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The Love of Ares and Aphrodite

Amasea in Pontus,  Marcus Aurelius,
Æ32 (31-32 mm / 19.02 g), 163–164 AD.,
Obv.: [ΑΥΤ] ΚΑΙΣ Μ ΑΥΡ ΑΝ - [ΤΩΝΙΝΟΣ ΣΕΒ] , laureate-headed bust of Marcus Aurelius wearing cuirass and paludamentum, r.
Rev.: [ΑΔΡ] ΑΜΑΣ ΝΕ-ΩΚ Κ ΜΗΤ Κ] ΠΡΩ ΠΟΝ / [Ε]Τ [ΡΞΕ] (year 165 of the era of Amasea = 163-4 AD.) , to l., Ares standing, facing, head, r., wearing military dress, holding spear, resting hand on shield; to r., nude Aphrodite standing, l., covering her breasts with r. hand and pudenda with l. hand.
RPC online temporary № 5288 (10 specimens listed) ; Waddington, Rec. Gen p. 36, 18 ; BMC 1929-10-13-394 .

Ares embodied the very essence of war, earning him a reputation as a violent God, an immortal of action and determination. He was the son of Zeus and Hera, the King and Queen of the Olympic Gods, who weren't too keen on their (legimite for a change) son. Ares was accompanied into battle by his uncle Hades (the Lord of the Underworld), his sister Eris (Goddess of Discord), her son Strife and his two sons Phobus and Deimos (panic and fear). Ares rode into battle on the side of the Trojans with his horses, Flame and Terror, pulling his war chariot. He swooped down to help Aphrodite defend her son Aineias and saved him from sure death at the hands of the Achaians. While Ares protected Aineias with his shield, Aphrodite made her escape to Mount Olympus to tend her wounds.
Love Life: Ares never married but had an ongoing affair with Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love. They had three children - Phobus, Deimos and Eros (Cupid).

Ares and Aphrodite

But the minstrel struck the chords in prelude to his sweet lay and sang of the love of Ares and Aphrodite of the fair crown, how first they lay together in the house of Hephaestus secretly; and Ares gave her many gifts, and shamed the bed of the lord Hephaestus. But straightway one came to him with tidings, even Helius, who had marked them as they lay together in love. And when Hephaestus heard the grievous tale, he went his way to his smithy, pondering evil in the deep of his heart, and set on the anvil block the great anvil and forged bonds which might not be broken or loosed, that the lovers might bide fast where they were. But when he had fashioned the snare in his wrath against Ares, he went to his chamber where lay his bed, and everywhere round about the bed-posts he spread the bonds, and many too were hung from above, from the roof-beams, fine as spiders' webs, so that no one even of the blessed gods could see them, so exceeding craftily were they fashioned. But when he had spread all his snare about the couch, he made as though he would go to Lemnos, that well-built citadel, which is in his eyes far the dearest of all lands. And no blind watch did Ares of the golden rein keep, when he saw Hephaestus, famed for his handicraft, departing, but he went his way to the house of famous Hephaestus, eager for the love of Cytherea of the fair crown. Now she had but newly come from the presence of her father, the mighty son of Cronos, and had sat her down. And Ares came into the house and clasped her hand and spoke and addressed her:

Come, love, let us to bed and take our joy, couched together. For Hephaestus is no longer here in the land, but has now gone, I ween, to Lemnos, to visit the Sintians of savage speech.

So he spoke, and a welcome thing it seemed to her to lie with him. So they two went to the couch, and lay them down to sleep, and about them clung the cunning bonds of the wise Hephaestus, nor could they in any wise stir their limbs or raise them up. Then at length they learned that there was no more escaping. And near to them came the famous god of the two strong arms, having turned back before he reached the land of Lemnos; for Helius had kept watch for him and had brought him word. So he went to his house with a heavy heart, and stood at the gateway, and fierce anger seized him. And terribly he cried out and called to all the gods:

Father Zeus, and ye other blessed gods that are forever, come hither that ye may see a laughable matter and a monstrous, even how Aphrodite, daughter of Zeus, scorns me for that I am lame and loves destructive Ares because he is comely and strong of limb, whereas I was born misshapen. Yet for this is none other to blame but my two parents--would they had never begotten me! But ye shall see where these two have gone up into my bed and sleep together in love; and I am troubled at the sight. Yet, methinks, they will not wish to lie longer thus, no, not for a moment, how loving soever they are. Soon shall both lose their desire to sleep; but the snare and the bonds shall hold them until her father pays back to me all the gifts of wooing that I gave him for the sake of his shameless girl; for his daughter is fair but bridles not her passion.

So he spoke and the gods gathered to the house of the brazen floor. Poseidon came, the earth-enfolder, and the helper Hermes came, and the lord Apollo, the archer god. Now the goddesses abode for shame each in her own house, but the gods, the givers of good things, stood in the gateway; and unquenchable laughter arose among the blessed gods as they saw the craft of wise Hephaestus. And thus would one speak, with a glance at his neighbor:

Ill deeds thrive not. The slow catches the swift; even as now Hephaestus, slow though he is, has out-stripped Ares for all that he is the swiftest of the gods who hold Olympus. Lame though he is, he has caught him by craft, wherefore Ares owes the fine of the adulterer.

Thus they spoke to one another. But to Hermes the lord Apollo, son of Zeus, said:

Hermes, son of Zeus, messenger, giver of good things, wouldst thou in sooth be willing, even though ensnared with strong bonds, to lie on a couch by the side of golden Aphrodite?

Then the messenger, Argeiphontes, answered him:�Would that this might befall, lord Apollo, thou archer god-- that thrice as many bonds inextricable might clasp me about and ye gods, aye, and all the goddesses too might be looking on, but that I might sleep by the side of golden Aphrodite.�

So he spoke and laughter arose among the immortal gods. Yet Poseidon laughed not, but ever besought Hephaestus, the famous craftsman, to set Ares free; and he spoke, and addressed him with winged words:

Loose him, and I promise, as thou biddest me, that he shall himself pay thee all that is right in the presence of the immortal gods.

Then the famous god of the two strong arms answered him: �Ask not this of me, Poseidon, thou earth-enfolder. A sorry thing to be sure of is the surety for a sorry knave. How could I put thee in bonds among the immortal gods, if Ares should avoid both the debt and the bonds and depart?

Then again Poseidon, the earth-shaker, answered him: �Hephaestus, even if Ares shall avoid the debt and flee away, I will myself pay thee this.�

Then the famous god of the two strong arms answered him: It may not be that I should say thee nay, nor were it seemly.

So saying the mighty Hephaestus loosed the bonds and the two, when they were freed from that bond so strong, sprang up straightway. And Ares departed to Thrace, but she, the laughter-loving Aphrodite, went to Cyprus, to Paphos, where is her demesne and fragrant altar. There the Graces bathed her and anointed her with immortal oil, such as gleams upon the gods that are forever. And they clothed her in lovely raiment, a wonder to behold.

~Homer's Odysessy~

And in plain english:

Aphrodite was married to Hephaestus, the God of the Forge. Hephaestus was lame and ugly, and Aphrodite was not very happy with the marriage. She had many lovers, but her favourite was Ares.

Ares and Aphrodite were dallying together when their interlude was rudely interrupted. You see, the god of the sun, Helios, from whom little, if anything, could be kept secret, spied the pair in enjoying each other one day. Helios promptly reported the incident to Hephaestus, who was understandably angry. Hephaestus contrived to catch the couple "in the act", and so he fashioned a net to snare the illicit lovers. At the appropriate time, this net was sprung, and trapped Ares and Aphrodite locked in very private embrace.

But Hephaestus was not yet satisfied with his revenge - he invited the olympian gods and goddesses to view the unfortunate pair. For the sake of modesty, the goddesses demurred, but the male gods went and witnessed the sight. Some commented on the beauty of Aphrodite, others remarked that they would eagerly trade places with Ares, and they all laughed.

Well, except for Ares, who was out of sorts, and Aphrodite, who, if goddesses can blush like maidens, surely did so.

- information from Mythography

"not even the God of War withstands him; for we hear, not of Love caught by Ares, but of Ares caught by Love--of Aphrodite. The captor is stronger than the caught; and as he controls what is braver than any other, he must be bravest of all."


Hi Arminius!

A nice and interesting article! I have seen the coin too and I'm happy that you got it!

Best regards

The fourth labor of Heracles, the Erymanthian Boar

For the fourth labor, Eurystheus ordered Heracles / Hercules to bring him the Erymanthian boar alive. Now, a boar is a huge, wild pig with a bad temper, and tusks growing out of its mouth. This one was called the Erymanthian boar, because it lived on a mountain called Erymanthus. Every day the boar would come crashing down from his lair on the mountain, attacking men and animals all over the countryside, gouging them with its tusks, and destroying everything in its path.
On his way to hunt the boar, Hercules stopped to visit his friend Pholus, who was a centaur and lived in a cave near Mount Erymanthus. Everyone knows that centaur is a human from his head to his waist, and a horse for the rest of his body and his legs. Hercules was hungry and thirsty, so the kindly centaur cooked Hercules some meat in the fireplace, while he himself ate his meat raw.
When Hercules asked for wine, Pholus said that he was afraid to open the wine jar, because it belonged to all the centaurs in common. But Hercules said not to worry, and opened it himself. Soon afterwards, the rest of the centaurs smelled the wine and came to Pholus's cave. They were angry that someone was drinking all of their wine. The first two who dared to enter were armed with rocks and fir trees. Hercules grabbed burning sticks from the fireplace and threw them at the centaurs, then went after them with his club. He shot arrows at the rest of them and chased after them for about twenty miles. The rest of the centaurs fled in different directions. One of the centaurs, Chiron, received a wound that no amount of medicine would heal...but what happened to Chiron is another story.
While Hercules was gone, Pholus pulled an arrow from the body of one of the dead centaurs. He wondered that so little a thing could kill such a big creature. Suddenly, the arrow slipped from his hand. It fell onto his foot and killed him on the spot. So when Hercules returned, he found Pholus dead. He buried his centaur friend, and proceeded to hunt the boar.
It wasn't too hard for Hercules to find the boar. He could hear the beast snorting and stomping as it rooted around for something to eat. Hercules chased the boar round and round the mountain, shouting as loud as he could. The boar, frightened and out of breath, hid in a thicket. Hercules poked his spear into the thicket and drove the exhausted animal into a deep patch of snow.
Then he trapped the boar in a net, and carried it all the way to Mycenae. Eurystheus, again amazed and frightened by the hero's powers, hid in his partly buried bronze jar.
( from )

Sebastopolis-Heracleopolis in Pontus, Julia Domna,
Æ29 (27-29 mm / 10.47 g), 205-206 AD.,
Obv.: IOYΛIA - ΔOMNA [AV] , draped bust right.
Rev.: CЄBACTOΠ {HP}AK-ΛЄOΠO ЄT / HC (year 208 of the ity era = 205-206 AD.), Herakles standing right, nude but for lion's skin billowing out behind from his shoulders, holding Erymanthian Boar in his arms, about to cast it down on Eurystheus who is cowering in a bronze jar partly buried.
BMC 13.38, 1 ; Sear GIC 2343 .

About a similar coin from Nicaea:  ( The canonical representation of the fourth labor of Heracles, the capture of the Erymanthean Boar, in sculpture, painting, and coins shows the hero carrying his prize "piggy-back" over his shoulder, sometimes in the act of surprising Eurystheos with it, who hides in a pithos in fright. The present, apparently unpublished piece, (BITHYNIA, Nicaea. Marcus Aurelius) has the hero, labeled "The Founder of the Nicaeans," carrying the beast in front of him. There seems to be only one numismatic parallel for this depiction: a medallion of Commodus (Gnecchi 34; Stoll 103), where Heracles is seen in a similar stance, but with the boar on a rock in front of him and the Nemean Lion behind. On this medallion the scene could be interpreted to show Heracles carrying the boar to the rock. The striking similarity of these two unrelated numismatic specimens implies that this particular scene was taken from a sculptural group or painting showing this version of the legend.

Zeus Kasios

Syria, Seleukia and Pieria, Trajan AD 98-117
AE 23, 12.65g
        Head, laureate, r.
       Perspective view of the tetrastyle temple of Zeus Kasios with canopy-like roof; on
       the roof eagle, within cult-stone.
       in the r. field D (= year 4)
       in ex. ZEVC / KACIOC (Z mirrored)
BMC 274, 39; SNG München vgl. 990ff. (dort ohne D); Price - Trell 212, fig. 445; Sear GIC 1081

Seleukeia was founded together with Antiocheia ad Orontes as its harbour 300 BC by Seleukos I. The history of Seleukeia was connected closely to that of Antiocheia, the capital of Syria. Due to the boom years in Roman times Seleukeia was a wealthy city demonstrated not least by its large coinage. Main deity was Zeus worshipped as Zeus Keraunos and Zeus Kasios. The depiction on this coin shows that Kasios was worshipped as Sacred Stone similar to that of Elagabal in Emesa. The canopy-like roof seems to be an advice that here we have a shrine for a procession. Zeus Kasios was worshipped too in Pelusium.

Some authors say that Kasios has been a particular man to whom Zeus once came as guest and whom he could convince to erect a temple and to pay divine honour to him. In turn Zeus got his name as cognomen (Lactans. Instit. divin. lib. I. c.22 §23).
Other authors however derived this name from Kasio, one of the Cycladic islands, or from Kasos, son of Klitomachos, so that there is nothing for sure. His usual shape was a rock or a steep mountain as we can see on several coins. On one of them we see a tetrastyle temple with a rock in the midth, an eagle on the roof and the inscription ZEVS KASIOS (Hederich).

There is no other Olympic god than Zeus where the idg. ethymology and its meaning - and so already the pre-mediterranean, from idg. religions derived origin and character attributes - is so doubtless. The basic meaning is something like 'who flashs up bright', 'who shines' or 'sheet lightning'. In Mycaenian time we have two phases in the development of the Zeus idea:
1) the 'conflict of two religious concepts' by assimilation of the idg.-greek Zeus, i.e. the patriarchal Zeus Pater and Zeus Athanatos with the quite heterogenous because to the matriarchal context belonging 'Cretic' Zeus Kretagenes and Megistos Kouros, i.e. the mediterranean type of the 'divine child'.
2) the genealogic adaptation of the Zeus mythos by its incorporation in succession and 'Kingdom in Heaven' mythologems of Asia Minor in the 2nd millenium BC. Through this Zeus became the 'son' of the ungreek pair of the gods Kronos-Rhea and so the first of the Kronids. The conflict between Zeus and Kronos, the battle of Zeus against the Titans, Typhos and others are crisises on the way to the Olympic Megistos Theos, reflectance of the religious conflict with mediterranean High-god, heaven, weather and mountain deities. So even Olympios - the famous name of  Zeus - is ungreek, and so the mythologem of the mountains as domicile of the families of gods. The famous Homeric epikleisis of Zeus nephelegereta (= 'Gatherer of Clouds') is Ugaritic and originally an epitheton of Baal! The religious displacements sometimes could be located exactly geographically, so f.e. in the case of the Northern Syrian Zaphon-Kasion mountain, the arena of the Typhon myth of the 2nd. millenium BC.

Kasion is the repitition of probably an Aramaeic quasju(n) ('peak of a mountain, end of a mountain, promontory'), which in turn has replaced at end of the 2nd. millenium BC a Canaanitic-Phoinician sapon: It is the name of the highest mountain (1770m) in Northern Syria (today gebel el-aqrac), seat of Baal Zaphon and his cult. It was the holy mountain of the Canaanits and is mentioned in the Bible (f.e. Jesaja 14 or psalm 48). It is discussed too wether this mountain is identical with Zion, the holy mountain of the Israelits. Seafaring devotees of this god have settled his cult probably before this mountain was renamed as Kasion on a 13m high sand-hill at the west-end of the Sirbonic sea (today sabhat el-bardawil) 15km east of Pelusion (today tell el-farama). This hill was named Zaphon too and because of its connections to the Syrian mountain then named Kasion when this mountain changed its name. Both places got in Hellenestic times - parallel to the displacement of Baal Zaphon by Zeus Kasion - the name Kasios mountain and in Roman times mons Casius. On it stood the temple of Zeus Kasios and here Pompejus Magnus was buried (Plin. H. N. lib. V. c. 12 & Strabo lib. XVI p. 760). This mountain until today is hold sacred by the Nusairians (Alawites).

The myth of Typhon:
This mountain plays a role in the myth of Typhon too. Typhon was a phantastic mixed creature with hundred dragon heads of old-greek mythology - influenced by the Orient - all with a terrible voice and snake-legs, child of Tartaros with Gaia, who wanted to have him as ruler of the world against Zeus after the fall of the Titans. In a terrific world burning caused by the thunderbolts of Zeus the heads of the rebel burned up, he was overthrown into the Tartaros. In the clamour of storms (Typhon was father of the bad winds) and in the eruptions of vulcanos the god became manifest. With Echidna he has created other monsters: Orthos, Kerberos, Hydra, Chimaira and others. The description of the Battle of Titans by Hesiod is topped by a 'cyclic' theogonia which is reported by Apollodor: Here the gods turned to animals in fear of Typhon and fled to Egypt, and Typhon in an infight at the mountain Kasion snatched from Zeus his sickle, cut his hand and foot tendons and dragged him to the Kerykaion cave in Cilicia; Hermes and Aigipan outsmarted his female guard, the dragon Delphyne, and so Zeus after a bloody struggle was winner and buried Typhon under the Aetna volcano.

For the connection with the stone cult I refer to the contribution 'Baetyl - the sacred stone' in this thread

Benjamin Hedrich
Der kleine Pauly

Best regards

Zeus Kataibates

And because we are at Zeus here another epikleisis:

Syria, Cyrrhestica, Cyrrhus, Marcus Aurelius SNG UK 660
Marcus Aurelius AD 161-180
AE 23, 12.9g
Bust, laureate, r.
Zeus Kataibates, in himation, std l. on rocks, resting r. arm on knee, holding
thunderbolt in r. hand and leaning with l. hand on sceptre; l. in front of him eagle r.
SNG UK 1301, 660
extremely rare, with attractive red earthen patina

Kataibates (= descending) was an epikleisis of Zeus as the god of lightning (cf. Aischyl. Prom. 358), to whom places hit by lightning (called elusia, enelausia, lat. putealia, bidentalia) were consecrated. These places were surrounded by fences ore other enclosures and hold as sacred. Cults for Zeus Kataibates, the 'Descender', were found in Athens, Olympia (Paus. 5, 14, 9), on several Aegean islands, in Tarentos and in Kyrrhos in Syria.

Kataibates was a name for some other deities too:
1) for Acheron, the Underworld river, because the shadows on their way to the
    Underworld had to descend to him.
2) for Apollo, who was invoked under this name if he should assure a happy return.
3) and for Hermes in Athens and Rhodos as companion of the shadows on their way to
    the Underworld.

BTW Demetrios Poliorketes too was called Kataibates in Athens (where he climbed down from his charriot).

Epikleisis = a name under which a god was invoked.

Best regards


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