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Author Topic: Coins of mythological interest  (Read 486691 times)

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Offline Jochen

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #450 on: January 27, 2021, 07:01:25 am »
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

Offline Andy Q

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #451 on: July 13, 2021, 08:33:34 am »

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

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

Offline Jochen

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #452 on: December 31, 2021, 05:41:57 pm »
Apollo and the Hyperboreans

The Hyberboreans and their relationship with Apollo has always interested me. It's time to get to grips with it. Most coins on this subject show the head of Apollo on the obverse and a swan on the reverse. The coin I took as a starting point is something special: it shows Apollo riding a swan! There are also coins, e.g. from Alexandria, on which he rides on a griffin, which also has a connection to the Hyperboreans. But these representations date from Hellenism, that is, from a much later period than that of Apollo and the swans.

1st coin:
Bithynia, Chalcedon, Tranquillina, 238-244.
AE 26, 7.30g, 26.28mm
       Bust, draped and wearing stephane, r.
        Apollo, nude, head supported in r. hand, holding his lyre in l. hand, seated on the
        on the back of a swan, which carries him along in flight to l.
Ref.: Rec. Gen. 115; SNG Copenhagen 368; Corsten 42
Rare, near VF, green patina, patina damage especially on the rev.

Chalcedon, also Kalchedon, was a port city just opposite Byzantium at the entrance from the Sea of Marmara to the Bosporus.  The name comes from the Phoenician qart-hadasht, New City, just as at Carthage. It is known that Kalchedon had an Apol-lo temple with an oracle.

That Apollo is not a uniform god is assumed to be known. There is no other way to understand that he, as Delphios in the succession of Pytho, proclaimed predictions from the gases of a fissure in the earth, and on the other hand appears as the radiant sun god Phoibos. He was probably originally a god of the Dorians, whom they brought with them on their migrations from the north to Greece. This is also evident from his many epic readings, which were initially independent deities, such as Smintheus in the Troad, with whom he then merged. The connection with the swans and the Hyperboreans belongs to the Delic Apollo with the myths of the Letoids, i.e. of Leto and her twins.

The Hyperboreans were the inhabitants of Hyperborea. a legendary land at the very north of the inhabited world. The best known explanation for the name Hyperborea is its origin from the Greek hyper boreas. Boreas was the wintry north wind in Greek mythology. He was the son of the Titan Astraios and the goddess Eos. His homeland was Thrace, where he was cultically worshipped. He is already mentioned in Homer. Hyper Boreas therefore means "north of Thrace" in the narrowest sense.  However, this derivation is not scientifically proven. Another explanation comes from the northern Greek boris, mountain, which then means "beyond the mountains".  These are the Rihpaeans, a legendary mountain range between Europe and Asia.  Some scholars prefer a derivation from hyperphero (to deliver).  This refers to the story that the Hyperboreans had brought gifts to Delos since time immemorial and were therefore "bearers".

The Riphaeans:
The Riphaeans are a legendary mountain range of antiquity. It plays an important role as a border to the Hyperboreans. It was considered cold and snowy.  The Greek riphe means "stormy north wind".  At first it was located north of the Scythians. It was said to be the source of all large rivers, e.g. the Tanais (today's Don), but also the Ister, the Danube. Geographically, it meant either the Waldai Heights or, according to Ptolemy, where it also appears, the Northern Urals. But it was also identified with the Hercynian Forest or the Alpes. As the knowledge of the Greeks increased, its position shifted more and more to the north. It was said that north of the Riphaean Mountains the sun moved from west to east at night so that it could rise again in the east in the morning. This meant that the land of the Hyperboreans was very sunny and warm and could produce several harvests a year.

The swan is a symbol connected with the Hyperborean legend, sacred to Apollo since ancient times. Apollo is drawn to the Helicon on swans (Pindar) and in the Hyperborean legend he travels north on a swan chariot.

(1) Kyknos and the swans:
Various Greek mythologies tell of a Kyknos (Greek = swan). But only one of them mentions Eridanos and thus belongs to the hyperborean mythological circle. This Kyknos (Latin Cygnus), son of Sthenelos, was king of the Ligurians (therefore also called Kyknos Ligurios) and friend (or lover) of Phaeton, the son of the sun god. When Phaeton crashes his father's chariot and sinks burning in the Eridanos, Kyknos jumps into the river to save his friend. But in vain. Helios then transfers his faithful friend to the starry sky as a swan. The sisters of Phaeton, the Heliads, are said to have lingered a long time at Eridanos to weep for their dead brother. Their tears turned to amber, fell into the river and were washed up on the beach. But they themselves were turned into poplars. All this took place in the holy land of the Hyperboreans (Apoll. Rhod.).

Another version tells that Kyknos commemorated his dead friend with sad songs in a poplar grove on the banks of the Eridanos, until the gods, out of pity, transferred him to the starry sky as a swan. Since that time, the song of the swan has been associated with Kyknos and the death song has been called the swan song.

2nd Coin:
Ionia, Leukai, 350-300 BC.
AE 14, 3.01g
struck under magistrate Metrodoros
Obv.: head of Apollo n. l.
Rev.: li. MΗTROΔ, below ΛEO.
        preening swan standing n. l.
Ref.: BMC 2ff. var.; SNG Copenhagen 799 var.; Coll. Klein 395f.
Rare, F-VF, black patina.

Leukai, opposite Klazomenai, was founded in 352 BC by the Persian admiral Tachos and shortly afterwards fell into the hands of the Klazomenians. The swan motif bears witness to their influence. Metrodoros seems to have been a magistrate from Klazomenai.

The Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus) breeds high in the European and Asian north and then spends the winter on inland waters further south or on the British and German seacoasts. If the swan plays a role in Greek mythology, its image as a bird not originally native to Greece must have been imported by immigrants.

The Eridanos is a legendary river. If it is identical with an earthly river, the legend points again to the European north: Amber is only found in northern Europe. It is not impossible that the German Eider river is meant by the Eridanos. Ovid speaks of the Tritonian pool as a bituminous swamp into which the Hyperboreans plunged, only to rise from it as swans. This is presumably the mythical swamp of Eridanos, and if we recall that Ovid mistakenly identifies Eridanos with the Po, it does sound strongly like the Wadden Sea.

(2) Leto and the twins
Leto was the daughter of the Titans Koios and Phoebe. According to Diodorus, Leto (lat. Latona) came from Hyperborea.  Zeus fell in love with her, transformed himself and her into quails and begat Apollo and Artemis with her. The jealous Hera sent the serpent Python to devour her, which Zeus was able to prevent. Thereupon she took from the earth the oath that she would not give the pregnant Leto a place to live that was ever illuminated by the sun. Then Poseidon caused the floating island of Delos to emerge from the water, where Hermes brought Leto by order of Zeus. After bribing Eileithya, the goddess of childbirth, Leto was able to give birth first to Artemis and then, with her help, to Apollo. The Kuretes struck their shields with their swords and made such a noise that Hera heard nothing. The swans, however, flew seven times around the island of Delos singing after his birth.

Leto was originally a goddess of Asia Minor in Lykia. Her name is related to Leda, which means "woman", and as the mother of twins she is an ancient fertility goddess. As her cult expanded, it came into contact with the Hyperborean Apollo cult of Delos. Thus the mythology of Leto also arose from two different sources, which can still be easily seen. The Romans adopted Leto as Lato from the southern Italian Dorians and made her Latona.

I have attached
(1) A Map of the world according to Herodotus, the Hyperboreans at the top right.

(2) This Renaissance map of Eastern Europe after Ptolemy's Geographia shows the Riphaean and Hyperborean mountains at the far upper right (Bernardo Silvano, Venice, 1511).

(will be continued)

Offline Jochen

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #453 on: December 31, 2021, 05:59:06 pm »

(3) Ancient contacts with the Hyperboreans
Not only Athens, but especially Delos had good contacts with the Hyperboreans. Herodotus tells that on the first occasion two girls named Hyperoche and Laodike, accompanied by an escort of five men, brought consecration gifts from the Hyperboreans to Delos. But these never returned. To avoid this, the Hyperboreans used a different method from then on: they brought the gifts to their border and then asked the neighbours to bring them to the next country and so on until they arrived in Delos. And so, wrapped in straw(!), they were passed from tribe to tribe until they reached Dodona and from there to other Greek peoples until they finally reached the temple of Apollo in Delos.

Herodotus also tells of two other girls, Arge and Opis, who had come once before from Hyperborea to Delos to thank the goddess Eileithyia for the ease of childbearing. They had cult images of Apollo and Artemis with them. The virgins were highly honoured in Delos and the women sang hymns to them.  However, Orion is said to have tried to rape Opis, whereupon he was killed by Artemis (Apollodorus). When Opis died, her tomb was worshipped cultically.

(4) Visits of heroes to Hyperborea:
But great heroes also visited Hyperborea:

(a) According to Apollodorus, the garden of the Hesperides with the golden apples is said to have been in Hyperborea and Atlas is also said to have carried the celestial globe there, near the northern pole.
Herakles is said to have brought the olive tree to Olympia from the land of the Hyperboreans. Only since then have the victors in Olympia received their wreaths from the branches of the olive tree.

(b) According to Pindar, Perseus took part in the festivals of the Hyperboreans and received from them as a gift for his fight against the Gorgons winged sandals, a bag which was always as big as what was put into it, and a cloak which made invisible.

(c) Apollonius of Rhodes tells us that the Argonauts got as far as the sacred Amber Island, near the mouth of the Eridanos. In my edition, according to H. Fränkel, the Eridanos is drawn as the Po in northern Italy. What a misunderstanding: there was no sacred amber island there!

(5) Art history:

(1) The following picture shows a detail of the Attic red-figure crater depicting the "Contest between Apollo and Marsyas", attributed to the Meleager painter, Late Classical, c. 400-380 BC, now in the British Museum in London. It shows Apollo riding on the back of a large swan. He holds a lyre and is garlanded with a laurel wreath. Below him squats a hare and in front of him stands a palm tree (

(2) The next picture shows a votive chariot made of clay and decorated with an anthropomorphic deity from the Bronze Age (2000-600 BC). It was found in the 1930s near Dupljaja in Vojvodina in Serbia, today in the National Museum in Belgrade.

The water bird was a central element of the urn field symbolism. As it disappears with the frost each autumn and returns with the spring each year, it reflects the life cycle of an agricultural society. Its most common form was the "bird sun barque". This scene is usually associated with the myth of Apollo, who dwells 6 months of the year in the land of the Hyperboreans, far to the north in a misty region, and the other 6 months in the sunny Greek world (Bilic). According to Bilic, the land of the Hyperboreans could incidentally be found in Pannonia and the lower Danube region. According to Hikataios of Abdera, it is in southern England in the land of the Celts.

(1) Herodot
(2) Diodoros, Bibliotheke
(3) Apollonios von Rhodos, Argonautika
(4) Plinius, Historia naturalis
(5) Strabo
(6) Ovid, Metamorphosen
(7) Claudius Ptolemaios
(8) Cicero, De natura deorum
(9) Hekataios von Abdera, Über die Hyperboreer (Fragmente)

(1) Pauly, Realenzyklopädie
(2) Der Kleine Pauly
(3) Karl Kerenyi, Die Mythologie der Griechen
(4) Jürgen Spanuth, Die Atlanter
(5) Tomislav Bilic, The swan chariot of a solar deity, Documenta Praehistorica XLIII (2016)

Online Sources:
(2) Wikipedia

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Offline Jochen

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #454 on: December 31, 2021, 06:46:40 pm »
Hyperborea and the Nazis

We have heard that in Mycenaean times there was close contact between the Greeks and the Hperboreans. Girls brought gifts wrapped in wheat straw. But one must know that Thrace and even northern Greece was an unknown land far to the north for the Athenians. The greater the geographical knowledge grew, the more Hyperborea slid northwards. First behind the Ryphaean mountains (the Alps?), then, according to the report of Hikataios, to the south of England. But it was always connected with amber. And this is where Helgoland comes into play. Our Baltic amber only became known later. When the Romans conquered and got to know Britain, it migrated to Thule, which was assumed to be on Iceland or Greenland. It is a Utopia and the further north it was moved, the more it became a place of the blessed. But as a conclusion one must state with Pindar: "Neither by land nor by sea will you find your way to the Hyperboreans." 

Rousseau's notion of the "noble savage" also existed among the Greeks. Although Alexander wanted to grace the entire world to the farthest ocean with the achievements of Greek culture, science, technology, art and education, there was also a feeling among them that they had lost touch with natural life. There was already an ancient critique of cvilisation. And the Hyperboreans served them as a counter-image to their highly developed city culture (the polis). They were perhaps also identic with Plato's Atlanteans. But there was also the fear of not being a match for their youthful strength.

In the Renaissance and especially in the Enlightenment, the Hyperboreans were rediscovered. They served the tragic Weckherlin (1739-1792) as a model for an enlightened, peaceful and just world. But that soon changed.

After the French Revolution had promised the prospect of freedom, equality and fraternity, the lack of reform led the German bourgeoisie to turn away from politics and towards apolitical inwardness. Two different empires were formed (Schiller): The realm of reality and and the realm of imagination. In German Romanticism, the North became the myth par excellence. Only from there could come a light and clear reason, as represented by the Hyperborean Apollo.  This is where the Nordic racial ideology of National Socialism was later able to pick up seamlessly.

While the Hyperboreans were only a beautiful image for Nietzsche, a metaphor that helped him to accept the intolerability of existence, esoteric crackpots took up the Hyperboreans.

The most important representatives were the Theosophists, headed by the occultist Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891), who swore by seven root races. From the second root race, the Hyperboreans, the Atlanteans developed via the Lemurians. After the fall of Atlantis, some were able to save themselves, from whom the divine 7th root race would emerge in the future, the Aryans.

Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), the founder of anthroposophy, also drew his anthropology from this. Both are anti-civilisational and anti-scientific. Their theories stem from an inner vision, a kind of revelation that cannot be discussed rationally.
The Hyperborean, he writes, was a strange figure. As a sun-man, he stood on his head and the light shone on his head. On this level the plant had stopped. Only in the Atlantean epoch did it straighten up into the vertical. These Atlanteans could even fly through the organic seed power of the plant. But they succumbed to their arrogance and had to perish. Only the original Semites survived. The real future race, however, would be the whites.

Were they both racists? One must affirm that (Strohmeyer).  And that is what made them so interesting for the Ariosophs. They adopted from them the principle of leadership, the consciousness of belonging to a higher elite, racism and even racism itself. They adopted from them the principle of the leader, the consciousness of belonging to a higher elite, racism and even the swastika, the symbol of ancient spirituality among the Theosophists.

In Vienna, it was Guido von List (1848-1919) and Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels (1874-1954) who were united in their rejection of Western civilisation and wanted to replace rationalism and science with "hereditary memory". They celebrated the cult of the Aryan race and the Hyperboreans were their "Aryan ancestors". Here we find abundantly clear similarities with the SS state that Himmler had in mind. Liebenfels already called for the deportation, forced labour and extermination of mixed-race people and Jews. Lebensborn plans also already existed. Hitler probably read the "Ostara" booklets he published.

In the sphere of Blavatsky's ideas, folkish secret societies and lodges were formed which opposed every form of rationalism and enlightenment, liberalism, socialism and democracy, but especially the Jews, who for them represented all-destroying progress. The most important among them was the anti-Semitic Teutonic Order, from which the "Thule Society" emerged, which acted as its cover organisation. The name Thule was its programme (Strohmeyer). As the capital of the Hyperboreans, it was the original home of the blond, blue-eyed Aryans. The "Führer's" deputy Rudolf Hess was a member, the Nazi ideologist Alfred Rosenberg and Dietrich Eckart, the man who had "made" Hitler, frequented it. Hans Frank, the later notorious governor-general of Poland, also belonged to their circle,

Alfred Rosenberg ("The Myth of the 20th Century"), the Nazi ideologist of the regime, whom even members of the Nazi elite ridiculed, also drew his racial philosophy from "hyperborean depths". His ideal image was the Doric Apollo, who stood in contrast to the Near Eastern bastard Dionysos.

It is known that Himmler, in his obsession with Aryans, supported diving expeditions near Helgoland and in 1937 sent two expeditions to Tibet to find the last people of Atlantis, whose direct descendants were the Germans. But these delusions did not remain theory. In the war in the East, they became brutal reality. In the orgies of violence there, especially in Belarus, about 1.7 million people were killed: prisoners of war, Jews, partisans, entire village populations. The Hyperboreans: here they are the executioners of the Nazi murder machinery. Finally, everything ended in Auschwitz.

Of course, National Socialism was not an esoteric movement. Its political, economic and social social roots were too important.  But it can be seen that he possessed a clear esoteric component, which was expressed in the rejection of the "decadent" Western civilisation and its rationalism. This also included the rejection of scientific medicine, which was defamed as "school medicine" and as "Jewish", and the turn to the "völkisch" medicine of the alternative practitioners. All those who still use the term "school medicine" today should take note of this. The alarmingly high number of opponents of the Corona vaccine must also be classified in this group.

In 1945 Karl Jaspers said: "Unscientificness is the ground of inhumanity. And: "It was the spirit of unscientificness that opened the door to National Socialism."

Robert Charroux, for whom the Hyperboreans are of extraterrestrial origin, proves that these perverse ideologies have not died out today. Apollo is their supreme astronaut and their blond descendants - Charroux is French - are now the Celts. And then everything returns there that was already wafting before the 1st World War, but now in a modernised form, enriched with nuclear energy and guided rays.

Above the temple in Delphi, the temple of the Hyperborean Apollo, were the words: "Nothin in excess" and "Know thyself". Nothing could be further from the brown rabble than this demand for self-modesty! 

"The world of the Greek gods has long since slipped away from us. Olympus has become empty. What remains is the eternally young Apollo as the perfect image of Greekness. And wherever he came from, his wisdom - the spirit that creates order and the measure that sets boundaries, both of which come from harmony with nature and the cosmos - is needed more than ever in our time." (Arn Strohmeyer, Red Rock and Brown Myth, Epilogue)

(1) Hekateios, On the Hyperboreans (Fragments).
(2) Plato, Timaios, Kritias
(3) Günther Kehnscherper, Trails of the North and Sea Peoples, 1969
(4) Pär Sandin, Scythia or Elysium? The Land of the Hyperboreans in Early Greek Literature,
(5) Jürgen Spanuth, Die Atlanter, Volk aus dem Bernsteinland, Grabert Verlag 1989
(6) Arn Strohmeyer, Roter Fels und Brauner Mythos - A German Journey to Atlantis, R.G.Fischer 1990
(7) Arn Strohmeyer, From Hyperborea to Auschwitz - Paths of an Ancient Myth, PapyRossa 2005
(8) Wikipedia

I have attached the photo "Helgoland during a storm" by  Schensky (own collection)

Franz Schensky (1871 - 1957) from Helgoland is one of the pioneers of black and white photography and has a firm place in the history of German photography. In 2003, 1400 of his glass negatives, thought to have been lost, were found in a cellar on Helgoland and have since been processed and digitised. The photo shown is probably his most famous.

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #455 on: January 04, 2022, 07:12:03 am »
Eros und the club of Herakles

The occasion for this article was this coin from Hadrianopolis. In the course of my research, however, it has slowly developed into a larger overview of the relationship between Eros and Herakles, so that the old title is actually too narrow. Nevertheless, I have decided to keep it.

Coin #1:
Thrace, Hadrianopolis, pseudo-autonomous, time of Commodus, ca. 181-192.
AE - AE 19, 2.92g, 18.92mm, 210°.
          Bust of Herakles, bearded, r.
         Eros standing l., holding club of Herakles, supported by a second Eros,
         bent right
Ref.: Jurukova Hadrianopolis, 711 (V299/R669); not in SNG Copenhagen.
rare, F+, green patina

The obverse shows the portrait of the adult Herakles, who is considered the founder (ktistes) of Hadrianopolis. The legend here is in the rare Accusativus in the sense of "(We honour) the Ktistes".

More interesting, however, is the depiction on the reverse. It shows 2 small Erotes playing with the club of Herakles, for them a huge object. This scene fits seamlessly into a series of pictures in which Eros or several Erotes occupy themselves with attributes of Heracles, play with them or even steal and appropriate them. What's behind it?

This typography was developed in Hellenism and the Roman period. But Eros was not the first to appropriate attributes of Herakles. Already in mythological prehistory, there were small creatures that stole from Herakles, for example the Kerkopes.

(1) The Kerkopes, sons of Theia and Okeanos, were small, ape-like creatures who assisted Zeus against the Titans.  They lived as thieves and swindlers. But their mother had warned them, "My little white butts, you must first meet the big black butt!". Once they came across Herakles sleeping under a tree and immediately tried to steal his armour. Herakles, however, caught the thieves and, to punish them, he carried them over his shoulder on a branch from which they hung down headfirst. As he did so, they could see his black and hairy buttocks and made fun of them. Herakles also had to laugh and finally he let them go. This happened at the time when he was a slave to Omphale.

(2) At the end of the archaic period satyrs appeared on the scene. There is even an opinion that the first satyr play was about the theft of Herakles' weapons; for this seems to be depicted on a krater of 510/500 BC.

In later depictions, the satyrs are not only shown stealing Herakles' equipment, but also disguising themselves as Herakles in possession of it. The fatigue and exhaustion of Herakles is often emphasised, which is not a consequence of his hard works, but of his gluttony and drunkenness.

Art history:
In the 5th century BC, Eros is shown with objects that do not belong to him. The most impressive was probably the shield of Alkibiades, which was adorned with an Eros carrying Zeus' bundle of lightning. This was of course meant as a provocation. The lightning bundle of the highest and most powerful god was of course not made for the delicate hands of this youthful god. The fact that an image could embody a logical contradiction was a great discovery at the time (Susan Woodford). This opened up a way for artists to reveal even previously hidden truths. In time, the novelty of it disappeared and such images became commonplace and simply decorative motifs. But in the 5th and 4th centuries they were still fresh and impressive.

The sculptor Lysipp was a very innovative artist who was known for seeing old motifs in a new way. Two poems in the Greek Anthology of Hellenistic Epigrams describe a statue of Herakles in which Lysipp is said to have depicted the hero sadly, without his lion skin, club and quiver. These had all been stolen from him by Eros.

Lukian writes that in the 4th century B.C. the painter Aetion designed a group of small Erotes playing with Alexander's weapons in his painting "The Marriage of Alexander and Roxane", two of them carrying his spear while two others drag his shield by the handles. This motif was taken up again in the Renaissance, for example by Giovanni Antonio Bazzo, called Sodoma (1477-1549) in his fresco of around 1511/18 in the Villa Farnesina in Rome.

Eros steals the weapons of Herakles
This theme is further developed in Pompeian wall paintings depicting Herakles and Omphale. The appearance of Omphale, whom Herakles had to serve as a slave, shows that the mightiest hero could be conquered by delicate deities as well as by a woman. Some erotes seem to be carrying the stolen weapons to an altar, and A. Greifenhagen (1965) thinks that they want to consecrate the weapons to Aphrodite, so that the paintings celebrate the triumph of love.

A third painting in the Casa del Sirico in Pompeii shows the seated figure of Dionysos above: the power of wine together with the power of love can disarm the hero and thus show us that even Herakles is not armed against the temptations of the flesh.

All 3 images show Herakles youthful, beardless, clothed and together with Omphale. But there is a third type of picture in which Herakles is deprived: There Herakles is older, bearded, naked and alone with the little robbers. In the oldest example from the 3rd -1st century BC Herakles is asleep, in the others he has woken up, sometimes trying to grab an Erot. As in the pictures with Omphale, contrasts are played with here: old and young, passive and active, big and small.

Eros with the weapons of Herakles
Over time, 3 main variants have developed:
(1) Several small Eros are dragging away or tampering with the armour of Herakles, alone or in the presence of the hero. Our 1st coin belongs to this type!

(2) Eros as an infant sleeping on the lion skin of Herakles with the club beside him, also torch! To this type belongs our next coin:

Coin #2:
Moesia inferior, Nicopolis ad Istrum, Commodus, 177-192.
AE 17, 3.89g
         Laureate head r.
        Eros, lying crossed-legged on lion's skin l., resting his head in the
         l. hand; in front of him the torch.
Ref.: a) not in AMNG
         b) not in Varbanov
         c) not in Hristova-Hoeft-Jekov (2020):
             Rev. not listed
             Obv. e.g. No.
        probably unpublished
extremely rare, VF, dark green patina   
ex Gorny&Mosch Auction 265, Lot 726
ex coll. Erwin Link (Stuttgart)

(3) The childlike Eros standing dressed in lion skin and holding the club, a type that also exists without wings and represents a child-Herakles in a non-mythological form. As an example, I show here the terracotta statuette from the Museum of Fine Arts Boston (MFA): Eros, winged, has disguised himself as Herakles. It dates from the Hellenistic or Imperial period, 1st century BC, - 1st century AD, and was found in Myrina, Turkey, in 1892.
This playful representation of Eros refers to a Hellenistic epigram describing a statue of Herakles by Lysipp (see above). Here Eros holds his hands behind his back like the famous Herakles Farnese with the apples of the Hesperides.

Of course, images of Eros with the attributes of Herakles can simply be playfulness, but on a deeper level they serve to bring to mind that Eros' all-dominating power is only masked by his small size and tender age. Terence: Omnia vicit amor!

I have attached:
(1) A photo of the fresco of Giovanni Antonio Bazzo, called Sodoma (1477-1549)
(2) A photo of the terracotta statuette from the Museum of Fine Arts Boston (MFA)

(1) Nonnus, Dionysiaka
(2) Lukian

(1) Hristova-Hoeft-Jekov, The Coinage of Nicopolis ad Istrum, 2020
(2) Francis Jarman, Eros in Coinage
(2) Susan Woodford, Herakles' Attributes and their appropriation by Eros, The Journal
      of Hellenistic Studies, Vol. 109, November 1989
(3) Adolf Kaegi, Kurzgefasste griechische Schulgrammatik, 1957
(5) Wikipedia

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #456 on: January 09, 2022, 03:26:03 pm »
The Holy City Council

The Coin:
Caria, Trapezopolis, pseudo-autonomous, AD 150-250
AE 18, 3.29g, 18.44mm, 180°.
         Bust of Boule, draped and veiled, r.
         Kybele, in girdled double chiton, wearing kalathos, standing frontal, holding
         outward-turned hands over 2 lions, seated r. and l. beside her with raised paws
Ref.: SNG Tübingen 3505; Martin 12; Mionnet Supp.6, 554; RPC IV.2 online, 9243
rare, VF, brown-green patina

Our coin comes from Trapezopolis in Caria in the present province of Denizli in Turkey On the reverse the goddess Kybele is depicted with 2 lions at her side. What interests us here, however, is the front, which shows the female bust of Boule, draped and veiled to the right. The veil is the expression of her honour. The legend IEPA - BOVΛH translates as the "Holy City Council". Yes, those were the days when the local council was still holy! True, even today it often behaves as if it is sacrosanct and unassailable, but fortunately those days are gone. And one should remember that as a counterpart to the sacred city council there was also the IEPOΣ ΔHMOΣ, the sacred people of the state or the sacred community of citizens, from which our concept of democracy derives.

The Boule originated in Athens and belongs to the beginning of Attic democracy. At first it was exclusively for nobles, but then every unbowed citizen was allowed to become a member. It decided on the budget, the fleet and impeachments. In Roman times, the principle of oligarchy prevailed again, membership was only possible for a circle of wealthy citizens. And their powers were limited to local tasks. The meeting of the Boule took place in a special building, the Bouleuterion, a richly decorated building usually near the Agora, the market place and centre of the city.

In inscriptions, the Boule is always mentioned first, where it says, for example, "The Boule and the Demos have issued the following decree". But it is striking that on coins the Boule is always depicted on the smaller denominations than the Demos. Since nothing was random in this period, as is so often the case today, this can only mean that the Demos, the people, was above the Boule, the council assembly, in the hierarchy, which is actually understandable, since the latter consisted of only a part of the city people.

The coin depicted comes from Asia Minor at the time of the Roman Empire. The depictions of the Boule, the Demos and other institutions of the Greek polis were intended to convey the message that these late Hellenised (Martin) cities were also part of the great tradition of Greek history and, despite being part of the Roman provincial administration, did not need to hide from the famous classical cities.

The coin does not show the image of an emperor and is therefore called "pseudo-autonomous". It reflects an autonomy that had in fact long since ceased to exist. The terms "holy city council" or "holy community of citizens" still recall the old traditions, but in fact the rights of the cities and their institutions were severely curtailed. We know that today, too. There, the city council cannot decide for itself how wide a planned road can be, or whether or not cars may overtake each other on the road to the next town. Times do not seem to have changed after all. All the more reason for today's local councillors to take care that they fulfil their task of controlling the administration and do not degrade themselves to insignificance. I had this article published as a letter to the editor in view of the current situation, since our local council is known for its uncritical approval of all proposals from the administration.

I have attached the photo of the Bouleuterion of Aphrodisias in Caria (own photo from 2011)

(1) Der  Kleine  Pauly
(2) Katharina Martin, Demos.Boule.Gerousia: Personifikationen  städtischer  Institutionen auf  kaiserzeitlichen  Münzen  aus  Kleinasien,  Münster  2013
     (The standard reference!)
(3) Katharina Martin, Demos und Boule auf Münzen phrygischer Städte. Überlegungen zu Ikonographie  und  Funktion  von  Münzbildern
(4)  Wikipedia

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #457 on: January 09, 2022, 03:50:13 pm »
Gerusia - the Council of Elders

The Coin:
Caria, Antiocheia ad Maeandrum, pseudo-autonomous, 3rd century AD.
AE 20, 4.93g, 19.68mm, 180°.
        Bust of Gerusia, draped, r.
        Athena in double chiton and helmet standing  l., holding in left arm shield and spear and in outstretched right hand patera.
Ref.: BMC 18; not in RPC
very rare, VF-

The Gerusia, the Council of Elders, originated in Sparta. It consisted of 28 citizens of Sparta, the gerontes (from Greek γέρων = old man), who had to be at least 60 years old. Thus it roughly corresponded to the Roman Senate (from Latin senex = old man). The two kings always belonged to it. In the 7th century, the Gerusia was made one of the central organs of state, along with the Ephores and the People's Assembly. The text of the oldest Greek constitution is attributed to Lycurgus and has been handed down to us by Plutarch. According to him, it was an oracle saying from Delphi that was presented to Lycurgus. Plutarch himself held a priesthood at the temple of Apollo in Delphi from 95. According to current research, Lykurg is probably not a historical but a mythical person.

In fact, however, it was not a single act, but developed gradually. As a result of the Messenian wars, the Spartan territory had expanded to such an extent that it required a new ruling and administrative structure. At the same time, it was intended to counteract a concentration of power in the hands of a few. The gerontes were elected for life. They decided which motions were submitted to the People's Assembly and which were not. They had the right to revoke or prevent decisions of the People's Assembly. Thus they formed an important political interface in the Spartan state. However, it is historically known that they were corruptible.

In the classical period, however, the Gerusia did not appear frequently. Through democratic developments, which also touched Sparta, their function became less and less important politically. Aristotle criticised the Spartan Gerusia in the strongest terms, in particular the much too high age of its members and the "childish" selection procedure (Wikipedia). This consisted of shouting as loud as possible! A procedure that was easy to manipulate.

The personification of Gerusia has no predecessor in Classical and Hellenistic art. Coins depicting her did not appear until the time of the Flavians, whereby these representations show a greater variety than those of the Boule (Martin). While on our coin Gerusia appears as an elderly matron, on other coins she is a youth. This also exists in Aphrodisias. It is possible that this different representation also denotes different institutions. In Ephesus, for example, a C. Vibius Saltutaris at the time of the Antonines consecrated a silver statue to the holy Gerusia, by whom he understood the Boule of the city (Martin).

I have attached a picture of the oil painting "Lycurgus of Sparta", 1791, by Jacques-Louis David (748-1825), Musee des Beaux-Arts de Blois (Wikidata).

(1) Plutarch, Life of Lykurg
(2) Katharina Martin, Boule.Demos.Gerousia, Münster 2013
(3) Der Kleine Pauly
(4) Wikipedia

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #458 on: Today at 05:24:58 am »
The turtle

The turtle is the characteristic image on the ancient coins of Aigina/Attica. But there are also others. For example, the following:

Coin #1:
Cilicia, Mallos, 440-380 BC.
AR - Obol, 0.73g
Obv.: turtle from above
Rev.: androkephalic bull protome n. l. in square incus
Ref.: not listed in the standard works SNG Levant 186 SNG Ashmolean 1735; cf. Rauch 96, 2014, lot 107; CNG e-Sale 380, 2016, lot 272
Very rare, VF, some horn silver plating.

Chelone was a nymph who lived on the banks of a river at Mount Chelydorea in Arcadia in southern Greece. For his wedding with Hera, Zeus had Hermes invite all the gods, men and animals. All accepted this invitation except Chelone, who scoffed at the wedding. When Hermes noticed this, he went back to earth and threw her together with her house into the river, thus transforming her into a turtle that had to carry her shell on its back. Because of her mockery she was condemned to eternal muteness (Servius, Commentary on Virgil, Aeneid). The turtle was a symbol of silence in Greece.
Aesop knows more details in his fables: Zeus did not know why she was not present and asked Chelone the reason. She replied: "Be it ever so humble, there is no place like one's home".

Meanwhile feminists have also taken up this issue. Their explanation: Chelone saw through the fact that this marriage was meant to serve the patriarchal purpose of the mainland Greeks, and that it was meant to severely curtail the rights and importance of the all-embracing and ancient mother goddess Hera. Well, well. 

Hermes invents the lyre
Chelydorea was the name in ancient times for a 1759m high mountain range in Arcadia and in the Achaean Pellene, a part of the Kyllene mountain range that advanced to the north. The name means "de-shelter of the turtle". It was known for its abundance of tortoises (Pausanias). On it, the legend has Hermes inventing the lyre.

Hermes was born of Maja, who had been seduced by Jupiter, in a cave in the Kyllene Mountains. Already on the day of his birth he stole the tools of several gods, even Zeus' sceptre. He sneaked out of the cradle and drove away the cattle Apollo was tending. So that they would not make any noise, he put shoes on them. He slaughtered and ate two of them. On the way back to Kyllene he found a turtle, cleaned its shell and stretched the sinews of the slaughtered cattle over it as strings. Apollo searched for his cattle and learned that Hermes had been the thief. When Hermes, supported by Maja, denied the crime, Apollo brought him before Zeus, where he admitted nothing. Zeus then returned the cattle to Apollo. When Apollo heard Hermes play the lyre he had just invented, he liked it so much that he gave him his cattle in exchange for the lyre. Later Apollo gave the lyre to his son Orpheus. In Hellenism, the lyre was a symbol of poets and thinkers, from which the term lyricism later developed.

An ancient riddle read:
κριον εχω γενεθρα, τεκεν δε με τωδε γελωνη; τικτομενη δ'αμφω πεφνον ερνους γονεας.
Father to me is the ram, the tortoise is my mother, but at birth I gave death to both.
Answer: Of course this is Lyra, also called Chelys in Greek, which is poet. the turtle;  It is also the lyre made from the shell of the turtle. Its arms were often made of rams' horns. It is often difficult to distinguish from the cithara, but the latter, unlike the lyre, has a foot.

Coin #2
Syria, Antiochia ad Orontem, pseudo-autonomous, 54-68 (time of Nero).
AE 16, 4.55g, 0°
struck 59/60 (year 108 of the Caesarian era)
Obv.: Head of Apollo, wearing diadem and necklace, r., in pearl circle
Rev.: ANTIOXE - ET HP (year 108)
Ref.: BMC 88; RPC 4293; SNG Copenhagen 108; SNG Munich 679; SNG Righetti 1899 
VF+, sand encrustations on black patina

We have seen that Hermes is closely associated with the tortoise. Therefore, it is no wonder that he is often depicted together with her. A famous statue of Lysipp (around 330 BC) is the so-called "sandal-binder", a copy of which was found in the Villa Adriana in Tivoli. In the meantime, thanks to von Mosch, we know that it is not a "sandal-binder" but a "sandal-solver". He is depicted on large bronzes from Markianopolis.

Coin #3:
Moesia inferior, Markianopolis, Philip II as Caesar & Serapis, 244-247.
AE 27, 13.94g, 26.96mm, 30°
struck under governor Prastina Messalinus
         Facing busts of Philip II, draped and cuirassed,  r., and Serapis, draped, with kalathos, l.
        Hermes, nude,  standing left bent forward and facing front, the r. foot placed on
        a  ram's head, the left arm covered with the chlamys resting on the right knee;
        on the ground between his feet a turtle. l., behind him a tree stump with a kerykeion 
        before and a second indistinct object
        in the left field E (for Pentassarion)
Ref.: a) AMNG I/1, 1209, pl. XVI, 25  (2 ex., Philippopel, Sophia Tacchella revue num. 1893, 73, 23)
          b) Varbanov 2107
          c) Hristova/Jekov (2014) No.
rare, almost SS, shiny, dark green patina.
ex CNG electronic auction 215, lot 390
ex coll. J.P.Righetti, No. 10008

In the statue of Lysipp, the ram's head and the turtle are not present. Here the artist has thankfully added both!

The tortoise in the military:
The Greek chelone was a siege engine with a roof on top for protection against shelling. It was also used by the Romans.

The best known, however, is the Roman turtle formation (Latin testudo = "tortoise"), which was developed during the time of Gaius Iulius Caesar. It consisted of a square formation of soldiers with angular shields (scutum). The first row held their shields forward, the following ones high above their heads so that they overlapped. This allowed the formation to move forward even under heavy fire, but only slowly because it was very cumbersome. The testudo could only be exercised by carefully trained soldiers and, above all, had to be broken up again in good time; otherwise it would have become a helpless victim of the enemy in close combat. The picture is from Trajan's Column (Wikipedia, Cristian Chirita)

The Death of Aischylos
An unfortunate role was played by a tortoise in the death of Aischylos in 456 BC, according to Valerius Maximus.Aischylos (525 - 456 BC) was the oldest of the great Greek tragedian poets.  Unfortunately, most of his works have been lost. But his last ones (e.g. "The Eumenides") are dramas of world literature hardly surpassed in their tragedy and depth of thought. Because he had been prophesied to die by falling objects, he stayed in the fields near Gela on his last trip to Sicily. There he was killed by a tortoise dropped by an eagle. The bird had mistaken Aischylos' head for a rock and used it to break open the tortoise's shell.

(1) Pausanias, Travels in Greece.
(2) Aesop, Fables
(3) Pliny, Naturalis Historia

(1) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon, Leipzig 1770.
(2) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Extensive Lexicon of Greek and Roman Mythology
(3) Hristova/Jekov, Marcianopolis (2014).
(4 Christian von Mosch, The Hermes of Lysipp(?) on the coins of Trapezous, Amastris and Marcianopolis, in Jahrbuch für Numismatik und Geldgeschichte 63, 2013.
(5)  K. Ohlert, Rätsel und Rätselspiele der alten Griechen, Berlin 1912.
(6)  Gemoll, Griechisch-Deutsches Schul- und Handwörterbuch, 1954
(7) The Kleiner Pauly
(9) Wikipedia

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Offline Jochen

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #459 on: Today at 05:29:49 am »
Excursus: The race between Achilles and the tortoise

Probably the best-known paradoxon from antiquity is the race between Achilles and the tortoise, known as "Achilles". This paradoxon  originates from Zeno of Elea (ca. 490 - ca. 430 BC), the founder of dialectics, and has been handed down to us by Aristotle in his "Physics".

Achilles was known as the fastest runner in antiquity. When he entered a race with the tortoise, he gave the tortoise a fair head start. He should not have done so, for Zenon could prove that he could then never catch up with the tortoise, let alone overtake it. For if he wanted to overtake the tortoise, he would first have to reach the place where the tortoise had been before. But every time Achilles reached the tortoise's place, the tortoise had crawled a little further. Although the turtle's lead became smaller and smaller, it always remained. This obviously contradicts our observation. But where is the error in Zeno's chain of evidence?

Now you can read in any better mathematics book how to calculate when and where Achill will catch up with the turtle with the help of series expansions or limit value considerations. But that misses the real problem. It is about logic! What is wrong with the logic that Achilles must always - and I mean always - first reach the point where the tortoise was before? This raises the question of whether space is infinitely divisible. In logic as a thought experiment it is, but not in reality. There is Planck's constant, which sets limits to reality. And this shows that this paradoxon  is not located in reality, but in mental space. And that is why it must be solved there.

In recent times, a number of philosophers have dealt with the "Achilles" and have achieved astonishing results. The British philosopher James Thomson (1921-1984) developed the theory of "supertasks" in 1954. For this purpose, he invented various "machines", which are of course only thought experiments. One of them is "Thomson's lamp": A burning lamp is switched off after a time t, then switched on again after a time t/2, switched off again after t/4 and immediately. We know that mathematically the lamp enters its final state after a finite time. (see "Achilles"). But we do not know what state it is in then.

Another thought led to the "Pi machine." A thought machine calculates the infinite number of decimal places of pi one after the other. In the process, it needs only half as much time for each additional digit as for the digit before it. We know that mathematically this machine must stop after a finite time. The paradox then consists in the last digit of pi, which mathematically cannot exist. That is quite exciting!

The French-American philosopher Paul Benacerraf refuted Thomson's considerations in 1962, which led to new interest in infinity-related problems.

In the meantime, it has turned out that this problem is not only philosophical, but also plays a role in the real world. This was demonstrated in 1994 by measurements at the Ludwigs-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, which confirmed this paradox for measurements in the quantum world: the motion of a quantum system was shown to be brought to a standstill by a sequence of dense measurements alone, which led to the theoretical modelling of the quantum Zeno effect (Wikipedia)

Zeno's paradoxes challenged our notion of motion, time and space; the path to an answer was full of surprises.

The picture is taken from "Meinstein, school subjects simply explained". 

(1) Hermann Diels, The Fragments of the Presocratics, Rowohlts Klassiker 1957.
(2) The Presocratics, edited by Wilhelm Capelle, Kröner 1968.

(1) Adolf Grünbaum, Modern Science and Zeno's Paradoxes of Motion, in "Zeno's Paradoxes", edited by Wesley C. Salmon, The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc.
(2) William I. Laughlin, A Solution to Zeno's Paradoxes, Spektrum der Wissenschaft, January 1995.
(3) Nick Huggett, Zeno's Paradoxes, 2004, in "Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy".
(4) Nicholas Falletta, Zenos Paradoxien, Hugendubel 1985
(5) Wikipedia

Best regards


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