Numismatic and History Discussions > Greek Coins

Zeus Bremetes?

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Zeus had many epithets and titles, probably more than any other Greek god, some referring to one of his many attributes, or characteristics, others referring to a particular location in which he was worshiped, the location of a particular cult statue of Zeus. etc. -

In Baktria the Diodotids minted coinage bearing on the reverse the evocative image of Zeus striding l., hurling thunderbolt in r. hand, aegis over extended l. arm, eagle at feet, monogram above eagle (refer example below).

In all the standard references no epithet or title is attached to this depiction of Zeus.

Yet increasingly in numismatic sales the image is referred to as that of 'Zeus Bremetes'.

Can someone enlighten me - what is the origin of the epithet 'Bremetes' and to what attribute, characteristic or location of Zeus does it refer?

Perhaps from the word meaning “roar” (bremw) as in roaring of thunder?

When I get home I'll look it up in Burkert and see if he says anything about it. I'm not familiar with that epithet myself.

~ Peter

As far as I found out Zeus Bremetes just means "Thundering Zeus".

In Frank L. Holt, "Thundering Zeus: The Making of Hellenistic Bactria", Berkeley 1999, he intensively discusses this coin type, calling the thundering Zeus the "dynastic badge" of Diodotos I. But as far as I have seen (I haven't read the book in detail :-\) he never speaks of Zeus Bremetes or of an epithet.
You find a similar wording in articles by Osmund Bopearachchi about this coinage, a thundering Zeus, but no Bremetes :-\.

Additionally I didn't find the epithet Bremetes outside of a commercial context (auction catalogs etc.).

So could this be perhaps rather modern marketing than ancient religion?




--- Quote from: Altamura on February 12, 2022, 03:06:20 am ---...I didn't find the epithet Bremetes outside of a commercial context (auction catalogs etc.).

So could this be perhaps rather modern marketing than ancient religion?

--- End quote ---

I suspect so, and the way the term 'Zeus Bremetes' is used while accompanied by a full description of the iconography suggests as much, for surely the the epithet would encompass the attributes of Zeus expressed in the iconography.  I also note the same epithet is now being applied by some dealers to other depictions of Zeus, be he sitting, standing facing etc. The only common element as far as I can establish is that its related to depictions of Zeus with a thunderbolt in hand.  This then runs up against another epithet 'Zeus Ithomatas' (an example below) the term reflecting a local residency of Zeus derived from the Messenian hill of Ithome, where the god had a sanctuary, and where an annual festival, the Ithomaea, was celebrated in his honor. With the exception of an eagle perched on his extended left arm, rather the Aegis draped over his left arm, this depiction of Zeus Ithomatos could be the frontal view of the so called 'Zeus Bremetes'.

I've done a quite extensive literature search and yet to find any mention of the epithet 'Bremetes' in connection with Zeus, or anyone else for that matter.

As best I can determine it first came into use CNG's attributions and I suspect Molinari might be right that it was derived from 'the word meaning “roar” (bremw) as in roaring of thunder' and thus manufactured in modern times rather than reflective of an ancient epithet.

It would thus fall in the same category as other modern descriptors (rather than genuine epithets) such as Zeus Aëtophoros (eagle in his hand) and Zeus Nikephoros (Nike in his hand)  - modern creations of the numismatic trade.

I would have preferred a true epithet 'Zeus Stratios' (warlike) in this case - more accurately reflecting the times with Baktria under assault from the Parni led by Arsaces who Diodotos I eventually vanquished. Similarly, the Messenians having been freed from enslavement by the Spartans continuously on the defensive against their neighbor. Both Diodotos and the Messenians it appears invoked a warlike thundering Zeus to their protection.


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