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

Ancient Coins Depicting Centaurs

In Greek mythology, the centaurs are a composite race of creatures, part human and part horse. This half-human and half-animal composition has led many writers to treat them as liminal beings, caught between the two natures, embodied in contrasted myths, both as the embodiment of untamed nature, as in their battle with the Lapiths, or conversely as teachers, like Chiron. Centaurs were said to have inhabited the region of Magnesia and Mount Pelion in Thessaly, the Foloi oak forest in Elis, and the Malean peninsula in southern Laconia.


Mopsion, Thessaly, c. 350 - 300 B.C.

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Mopsion issued only bronze coins, and only c. 350 - 300 B.C. In Nomos 4, BCD notes, "The bronzes of Mopsion are practically impossible to find in nice condition and without flaws or corrosion. They are also very rare and desirable because of the their spectacularly eloquent reverse. The nicest one to come up for auction realized $18,000..."

Mopsion, in the Peneus valley half way between Larissa and Tempe, took its name from the Lapith Mopsos, a son of Ampyx. Mopsos learned augury from Apollo, understood the language of birds, and became an Argonaut seer. As depicted on this coin, he was one of the Lapiths who defeated the Centaurs. This battle was a favorite subject of Greek art. While fleeing across the Libyan desert from angry sisters of the slain Gorgon Medusa, Mopsos died from the bite of a viper that had grown from a drop of Medusa's blood. Medea was unable to save him, even by magical means. The Argonauts buried him with a monument by the sea, and a temple was later erected on the site.
GB87120. Bronze trichalkon, BCD Thessaly II 484, BCD Thessaly I 1210, Rogers 412, McClean 4648, HGC 4 537 (R2), SNG Cop -, Pozzi -, BMC Thessaly -, gF, dark garnet and black patina, well centered, a little rough, weight 8.082 g, maximum diameter 20.5 mm, die axis 225o, Mopsion (Bakraina(?), Greece) mint, c. 350 - 300 B.C.; obverse head of Zeus facing slightly right, vertical thunderbolt to right; reverse MOΨ-EI-ΩN, Lapith Mopsos standing facing, nude, his head turned right, raising club in right hand and extending his left hand, fighting centaur that is rearing left and raising a bolder over its head with both hands preparing to throw it; ex BCD with his round tag noting, "HK ex Thess., April 02, $275.-"; very rare; $450.00 (382.50)


Kingdom of Bithynia, Prusias II Kynegos, 185 - 149 B.C.

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Prusias II, son of Prusias I, inherited his father's name but not his character. He first joined with Eumenes of Pergamon in war against Pontus, but later turned on Pergamon and invaded. He was defeated and Pergamon demanded heavy reparations. Prusias sent his son Nicomedes II to Rome to ask for aid in reducing the payments. When Nicomedes revolted, Prusias II was murdered in the temple of Zeus at Nikomedia.
GB83586. Bronze AE 21, SNG Cop 640; BMC Pontus p. 210, 8; Rec Gen II.3 p. 225, 26; SNGvA 256 var. (monogram); HGC 7 629; SGCV II 7266, VF, nice green patina with a few small edge chips, marks and scratches, pre-strike flan adjustment marks, weight 5.864 g, maximum diameter 21.4 mm, die axis 0o, Nikomedia (Izmit, Turkey) mint, c. 180 - 150 B.C.; obverse head of young Dionysos right, wreathed with ivy; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΠPOYΣIOY, centaur Chiron standing right, playing lyre, his cloak flying behind, NΦ monogram inner right under raised foreleg; $110.00 (93.50)


The Magnetes, Thessaly, Greece, c. 140 - 130 B.C.

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The Magnetes were an ancient Greek tribe living in Thessalian Magnesia who took part in the Trojan War. They later also contributed to the Greek colonization by founding two prosperous cities in Western Anatolia, Magnesia on the Maeander and Magnesia ad Sipylum.
GB87118. Bronze tetrachalkon, BCD Thessaly II 420.5, Rogers Thessaly 346a corr. (numbering error, dolphin not mentioned), SNG Cop 160 var. (controls), HGC 4 65 (S) var. (same), VF, dark patina, centered on a tight flan, some light corrosion, weight 8.060 g, maximum diameter 20.1 mm, die axis 0o, Magnetes' mint, 140 - 130 B.C.; obverse laureate bearded head of Zeus left; reverse MAΓNHTON, centaur Cheiron standing right, right hand extended, branch in left hand over shoulder, chlamys on shoulder flying behind, dolphin (control) below, palm frond (control) before him; ex BCD with his ticket noting, "C.C. Thess. et. lot, July 93, SFr. 100.-"; scarce; $110.00 (93.50)


Kingdom of Bithynia, Prusias II Kynegos, 185 - 149 B.C.

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Prusias II, son of Prusias I, inherited his father's name but not his character. He first joined with Eumenes of Pergamon in war against Pontus, but later turned on Pergamon and invaded. He was defeated and Pergamon demanded heavy reparations. Prusias sent his son Nicomedes II to Rome to ask for aid in reducing the payments. When Nicomedes revolted, Prusias II was murdered in the temple of Zeus at Nikomedia.
GB87136. Bronze AE 21, SNG Cop 636; BMC Pontus p. 211, 12; HGC 7 629; SGCV II 7266, VF, dark patina, bumps and scratches, corrosion, weight 6.065 g, maximum diameter 20.9 mm, die axis 0o, Nikomedia (Izmit, Turkey) mint, c. 180 - 150 B.C.; obverse head of young Dionysos right, wreathed with ivy; reverse centaur Chiron standing right, playing lyre, his cloak flying behind, ΠΨ monogram inner right under raised foreleg, BAΣIΛEΩΣ downward on right, ΠPOYΣIOY downward on left; $90.00 (76.50)


Thessalonica, Macedonia, 88 - 31 B.C.

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King Cassander of Macedonia founded Thessalonica in 315 B.C. He named it after his wife Thessalonike, a half-sister of Alexander the Great. The Romans made Thessalonica the capital of the Roman province of Macedonia 168 B.C.
RP88127. Bronze reduced as, AMNG III 20, pl. XXIII, 10; SNG Cop 370; SNG ANS 805; BMC Macedonia p. 112, 37, aVF, compact flan cutting off legend and edges types, areas of weak strike, some corrosion, weight 5.160 g, maximum diameter 17.5 mm, die axis 0o, Thessalonika (Salonika, Greece) mint, 88 - 31 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Janus; reverse ΘEΣΣAΛO/NIKHΣ, two Centaurs prancing, back to back, each holding a branch; $50.00 (42.50)







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Catalog current as of Tuesday, December 18, 2018.
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Centaurs