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Coins of mythological interest

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Artemis Anaitis

We know that Phrygia in particular was exposed to the influences of Eastern cults. Artemis Anaitis is an excellent example of this.

Coin #1:
Phrygia, Apameia, 88-40 BC.
AE 22, 7.52g, 21.59mm, 0°
struck under the magistrate Heraklei Eglo
Av.: laureate head of Zeus n.r.
Rv.: r. from top to bottom AΠAM[E]
        l. in 2 lines from top to bottom HPAKΛEI / EΓΛO
        Cult statue of Artemis Anaitis wearing floor-length veil and polos
        standing frontal
Ref: SNG by Aulock 3470; BMC 67-71; Weber 7028; SNG Copenhagen 183;
         Mionnet VII, 127; SNG Munich 123; HGC 772
60.-, SS+, fine sand patina
Mionne writes "Junon Pronuba!"

Eglo(...) probably stands for Eklogistes, the title of the municipal financial supervisor.

Anaitis is the Greek translation of Anahita, the name of an Iranian goddess. So if we want to get at the meaning of Anaitis, we have to start with Anahita.

(1) Origin and meaning
The worship of Anahita goes back to the 4th millenium BC. Chr. In an Avestic Yasht she is called Ardvi Sur Anahita. This name seems to be compound and originally meant 2 different deities. Ardvi Sura is the Iranian name for the celestial river goddess of fertile water, called Sarasvati in the Rigveda. This is the Indus, the world river from which everything originates. But it is also said of her that she "flows mightily from Mount Hukarya to Lake Vorukasha" and that she "has a thousand arms and a thousand channels" (Roscher), a description that only fits the Pamir Mountains and the Oxus (today Amudarya) (Geiger). In any case, it is the immense mountains and the waters flowing from them that became the origin of these nature deities,

The other deity is Anahita. Her cult was particularly widespread in north-eastern Persia, but her origin is uncertain. Her name means "untouched, pure", both in the moral and physical sense. In the yashts, she is portrayed in detail, especially with regard to her clothing and jewellery, as if there had been a cult of dress. The emphasis on dressing in beaver fur is unusual. In any case, each of their places of worship included a water source. Thus, for a long time, their largest temple was considered to be the one in Kangavar in Kermanshah province. However, this is now questionable as, among other things, there is no water basin, which would be mandatory for an anahita temple.

The 21 Yashts form the 3rd section of the Avestas, the sacred scripture of the Zoroastrians. They contain hymns to ancient Iranian deities and found their way into the work of the Persian poet Firdausi (940-ca. 1020 AD). The 5th Yasht (Aban Yasht) consists of hymns to water and Anahita.

(2) Reformed by Zoroastrianism:
Zoroastrianism was a very abstract religion, without images or statues. Of all the pre-Zoroastrian deities, only Anahita survived the religious reforms of Zoroaster (c. 1500-1000 BC), but as an emanation of Ahura Mazda rather than the goddess she had been before. But she was also passed off as his daughter. This is evidence that in the religious, believers also want a sensual experience and not just the bloodless theory. This is also known, for example, from Christianity, especially Catholicism with its cult of Mary and the many saints.

(3) Spread by the Achaemenids
It is known that the Achaemenid king Artaxerxes II (404-358 B.C.), after conquering Babylonia, made sure that she spread throughout the Persian Empire. He had many images of her produced and distributed throughout the empire (Berosus). Important
temples were built in Susa, Ekbatana and Babylon. There will have been borrowings from the Mesopotamian Ishtar and there will also have been relations with the Sumerian Inanna. Ishtar and Anahita had similarities: Ishtar was the protector of the palace and Anahita was closely associated with kingship, especially in the post-Achaemenid period.

Berosus, also Berossos, (c. 290 BC), was a Chaldean priest of Bel in Babylon who wrote 3 books in Greek on the history and culture of Babylon and dedicated them to Antiochos I (324-261 BC). They were important for the knowledge of the Greeks about the origins of Babylon and were used e.g. by Eusebius of Caesarea or Josephus.

(4) The Parthians and the Sassanids
Under the Parthians, the character of Anahita changed. From a goddess of fertility, water and wisdom, she became a goddess of war, to whom sacrifices were made before the beginning of a war campaign. Since the Parthians did not rule their empire as strictly centralised as the Achaemenids, she became the goddess who symbolised the unity of the empire instead of a central power..She then played this role under the Sassanids as well.

Coin #2:
Kushan-Sassanid, Hormizd I Kushanah, ca, 265-295 AD.
AE 15, 1.85g, 15.15mm
Mint of Harid
Obv.: Crowned bust.r., with lion scalp on head, crescent moon in upper l. field
Rev.: Hormizd standing r., holding coronation wreath in r. hand over altar and
          has raised his left hand in a gesture of blessing to Anahita, who is rising to the l.
        from the throne, the coronation wreath in her raised right hand and the sceptre in her left hand (so-called investiture scene).
Ref.: Carter 10; Cribb 23; Mitchiner ACW 1269; Göbl KM 1044, Zeno #30921
rare, VF+

The Kushano-Sassanids were Sassanid princes who ruled the ancient Kushan country in Bactria, the Kabul Valley and Gandhara, as Sassanid vassals. For a time these Kushan shahs were more or less independent, such as this ruler, Hormizd I Kushanshah, who ruled c. 295-325 AD (or 270-295 according to Cribb). The mint will have been the Kabul Valley. The depiction on the reverse shows the close connection of Anahita to royalty and the Shah.

(1) M. L. Carter; "A numismatic reconstruction of Kushano-Sasanian history", 1985 (2) Joe Cribb; "Numismatic evidence for Kushano-Sasanian chronology".

(5) Spread in the West
Due to the expansion of the Persian Empire, the cult of Anahita spread further west. Numerous temples and places of worship were built, especially in Phrygia, Lydia, Pontus and Armenia. It should be noted that the development of her cult was subject to strong local influences. In Lydia and Cappadocia she was equated with Artemis Tauropolis, through which the Taurobolium came to Europe. In Philadelphia and Hypaipa, her cult was associated with games. The notorious temple prostitution, unknown in Persia, is described only for Armenia. Strabo tells: "If the girls had devoted themselves to her service for a time in the temple of the goddess, they would be married, and no one would think it shameful to choose such a girl, who for years had given herself up to anyone, as a wife."

When the Greeks met Anahita, they tried, as was customary, to identify her with a goddess of their own pantheon. This does not seem to have been easy. There are designations such as Aphrodite Anaitis, which indicates that she must have borne characteristics of Ishtar or the Phoenician Astarte. Mionnet calls her Junon Pronuba. Tacitus (Annals 62) refers to the syncretic goddess simply as "Persian Diana" who had a temple in Lydia "dedicated during the reign of Cyrus" (probably Cyrus the Great).

Finally she became Artemis. Her character as a virginal and warlike goddess had prevailed over the erotic fertility goddess. The depictions on the Greek coins are obviously modelled on Artemis Ephesia. That is why the lower sections of her floor-length veil often look like the supports of Ephesia. The interpretation as a moon goddess is thus also ruled out. However, she has never experienced the importance and spread as Mithras.

I have attached
(1) A picture of the so-called Anahita temple in Kangavar.
(2) A picture of the head of Aphrodite Anahita from a bronze cult statue from Satala, Armenia minor, Hellenistic, c. 200- 100 BC, now in the British Museum in London. It was found in a Roman legionary camp near Satala in Armenia minor, but probably came from Artaxata, the capital. She is depicted here in the figure of Aphrodite. This shows that in Armenia the (erotic/sexual) reference to the fertility goddess was predominant.

(1) Tacitus, Annales
(2) Strabon, Geographia
(3) Pausanias, Periegesis
(4) Plutarch, Parallel lives
(5) Plinius, Naturalis Historiae

(1) Der Kleine Pauly
(2) Vollmer's Mythologie aller Völker
(3) Realenzyklopädie
(4) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon
(5) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Vollständiges Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Mythologie
(6) Wilhelm Geiger, Ostiranische Kultur im Altertum, 1882
(7) Payam Nabarz, Anahita: Ancient Persian Goddess and Zoroastrian Yazata, 2013
(8) Manya Saadi-nejad, Anahita: Transformations of an Iranian Goddess, Dissertation 2019

Online Sources:
(1) Wikipedia

Best regards

Andy Q:

--- Quote from: Jochen on December 31, 2008, 05:55:16 pm ---Hephaistos

Please note that the coins which I use as entrance for an article in this thread are in principle from my collection. Because of that there are unfortunately themes which I could not deal with. But the following coin I could catch in my net. I hope that there is something new for you in this contribution.

Ionia, Magnesia ad Maeandrum, Antoninus Pius, AD 138-161
AE 34, 26.53g
struck under magistrate Dioskourides Gratos
Head, laureate, r.
Hephaistos, nude to hips, holding hammer, std. l., and holding shield set on narrow cippus inscribed with ..N/..N/OC; dog or lion at r. side
ref. cf. Schultz 100 (only obv., same die); unpublished
very rare, about VF, impressive rev.

There is a great probability that the animal on the r. side of the rev. is a dog (and f.e. not a lion), because the dog was invented by Hephaistos and therefore in the Greek mythology, f.e. at Homer, had a privileged position compared to other animals. If it is a lion then he should have some relations to the shield or the inscription on it.

Anyone who is able to decipher the inscription on the shield or has at least some suggestions?

It is said that Hephaistos was the son of Zeus and Hera, but another version says that he was the son of Hera alone who has conceived him without Zeus by the aid of a herb. He was the god of fire as it appears as subterranean natural power in vulcanos, but also of the fire which is used by men in handicraft and artistry. So he was the god of forgers too.

When he was born he was so ugly that his mother in disgust threw him down from the Olympos. The sea goddesses Thetis and Eurynome are said to have catched him. Then he lived for nine years in a concealed sea cave and made precious jewelry for them. He made a wondrous throne too from which nobody was able to get up without his permission. This throne he sent to his mother Hera as a gift to punish her for her iniquity. When she was fixed to the throne no-one could induce Hephaistos to let her free. It was Dionysos who made him drunken with wine and then led him from his cave back to the Olympos. Hephaistos freed Hera but never stopped to be cross with her. Another version reports that it was Zeus who has thrown Hephaistos down from heaven. When once again Zeus was at strife with Hera Hephaistos has taken Hera's part until Zeus caught him by the foot and threw him off the Olympos.He is said to have fallen down on the island of Lemnos where he has lacerated his foot. He was taken by the Sintians who nursed him. Another myth tells that he was lame from birth.

Referring to Homer he has a self-built workshop on the Olympos, where he has built domiciles for the other gods too, and made there the most wonderfull works. Later he was told to have his workshops deep in fire-spitting mountains like the Aetna or on Lemnos, and his attendants were the Cyclops Brontes, Steropes and Pyrakmon. According to the Ilias his wife was Charis, one of the Graces, according to the Odyssee it was Aphrodite, who betrayed him with Ares. This love affair has been detected by Helios and he brought the news to Hephaistos. Hephaistos made an artful invisible net, threw it over the deceptive pair and called the Olympians as wittnesses of this infamous deed.

He was a kunstsinniger (with sense for art) and an ingenious god, and like Athena he taught the humans handicraft and art. The Athenians erected statues for him together with Athena and festivals occured for both deities together where torch runnings were executed.

According to Homer Hephaistos had no descendants. But in later times he was given several children from different mothers: Eros, Erichthonios, Periphetes, Palaimon, Rhadamanthys, Olenos, the nymph Thalia and the Cabires.

Here I have list of some of his well-known works and deeds:
1) He has helped to give birth to Athena when he cleft the head of Zeus so that she could rise out of his head in full suit of armour. Her wonderful helmet too was made by him, and the Aegis, the magic shield of Zeus.
2) One of his most famous works are the shield of Achilles and his weapons, which he has forged for Thetis after they were lost by Patroklos' death at Troy.
3) Less known is Talos, the Bronzeman. He, quasi a predecessor of the robots of today, was made by Hephaistos and walked as guardian threetimes a day round Crete. He has made much trouble to the Argonauts.
4) The metallic rattle came from Hephaistos with which Herakles has scared the Stymphalian Birds so that he could kill them with his arrows.
5) It was Hephaistos who forged Prometheus in order of Zeus to a rock of the Caucasus Mountains because he had stolen the fire from the gods.
6) In order of Zeus he formed from clay the first wife, who then got the name Pandora by Hermes. She too should revenge the fire-rape. Therefore he gave her a vessel full of evil and maladies and sent her to Epimetheus, brother of Prometheus. Although he was warned by Prometheus never to take gifts from Zeus, Pandora opened the vessel for him and all evil spread over the world. Before hope, elpis, could escape too, she shut the vessel, but then let her free too. But the Golden Age was lost forever employee monitoring .
7) Then Hephaistos with the help of Athena chained Ixion to the eternal fire wheel in the Tartaros. Ixion, king of the Lapiths, once - drunken by wine - has tried to rape Hera. But Zeus has formed a figure shaped like Hera from a cloud, called Nephele, who then was raped by Ixion and has born the Kentauros.
This list is not nearly complete!

The name Hephaistos is unexplained until today. His apparent origin from Lemnos, known for its tectonic gas-fires, where he probably was genuine, speaks for the earthboundness of his elementary function. His local hypostases, Kedalion the dwarf forger and the bad smelling cripple Philoktetes, point to a numen resident in the subterranean sphere. That not only was active creatively and artisticly but curatively too. This type of goblin-shaped, magically and artfully working earth-demon had his firm position in the pre-Hellenic world. This is shown too by the Rhodian Telchines, the Lemnian Cabires and the Idaean Daktyles (look at the related article in this thread!). They all were strongly related to Hephaistos.

The treatment of ore evidently began in Asia Minor and the Pontic-Caucasic region. This art was partly connected to religion and like viniculture and breeding of mules it was a present of the Anatolic-Eastmediterranean culture. The passing on the Greek world is reflected in the myth of the Return of Hephaistos, who was brought back drunken on the back of a donkey to the Olympos by the wine-god Dionysos who has close relations to fire too.

The depiction of the ugly, lame and smutty god shows at first a clear arrogance against the banausos, the handicraftsman (who works with his hands), the technical specialist, the inventive mechanist, who despite of all his abilities remains socially of second rank. At Homer in contrast predominates the aspect of the fairy tales forger, who can made magic devices and as representative of a superior metal-art finally becomes equal-ranking with Athena and together with her becomes the guardian of arts and crafts.

With the diadochs Hephaistos came to India (Kaniska, Kushan), and in the West he
made himself the master of the Liparic volcanos. He replaced the Sicilian fire-demon Adranos and became the father of the Palikoi. Secondary he was equated with the Roman Volcanus.The Egypts identified him syncretistically with the Memphic creator-god Ptah, who has a similar shape and appearance, and so he became the Primal King, philosopher and protos eurethes (first inventor), yes, finally, the Megas Theos Hephaistos, the Great God Hephaistos.

History of Art:
We have ancient depictions of most of Hephaistos' deeds on bowls, vessels or metopes of temples. The favourite depiction was the return of the drunken Hephaistos to the Olympos by Dionysos, especially in the archaic art.

In Renaissance the depiction of the forge was liked, f.e. 'The forge of Vulcan' by Tintoretto, 1576, now in the Palazzo Ducale in Venice. Here comes Thetis, mother of Achilles, to beg for new arms for her son. Or here comes Aphrodite, begging the same for her son Aineias (f.e. Louis Le Nain, 1641, Reims, Musee St.Denis). The Netherlander M. van Heemskerck has 1540 dedicated a triptychon to the love-affair of Ares and Aphrodite. The right table (today in the Kunstmuseum in Vienne) shows in the foreground Hephaistos from back, the caught pair in the net, and right above the Olympians being convulsed with laughter.

Ich have added
1) A scene on a Attic red-figured Skyphos, c.430-40 BC, ascribed to the Kleophon painter. The scene depicts Hephaistos with hammer and tongue riding on the back of a donkey, led by Dionysos holding thyrsos. On the r. side Hera is seated fixed on the throne she had gotten by Hephaistos.
2) A pic of the painting of  Marten van Heemskerck.

Homer, Ilias
Homer, Odyssee
Der Kleine Pauly
Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon
Aghion/Barbillon/Lissarrague, Lexikon der antiken Götter und Heroen in der Kunst

Best regards

--- End quote ---

This is the first time I hear this story, it's very interesting.


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