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Home > Coin Collecting Theme Galleries > The Pantheon - Gods, Goddesses and Personifications

Aphrodite and Ares on Cilician AR Stater of Satrap Pharnabazos

Circa 380-374/3 B.C.(21mm, 10.39g, 11h). Struck circa 380-379 B.C. Casabonne series 3; Moysey Issue 3, 3-5 var. (dolphin on obv.); SNG France 246 var. (rev. legend). Obverse Head of nymph facing three-quarters left. Reverse Helmeted head of Ares left, Aramaic PRNBZW to left. Near EF, toned, struck from a slightly worn obverse die.


There is still an ongoing debate whether who represent the obverse and reverse of this coin type of Pharnabazos. The obverse obviously was inspired by the renowned Syracusan tetradrachm of Kimon, whose three-quarter facing head of the nymph Arethusa was widely copied throughout the ancient world. A handful of ancient poleis adopted this style to represent their local nymph or goddess on their coins. A perfect example is the numerous coins of Larissa in Thessaly representing the local nymph of the same name. It is possible to assume then that the obverse of our coin might be another female deity other than Arethusa. A current opinion holds that the obverse represents Aphrodite, the goddess of love; and the reverse depicts Ares, the god of war. The two were known in ancient mythology as lovers, and commonly paired together on ancient coins. Of special note on this coin is the reverse: while most coins of this type display static male heads with little originality, the reverse die is probably from a special issue marked by superior style and executed with extreme delicacy. It has been suggested (Leu Auction 81, lot 317) that the head of Ares may be a disguised portrait of Pharnabazos himself.

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Lloyd  [Aug 04, 2013 at 06:27 AM]
Stunning portraiture!
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