theodosius marched into Italy. Eugenius was defeated and executed.
RL87330. Bronze half centenionalis, RIC IX Aquileia 59.1 (R), Paolucci-Zub 805 (R3), LRBC II 1108, SRCV V 20691, Cohen VIII 5, VF, small flan cutting off parts of legends and Victory's head, a little rough, weight 0.983 g, maximum diameter 13.6 mm, die axis 0o, 1st officina, Aquileia mint, spring 393 - 6 Sep 394 A.D.; obverse D N EVGENIVS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse SPES ROMANORVM, Victory walking left, wreath in right hand, palm frond over left shoulder in left hand, AQP in exergue; very rare; $360.00 (€306.00)
 


Seleukid Kingdom, Seleucus I Nikator, 312 - 280 B.C.

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Seleukos (Seleucus) founded the Seleukid Empire and the Seleukid dynasty which ruled Syria until Pompey made it a Roman province in 63 B.C. Seleukos was never one of Alexander the Great's principal generals but he commanded the royal bodyguard during the Indian campaign. In the division of the empire after Alexander's death Seleukos did not receive a satrapy. Instead, he served under the regent Perdikkas until the latter's murder in 321 or 320. Seleukos was then appointed satrap of Babylonia. Five years later Antigonus Monophthalmus (the One-eyed) forced him to flee, but he returned with support from Ptolemy. He later added Persia and Media to his territory and defeated both Antigonus and Lysimachus. He was succeeded by his son Antiochus I.
SH85790. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton-Lorber I 13(1)c, Newell WSM 909, Meydancikkale 2745, HGC 3 16c (R1), VF, struck with fine style high-relief dies, light golden toning, bumps and marks, tight flan, obverse slightly off center, test punch on obverse, weight 17.040 g, maximum diameter 27.5 mm, die axis 180o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 300 - 281 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean lion scalp headdress; reverse ΣEΛEYKOΣ BAΣIΛEΩΣ, Zeus Nikephoros on throne, right leg drawn back, feet on footstool, Nike offering wreath in his right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, monogram in left field before knees, ΘE under throne below strut, ΣEΛEYKOΣ downward on right, BAΣIΛEΩΣ in exergue; rare; $350.00 (€297.50)
 


Domitian, 13 September 81 - 18 September 96 A.D.

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As Emperor, Domitian saw himself as the new Augustus, an enlightened despot destined to guide the Roman Empire into a new era of Flavian renaissance. Using religious, military and cultural propaganda, he fostered a cult of personality. He deified three of his family members and erected massive structures to commemorate the Flavian achievements. Elaborate triumphs were celebrated in order to boost his image as a warrior-emperor, but many of these were either unearned or premature.
RB86763. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC II-1 752; BnF III 494; Cohen I 514; BMCRE II 465; Hunter I 187; cf. SRCV I 2774 (COS XV), aVF, attractive blue green patina, nice style, well centered, spots of corrosion, reverse a little flatly struck, weight 22.236 g, maximum diameter 34.9 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 92 - 94 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM COS XVI CENS PER P P, laureate head right; reverse Domitian standing facing, head left, wearing military attire, thunderbolt in right hand, long scepter in left hand, Victory standing behind him, crowning him with wreath in right hand, palm over her left shoulder in her left , S C in exergue; $350.00 (€297.50)
 


Gallic Empire, Marius, May - August or September 269 A.D.

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A blacksmith by trade, Marius worked his way up through the ranks until he was an officer in the Gallic Empire army under Postumus. Upon Postumus' death, Marius seized power but his reign was very short, perhaps only two or three days. He was murdered by his own officers, possibly with a sword of his own manufacture.
RA87328. Billon antoninianus, Schulzki 7b, RIC V-2 17, Hunter IV 9, Cohen VI 21, Elmer 638, SRCV III 11123, VF, excellent portrait, brown patina, areas of light corrosion/porosity, weight 2.879 g, maximum diameter 19.5 mm, die axis 180o, Colonia Agrippinensis (Cologne, Germany) mint, 268 A.D.; obverse IMP C M AVR MARIVS AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust right, slight drapery on left shoulder; reverse VICTORIA AVG (the victory of the Emperor), Victory walking left, wreath in right hand, palm against left shoulder in left hand; scarce; $350.00 (€297.50)
 




  



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REFERENCES

Imhoof-Blumer, F. "Die Flügelgestalten der Athena und Nike auf Münzen" in NZ III (1871)., pp. 1 - 50.
Marest-Caffey, L. "Seleukos I's Victory Coinage of Susa Revisited: A Die Study and Commentary" in AJN 28 (2016).

Catalog current as of Sunday, July 22, 2018.
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Nike or Victory