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

Medusa, Gorgoneion & Perseus on Ancient Coins

Anatolia (Lycia?), 5th Century B.C.

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Although unlisted in the major references, a similar hemidrachm type was first published by 1897. Six obols of this type, including this coin, are listed on Coin Archives having been offered at auction in the last two decades.

The chimera was, according to Greek mythology, a monstrous fire-breathing creature of Lycia, composed of the parts of three animals - a lion, a snake, and a goat or stag. Usually depicted as a lion, with the head of a goat arising from its back, and a tail that ending with a snake's head, the Chimera was one of the offspring of Typhon and Echidna and a sibling of such monsters as Cerberus and the Lernaean Hydra. The term chimera has come to describe any mythical or fictional animal with parts taken from various animals, or to describe anything perceived as wildly imaginative or implausible.
GS87477. Silver obol, 6 specimens known from auctions, otherwise unpublished; cf. Boston MFA 2325 (hemidrachm), Greenwell 1897, p. 281, 2 (= Boston MFA 2325), VF, well centered, toned, lightly etched surfaces, bumps and scratches, die wear, weight 0.662 g, maximum diameter 7.8 mm, die axis 270o, uncertain (Lycian?) mint, 5th century B.C.; obverse chimera standing (right?) with heads of a lion (in center with looking left), stag, and serpent, joined on one quadruped body at the center and radiating outward; reverse gorgoneion (facing head of Medusa), snaky locks, tongue protruding, within incuse square; ex Numismatic Naumann, auction 62 (4 Feb 2018), lot 127; extremely rare; $280.00 (238.00)


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

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Perseus, the legendary founder of Mycenae and of the Perseid dynasty, was the first of the mythic heroes of Greek mythology. His exploits defeating various archaic monsters provided the founding myths in the cult of the Twelve Olympians. Perseus killed Medusa and claimed Andromeda, having rescued her from a sea monster.
GB82758. Bronze AE 29, SNG BM 1166 ff. var.; SNG Stancomb 683 ff. var.; BMC Pontus p. 16, 30 ff. var.; SNG Cop 137 var. (all with various monograms), VF, glossy dark green patina, slightly off center, some bumps and marks, light porosity, weight 17.769 g, maximum diameter 28.5 mm, die axis 0o, Amisos (Samsun, Turkey) mint, c. 85 - 65 B.C.; obverse head of Athena Parthenos right, wearing triple crested helmet decorated with an apluster, griffin, and foreparts of four horses; reverse Perseus standing facing, harpa in right hand, wearing pointed helmet or cap with long ear flaps and himation over shoulders, Medusa's severed head in left hand, Medusa's decapitated body at his feet, AMI−ΣOY in one line divided across field, no monograms; $240.00 (204.00)


Kings of Bosporos, Polemo I, c. 14 - 9 B.C.

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The Bosporan Kingdom (or Kingdom of the Cimmerian Bosporus) was in eastern Crimea and the Taman Peninsula on the shores of the Cimmerian Bosporus, the present-day Strait of Kerch (it was not named after the Bosphorus beside Istanbul). The mixed population adopted Greek language and civilization. The prosperity of the kingdom was based on the export of wheat, fish and slaves. The kingdom's golden age was 2nd and 1st centuries B.C. At the end of the 2nd century A.D., King Sauromates II inflicted a critical defeat on the Scythians and expanded his state to include the entire Crimea. It was the longest surviving Roman client kingdom, lasting until it was overrun by the Huns c. 375 A.D.
GB85937. Bronze tetrachalkon, Frolova-Ireland p. 52, pl. 33/1, pl. 34/1-5, MacDonald Bosporus 229, SNG Stancomb 961, Anokhin 256, HGC 7 347 (R2), RPC I -, SNG BM -, SNG Pushkin -, nice VF, bold strike, slightly off center, attractive near black patina with buff earthen highlighting, scratches, edge cracks, countermark, weight 9.295 g, maximum diameter 24.0 mm, die axis 0o, Pantikapaion (Kerch, Crimea) mint, c. 14 - 9 B.C.; obverse head of gorgon Medusa (or Perseus? - most references say a gorgon) right, winged, snakes (or drapery) around neck, obscure round countermark before; reverse monogram of Polemo I; very rare; $200.00 (170.00)


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; $170.00 (144.50)


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 gorgs, 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)


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; $130.00 (110.50)


Apollonia Pontika, Thrace, 450 - 404 B.C.

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A gorgoneion was a horror-creating apotropaic Gorgon head pendant. The name derives from the Greek word gorgs, 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.
GS87146. Silver drachm, Topalov Apollonia p. 586, 41; SNG BM 153; SNG Cop 454; SGCV I 1655, VF, toned, struck with worn/damaged obverse die, under-size low weight flan, weight 2.335 g, maximum diameter 14.5 mm, die axis 45o, Apollonia Pontica (Sozopol, Bulgaria) mint, 450 - 404 B.C.; obverse anchor flukes up, curved stock, crayfish left, A right; reverse archaic Ionian style gorgoneion (facing head of Medusa), snakes for hair, large open mouth, visible teeth, long protruding tongue; $130.00 (110.50)


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; $120.00 (102.00)


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)


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 anakkale 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; $90.00 (76.50)




  



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Medusa & Gorgoneion