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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Gods, Olympians ▸ Dionysus or BacchusView Options:  |  |  |   

Dionysos or Bacchus

Dionysos (Bacchus to the Romans) was the god of wine, festivities, and ecstasy. He was the son of Zeus and the mortal Semele. Wandering the world in a panther-drawn chariot, Dionysos rode ahead of the maenads and satyrs, who sang loudly and danced, flushed with wine. They were profusely garlanded with ivy and held the thyrsus, a staff topped with a pinecone, a symbol of the immortality of his believers. Everywhere he went he taught men how to cultivate vines and the mysteries of his cult. Whoever stood in his way and refused to revere him was punished with madness.


Mytilene, Lesbos, c. 377 - 326 B.C.

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Mytilene was famous in ancient times for its great output of electrum coins struck from the late 6th through mid - 4th centuries B.C. The usual denomination was the hekte (1/6th stater). Warwick Wroth noted in the British Museum Catalog, "The Sixths of [this Lesbos electrum series] form one of the most beautiful coin-series of the ancient world. This will be evident from a glance."
SH21934. Electrum hekte, Bodenstedt 90 (unlisted dies), gVF, weight 2.569 g, maximum diameter 9.9 mm, die axis 0o, Mytilene mint, c. 356 B.C.; obverse head of Dionysos right, wreathed with ivy; reverse head of Satyr facing within linear square; ex Freeman and Sear; SOLD


Hadrian, 11 August 117 - 10 July 138 A.D.

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Bacchus was the Roman god of agriculture, wine and fertility, equivalent to the Greek god Dionysus. He carried a pinecone-topped staff, and his followers were goat-footed Satyrs and Maenads, wild women who danced energetically during his festivals. Bacchus was the child of Jupiter and Seml, a human. Juno tricked her into asking to see Jupiter as he really was. Since she was a mortal, she was burned up by the sight of his divine form. So Jupiter sewed the infant Bacchus into his thigh, and gave birth to him nine months later. Before he took his place at Olympus, Bacchus wandered the world for many years, going as far as India to teach people how to grow vines. In myth, Dionysius was the last god to join the twelve Olympians. Hestia gave up her seat for him.
SH32539. Silver cistophoric tetradrachm, RIC II 485; Metcalf Type 101/Type 98 (unidentified mint D), Choice gVF, weight 10.161 g, maximum diameter 29.1 mm, die axis 180o, uncertain Asia Minor mint, obverse HADRIANVS AVGVSTVS P P, bare-headed bust right, drapery on left shoulder; reverse COS III, Bacchus standing facing, nude, head left, thyrsus in left hand, oenochoe in right hand over panther left at feet; SOLD


Galaria, Sicily, c. 460 B.C.

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SH21137. Silver litra, Jameson 574, SNG ANS 1, gVF, nice metal, weight 0.734 g, maximum diameter 10.1 mm, die axis 0o, Galaria mint, c. 460 B.C.; obverse Σ−OTE−P (P shaped like a K), Zeus Soter (the Savior) seated on throne left, holding eagle-tipped scepter; reverse CAΛ-A, Dionysus standing left, holding kantharos and grape; rare; SOLD


Mytilene, Lesbos, c. 377 - 326 B.C.

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SH85689. Electrum hekte, Bodenstedt 81; SNG Cop 322; Boston MFA 1717; BMC Troas p. 165, 82 & pl. 33, 25; HGC 6 1007; SNGvA -, EF, superb style, excellent strike, some die wear, weight 2.565 g, maximum diameter 10.3 mm, die axis 0o, Mytilene mint, c. 377 - 326 B.C.; obverse head of Dionysos right wearing ivy wreath; reverse head of youthful male (Pan?) right, wearing tainia, within linear square in incuse square; ex London Coin Galleries; SOLD


Naxos, Sicily, c. 415 - 403 B.C.

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The late fifth century saw an explosion in the quantity and quality of dies engraved for the great cities of Sicily. Among the engravers who signed their works is Prokles, who created dies for both Naxos and Katane, on whose tetradrachms we find his full signature. Though the quality of his work for Katane is equally excellent as it is for Naxos, the quantity of his work at Naxos suggests that this was his home city.
SH86583. Silver litra, Cahn Naxos 134 - 137 (also Π on neck, diff. dies); SNG Cop 496 var. (unsigned); BMC Sicily p. 121, 26 var. (same); HGC 2 975 (R2) var. (same), Choice aEF, superb style, well struck, light toning, lightly etched porous surfaces, weight 0.718 g, maximum diameter 11.4 mm, die axis 0o, Naxos mint, c. 415 - 403 B.C.; obverse NAEΞIΩN, head of young Dionysos left, wreathed in ivy, Π (monogram of master engraver Prokles) on right side of neck; reverse grape bunch on vine, with three leaves and tendrils; extremely rare; SOLD


Valerian I, October 253 - c. June 260 A.D., Alexandreia Troas, Troas

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Silenus, the old man of the forest with horse ears (sometimes also a horse tail and legs), was the oldest, wisest and most drunken of the followers of Dionysus, and was said in Orphic hymns to be the young god's tutor. He was usually drunk and had to be supported by satyrs or carried by a donkey. When intoxicated, he possessed special knowledge and the power of prophecy. Eager to learn from Silenus, King Midas caught the old man by lacing a fountain from which Silenus often drank. Silenus shared with the king a pessimistic philosophy: That the best thing for a man is not to be born, and if already born, to die as soon as possible. In another myth, when lost and wandering in Phrygia, Silenus was rescued by peasants and taken to King Midas, who treated him kindly and entertained him for five days and nights. Dionysus offered Midas a reward for his kindness towards Silenus, and Midas chose the power of turning everything he touched into gold.
RP71870. Bronze AE 24, Bellinger Troy A435; SNG Cop 194; SNG Mnchen 125; BMC Troas p. 30, 165; SNGvA - (refs ID the central figure as drunken Hercules), gVF, grainy surfaces, weight 6.082 g, maximum diameter 24.0 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria, Troas mint, obverse IMP LIC VALERIANVS AVG (N retrograde), Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse COL A-VG, TROAC (ending in exergue, AC ligate), Silenus standing half right, supported by three satyrs, one standing behind with arms around his waist, and two more at sides; very rare; SOLD


Thebes, Boiotia, Greece, 425 - 395 B.C.

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The largest city in Boeotia, leader of the Boeotian confederacy, and rival of Athens, Thebes sided with Persia during Xerxes' invasion in 480 B.C. Thebes ended Sparta's power at the Battle of Leuctra in 371. The Sacred Band of Thebes famously fell to Philip II at Chaeronea in 338. After a revolt in 335, Alexander the Great destroyed the city, except, according to tradition, the house of the poet Pindar.
SH57288. Silver stater, BCD Boiotia 438, SNG Cop 284, BMC Central Greece p. 74, 58, Winterthur 1906, VF, from early style dies of artistic merit, toned, small edge chip, weight 11.824 g, maximum diameter 21.5 mm, Thebes mint, 425 - 395 B.C.; obverse Boiotian shield; reverse Θ−E, bearded head of Dionysos right, wreathed in ivy; SOLD


Thebes, Boiotia, Greece, 425 - 395 B.C.

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The largest city in Boeotia, leader of the Boeotian confederacy, and rival of Athens, Thebes sided with Persia during Xerxes' invasion in 480 B.C. Thebes ended Sparta's power at the Battle of Leuctra in 371. The Sacred Band of Thebes famously fell to Philip II at Chaeronea in 338. After a revolt in 335, Alexander the Great destroyed the city, except, according to tradition, the house of the poet Pindar.
SH69940. Silver stater, BCD Boiotia 437 - 438, SNG Cop 284, BMC Central p. 74, 58, Winterthur 1906; see CNG Sale 63, lot 316 for a similar countermark on an archaic stater, gVF, toned, porosity, weight 11.674 g, maximum diameter 20.5 mm, die axis 0o, Thebes mint, 425 - 395 B.C.; obverse Boiotian shield, countermark: ivy leaf in round punch; reverse Θ−E, bearded head of Dionysos right, wreathed in ivy; ex Heritage Auctions, auction 3031, lot 27032; SOLD


Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 104 - 103 B.C., New Style Silver Tetradrachm

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The "New Style" tetradrachms were issued by Athens as a semi-autonomous city under Roman rule. The new-style Owls are markedly different from the Owls of Periclean Athens or the "eye in profile" Athena head of the Fourth Century. They were struck on thinner, broad flans, typical of the Hellenistic period, with a portrait of Athena that reflected the heroic portraiture of the period. The owl now stands on an amphora, surrounded by magistrates' names and symbols, all within an olive wreath. The amphora is marked with a letter that may indicate the month of production. Letters below the amphora may indicate the source of the silver used in production.
SH87798. Silver tetradrachm, Thompson Athens 806 (same dies); Svoronos Athens pl. 62, 6 (same dies); BMC Attica p. , 320 var. (ΣE below), VF, well centered and struck, some die wear, bumps and scrapes, weight 16.306 g, maximum diameter 29.8 mm, die axis 0o, Athens mint, c. 104 - 103 B.C.; obverse helmeted head of Athena Parthenos right, triple-crested helmet decorated with curvilinear ornament on the shell, a griffin right above the raised earpiece, and protomes of horses above the visor; reverse A-ΘE / AN∆-PEAΣ / XAPI/NAY/THΣ AMY/N-O-M (magistrates Andreas, Charinautes, and Amynomachos), owl standing right on amphora on its side; Dionysos seated facing beside Demeter standing facing holding a long torch in each hand; Z on amphora, ΣO below, all within olive wreath; SOLD


Heraklia, Bithynia, 345 - 337 B.C.

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Heraclea Pontica (today Karadeniz Eregli, on the Black Sea in Turkey) was founded at the mouth of the river Lycus by the Greek city-state of Megara. It was named after Herakles whom the Greeks believed entered the underworld at a cave nearby. From the middle of the 5th Century B.C., the city became important in the Black Sea trade, and its economic heyday was the 4th Century B.C. The prosperity of the city, damaged by the Galatians and the Bithynians, was utterly destroyed in the Mithridatic Wars.
SH56929. Silver stater, SNG BM 1607 (same dies), Rec Gen I.2 35, VF, weight 9.630 g, maximum diameter 21.0 mm, die axis 0o, Heraklia mint, 345 - 337 B.C.; obverse head of Dionysos left wearing ivy wreath, thyrsos over shoulder; reverse TIMOΘEOY ∆IONYΣIOY, Herakles standing left, nude but for lion's skin over shoulder, erecting trophy of captured arms, his club leaning on the trophy, ram's head left between his legs; ex CNG auction XXVII, 29 Sep 93, lot 548; ex Superior Galleries auction 6 & 7 Dec 1991, lot 429; rare; SOLD




  




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REFERENCES

Bernhart, M. "Dionysos und seine Familie auf griechischen Mnzen" in JNG I (1949).


Catalog current as of Friday, May 24, 2019.
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Dionysos or Bacchus