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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 reins 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; $2040.00 (€1795.20)
 


Pontic Kingdom, Mithradates VI, c. 120 - 63 B.C., Lysimachos Type

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Mithradates VI Eupator "the Great"expanded his Pontic Kingdom through conquest, which inevitably brought him into conflict with Rome. Mithradates regarded himself as the champion of the Greeks against Rome, however, after three years of war, he was defeated by Pompey the Great. The design of this coin is taken from a coin of Lysimachos, bodyguard of Alexander the Great, and King of Thrace 323 - 281 B.C. The Lysimachos coin depicted Alexander the Great on the obverse. The features of the obverse portrait on this type are those of Mithradates VI.
SH88831. Gold stater, Callataÿ p. 140, pl. XXXVII (D3/R1); AMNG I 263; HGC 3.2 1824; SNG Cop 1089 var. (control), VF, struck with worn dies, weight 8.206 g, maximum diameter 20.8 mm, die axis 0o, Kallatis mint, First Mithradatic War, c. 88 - 86 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Alexander the Great right wearing the horn of Ammon; reverse Athena seated left, Victory crowning name with wreath held in Athena's extended right hand, resting left elbow on round shield leaning on back of seat, A∆ monogram (control) inner left, KAΛ below seat, trident in exergue ornamented with two small dolphins, ΛYΣIMAXOY downward on left, BAΣIΛEΩΣ downward on right; Kirk Davis, catalog 70, lot 11; $1980.00 (€1742.40)
 


Julius Caesar, Imperator and Dictator, October 49 - 15 March 44 B.C., L. Aemilus Buca

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"The coin that killed Caesar." The obverse legend declares Caesar is "Dictator for Life" and he wears the veil, symbolic of his life-term position as Pontifex Maximus. Caesar would be both the dictator and high priest of Rome for the remainder of his life, but his life would end only a few weeks after this coin was struck. For Caesar to put his image on coins and in effect declare himself king was too much for Brutus and his republican allies. On the Ides of March (15 March) 44 B.C. Caesar was stabbed to death by as many as 60 conspirators, led by Brutus and Cassius. According to Plutarch, a seer had warned that harm would come to Caesar no later than the Ides of March. On his way to the Theater of Pompey, where he would be assassinated, Caesar passed the seer and joked, "The ides of March have come," meaning to say that the prophecy had not been fulfilled, to which the seer replied, "Aye, Caesar, but not gone." This meeting is famously dramatized in William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar when Caesar is warned by the soothsayer to "beware the Ides of March."

Minted for Caesar's planned Parthian war, this type was often carelessly struck indicating the mint was working under great pressure.
SH89754. Silver denarius, Crawford 480/7b, Sydenham 1062, Sear CRI 104a, RSC I Julius Caesar 24, Russo RBW 1682, BMCRR I Rome 4155, SRCV I 1410, aEF, toned, light marks, off center, irregular flan with edge splits , weight 3.780 g, maximum diameter 18.9 mm, die axis 0o, struck by L. Aemilus Buca, Rome mint, lifetime issue, Feb - Mar 44 B.C.; obverse CAESAR DICT PERPETVO, wreathed head of Caesar right; reverse Venus seated left, Victory in extended right, long transverse scepter in left hand, L:BVCA downward behind; ex CNG e-auction 353 (17 Jun 2015), lot 409; rare; $1350.00 (€1188.00)
 


Constantine II, 22 May 337 - March or April 340 A.D.

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All the references list this type with the reverse legend ending CAES, but our coin's reverse legend ends CAESAR. RIC lists only officina Z and Θ. Most of the officina number is off flan, but our coin does not appear to be either. There is possibly a pellet at the beginning of the mintmark, a possibility is not in the references. We are uncertain if the this is a variation of the referenced types or if the references are in error. We could not locate even one plate or online photo of another specimen of this type to compare. There are three auctions of this type on recorded on Coin Archives, but all of them are for this exact same coin.
SH89742. Silver siliqua, RIC VII Constantinople 127 var. (CAES), RSC V 72 var. (same), SRCV V 17087 var. (same), Hunter V -, gVF, attractive youthful portrait with eyes to God, toned, light marks, weight 2.622 g, maximum diameter 18.4 mm, die axis 0o, 9th Officina(?), Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, as caesar, 336 A.D.; obverse Constantine diademed right, looking up to God, no inscription; reverse CONSTANTINVS CAESAR, Victory walking left, wreath in right hand, palm frond in left hand, CONS[...] in exergue; ex Heritage auction 271848 (2 Dec 2018), lot 36228; ex CNG sale 84 (5 May 2010), lot 1531; ex CNG Triton XIII (5 Jan 2010), lot 1523; ex White Mountain Collection; extremely rare; $1000.00 (€880.00)
 


Zeno, 18 January - 17 November 474 and August 476 - 11 April 491 A.D.

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Zeno, an Isaurian chieftain, married Emperor Leo I's daughter, Ariadne. Their son, Leo II, succeeded Leo I as emperor and shortly after declared his father Augustus. Unpopular, Zeno spent his 17-year reign fighting not only barbarians but also against many rebellions. He died after an epileptic fit.
SH89781. Gold solidus, DOCLR 643 (also 10th officina), Tolstoi 24, Ratto 284, RIC X 910, Depeyrot 108/1, SRCV V 21514, Choice VF, well centered and struck, some die wear, scratch/graffito on obverse, weight 4.449 g, maximum diameter 20.0 mm, die axis 180o, 10th officina, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, 2nd reign, Aug 476 - 11 Apr 491, 5th issue; obverse D N ZENO PERP AVG, helmeted bust facing, pearl diademed with trefoil ornament on crested helmet, cuirassed, spear in right hand over right shoulder, shield on left arm decorated with horseman riding down and spearing enemy; reverse VICTORI-A AVGGG I, Victory standing left, long jeweled cross in right, star right, CONOB in exergue; $850.00 (€748.00)
 


Roman Republic, L. Sulla and L. Manlius Torquatus, 82 B.C.

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L. Manlius Torquatus was proquaestor to Sulla during the Mithridatic war (he was later Consul - 65 B.C.); this issue was struck for the civil war in Italy 82 B.C.
RR89737. Silver denarius, Crawford 367/5; Sydenham 757; RSC I Manlia 4; BMCRR II p. 461, 5; Russo RBW 1386; SRCV I 286, Choice EF, well centered and struck with attractive dies, nice rose toning, light marks, tiny edge cracks, weight 4.063 g, maximum diameter 17.6 mm, die axis 0o, military mint, 82 B.C.; obverse head of Roma right, PRO Q (proquaestor) downward behind, L MANLI upward before; reverse Sulla walking in a quadriga right, holding reins in right hand and caduceus in left, crowned by Victory flying above, L SVLLA IM (imperator) in exergue; $600.00 (€528.00) ON RESERVE


Roman Republic, M. Marcius Mn. F., 134 B.C.

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M. Marcius Mn. F.was a moneyer in 134 B.C., a magistrate, responsible for the production of the Roman coinage. In 134 B.C., Scipio Aemilianus took command in Hispania to finish what lesser generals had failed to do. He recruited 20,000 soldiers and 40,000 allies, including Numidian cavalry under Jugurtha. He constructed a circumvallation around Numantia with seven towers from which his archers could shoot into the city and put chains across a river where it entered and exited. The city refused to surrender and starvation set in. Cannibalism and suicides of whole families ensued. The remnant population finally surrendered only after setting their city on fire. Late in the summer of 133 Scipio leveled the ruins.
RR89774. Silver denarius, Crawford 245/1, Sydenham 500, RSC I Marcia 8, BMCRR I Rome 1008, Russo RBW 1009, SRCV I 122, EF, much mint luster, reverse slightly off center, tiny edge cracks, weight 3.947 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, die axis 15o, Rome mint, 134 B.C.; obverse head of Roma right in winged helmet, modius behind, X (XVI ligature, mark of value=16 asses) below chin; reverse Victory in a biga right, whip in right, reins in left, M - MAR-C (MAR ligate) over RO-MA below, both divided by two heads of grain; $450.00 (€396.00)
 


Seleukid Kingdom, Antiochus VII Euergetes Sidetes, 138 - 129 B.C.

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Oliver Hoover, in Coins of the Seleucid Empire from the Collection of Arthur Houghton, attributes this type to the Cappadocian Kingdom, c. 130 - 80 B.C. The symbols were used on Cappadocian royal coinage, the coins are found in Cappadocian hoards and a tetradrachm naming the Cappadocian King Ariarathes VII Philometor (116 - 99 B.C.) bears the obverse portrait of Antiochus VII. He notes they may have been struck to pay foreign (Syrian?) mercenaries who preferred the types of Antiochus VII.
GS87618. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton-Lorber II 2061.1s, Newell SMA 280, SNG Spaer 1852, HGC 9 1067d, VF, well centered on a broad flan, light bumps and marks, small spots of light corrosion on the obverse, weight 16.109 g, maximum diameter 31.7 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 138 - 129 B.C.; obverse diademed head of the Seleukid King Antiochos VII right, fillet border; reverse Athena standing slightly left, head left, right hand extended through inscription to border holding Nike, grounded shield in left hand, spear leaning on left arm, BAΣIΛEΩΣ / ANTIOXOY in two downward lines on right, EYEPΓETOY downward on left, ligate ∆I over Λ outer left, laurel wreath border; $260.00 (€228.80)
 


Neapolis, Campania, Italy, c. 300 - 275 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.
GS88981. Silver didrachm, cf. SNG ANS I 345; SNG Cop 417; BMC Italy p. 99, 58; Weber I 333; Sambon p. 227, 463; McClean 265; HN Italy 579; HGC I 453 (S), F, attractive style, even wear - nice for the grade, light bumps and marks, irregular flan shape with edge split, weight 6.921 g, maximum diameter 21.0 mm, die axis 0o, Neapolis (Naples, Italy) mint, c. 300 - 275 B.C.; obverse diademed female head (Siren Parthenope?) right, wearing large pendant earring and pearl necklace, astragalus (control symbol) behind neck, APTE[MI?] (master engraver or magistrate) below neck truncation; reverse man-faced bull standing right, head turned facing, Nike above flying right and placing wreath on bull's head, ΘE below, NEOΠOΛITΩN in exergue (off flan); ex Ancient Imports; scarce; $260.00 (€228.80)
 


Seleukid Kingdom, Antiochus VII Euergetes Sidetes, 138 - 129 B.C.

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Oliver Hoover, in Coins of the Seleucid Empire from the Collection of Arthur Houghton, attributes this type to the Cappadocian Kingdom, c. 130 - 80 B.C. The symbols were used on Cappadocian royal coinage, the coins are found in Cappadocian hoards and a tetradrachm naming the Cappadocian King Ariarathes VII Philometor (116 - 99 B.C.) bears the obverse portrait of Antiochus VII. He notes they may have been struck to pay foreign (Syrian?) mercenaries who preferred the types of Antiochus VII.
GS87616. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton-Lorber II 2061.1s, Newell SMA 280, SNG Spaer 1852, HGC 9 1067d, VF, slightly off center, corrosion, light scratches, weight 16.461 g, maximum diameter 31.6 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 138 - 129 B.C.; obverse diademed head of the Seleukid King Antiochos VII right, fillet border; reverse Athena standing slightly left, head left, right hand extended through inscription to border holding Nike, grounded shield in left hand, spear leaning on left arm, BAΣIΛEΩΣ / ANTIOXOY in two downward lines on right, EYEPΓETOY downward on left, ligate ∆I over Λ outer left, laurel wreath border; $240.00 (€211.20)
 




  



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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 Thursday, June 20, 2019.
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Nike or Victory