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Les Rois de Syrie by Babelon


Does anyone have (and is able to read) Babelon's Les Rois de Syrie?

In Eastern Seleucid Mints, Newell says "With regard to the Medusa type, Babelon favors [ loc cit, Introd., p. xxxiii] Visconti's theory that Medusa was adopted by Seleucis as a type for the coin issues of Antioch because of the legendary association of the hero Perseus and with Mount Silpius in that city."

I would like to know Visconti's theory, and what the association was.

    "This type was taken by Eckhel (Doctr. Num. III, p. 213) to be the winged head of Seleucus.  Mionnet and others after him have fallen into the same error, despite the fact that Visconti (Iconogr. grecque II, pp. 281-2) had challenged and corrected it, explaining the gorgon's head in a way that, though generally disregarded, seems to me very convincing.  According to V., this Medusa head refers to the actual foundation of Antioch:  'On a hill within the boundaries of the city,' he wrote, 'which was called Mount Silpius, there was an ancient altar which was said to have been put up by Perseus in honor of his father Jupiter, when the hero was on his way home from his expedition against the Gorgons.  Seleucus erected a temple to Boeotian Jupiter, who was venerated by the Macedonians, at the same place where Perseus, considered a demi-god in Greece, had placed a monument  attesting his passage and had erected a temple (Malalas, Chronogr., p. 199 Bonn).  I believe that these coins (with the Medusa head type) refer to this tradition and were struck in Antioch.'
        "The fable of Perseus and Andromeda was also set on the Syrian coast: it was at Joppa that  P. rescued A. by killing the sea monster that was about to devour her.  Perseus and Medusa had roles to play in the foundation myths of Antioch and of other cities in Lycaonia, Isauria, and Cilicia, particularly Iconium and Tarsus.  Persia itself derived its name from Perseus who was alleged to have invented the fire cult and whose descendants, according to a tradition reported by Malalas (Chronogr., p. 39), ruled at Babylon for many years.  Few myths, then, were as popular in Syria and Cilicia as that of Perseus and Medusa, and this fact suffices to explain the appearance of the gorgon's head on the coins of Seleucus Nicator."


Thank you so much for your reply!

I will attempt to track town Visconti's 1823 (!!!) book.  (There is a copy in the ANS.)

I have translations of the Perseus section of the Chronicle of Malalas and the Chronicle of Nikiu.  Both mention Perseus' adventures in Tarsos and Iconium -- but not Antioch/Syria.

The Catholic Encyclopedia says [ ] that Antioch was "founded in 300 B. C. by Seleucus I (Nicator)".   I must admit that I am confused by Babelon's statement that "Perseus and Medusa had roles to play in the foundation myths of Antioch."

I've been trying to track down Perseus legends.  The only reference to Antioch that I have found (other than Babelon's statement) is from the Parastaseis Syntomoi Chronikai which says that Emperor Constantius brought statues of Perseus and Andromeda to Constaninople from Iconium after the completion of the church of Antioch.  I'm very curious to discover which ancient author recorded the Perseus monument on Mount Silpius.

   Judging from Babelon's text, the source is Malalas p. 199 Bonn, who claims that Seleucus I built a temple on Mount Silpius (thereby, I presume, determining the location of Antioch) near where an ancient altar recorded the visit by Perseus returning from slaying Medusa.

I cannot read Greek.  But... I have discovered an English translation of the Chronicle of Malalas!

Jeffreys, E., et al The Chronicle of John Malalas: A Translation: Australian Association for Byzantine Studies (Byzantina Australiensia 4, Melborne, 1986, reprinted 2004) Aus$55.


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