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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Animals ▸ LionView Options:  |  |  |   

Lions on Ancient Coins

Mytilene, Lesbos, c. 521 - 478 B.C.

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Mytilene on the southeast edge of Lesbos, opposite the mainland, was founded about 1054 B.C. It was initially confined to a small island just offshore that later was joined to Lesbos, creating a north and south harbor. In the 7th century B.C., Mytilene successfully contested for the leadership of Lesbos with Methymna, on the north side of the island. Mytilene became the center of the island's prosperous eastern hinterland.
SH86212. Electrum hekte, Bodenstedt 13, SNGvA 1685, SNG Cop 301, HGC 6 938 (S), gVF, well centered, edge crack, weight 2.579 g, maximum diameter 10.7 mm, die axis 90o, Mytilene mint, c. 521 - 478 B.C.; obverse roaring lion's head right; reverse incuse calf's head left; scarce; $1200.00 (€1020.00)
 


Lydian Kingdom, Kroisos, c. 561 - 546 B.C.

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In Greek and Persian cultures the name of Croesus became a synonym for a wealthy man. Croesus' wealth remained proverbial beyond classical antiquity: in English, expressions such as "rich as Croesus" or "richer than Croesus" are used to indicate great wealth to this day. According to Herodotus, Croesus encountered the Greek sage Solon and, secure in his own wealth and happiness, asked Solon who was the happiest man in the world. He was disappointed by Solon's response that three had been happier than Croesus: Tellus, who died fighting for his country, and the brothers Kleobis and Biton who died peacefully in their sleep after their mother prayed for their perfect happiness because they had pulled her to a festival in an oxcart. Solon explained that Croesus cannot be the happiest man because the fickleness of fortune means that the happiness of a man's life cannot be judged until after his death. Sure enough, Croesus' hubristic happiness was reversed by the tragic death of his accidentally-killed son, his wife's suicide at the fall of Sardis, and his defeat at the hands of the Persians.
GS86220. Silver stater, SNG Kayhan 1018; SNG Cop 455; SNGvA 2873; SNG Ashmolean 760; BMC Lydia p. 7, 37; Traité II/1 407, pl. X, 7; Sunrise 10; Rosen 662; SGCV II 3419, F, toned, weight 10.478 g, maximum diameter 19.2 mm, die axis 0o, Sardes (Sart, Turkey) mint, c. 560 - 546 B.C.; obverse on the left, forepart of a roaring lion right, confronting, on the right, the forepart of a bull left, pellet above lion's head; reverse two incuse square punches, of unequal size, side by side; $1200.00 (€1020.00)
 


Mytilene, Lesbos, c. 521 - 478 B.C.

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Mytilene on the southeast edge of Lesbos, opposite the mainland, was founded about 1054 B.C. It was initially confined to a small island just offshore that later was joined to Lesbos, creating a north and south harbor. In the 7th century B.C., Mytilene successfully contested for the leadership of Lesbos with Methymna, on the north side of the island. Mytilene became the center of the island's prosperous eastern hinterland.
SH86205. Electrum hekte, Bodenstedt 13, SNGvA 1685, SNG Cop 301, HGC 6 938, Choice EF, well centered and struck, fine style, edge cracks, weight 2.577 g, maximum diameter 10.6 mm, die axis 30o, Mytilene mint, c. 521 - 478 B.C.; obverse roaring lion's head right; reverse incuse calf's head left; $900.00 (€765.00)
 


Lydian Kingdom, Kroisos, c. 561 - 546 B.C.

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King Kroisos minted the first silver and gold coins. He was famous for his extraordinary wealth, but with his defeat by Kyros in 546 B.C. Lydia became a Persian satrapy.
GS86281. Silver 1/3 stater, Traité I 412, Rosen 666, Boston MFA 2071, Sunrise 12, SGCV II 3421, SNG Kayhan -, SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, gVF, toned, well centered, lightly etched surfaces, weight 3.411 g, maximum diameter 15.0 mm, Sardes (Sart, Turkey) mint, c. 550 - 546 B.C.; obverse on the left, forepart of a roaring lion right, confronting, on the right, the forepart of a bull left; reverse two incuse square punches, of unequal size, side by side; $550.00 (€467.50)
 


Assos, Troas, c. 450 - 400 B.C.

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Assos was a harbor city on the Gulf of Adramytteion, just north of the island of Lesbos. Hermias, a student of Plato, ruled Assos for a time during the 4th century B.C. He invited Plato's most famous student, Aristotle, who lived and taught in Assos for more than three years. When the Persians took the city, they executed Hermias and Aristotle fled to Lesbos. After visiting Alexandria Troas, Paul walked to Assos and visited the Christians there (Acts 20:13).
GS85697. Silver triobol, Traité II 2304 var. (AΣΣOON), cf. Weber 5320 (drachm), SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, SNG Mün –, SNG Ash –, SNG Kayhan -, SNG Keckman -, VF, attractive style, well centered and struck, a little porous, weight 1.743 g, maximum diameter 12.1 mm, die axis 90o, Assus mint, c. 450 - 400 B.C.; obverse helmeted and laureate head of Athena left; reverse AΣΣION (retrograde), roaring lion head left, within square incuse; ex Gitbud & Naumann auction 49, lot 177; very rare; $450.00 (€382.50)
 


Lydian Kingdom, Kroisos, c. 561 - 546 B.C.

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King Kroisos minted the first silver and gold coins. He was famous for his extraordinary wealth, but with his defeat by Kyros in 546 B.C. Lydia became a Persian satrapy.
GS86286. Silver 1/6 stater, SNG Kayhan 1019, Sunrise 13, Rosen 667, SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, BMC Lydia -, Traité -, Boston MFA -, VF, well centered and struck, porous, uneven toning, weight 1.721 g, maximum diameter 11.3 mm, Sardes (Sart, Turkey) mint, c. 550 - 546 B.C.; obverse on the left, forepart of a lion right, confronting, on the right, the forepart of a bull left; reverse two incuse square punches, of unequal size, side by side; rare; $300.00 (€255.00)
 


Caracalla, 28 January 198 - 8 April 217 A.D.

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This type indicates Severus granted a special favor to Carthage. Septimius Severus was of African origin and, favoring the land of his birth, conferred benefits (including the jus Italicum) on Carthage and Utica. The water may indicate that he improved the water supply, possibly construction of an aqueduct.
RS85801. Silver denarius, RIC IV 130a; RSC III 97; BMCRE V p. 208, 280; Hunter III 38; SRCV II 6806, Choice gVF, excellent centering, nice boy portrait, light toning, some very light scratches, edge cracks, weight 3.708 g, maximum diameter 18.9 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 201 - 206 A.D.; obverse ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, laureate and draped bust right, from behind; reverse INDVLGENTIA AVGG IN CARTH, Dea Caelestis riding lion right over water gushing from rock, thunderbolt in right hand, scepter in left hand; $280.00 (€238.00)
 


Syracuse, Sicily, Agathokles, 317 - 289 B.C.

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With an army of mercenaries, through deceit, and after banishing or murdering some 10,000 citizens, Agathocles made himself master of Syracuse and later most of Sicily. Machiavelli wrote of him, "It cannot be called prowess to kill fellow-citizens, to betray friends, to be treacherous, pitiless, and irreligious" and cited him as an example of "those who by their crimes come to be princes." According to the historian Justin, very early in life Agathocles parlayed his remarkable beauty into a career as a prostitute, first for men, and later, after puberty, for women, and then made a living by robbery before becoming a soldier and marrying a rich widow.
GI76945. Bronze litra, Calciati II p. 287, 150 Ds 14 Rs 63; BMC Sicily p. 196, 391; SNG ANS 740; SNG Cop 767; HGC 2 1465 var. (R1, 4th Democracy, different controls), aEF, dark sea-green patina, light marks, small spots of light corrosion, flan with ragged edge splits, weight 8.501 g, maximum diameter 26.1 mm, die axis 315o, Syracuse mint, 305 - 295 B.C.; obverse ΣYPAKOΣIΩN, head of young Herakles left, wearing taenia, star (control symbol) behind neck; reverse lion walking right, right foreleg raised, club right above, arrow right (control symbol) in exergue; $270.00 (€229.50)
 


Diadumenian, Mid May - 8 June 218 A.D., Hierapolis, Cyrrhestica, Syria

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Modern Membij, was renamed Hierapolis, (Holy City) by Seleucus Nicator and his wife Stratonice when they built a temple for the goddess of fertility and water, Atargatis (dea Syria). The city retained the name Hierapolis for only a few hundred years. Religious ceremonies before Roman times may have included child sacrifice. -- The Syro-Phoenician Tetradrachms and Their Fractions by Michael and Karin Prieur
RY85320. Silver tetradrachm, Prieur 947 (43 spec.), Bellinger Syrian 108, SNG Cop -, BMC Galatia -, VF, light toning, attractive style, tight flan, reverse slightly off center, light marks, porous, edge split, weight 13.025 g, maximum diameter 25.2 mm, die axis 180o, Cyrrhestica, Hierapolis-Bambyce (Membij, Syria) mint, Middle May - 8 Jun 218 A.D.; obverse AYT K M OΠEΛ ANTΩEINOC, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse ∆HMAPX EΞ YΠATOC (holder of Tribunitian power, consul), eagle standing facing, wings spread, head right, wreath in beak, lion walking right between eagle's legs; $250.00 (€212.50)
 


Elaios, Thracian Chersonesos, c. 350 - 281 B.C.

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The city of Elaios in Thracian Chersonesos occupied a strategic position on what is now called the Gallipoli peninsula. In the ancient world, it was know for its sanctuary of the Trojan hero Protesilaos. Philostratos, writing of this sanctuary in the early third century A.D., speaks of a temple statue of Protesilaos standing on a base which was shaped like the prow of a boat. Of all the references listed in this coin's attribution, SNG Copenhagen is the only to list any coins of this rare city.
GB85370. Bronze AE 13, SNG Cop 898 (also same countermark); BMC Thrace -, Corpus Nummorum Thracorum -, SNG Tub -, SNG BM -, SNG Stancomb -, SNG Pushkin -, VF, well centered, highlighting earthen deposits, some marks, some corrosion, reverse slightly flattened by counter marking, weight 2.392 g, maximum diameter 13.3 mm, die axis 0o, Elaios mint, c. 350 - 281 B.C.; obverse veiled female head (Demeter?) right (wreathed in grain?); countermark: lion forepart right in an round punch; reverse bee upward, seen from above, EΛAIOY/ΣIΩN flanking in two upward lines first on left, ΠA monogram below; extremely rare; $250.00 (€212.50)
 




  



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