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Offline Jochen

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #500 on: September 01, 2023, 08:59:22 am »
The spring nymph Iuturna

The coin:
Roman Republic, Aulus Albinus Sp. f, gens Postumia
AR - denarius, 3.61g, 18.13mm, 180°.
         Rome, auxiliary mint 96 BC.
Obv.: Laureate head of Apollo r., in front of it X (value mark), behind it star 
          below ROMA
Rev.: The Dioscuri, nude, chlamys over shoulders, wearing pileus, standing with
          spears l. beside their horses drinking from the Iuturna fountain, in upper l. field
          crescent moon
           in ex. A ALBINVS SF
Ref.: Crawford 335/10a; Sydenham 612; Albert 1157; BMCRR 518; FFC 1055;
         Postumia 5

The mintmaster Aulus Albinus Sp. f. was probably the son of Spurius Postumius Albinus Magnus, the Roman consul of 148 BC.

The Battle of Lake Regillus
This coin refers to the Battle of Lake Regillus of early Roman history. The lacus Regillus was located in the Tusculum area. It is probably a crater lake drained in the 19th century, today's "Pantano Secco" near Frascati.

There, at the beginning of the 5th century B.C. (mentioned in 496), the decisive battle in the first Latine war took place, whereby the tradition is strongly legendary. The Latins had formed a confederation and marched against the young Roman Republic. In the process, the Latine cavalry was led by the former Roman king Tarquinius Superbus, who had been chased out of Rome by Brutus shortly before. The Romans were led by the dictator Aulus Postumius P. f. Albus († after 493 BC), who afterwards received the honorary name (agnomen) Regillensis. It is said that when the Romans were in danger of losing the battle, Aulus Postumius Albus made a promise (exoratio) to the Dioscuri, the patron gods of the Latin cavalry, who were worshipped by the Latins, to build them their own temple. In this way he succeeded in drawing them to the Roman side. Then, by a clever maneuver, Albus dismounted his cavalry, threw it against the enemy infantry, and thus raised his own discouraged infantry. This maneuver, with the help of the Dioscuri, decided the battle and the standards were recovered. -

Livius does not know about an intervention of the Dioscuri, this is only due to the poetic imagination of Ovid. He also tells that still on the evening of the battle the Dioscuri appeared at the Iuturna fountain on the forum in Rome and watered their horses there and announced their victory to the Romans (So also Dion. Hal.).

The promised temple was inaugurated in 484 BC. However, the Romans had not succeeded in completely subduing the Latins. The peace treaty (foedus Cassianum) that was negotiated was an equal defense alliance between Rome and the Latins.

Already in the report of the Battle of Lake Regillus, history and mythology are mixed. Iuturna was worshipped as a spring nymph already in archaic times. Originally she was the nymph of a spring at river Numicius near Lavinium, but was then transferred to Rome (by evocatio?).

The poets of the Augustan period tried to insert the goddess in various ways into the image of Italic legends of gods and heroes that they created.
(1) Vergil reports in his Aeneid that she was the daughter of Daunus and the sister of Turnus, the king of the Rutulians. The similarity of the names probably gave the clue. With Turnus, who possessed a sword hardened in the Styx, Aeneas had to compete in a duel before the escaped Trojans could finally settle in Latium. Iuturna had repeatedly taken the form of a charioteer to help her brother.

(2) Another version, of which we have knowledge only through Arnobius, made her the daughter of the water god Volturnus, the wife of Ianus and mother of Fontus, the god of springs. A deeper mythological content must not be sought in these arbitrary combinations; the nature and essence of the goddess have been correctly designated by Varro in his antiqitates rerum divinarum with the words, "Iuturna inter proprios deos nymphasque ponitur (Iuturna was placed with the typical gods and nymphs)" (Wissowa)

In Virgil the love of Iuppiter for Iuturna is hinted at, by Ovid in his fastes it is painted out. Ovid reports that Iuppiter fell in love with her. In return for her giving herself to him, Juppiter gave her immortality and made her goddess over all the springs and rivers in Latium. Generally, a local water nymph was in charge of only one water source, but Iuturna's much greater power reflects her importance in Latium. Ovid further spun out the saga of Iuppiter's love for Iuturna by telling how the brittle nymph flees from the god's solicitations into her wet element, until Iuppiter asks all the other nymphs of Latium to help him and stop the fugitive. Ovid also relates that Larunda, another nymph, betrayed the secret of her love affair and was punished for it by Juppiter with muteness.

She was the only love of Juppiter who had not been angry with Juno. So she sent Iuturna to the aid of her brother Turnus to save him from imminent death. At the chariot race, Iuturna threw Metiscus from the chariot and took his form. Although Turnus recognized his sister, he nevertheless jumped from the chariot to fight with Aeneas and was killed by him. Iuturna withdrew into her water in mourning (Vergil).

Her name is said to come from iuvo (= I help), because her water had been healing and was used for sacrifice (Varro, de ling. Lat.).

The cult:
The goddess does not seem to have received a public cult, however, until the end of the First Punic War in 241 BC, when Gaius Lutatius Catulus vowed a temple to her and built it in the Field of Mars near the Saepta, where the corner of the Aqua Virgo later was (Serv. Aen.; Ovid. fastes). Probably after a renewal of this temple under Augustus in 2 BC, the Iuturnalia was celebrated as the foundation feast of the temple on January 11. where sacrifices were made to her and she was honored by the fontani, the men in charge of the fountains and aqueducts of Rome. This day was festively celebrated by all the craftsmen who needed spring water to practice their profession (Serv. Aen.).

Another festival where Iuturna was worshipped was the Volcanalia.  On August 23, the day of the Volcanalia, a solemn sacrifice was held in Rome to all the deities whose protection was invoked against the danger of fire, which was especially necessary in Rome, which was often ravaged by fires. Here, after Volcanus, the god of fire, Iuturna and the nymphs immediately found their place.

The Iuturna Spring
To the left of the Temple of Castor and Pollux is the Iuturna Spring. Frontinus mentions in his work "De Aquis Urbis Romae" that before the construction of the first aqueduct by Appius Claudius, Rome drew its water from the Tiber, from fountains and from the few springs in the city. The most important of these springs emerged directly at the Forum at the foot of the Palatine: this was the lacus Iuturnae, the Iuturna spring. Originally, the place of worship functioned as a natural sanctuary without a setting. In the first half of the 2nd century BC it was provided with a basin. The first architectural design and the consecration of the statues of the Dioscuri was probably initiated by Lucius Aemilius Paullus, to whom the Dioscuri, during their second epiphany at the spring, proclaimed his victory over the Macedonian king Perseus in the battle of Pydna (168 BC). In front of the basin a large space with niches was uncovered, On the back wall the aedicula of Iuturna rises on a high pedestal. An inscription calls this place the true place of worship for Iuturna. The altar placed in front of the aedicula was found inside.  It shows the representation of Turnus and Iuturna. There was also found a statue of Aesculapius. The current appearance corresponds to that of the time of Trajan.

Art History:
The iconography of Iuturna is largely unknown. A later altar relief from the temple of Castor and Pollux possibly depicts her. I have added the following pics:
(1) Fountain of Iuturna (lacus Iuturnae), aedicula with the image of Turnus and Iuturna. Inscription: "Marcus Barbatius Pollio, curulic aedile, renewed this sanctuary of Iuturna" (Wikipedia).
(2) The picture shows the marble fragment of a horse of the Dioscuri found in the basin of the Iuturna spring. It dates back to the 2nd century BC. It can be seen with other parts in the Temple of Romulus on the Forum (Wikiüedia)
(3) The so-called Area Sacra (Sacred District) di Largo di Torre Argentina is located on the ancient Campus Martius below the present street level and is easily visible from all sides. The excavation area includes the remains of four temples and adjacent secular buildings from the Republic period. It was known to Rome fans as the "Cat Forum" because poor old women fed the feral cats there out of charity.

The temples are numbered from A to D. The picture shows temple A from the 3rd century .C. It is assumed that it is the temple of Iuturna or the temple of Iunonis Curritis. The former was built by Quintus Lutatius Catulus after the victory of the Romans over the Falerii in 241 B.C., the latter by Quintus Lutatius Cercone after the victory of his relative Quintus Lutatius Cercone over the Falerii, also in 241 B.C. However, the most probable identification is the former.

Sextus Iulius Frontinus (b. c. 35; † 103) was a Roman senator, soldier, and writer.  In 74/75 he became governor of the province of Britain until he was succeeded by Agricola in 79/80. After serving as legatus Augusti pro praetore in what would later become Germania inferior and as proconsul of the province of Asia, he was appointed by Emperor Nerva in 97 AD as superintendent of the aqueducts in Rome (curator aquarum), a task entrusted only to persons of very high standing. He was consul three times, the last time in 100 AD together with Emperor Trajan, which was a high distinction.

His most famous work is De aquaeductu urbis Romae in two books. In it, he describes the history, use, maintenance and condition of the Roman water supply and disposal system. He considers these to be a great civilizing achievement of the Romans. However, he also recognized that the managers lacked the necessary expertise. Therefore, he systematically collected the scattered specialized knowledge for the necessary competence to lead the official business also of his successors.
Another work, the Strategematon libri dealt with the history of Greek and Roman war lists for use by officers and army commanders

(1) Titus Livius, Ab urbe condita
(2) Dionysios von Halikarnassos, Antiqutates Romanae
(3) Vergil, Aeneis
(4) Ovid, Fasti
(5) Varro, De Lingua Latina
(6) Sextus Iulius Frontinus, De aquaeductus urbis Romae
(7) Servius, Kommentar zur Aeneis
(8) Valerius Maximus, Facta et dicta memorabilia
(9) Plutarch, Aemilius Paulus
(10) Arnobius der Ältere, Adversus gentes

(1) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und 
römischen Mythologie
(2) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon
(3) Theodor Mommsen, Römische Gechichte
(4) Der Kleine Pauly
(5) Der kleine Stowasser, Lateinisch-Deutsches Schulwörterbuch

Online Sources:
(1) Wikipedia
(2) Wildwinds

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Offline Jochen

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #501 on: September 03, 2023, 01:39:34 pm »

The coin:
Roman Republic, C. Servilius C.F., gens Servilia
AR - denarius, 3.99g, 17.71mm, 180°.
        Rome, 57 BC.
         Head of Flora with floral wreath n.r., necklace with pendants, cross-shaped
          earring, the hair in jeweled knot, lituus behind.
Rev.: Two soldiers, helmeted and in short military skirts, facing each other, each
         holding a shield over the left shoulder and in the right a short sword upright; the
         shield of the right soldier is decorated with a 6-rayed knot.
         in ex: C.SERVEIL, r. upward C.F.
Ref:: Crawford 423/1; Sydenham 890; Servilia 15; Kestner 3448; BMCRR Rome 3817     

There are 2 different interpretations for the depiction on this coin.
(1) According to RRC 447f. the otherwise unknown mintmaster probably alludes with this type to the fact that he was responsible for the ancient celebration of the Floralia as Floralis primus, i.e. as flamen Floralis.
(2) The Rev. is an allusion to the ancestor M. Servilius Pulex Geminus (consul 202 BC), famous for his duel victories. Then, according to Hollstein (1993) 256-260, the lituus on the obv. may stand for his long augury, and the coin may be an allusion to the transformation of the Floralia in 173 BC by another ancestor into an annual festival. Thus, this coin would honor the entire gens Servilia, which may be significant in this period when the various families competed for influence.

The gens Servilia:
The Servilii were one of the oldest Roman patrician families and had supposedly moved to Rome from Alba Longa. Since 495 BC, the gens Servilia belonged to the consular families. In the early Republic there were the branches of the Servilii Ahalae and the Servilii Fidenates. The branches of the Prisci and Structi, which can be derived from the cognomens of the ancestor Publius Servilius Priscus Structus, are not provable. After the year 412 AD the Servilians do not appear in the Fasti for a long time. Since the first Punic War, the Servilians, with the patrician branch of the Caepiones (derived from the Ahales) and the original patrician, then because of the conversion to the plebs, probably to be able to provide tribunes of the people, plebeian branch of the Gemini again provided numerous magistrates. In addition, the lineages of the Vatiae - later known as Isaurici, and the plebeian Rulli developed.

Flora derives from Latin flos = flower. Ovid incorrectly derives the name from Greek chloros = green, but he does so because he associates Flora with the Greek nymph Chloris and then transfers the legend of the courtship of Zephyrus to her.

Since the end of the 16th century, this goddess has been used metonymically, first in poetry, then in other texts, for the flora of a particular region. Flora is contrasted with fauna, the animal world. named after the Roman goddess Fauna. It is still called bacterial flora today because bacteria used to be counted among plant life. 

According to Ovid, Flora was a nymph from the Islands of thr blessed (the Canary Islands), about whose parents nothing is known. She was responsible for the blossoming of the trees, the grain and the vines and then for the fact that these blossomed not only well and happily, but also brought the desired fruits (Laktanz). She had received this power from the wind god Zephyrus. Zephyrus discovered her one spring in a meadow, fell in love with her because of her beautiful form, took her by force and then made her his wife. Ovid tells that instead of words roses came out of her mouth. By touching with a flower she is said to have impregnated Hera so that she gave birth to Ares. Here Ovid connects the Roman Flora with the Greek legend of the nymph Chloris, whereby it is a Hellenistic invention. He transfers to her the legend of the abduction of Oreithyia by the north wind Boreas.

In fact, however, Flora was native to central Italy since ancient times. Among the Oscians she was called Fluusa and the Sabines had a month mense Flusare named after her. It belongs to the oldest layer of the Roman religion and was known long before Rome was built.

According to Varro, Flora was brought to Rome by Titus Tatius. An ancient sanctuary, probably a sacellum, was located on the Quirinal south of the porta Sanqualis. Numa Pompilius had already instituted a flamen to her and her feast was celebrated since ancient times at the end of April. The absence of a feast in the calendar may be due to the fact that in the beginning it was called feriae conceptivae (Cic. Verr.). Dancing and crude jokes were common at all festivals for fertility gods.

When they had not taken place for 66 years, there was a great drought and in the emergency the Sibylline books were consulted. Thus, in 241 BC, according to their prescription, the games were celebrated in a particularly splendid way and at the expense of the state. From here one dates their foundation. They were supervised by the plebeian aediles L. and M. Publicius Malleolus, who allegedly used for the games the money that had been paid as a penalty for the grazing of a public estate (ager publicus). The two Publicii also built a second temple at the Circus Maximus, This was renewed by Augustus and dedicated by Tiberius (Tacitus Ann.).

A euhemeristic interpretation we learn from Laktanz. There Flora is a wh**e, who bequeaths her great fortune to the Roman people, under the condition to organize games every year on her birthday. .

From 173 BC, the Floralia had a fixed date and took place annually (Ovid).  Later, the curulic aediles and, since 22 AD, the praetors took over the management of the games (Dio Cassius)

The Floralia:
The information about the course of the games is not very precise, and therefore leads to different ideas. The Floralia began on April 28 and lasted until May 3. On these days the Romans put on colorful clothes and decorated themselves with flower wreaths. The tables were covered with roses and roses were thrown from the houses to the people celebrating in the streets. Scenic plays were performed with mimes and with whores (meretrices), who played teasing tricks, especially at night by torchlight. At the request of the people, they had to undress completely and performed gladiator fights (Seneca). The lascivious character of the festival probably testifies to Greek influence (Pauly).

The last day took place in the Circus Maximus. It began with a hunt for hares and goats, which were considered symbols of fertility. The Aediles threw peas and beans at the people, thus reconciling the earth with its own fruits (Persius sat.). Under the emperors, the splendor and exuberance of the games grew with the decline of the mores - under Galba even an elephant dancing on a rope is said to have been shown! - and for this very reason they have probably survived until the latest times (Suetonius Galba).

As a deity of flowering, Flora is also a goddess of fertilization and flourishing. All cult customs point to this. And this also explains the title Flora  mater that she has in Cicero. And this also explains the part that the meretrices had in the games. Even the dropping of the clothes may symbolically suggest the dropping of the petals. Already Ovid associated the colorful dresses with colorful flowers. And how else could this custom be called priscus mox (ancient custom)?

Art History:
No independent type has been developed for Flora by Roman art. One has rather borrowed for her the type of Chloris, closely related in her nature, or that of the spring hora from the Greeks Certainly provable is only the head of Flora on our denarius of the gens Servilia.

(1) So-called Flora, fresco from the Villa di Arianna in Stabiae near Pompeii, 1st century AD. Flora (or Persephone or the allegory of spring) walking barefoot into the depths, holding a cornucopiae in her left arm, today in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples (Wikipedia).

It was only after the revival of antiquity in the Renaissance and afterwards that artists took up this theme again.

(2) Detail from the painting "Primavera," ca. 1480, by Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510), probably the most famous painting depicting Flora, now in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence (Wikimedia). 

The interpretation of the allegorical representation of this painting is still not clear. But in the figure of Flora scattering flowers, Botticelli, according to older and recently reiterated views, possibly dressed the figure of Simonetta Vespucci, who died at an early age. She bears the pale, melancholy expression typical of Botticelli, which recurs in numerous allegorical depictions and portraits.

(3) Bartolomeo Veneto (-1555), Ideal Portrait of a Courtesan as Flora, ca. 1520, Städel Museum Frankfurt am Main. Traditionally considered a portrait of Lucretia Borgia, daughter of Pope Alexander VI, the work depicts an unknown lady in the guise of the ancient goddess of spring, Flora.

(4) Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696-1770), "The Triumph of Flora" ca. 1743, now in the Museum of Fine Arts in San Francisco.  The painting depicts Flora, the goddess of flowers and spring, and her seasonal triumph as she arrives on earth in summer.  She sits in a golden chariot pulled by putti and is surrounded by dancing nymphs. On the left, Ajax (in armor) and Narcissus(?) offer flowers to the goddess.

(1) Ovid, Fasti
(2) Varro, Antiquitates
(3) Cicero, Verres
(4) Sueton, Galba
(5) Dio Cassius, Roman history
(6) Aulus Persius Flaccus, Saties 
(7) Tacitus, Annales

(1) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Literatur (online too)
(2) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon, 1770 Leipzig
(3) Der Kleine Pauly
(4) W. Hollstein, Die stadtrömische Münzprägung der Jahre 78-50 v. Chr. zwischen politischer Aktualität und  Familienthematik (1993) 256-260

Online Sources:
(1) Wikipedia
(2) Wikimedia
(4) Roman Republic Coinage online (RRC)

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #502 on: October 31, 2023, 02:26:03 pm »
The Egyptian Libye

The coin:
Kyrenaica, Kyrene, Ptolemy III, 284-247 BC.
AE 22, 6.09g, 21.76mm, 330°.
Av: Head of Ptolemy, draped and diademed, r.
Rv.: ΠTOΛEMAIOV BAΣIΛEΩΣ head of Libye with taenia, r., hair in 3 long curls falling to neck, under chin double cornucopia.
Ref: Svoronos 866; BMC 13-14; Weber (DE) 4479; Milan 7555
VF, brown patina

Since all coins of this type look very similar, it is very difficult to determine the exact Ptolemy. So it could be Ptolemy II here.

Libye (Latin Libya) was an autochthonous woman or an Egyptian king's daughter. The ancient genealogists added her to the family tree starting from Zeus and Io, as it was regularly done with deities of foreign peoples.  Apollodorus constructed a complicated family tree: there she was the daughter of Epaphos and Memphis, the daughter of Neilos, and thus a granddaughter of Io and Zeus. From Apollodor we learn that she was the mother of Belos, the father of Aigyptos and Danaos and thus a great-ancestor of Perseus.

Herodotus tells us that she married Poseidon, a local Libyan god, and by him became the mother of the twins Belos and Agenor. At her marriage she had received a golden basket from Hephaistos, which she later gave to Telephassa, the mother of Europa. Besides the main genealogy there are a number of variants. For example, Pliny makes her the mother of Atlas without specifying a father, and according to some she is said to have been the mother of Prometheus. As her parents also Okeanos and Pompholyge are mentioned and Asia was her sister (Andron. Halikarnass.). Hygin lists among the sons of Hermes also the daughter Libys from Libye. This fits to Pausanias, who in a note counts Hermes to the Libyan gods.

Apollonios Rhodos tells in his Argonaut saga that the Argonauts with their ship "Argo" were thrown by storms into the Syrtis to Libya, where they were stranded on the shores of the Tritonian Sea. Desperately they searched for a way out. Then 3 ghostly divine women appeared to Jason, daughters of Libya, who advised him to repay their mother, who had borne them in her own body for so long, for this kindness in kind. The Argonauts took this on their ship, put it on their shoulder, carried it through the burning desert and thus were saved (Pindar).

A marble relief from Kyrene, now in the British Museum, shows Libye crowning Kyrene after a lion fight. Here Libye is depicted with the same hairstyle as on our coin. The atteches pic shoes the Roman marble relief from Kyrene (120-140 AD). From: Emergency - Red List of Endangered Cultural Properties of Libya, ICOM

The nymph Kyrene was the daughter of the Lapith king Hypeseus and Creusa. She was an avid hunter. During a fight with a lion, Apollo saw her and fell in love with her. He abducted her to Libya, where Libye offered her asylum. The city of Kyrene, newly built by Greek settlers from Thera on Santorini, was named after her.

Otherwise, her characteristic feature is usually the elephant skin on her head with trunk and tusks, as shown on the next coin:

2nd coin:
Galerius as Caesar, 293-305, Augustus 305-311
AE - Follis (AE 2), 11.36g, 28.8mm, 0°.
        Carthage 4th Offizin, ca. 298 AD.
         Laureate head r.
         Africa standing frontally, head l., in long dress,  with elephant skin headdress,  
         holding r. standard and l. elephant tooth; left at her feet lion with captured bull.
         in the left field: I (for the Iovian family)
         in ex. PK Delta
Ref.: RIC VI, Carthago 26(b); C. 28

With the lion and the bull, this coin also refers to the animal wealth of Africa.

Belos, the son of Libye, was king of Egypt according to Greek mythology. With Anchinoe, the daughter of the river god Neilos (Nile), he begat the twins Aigyptos and Danaos. He is also considered the mythical founder of Babylon. His name is the Hellenized form for Ba'al and corresponds to the Hebrew Baal of the Old Testament. Thus it is not a proper name, but rather a title (= "lord").

Agenor, the other son of Libye, was king of Phoenician Tyros. With Telephassa he begat Europa, Kadmos, Phoinix, Kilix, Thasos and Phineus. When Zeus kidnapped Europa, he sent his sons after him, but they never returned. Since Telephassa was with her sons, he also lost his wife.

It is remarkable that not many details are told about Libye herself. This is due to the fact that she is not a genuinely Greek figure and that she was only later integrated into Greek mythology.

From Libye comes the name of present-day Libya. But at the beginning the Greek settlers only called the region west of the Nile Delta Libye, after the tribe of the African Libu (ancient Egyptian rbw, therefore also Rebu), who lived in the area of the Kyrenaika. Already in the oldest mention, in the Epinikion (victory song) for the Kyrenaian Telesikrates of Olympia, Libye appeared as an eponym (Pindar, 9th Pythian Ode).

With the expansion of the Greek settlement areas, the term Libye was also shifted further west by the Ionian geographers, until it not only encompassed North Africa west of the Nile, but became the name for all of Africa. Strabo knew the 3 continents Europe, Asia and Libye.

The today's name Africa was used first by Scipio Africanus (235 B.C.-183 B.C.), the victor over Carthage, and designated at first only the Roman province in today's Tunisia around Carthage. This name is derived from the Latin Afer (plural Afri) meaning "Africans, Punic" and may be derived from a native tribe called "cave dwellers". This would fit Herodotus, who wrote that the North African people of the Garamantes lived in caves. The Greeks called an African people who lived in caves Troglodytes.

Some history:
Early on, the ancient Egyptians had contacts with the Libyans. Toward the end of the Old Kingdom, the "light-skinned Libyans," who corresponded to today's Berbers, advanced along the Nile Valley. In the New Kingdom, under their prince Mereye, there was a great Libyan invasion by the Libu and the Meshevesh, who had allied themselves with the Sea Peoples, which led to heavy defensive fighting by the Egyptians under Ramses III, who were victorious (depictions in Medinet Habu and in the Harris papyrus). Some tribes were settled in Egypt. They assimilated and were popular as mercenaries. In 950 B.C. even a Libyan chieftain became Sheshonk I, king of Egypt and founder of the 22nd dynasty.

(1) Apollodor, Bibliotheke
(2) Herodot, Historien
(3) Apollonios Rhodos, Argonautika
(4) Pindar, Olympia
(5) Strabo, Geographika

(1) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches Mythologisches Lexikon
(2) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon  der griechischen und 
       römischen Mythologie
(3) Robert von Ranke-Graves, Griechische Mythologie
(4) Karl  Kerenyi, Die Mythologie der Griechen
(5) Der Kleine Pauly

Online Sources:
(1) Wikipedia

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Offline Jochen

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #503 on: November 09, 2023, 05:34:22 am »
The struggle for the tripod

I would have loved to have this coin. But then the price exploded and rose to CHF 1500 + fee. So I was out of the running. Nevertheless, I would like to put it at the beginning of this article.

The coin:
Lakonia, Gytheion, Geta as Caesar, 197-209
AE 23, 4.19g, 240°
         Bust, draped and cuirassed, bareheaded, n. r.
Rev: ΓΥΘ - Ε - ΑΤ - ΩΝ
        Herakles and Apollo fighting for the tripod
Ref.: from a Swedish collection; unpublished in the standard references
Nomos AG, Obolos 29, lot 463, 8.10.23

This coin refers to the founding myth of Gytheion, according to which Herakles and Apollo were reconciled after the struggle for the Tripod and founded the city together. According to Pausanias (3.21.8), the statues of Apollo and Herakles stood on the agora of Gytheion.

The struggle for the Tripod:
The story of the struggle for the Tripod actually begins with the murder of Iphitos. Iphitos, the son of King Eurytos and Antiope of Oichalia, was a well-meaning and helpful young man who had also been on the Argonaut voyage. Eurytus himself was the greatest known archer. It is even said that Herakles himself was his pupil (Apoll. Myth.). One day, when Herakles was courting his daughter Iole, Eurytus challenged him to a shooting contest, in which Herakles won. But Eurytus refused to hand Iole over to Heracles, even though Iphitus tried to persuade him.

When the cattle (or mares) were stolen from Eurytus shortly afterwards by Autolykos, it was believed that Herakles had done it out of revenge. But Iphitos defended him and even asked him to help him find the cattle. Herakles agreed and invited him to his inn at Tiryns as a guest. But then he fell into a rage again. He led Iphitos onto a wall so that he could keep a better lookout for the cattle and threw him off the wall to his death (Apollodoros).

When he came to his senses, he went to Delphi to ask the oracle how he could atone for this murder. But as a murderer, he was not allowed to enter the oracle itself. So he flew into a rage, grabbed the tripod on which the Pythia was sitting and hurried away with it. Apollo tried to prevent this, caught up with him and a fight broke out between the god and the Heros. Athena stood by Herakles, Artemis by Apollo. Zeus finally intervened to end the fight. He hurled a thunderbolt between the two, so that they parted and made peace. Afterwards, they are said to have founded the city of Gytheion together.

Nevertheless, Herakles could not avoid paying penance for the murder of his guest. Hermes sold him to Omphale on the slave market for 3 talents and he had to serve her as a slave for 3 years. The money was used to pay the children (or brothers) of Iphitos. But he had not forgotten the humiliation at the hands of Eurytus. Later he stormed Oichalia, killed Eurytus and his remaining sons and robbed Iole to marry her to his son Hyllos.

To understand the background to the struggle for the Tripod, we need to delve deeper into ancient cultural history. Apparently the Dorians (Herakles) tried to take possession of the Delphic shrine. The intervention of Zeus represents the decision that Apollo was allowed to keep his sanctuary, provided he served the Dorian interests as patron of the Dymanians (Ranke-Graves). The Dymanians belonged to the Dorian League. In the Classical Age, the Spartans, who were Dorians and called themselves "Sons of Heracles", controlled the Oracle of Delphi. In the peace treaty of Nicias in 421 BC, which brought the Peloponnesian War to a temporary end, the Athenian attempt to maintain Phocian sovereignty over Delphi was thwarted. This treaty was the prime example of a "rotten peace" because it did not eliminate the causes of the conflict and, in particular, took insufficient account of the interests of the Spartan allies.

In the 4th century, the dispute broke out again and the Phocians took possession of Delphi. They plundered its treasures in order to equip their army. However, they were defeated and all their cities destroyed. Plutarch, who was himself a Delphic priest, writes that Herakles only seized the Tripod in "friendly competition" with Apollo. Plutarch probably intended to settle the dispute between Apollo, the Phocian, and Herakles, the Dorian, out of "religious decency" (Ranke-Graves).

Art History:
I have added "Apollo and Herakles fighting over the Tripod", Attic red-figure krater, 490-460 BC,  attributed to Myson, Early Classical period, now in the British Museum London ( This picture looks like a template for our coin.

(1) Homer, Odyssee
(2) Apollodor, Bibliotheke
(3) Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca historica
(4) Thukydides, Geschichte des Peloponnesischen  Krieges
(5) Plutarch, Dialoge über das E zu Delphi  

(1) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologiches Lexikon Leipzig 1770
(auch  online)
(2) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und
römischen Mythologie (auch online)
(3) Karl  Kerenyi, Die Mythologie der Griechen
(4) Robert von Ranke-Graves, Griechische Mythologie
(5) Der Kleine Pauly

Online Sources:
(1) Wikipedia

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