Many ancient coins depict the gods and goddesses of the Greeks, Romans and other ancient cultures. Collecting as many different gods and goddesses as possible is a fun, educational and affordable collecting theme. Every ancient gods and goddesses has their mythical function, biography, lineage and other facts and fictions that make them interesting. Here we will present as many different gods and goddesses as we can and provide some of the stories about them that fascinate us. We hope they fascinate you too.
Maeonia, Lydia, c. 193 - 217 A.D.
Omphale was queen of the kingdom of Lydia, the wife of Tmolus, the oak-clad mountain king of Lydia. After he was gored to death by a bull, she continued to reign on her own.
Omphale bought Herakles from Hermes, who sold him after an oracle declared Hercules must be sold into slavery for three years. Hercules had sought the oracle to learn what he must do to purify himself, after he murdered his friend Iphitus and stole the Delphic tripod. As a slave, Herakles was forced to do women's work and even wear women's clothing and hold a basket of wool while Omphale and her maidens did their spinning. Meanwhile, Omphale wore the skin of the Nemean Lion and carried Herakles' olive-wood club. But it was also during his stay in Lydia that Herakles captured the city of the Itones and enslaved them, killed Syleus who forced passersby to hoe his vineyard, and captured the Cercopes. He buried the body of Icarus and took part in the Calydonian Boar Hunt and the Argonautica. After some time, Omphale freed Herakles and took him as her husband.
The Greeks did not recognize Omphale as a goddess. Omphale's name, connected with omphalos, a Greek word meaning navel (or axis), may, however, represent a Lydian earth goddess. Herakles's servitude and marriage may represent the servitude of the sun to the axis of the celestial sphere, the spinners being Lydian versions of the Moirae. This myth may have been and attempt to explain why the priests of Herakles, curiously, wore female clothing.
GB83075. Bronze AE 18, BMC Lydia p. 130, 21; SNG Cop 225, aVF, weight 2.539 g, maximum diameter 19.3 mm, die axis 180o, Maeonia mint, c. 193 - 217 A.D.; obverse MAIONΩN, bearded head of Herakles left; reverse EΠI ∆AMA, Omphale advancing right, wearing lion skin, holding club over shoulder; olive patina; $70.00 (€52.50)
Philip I the Arab, February 244 - End of September 249 A.D.
Felicitas was the goddess or personification of good luck and success. She played an important role in Rome's state religion during the empire, and was frequently portrayed on coins. She became a prominent symbol of the wealth and prosperity of the Roman Empire.
RS41865. Silver antoninianus, SRCV III 8950, RIC IV 78, RSC IV 155, VF, horn silver, tight crack, weight 3.315 g, maximum diameter 23.7 mm, die axis 180o, Antiochia (Antakiyah, Syria) mint, 249 A.D.; obverse IMP M IVL PHILIPPVS AVG, radiate, draped and cuirassedbust right; reverseP M TR P VI COS P P, Felicitas standing left, long caduceus in right, cornucopia in left; from the Jyrki Muona Collection; rare; $50.00 (€37.50)
Carinus, First Half 283 - Spring 285 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt
Elpis was the Greek personification of Hope. According the Hesiod's famous story, Elpis was the last to escape the Pandora's box. It can be debated whether she was really about "hope" as we understand it, or rather mere "expectation." In art, Elpis is normally depicted carrying flowers or a cornucopia, but on coins she is almost invariably depicted holding a flower in her extended right, while the left is raising a fold of her dress. Elpis's Roman equivalent was Spes. She was also named "ultima dea" - the last resort of men.
RX42517. Billontetradrachm, Milne 4701; Geissen 3177; Curtis 1917; Dattari 5584; SNG Cop 952; BMC Alexandria 2454; Kampmann 115.10; Emmett 4007, VF, weight 7.037 g, maximum diameter 18.7 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 29 Aug 283 - 28 Aug 284 A.D.; obverse A K M A KAPINOC CEB, laureate and cuirassedbust right; reverseElpis standing left, holding flower and raising fold of dress, date L - B (year 2) across field; $40.00 (€30.00)