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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Gods, Olympians ▸ Athena or MinervaView Options:  |  |  |   

Athena or Minerva on Ancient Coins

Athena was the virgin goddess of wisdom, crafts, and battle strategy. Her symbols are the olive tree and the owl. She is the daughter of Zeus, according to some traditions by Metis.


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

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This issue was minted to pay for Caesar's military operation against the Pompeians in North Africa. The campaign ended with the dictator's victory at Thapsus on 6 April 46 B.C. The reverse depicts Aeneas carrying his father and the palladium away from burning Troy and refers to the mythical descent of the Julia gens from Iulus, the son of Aeneas.
SH85104. Silver denarius, Crawford 458/1, RSC I 12, Sydenham 1013, BMCRR East 31, SRCV I 1402, Choice gVF, bold strike, weight 3.799 g, maximum diameter 18.3 mm, die axis 180o, North Africa mint, 47 - 46 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Venus right, wearing necklace, hair rolled back, in a knot behind, two locks down neck; reverse CAESAR, Aeneas walking left, nude, carrying his father, Anchises, on his left shoulder, palladium in right hand; $1350.00 (€1201.50)
 


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. He 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 portrait on this type are those of Mithradates VI.
SH85133. Gold stater, De Callataÿ p. 141 (D1/R1), SNG Cop 1090 (Thrace), VF, die wear, weight 8.395 g, maximum diameter 19.2 mm, die axis 0o, Moesia Inferior, Tomis (Constanta, Romania) mint, First Mithradatic War, 88 - 86 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Alexander the Great (with the features of Mithradates VI), wearing the horn of Ammon; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΛYΣIMAXOY, Athena enthroned left, wearing crested helmet, Nike in right hand, resting left arm on round shield behind, monogram and V above knee, TO on throne, trident in exergue; ex CNG e-auction 92 (23 Jun 2004), lot 27; $1200.00 (€1068.00)
 


Athens, Greece, Pi-Style III Tetradrachm, 353 - c. 340 B.C.

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The Pi III type introduced the true pi-style floral ornament. The lower tendrils have moved outward from the central tendril, and originate from and perpendicular to the curved horizontal line forming the upper tendrils; they parallel the central tendril for most of their length before flaring outward. The central tendril can be exceptionally long, extending down to Athena’s ear. Pi III may or may not have a pellet above the earring on the obverse, and have one or two columns of pellets (feathers) to the right of the owl's beak on the reverse. All are struck on folded flans, often elongated oval shaped flans nicknamed "logs."
SH85069. Silver tetradrachm, Kroll Pi-Style p. 244, fig. 8; Flament p. 126, 3; SNG Cop 63; SNG Munchen 96; SNG Delepierre 1479; Svoronos Athens pl. 20: 2, VF, well centered and struck on thick oval "log" flan, attractive toning, light bumps and marks, weight 17.091 g, maximum diameter 25.0 mm, die axis 270o, Athens mint, 353 - c. 340 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right with eye seen in true profile, wearing crested helmet ornamented with three olive leaves and pi-style floral scroll; reverse owl standing right, head facing, to right AΘE in large lettering, to left olive sprig and crescent; ex Gorny & Mosch auction 245, part of lot 1906; $550.00 (€489.50)
 


Corinth, Corinthia, Greece, 375 - 345 B.C.

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Corinth is mentioned many times in the New Testament, largely in connection with Apostle Paul's mission there. Paul first visited the city in 51 or 52 and resided there for 18 months (Acts 18:1-18). Paul wrote at least two epistles to the Christian community, the First Epistle to the Corinthians (written from Ephesus) and the Second Epistle to the Corinthians (written from Macedonia).
GS85150. Silver stater, Pegasi I 238/1 (same obv. die); Ravel 574; BMC Corinth p. 13, 140; BCD Korinth 68; HGC 4 1834; SNG Cop -, aEF, nice toning, tight flan, areas of corrosion, weight 8.331 g, maximum diameter 21.1 mm, die axis 45o, Corinth mint, 375 - 345 B.C.; obverse Pegasos flying right, koppa below; reverse head of Athena (or Aphrodite) right wearing a Corinthian helmet over a leather cap, thymiaterion (incense burner) behind; ex Art of Money (Portland, OR); $500.00 (€445.00)
 


Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 140 - 175 A.D.

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King Minos demanded that, every ninth year, Athens send seven boys and seven girls to Crete to be devoured by the Minotaur, a half-man, half-bull monster that lived in the Labyrinth. Theseus, son of Aigeus, the king of Athens, volunteered to take the place of one of the youths and slay the monster to stop this horror. Upon his arrival to Crete, Ariadne, King Minos' daughter, fell in love with him and gave him a ball of thread to help him find his way out of the Labyrinth. Theseus promised Ariadne that if he escaped he would take her with him. Using the string to mark his path, he made his way to the heart of the Labyrinth, slew the Minotaur, followed the string out, and then rescued the Athenian boys and girls. Athena told Theseus to leave Ariadne and Phaedra behind on the beach. Distressed by his broken heart, Theseus forgot to put up the white sails that were to signal his success. Upon seeing black sails, his father committed suicide, throwing himself off a cliff into the sea, causing this body of water to be named the Aegean.
GB77873. Bronze drachm, BMC Attica p. 105, 764; SNG Cop 341; Svoronos Athens, pl. 96, 1; Kroll 276, aF, corrosion, weight 7.132 g, maximum diameter 23.7 mm, die axis 180o, Athens mint, pseudo-autonomous under Rome, c. 140 - 175 A.D.; obverse helmeted head of Athena right, wearing crested Corinthian helmet; reverse AΘHNAIΩN, Theseus right, preparing to slay the Minotaur, nude, planting knee on the back of Minotaur, raising club in his right hand, a horn of the Minotaur in his left hand, the Minotaur falling right on left knee; from the Butte College Foundation, ex Lindgren (Antioch Associates); very rare; $450.00 (€400.50)
 


Kamarina, Sicily, 413 - 405 B.C.

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Kamarina was suffering a plague. A marsh north of the city was the suspected source. The town oracle advised them not to drain the marsh, but in 405 B.C., the leaders ignored the advice. Once the marsh was dry, there was nothing to stop the Carthaginian army. They marched across the newly drained marsh, razed the city, and killed every last inhabitant.
GI76938. Bronze tetras, Westermark-Jenkins 200; Calciati III pp. 63 - 65, 33; BMC Sicily p. 40; 40; SNG Munchen 415; SNG ANS 1228; SNG Cop 169; HGC 2 548, gVF, nice green patina, tight flan, weight 3.242 g, maximum diameter 14.5 mm, die axis 90o, Kamarina (near Scoglitti, Sicily, Italy) mint, 413 - 405 B.C.; obverse head of Athena left, wearing crested Attic helmet decorated with wing, dot border; reverse KAMA (downward on right), owl standing left on left leg, head facing, lizard in right talon, three pellets (mark of value) in exergue; $400.00 (€356.00)
 


Syracuse, Sicily, Dionysos I, 405 - 367 B.C.

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Dionysius I was tyrant of Syracuse. He conquered several cities in Sicily and southern Italy, opposed Carthage's influence in Sicily and made Syracuse the most powerful of the Western Greek colonies. He was regarded by the ancients as an example of the worst kind of despot - cruel, suspicious and vindictive.
GI76358. Bronze hemilitron, Calciati II p. 76, 34 (c. 409 B.C.); HGC 2 1456 (c. 375 - 344 B.C.); BMC Sicily p. 187, 292; SNG ANS 426 ff. (end 5th c. B.C.); SNG Cop -, gVF, attractive style, tight flan, some light corrosion, weight 5.429 g, maximum diameter 18.0 mm, die axis 90o, Syracuse mint, c. 405 - 390 B.C.; obverse ΣYPA, head of Athena left, wearing Corinthian helmet, no ornament on helmet, no control symbols; reverse hippocamp left, no bridle; $350.00 (€311.50)
 


Syracuse, Sicily, Pyrrhus of Epirus, 278 - 276 B.C.

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This combination of control symbols is not listed in the references examined. The cornucopia obverse control symbol is normally paired with a fulmen (thunderbolt) on the reverse. The vertical trident reverse control symbol is normally paired with a club on the obverse.
SH73164. Bronze AE 26, Calciati II p. 325, 177 Ds 69 var. (club vice cornucompia); SNG Cop 810 var.; SNG ANS 844 ff. var.; SNG Munchen 1333 ff. var.; HGC 2 1450 (S), VF, nice style, nice patina, broad flan, edge split, weight 11.274 g, maximum diameter 26.0 mm, die axis 90o, Syracuse mint, 278 - 276 B.C.; obverse ΣYPAKOΣIΩN, head of Herakles left, clad in lion-skin headdress, cornucopia (control symbol) behind; reverse Athena Promachos advancing right, helmeted and draped, hurling javelin with raised right hand, shield in left hand, no inscription, vertical trident head upward (control symbol) behind; rare variety; $320.00 (€284.80)
 


Athens, Attica, Greece, Pi-Style III or IV Tetradrachm, 353 - 340 B.C.

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The name Pi-style refers to the floral helmet ornament on the obverse which resembles the Greek letter pi (P) bisected by a long central tendril. On this coin, the Pi-like floral ornament is off the flan.
GS84493. Silver tetradrachm, cf. Kroll Pi-Style p. 244, fig. 8; Flament p. 127, 4; SNG Cop 63; SNG Munchen 96; BMC Attica pl. V, 4; SGCV I 2547, VF, toned, typical tight flan but full face of owl on flan, obverse off center but face of Athena on flan, bumps, marks and scratches, weight 17.157 g, maximum diameter 23.7 mm, die axis 270o, Athens mint, 353 - 340 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right with eye seen in true profile, wearing crested helmet ornamented with three olive leaves and pi-style floral scroll; reverse owl standing right, head facing, to right AΘE in large lettering, to left olive sprig and crescent; from the Dr. Sam Mansourati Collection; $300.00 (€267.00)
 


Herakleia, Lucania, Italy, 3rd Century B.C.

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The sea god Triton, the son of Poseidon and Amphitrite, lived with his parents in a golden palace on the bottom of the sea. Also called Tritons were a group of fish-tailed sea gods or daimones, the Satyrs of the sea. Some, called Ikhthyokentauroi (Sea-Centaurs), had the upper bodies of men and the lower bodies of Hippokampoi (fish-tailed horses).

Glaucus began his life as a mortal fisherman from Anthedon, Boeotia. He discovered a magical herb which could bring fish back to life, and decided to try eating it. The herb made him immortal, but he grew fins and a fish tail, forcing him to dwell forever in the sea. Glaucus was initially upset by this side-effect, but Oceanus and Tethys received him well and he was quickly accepted among the deities of the sea, learning from them the art of prophecy.
GB83465. Bronze AE 13, cf. Van Keuren 144 ff.; SNG ANS 116 ff.; BMC Italy p. 234, 66; SNG Cop 1141; SNG Morcom 265; HN Italy 1437, VF, well centered, nice style, green patina, weight 2.151 g, maximum diameter 13.1 mm, die axis 180o, Heraklea (in Matera Province, Italy) mint, c. 276 - 250 B.C.; obverse bust of Athena right, wearing a crested Corinthian helmet; reverse marine deity (Triton or Glaukos?) right, spear in right hand, shield in left hand, HPAKΛEIΩN below; very rare; $270.00 (€240.30)
 




  



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REFERENCES

de Callataÿ, F. "Le monnayage d'argent au type d'Athéna Parthénos émis au nom des Ainianes" in Obolos 7.
Houghton, A. "The Seleucid Mint of Mallus And the Cult Figure of Athena Magarsia" in Studies Mildenberg.
Imhoof-Blumer, F. "Die Flügelgestalten der Athena und Nike auf Münzen" in NZ III (1871)., pp. 1 - 50.

Catalog current as of Tuesday, June 27, 2017.
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Athena or Minerva