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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Gods, Non-Olympian ▸ MedusaView Options:  |  |  |   

Medusa, Gorgoneion & Perseus on Ancient Coins

Himera, Sicily, c. 430 - 420 B.C.

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In 409 B.C., Carthage attacked Himera. The city was unprepared; its fortifications weak. At first they were supported about 4000 auxiliaries from Syracuse, but their general, Diocles, seized with panic for the safety of Syracuse itself, abandoned Himera. The city was utterly destroyed, its buildings, even its temples, were razed to the ground. More than 3000 prisoners were put to death by General Hannibal Mago as a human sacrifice to the memory of his grandfather General Hamilcar who had been defeated at the Battle of Himera in 480 B.C.
GI85845. Bronze hemilitron, cf. Calciati I, Group V, p. 35, 24; SNG ANS 180; McClean 2303; Weber 1356; HGC 2 472 (S), F, green patina, thick truncated-conic slightly irregular flan, struck with a worn obverse die, weight 15.015 g, maximum diameter 24.2 mm, die axis 315o, Himera (Termini, Sicily, Italy) mint, c. 430 - 420 B.C.; obverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion), almond eyes, protruding cheeks, nose well modeled, hair in large curls, protruding tongue, crude execution; reverse six pellets (mark of value), in two columns of three, nearly flat field; ex Moneta Numismatic Services; scarce; $190.00 (€161.50)
 


Amisos, Pontos, c. 85 - 65 B.C.

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Amisos was settled c. 760 - 750 B.C. by people from Miletus, who established a flourishing trade relationship with the ancient peoples of Anatolia. Amisos came under the rule of the Persian Empire, Alexander the Great's Macedonian Empire, and then the Kingdom of Pontus. The Romans took control in 47 B.C. and Amisos remained within the Byzantine Empire after the fall of Rome. In 1200, the city was captured by the Seljuks, to be later taken over by the Ilhanlilar. Amisos today is Samsun, a city of about half a million people on the north coast of Turkey.
GB76954. Bronze AE 20, BMC Pontus p. 20, 72; SNG BM 1187 var. (different monogram right); SNG Stancomb 688 ff. var. (different monograms); SNG Cop 167 ff. var. (same), VF, well centered on usual tight flan, nice green patina, minor flan adjustment marks, weight 8.426 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, Amisos (Samsun, Turkey) mint, c. 85 - 65 B.C.; obverse aegis with facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion) in center; reverse AMI−ΣOY, Nike advancing right, holding palm frond across shoulders behind, A∆T monogram lower left, AMTE monogram lower right; $180.00 (€153.00)
 


Selinous, Sicily, 450 - 440 B.C.

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Selinus was once one of the most important Greek colonies in Sicily. In 409 B.C., the Carthaginians attacked with a vast army believed to include at least 100,000 men. Selinus, with a population of about 30,000 excluding slaves, was unprepared and an auxiliary force promised by Syracuse, Agrigentum and Gela did not arrive. The Selinuntines defended themselves with courage, and after the walls were breached, continued to fight from house to house. After tens days the city fell. Of the citizens, 16,000 were slain and 5,000 made prisoners, but more than 2,600 escaped to Agrigento.
GI83626. Cast bronze cast trias, Calciati I p. 233, 2; SNG Morcom 666; HGC 2 1231 (R1); BMC Sicily -; SNG Cop -; SNG ANS -; SNG Munchen -; SNG Tub -, aF, green patina, weight 14.308 g, maximum diameter 22.0 mm, die axis 0o, Selinus mint, 450 - 440 B.C.; obverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion); with teeth displayed, four pellets (mark of value) in hair, anepigraphic; reverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion), with protruding tongue; four pellets (mark of value) in hair, anepigraphic; ex CNG e-auction 285 (22 Aug 2012), lot 14; ex L.C. Aes Grave Collection; rare; $145.00 (€123.25)
 


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

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Constantine II was about eight years old when this coin was minted. Here he is draped and cuirassed as a powerful child Caesar with the world in his hands!
SH63721. Billon centenionalis, RIC VII Trier 382 (R3) corr. (no cuirass), SRCV V 17155, Cohen VII 23, gVF, well centered on a tight flan, nice green patina, weight 2.868 g, maximum diameter 18.0 mm, die axis 180o, 2nd officina, Treveri (Trier, Germany) mint, 322 - 323 A.D.; obverse CONSTANTINVS IVN NOB C, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust left, Victory on globe offering wreath in right hand, mappa in left, head of Medusa on cuirass; reverse BEATA TRANQVILLITAS (blessed tranquility), altar inscribed VO/TIS / XX, surmounted by globe, three stars above, •STR• in exergue; rare; $135.00 (€114.75)
 


Parion, Mysia, 400 - 300 B.C.

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A Gorgoneion was a horror-creating apotropaic Gorgon head pendant. The name derives from the Greek word gorgós, which means "dreadful." The Gorgons were three sisters who had hair of living, venomous snakes, and a horrifying face that turned those who saw it to stone. Stheno and Euryale were immortal, but their sister Medusa was not, and was slain by Perseus. Zeus, Athena, Hellenistic kings and Roman emperors wore Gorgoneion for protection. Images of the Gorgons were also put upon objects and buildings for protection. A Gorgon image is at the center of the pediment of the temple at Corfu, the oldest stone pediment in Greece from about 600 B.C.
GS79709. Silver hemidrachm, SNGvA 1319; SNG BnF 1357; SNG Delepierre 2530; BMC Mysia p. 95, 14 - 16; SNG Cop 257 ff. var. (various control symbols), VF, attractive style, light toning, tight flan, porous, weight 2.388 g, maximum diameter 13.3 mm, die axis 0o, Parion (Kemer, Canakkale, Turkey) mint, 400 - 300 B.C.; obverse bull standing left, looking right, ΠA/PI in two lines above and below bull, no control symbol; reverse Gorgoneion (facing head of Medusa), surrounded by snakes; ex FORVM (2009); $135.00 (€114.75)
 


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

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Andromeda was the daughter of Cepheus, an Aethiopian king, and Cassiopeia. When Cassiopeia's boasted that Andromeda was more beautiful than the Nereids, Poseidon sent a sea monster (Cetus Aethiopicus) to ravage Aethiopia as divine punishment. Andromeda was chained to a rock as a sacrifice to sate the monster, but she was saved by Perseus. Later Andromeda and Perseus were married.
SH63219. Brass AE 23, Draganov Deultum 1241a (O109/R592); Varbanov II 2758 (R6); BMC Thrace -; SNG Cop -, aF, weight 6.276 g, maximum diameter 22.5 mm, die axis 180o, Deultum (Debelt, Bulgaria) mint, 29 Jul 238 - 25 Feb 244 A.D.; obverse IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse COL FL PAC DEVLT, Perseus (on right) standing left, helping Andromeda (on left) come down from a rock after saving her, Medusa's head and harpa in his left hand, his right foot on the sea monster, Cetus Aethiopicus, turned to stone; very rare; $130.00 (€110.50)
 


Parion, Mysia, c. 5th Century B.C.

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Imitative of this type were struck in large numbers by the Thracian Odrysian Kingdom. The original coins from Parion are much scarcer and also more attractive.
GA76155. Silver hemidrachm, SNG BnF 1343; Traité II 1, 652, pl. XVI, 22; SNGvA 1318; Rosen 525; Asyut 612, VF, high relief, bold strike, porous, slightly off center, weight 3.240 g, maximum diameter 12.4 mm, Parion mint, c. 5th century B.C.; obverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion) with open mouth and protruding tongue; reverse incuse square containing an irregular cruciform pattern, with pellet in center; $120.00 (€102.00)
 


Severus Alexander, 13 March 222 - March 235 A.D., Parium, Mysia

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Founded in 709 B.C., the ancient city of Parion was a major coastal city, near Lampsacus, with two harbors used to connect Thrace with Anatolia. Parium belonged to the Delian League. In the Hellenistic period, it came under the domain of Lysimachus, and subsequently the Attalid dynasty. Julius Caesar refounded it as a colonia in the province of Asia. It was the main customs station through which all goods bound for Byzantium from Greece and the Aegean had to pass. When this coin was minted, Parium was within the Conventus of Adramyteum. After Asia was divided in the 4th century, Parium was in the province of Hellespontus. Today it is the village of Kemer in the township of Biga, Canakkale province, Turkey.
RP85228. Bronze AE 22, RPC Online VI temp 3875 (3 spec., all same dies), SNG Çanakkale 226 var. (same obv. die, normal rev.), SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, SNG BnF -, BMC Mysia -, VF, obverse slightly off center, light bumps and marks, slightest corrosion, weight 4.627 g, maximum diameter 22.4 mm, die axis 225o, Parium (Kemer, Canakkale, Turkey) mint, 13 Mar 222 - Mar 235 A.D.; obverse IMP CAEƧ L ƧEP ƧEV ALEXANDER, laureate and cuirassed bust right, seen from the front, cuirass with Gorgoneion; reverse Capricorn swimming left, holding celestial globe between legs, cornucopia on back, C G I H P (Colonia Gemella Iulia Hadriana Pariana) retrograde below (the entire reverse is retrograde - the normal type is Capricorn right); rare; $100.00 (€85.00)
 


Soloi, Cilicia, c. 100 - 30 B.C.

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Soli (or Soloi) was a colony of Rhodes, founded c. 700 B.C. southwest of Tarsus, in Cilicia. It was destroyed in the 1st century B.C., and refounded by Pompey the Great as Pompeiopolis (not to be confused with the Pompeiopolis in Paphlagonia).
GB57540. Bronze AE 26, cf. SNG BnF 1197, SNG Levante 872, SNG Cop -, aVF, weight 9.225 g, maximum diameter 24.1 mm, die axis 0o, Cilicia, Olba mint, c. 100 - 30 B.C.; obverse aegis with winged gorgoneion in center; reverse ΣOΛEΩN (below), Aphrodite riding bull right, owl before, monogram above left; rare; $90.00 (€76.50)
 


Thracians, Odrysian Kingdom, Early 5th - Middle 4th Century B.C.

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This type has traditionally been attributed to Parion, Mysia or as a Celtic imitative of the Parion type. Based on find locations in the area of Plovdiv, Haskova, Stara Zagora and Yambol in Bulgaria, Topalov has reattributed this imitative type to the Thracian Odrysian Kingdom. He notes they may have been struck by a tribal mint or by one of the Greek cities within Odrysian territory to pay their annual tax to the tribe.
GA47648. Silver hemidrachm, Topalov Thrace p. 230, 55, F, weight 3.260 g, maximum diameter 13.6 mm, Thracian, Greek city or tribal mint, early 5th - middle 4th century B.C.; obverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion); reverse incuse square containing angles in each corner forming a cruciform pattern, with pellet in center; ex Alex G. Malloy; $65.00 (€55.25)
 




  



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Medusa & Gorgoneion