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

River Gods

Nero, 13 October 54 - 9 June 68 A.D.

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The name Ostia was derived from the Latin "ostium" - river mouth. At the mouth of the River Tiber, Ostia was Rome's seaport. Construction of the port facilities began under Claudius and was likely completed just before this sestertius was struck in 64 A.D. Trajan and Hadrian expanded the facilities. The port was abandoned due to silting and now lies 3 km from the sea. The site is noted for the excellent preservation of its ancient buildings, magnificent frescoes and impressive mosaics.
SH86120. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 178, BMCRE I 131, Cohen I 37, Mac Dowall WCN 120, BnF I -, VF, well centered, nice portrait, near black patina, scratches on obverse lower right field, some porosity and tiny pitting, weight 26.031 g, maximum diameter 34.0 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, c. 64 A.D.; obverse NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG GER P M TR P IMP P P, laureate bust right, wearing aegis; reverse AVGVSTI above, S - C divided by POR OST below, bird's-eye view Ostia harbor: pharos lighthouse with Neptune statue on top at far side center; crescent-shaped pier with building and figure sacrificing at far end, crescent-shaped row of breakwaters or slips on right with figure seated on rock at far end, 7 ships within port; river god Tiber reclining left holding rudder and dolphin below; ex Gorny & Mosch auction 195 (7 Mar 2011), lot 405; $4000.00 (€3400.00)
 


Otho, 15 January 69 - 17 April 69 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt

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Otho ruled for just a few months. The mint of Alexandria struck coins with his name, though the portrait bears little resemblance to those of the other mints. It is possible that Alexandria produced coins without having an image of the new emperor.
RP84745. Bronze hemidrachm, RPC I 5364 (3 spec.); Geissen 257; Dattari 336; BMC Alexandria 217; Milne 376; SNG BnF 710; Kampmann-Ganschow 18.13; Emmett 189 (R4); SNG Milan -, F, attractive brown tone, flan crack, light scratches, smoothing, weight 16.768 g, maximum diameter 30.2 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 69 A.D.; obverse AYTOK MAPK OΘΩNOΣ KAIΣ ΣEB, laureate head right, beveled edge; reverse bust of Nilus right, wearing papyrus diadem, cornucopia behind right shoulder, date LA (year 1) before; from the Jyrki Muona Collection; extremely rare; $1050.00 (€892.50)
 


Neapolis, Campania, Italy, c. 275 - 250 B.C.

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Naples is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Bronze Age Greek settlements were established in the second millennium B.C. The city was refounded as Neapolis in the sixth century B.C. and became an important hub of Magna Graecia, playing a key role in the merging of Greek culture into Roman society. Naples remained influential under Rome and more so after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, serving as the capital city of the Kingdom of Naples between 1282 and 1816. Thereafter, it became the capital of the Two Sicilies until the unification of Italy in 1861.
SH86580. Silver didrachm, Sambon 523, HN Italy 586, SNG ANS 395 ff. var., SNG BnF 836 ff. var.; SNG München 250 ff. var., SNG Cop 451 ff. var. (all var., no dolphin control), VF, attractive classical style, well centered and struck, toned, bumps and marks, edge crack, weight 7.118 g, maximum diameter 19.6 mm, die axis 0o, Neapolis (Naples) mint, 275 - 250 B.C.; obverse diademed head of nymph left, wearing triple-pendant earring, dolphin head down (control symbol) behind; reverse man-faced bull walking right, head turned facing, being crowned by Nike flying right above, IΣ (control or magistrate initials) below, NEOΠOΛITΩN in exergue; $400.00 (€340.00)
 


Septimius Severus, 9 April 193 - 4 February 211 A.D., Traianopolis, Thrace

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Hebros is the Romanized version of the original Thracian Ebros. Today it is the Maritsa river or, in Greece, the Evros. The river enters the Aegean Sea near Enez. The lower course of the Maritsa/Evros forms part of the Bulgarian-Greek border and most of the Greek-Turkish border. The upper Maritsa valley runs east-west in Bulgaria. The unnavigable river is used for power production and irrigation.

The Three Graces, named Euphrosyne, Aglaia and Thalia, were the attendants of Venus (Aphrodite).
SH74540. Brass AE 31, Schönert-Geiss Augusta Traiana 27 (V13/R24), Varbanov III 2739, SNG Cop -, BMC Thrace -, F, well centered, cleaning scratches, smoothing, weight 11.934 g, maximum diameter 31.2 mm, die axis 15o, Thrace, Traianopolis mint, hegemon Statilus Barbarus; obverse AYK Λ CEΠ - CEYHPOC Π, laureate head right; reverse HΓ CTATI BAPBAPOY TPAIANOΠO−ΛITΩN, River-god Hebrus reclining left on upturned urn; the Charites (the Three Graces) behind his legs standing facing; left and middle Charites with heads right, left Charis holding rod(?), middle Charis holding apple; big 31 mm bronze!; very rare; $360.00 (€306.00)
 


Poseidonia, Lucania, Italy, c. 470 - 445 B.C.

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Poseidonia was founded around the end of the 7th century B.C. by Greek colonists from Sybaris. In the fifth century B.C., Poseidonia was conquered by the Lucani. Archaeological evidence indicates Greek and Oscan cultures thrived together. In 273 B.C., after the Poseidonians had sided with Pyrrhus against Rome, Poseidonia was refounded as the Roman city of Paestum.
GS87516. Silver nomos, SNG ANS 646, SNG Fitzwilliam 544, SNG Cop 1281, SNG München 1056 var. (inscription), HN Italy 1114 var. (same), SNG Tübingen -, SNG Lockett -, F, well centered, toned, some marks and scratches, etched surfaces, weight 7.712 g, maximum diameter 18.7 mm, die axis 90o, Poseidonia mint, c. 470 - 445 B.C.; obverse Poseidon advancing right, chlamys over shoulders, brandishing trident in raised right hand, left arm outstretched before him, ΠOMES retrograde downward on right; reverse bull standing right, within round incuse, ΠOMES retrograde above; ; $270.00 (€229.50)
 


Gela, Sicily, 420 - 405 B.C.

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Gela, named after the river Gela, was founded by colonists from Rhodos and Crete around 688 B.C. In 424 B.C., the Congress of Gela established a "Sicily for the Sicilians" platform and formed a league that pushed back the Athenian attempt to conquer the island. The city had a history of internal strife between its plebs and aristocrats. When the Carthaginians arrived in 311 BC, they easily captured the Gela with the help of its elites. In 282 B.C., Phintias of Agrigento ruthlessly destroyed Gela to crush its power forever. In Roman times it was only a small settlement.
SH76948. Bronze tetras, Calciati III p. 17, 32/1; Jenkins Gela 516; SNG ANS 115; SNG Cop 283; SNG München 314; BMC Sicily, p. 73, 66; HGC 2 379 (S), gVF, well centered on a broad flan, nice green patina, light marks and corrosion, weight 3.408 g, maximum diameter 17.5 mm, die axis 90o, Gela mint, 420 - 405 B.C.; obverse bull standing left, head lowered and turned slightly facing, barley kernel over ΓEΛAΣ above, three pellets in exergue; reverse horned head of beardless young river-god Gela right, no diadem, floating hair, barley kernel behind; scarce; $260.00 (€221.00)
 


Akragas, Sicily, Tyrant Phintias, 287 - 278 B.C.

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The head on the obverse is variously identified in Calciati as Apollo, in BMC Sicily and SNG Cop as Persephone, in Weber as Apollo or Persephone, and in SNG ANS, McClean, and HGC 2 as a river god. There is also a similar coin with a bust of Artemis wearing earring, necklace and quiver on the obverse. We are convinced the obverse bust on this type is the river god Akragas, wreathed in reeds, not Apollo, who should be laureate, or Persephone, who should be more feminine, wearing jewelry, and wreathed in barley.
GB86319. Bronze AE 22, BMC Sicily p. 20, 136; SNG Cop 103; McClean 2105, SNG ANS 1123 corr. (NΓ ligature in error); Calciati 117 var. (no monogram); HGC 2 170 (R2), gVF, green patina, minor encrustations, cleaning scratches, spots of slight corrosion, weight 7.379 g, maximum diameter 21.8 mm, die axis 180o, Akragas (Agrigento, Sicily, Italy) mint, 287 - 279/8 B.C.; obverse head of the river god Akragas left, wearing a wreath of reeds, NE ligature behind; reverse wild boar charging left, BAΣIΛEOΣ above, ΦINTIA in exergue, linear border; rare; $160.00 (€136.00)
 


Antioch, Seleucis and Pieria, Syria, 7/6 B.C., Legate P. Quinctilius Varus

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Publius Quinctilius Varus was a Roman general and politician under Augustus. From 7 or 6 B.C. until 4 B.C. he governed Syria as the where he was known for harsh rule and high taxes. Josephus mentions the swift action of Varus in 4 B.C., against a revolt in Judaea following the death of Herod the Great. Varus occupied Jerusalem and crucified 2000 rebels. Varus is most infamous for losing three Roman legions in an ambush by Germanic tribes led by Arminius in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, at which point he took his own life. Upon hearing the news, Augustus tore his clothes, refused to cut his hair for months and, for years afterward, was heard, upon occasion, to moan, "Quinctilius Varus, give me back my Legions!" (Quintili Vare, legiones redde!).
RP87432. Bronze trichalkon, McAlee 85; RPC I 4242; SNG Cop 90; BMC p. 158, 57; Butcher 48; Cohen DCA 402, aVF, well centered, a little rough, porous, obscure countermark (or flaw) on obverse, weight 6.267 g, maximum diameter 20.5 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, legate P. Quinctilius Varus, 7/6 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus right, three pellets (mark of value) below neck; reverse ANTIOXEΩ EΠI OVAPOV, Tyche of Antioch seated right on rocks, turreted, wearing chiton and peplos, palm frond in her right hand, half-length figure of river-god Orontes swimming right below, his head turned facing, EK (Actian Era year 25) in the right field; $160.00 (€136.00)
 


Ziz (Panormos), Punic Sicily, c. 405 - 380 B.C.

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Some authorities have identified the male head on the obverse as Apollo. Indeed, on some examples the head does resemble other depictions of the youthful sun god, but on other examples the god is horned. On this coin the head seems to better resemble traditional depictions of Herakles or Baal. The type usually has the Punic ethnic above the bull. Sometimes it is below. Most likely it should be above on this coin but is merely unstruck.
GS79961. Silver obol, cf. Jenkins Punic (SNR 50) 14; BMC Sicily p. 249, 27; SNG ANS 551; SGCV I 889 (all w/ Punic ethnic "sys" above bull), aVF, toned, reverse slightly off center, weight 0.547 g, maximum diameter 9.1 mm, die axis 45o, Ziz (Palermo, Sicily, Italy) mint, c. 405 - 380 B.C.; obverse male head left; reverse man-faced bull advancing left, head turned facing; $130.00 (€110.50)
 


Gallic Empire, Postumus, Summer 260 - Spring 269 A.D.

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The Rhine and the Danube formed most of the northern inland frontier of the Roman Empire.
RA72656. Billon antoninianus, Cunetio 2371, RSC IV 355b, Schulzki AGK 88c, RIC V-2 87, SRCV III 10991, Elmer 123, Hunter IV - (p. lxxxviii), gVF, reverse scratches, weight 3.812 g, maximum diameter 24.5 mm, die axis 180o, Colonia Agrippinensis (Cologne, Germany) mint, 1st emission, 2nd phase, 260 - 261 A.D.; obverse IMP C POSTVMVS P F AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse SALVS PROVINCIARVM (health of the provinces), river-god Rhenus (Rhine) reclining left, horned, nude to the waist, himation around hips and legs, resting right forearm on prow of a boat, reed cradled in left hand and arm, left elbow resting on urn behind; $120.00 (€102.00)
 




  



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REFERENCES

Imhoof-Blumer, F. "Fluss- und Meergötter auf griechischen und römischen Münzen (Personifikationen der Gewässer)" in RSN 23 (1923), pp. 173-421.
Malloy, A. "The Danubian Celts" in Alex G. Malloy Auction Sale XLVI, June 24, 1997. NumisWiki webpage
Molinari, N.J. & N. Sisci. Potamikon: Sinews of Acheloios. A Comprehensive Catalog of the Bronze Coinage of the Man-Faced Bull, With Essays on Origin and Identity. (Oxford, 2016).

Catalog current as of Wednesday, November 14, 2018.
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River Gods