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Jochen
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« Reply #25 on: January 16, 2006, 02:17:58 pm »

Ma-Enyo - the archaic War Goddess

I never had heard of Ma-Enyo before. That's the reason for this coin. I wanted to go into that matter. You see the Greek mythology is 'a bottomless pit'. It doesn't run out by the well-known twelve Olympic gods which I could show in this thread as I hope.

Septimius Severus AD 193-211
AE 29, struck in the year 172 of Komana Pontica = AD 205/6
obv AY KL CEP CEOYHROC
       bust , draped and cuirassed, laureate, r.
rev. IEROKAICA KOMANE
       tetrastyle temple, with trigonal pediment, in the temple statue of Ma-Enyo on pedestal,  standing facing, head r., holding wreath in raised l. hand
       ET BOP in ex.
BMC 3; Sear GIC 2156
F+

This is a coin of Komana Pontica, as distinct from the Cappadocian Komana, by which it was founded. It was laying at the river Iris and was named Hierocaesarea by the Romans.

1. Mythology:
Enyo was one of the three Graiai, the Gray Sisters, daughters of Phorkys and his wife Keto. They were born already with white-grey hair. They were called Phorcyades like their sisters, the Moires, which were grey, old goddesses too. Hesiod knew only two of them: Pemphredo with the beautiful garment, and Enyo with the saffron garment. He pointed out their lovely faces. Enyo is a warlike name, she was the destroyer of cities. Pemphredo is meaning the wasp. Later Deino, the dreadful, was added. It is said they have had tgether only one eye and only one tooth. Where they lived no sun and no moon was shining. It would be the cave at the entrance to the land of the Gorgones and it closely was guarded by them. But Perseus could outsmart them: He stole them their sole eye and so forced them to give away the way to the Gorgo Medusa which he wants to kill.
 
2. Background:
Ma, originally, was an appelative babble word for the pre-hellenic Earth and Mother Goddess, used already in the Mycenic religion. In Asia Minor Ma namely is known from Phrygia, Lydia and Caria. In the Cappadokian and the Pontic Komana she had an independent cult with criteria of a city goddess and mistress of the hetaires. She has had a temple state with six thousand(!) hierodules (= temple slaves). In spite of superimposing her old-anatolic habitus in many cases, exchanging with figures like Kybele, Hipta and Artemis Anaitis and evolving of exstatic rites Ma saved her genuine martialic features. In the form of Enyo she represented an opposite pole to the double Ares-Enyalios. Since Sulla and Catilina she was warshipped by the Romans due to her victory bringing power and equated with Bellona. Therefore the Amazones from Asia minor were regarded as battlesome death daemons of the Pontic-Anatolic Ma-Artemis-Anaitis.

Ares himself always was the ferocious war god, who was known for killing only for the sake of killing. The Greek in fact despised him which is seen clearly by Homer. But this is another story...

Sources:
Der kleine Pauly 
Kerenyi, Griechische Göttersagen

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« Reply #26 on: January 16, 2006, 04:33:48 pm »

Ares - the bloodthirsty killer

In my contribution to Ma-Enyo there already was an advice on Ares. Therefore this new contribution is attached meaningful to the first. I think it is important to remind that Ares nothing have to deal with Mars. Generally the popular identification of Greek gods with Roman gods (f.e. Aphrodite = Venus, and so on) is mythological and cultural-historical not correct at all!

As example I have chosen an AE26 of Macrinus from Nikopolis ad Istrum. Sure there are more beautiful pics of Ares on the reverses of Greek coins. But my collction subject are Roman coins. So I hope for understanding.

Moesia inferior, Nikopolis ad Istrum, Macrinus AD 217-218
AE 26, struck under the legate Statius Longinus
obv. AYT K OPELL - CEY MAKREINOC
        bust, cuirassed, laureate, r.
rev. YP CTA LONGINOY NIKOPOLITWN PROC / ICTRON
       Ares, with Korinthian helmet, standing l., resting l. hand on shield set on ground,
       holding inverted spear in r.
Pick 446; SNG München 440; Moushmov 1219

Ares was the Greek war god, the embodiment of bloody slaughter killing and furious battle turmoil. His name has got various different interpretations due to wild-elementary character of his acting: The 'shouter', the 'impetuous'. More convincing Kretschmer puts him to Greek 'are, aros', the 'damager', the 'punisher, the 'avenger'. With that resulted an appelative description of a personally at first indefinite daemonic damaging power. As evidence count the formulas of oath gods in the synoikism treaty between Erchomens and Euaimon, where Ares respectively Areia is used as regular appelative of Zeus, Athena and Enyalios. The etymology of Kretschmer Nilsson takes for his thesis, Ares actually would be only the personification of the murderous fight. Approved is his thesis because Ares by Homer should be synonymic to 'slaughter, killing' and  occurs together with personificated ideas like Eris, Deimos and Phobos.

But it should mentioned that the Homeric Ares absolutely bears characteristics like a living person: Wounded by Diomedes he cries like 10000 men; fallen he covers an area of 7 plethres and while he was rolling in the dust his weapons clanked around him. He is stormy, the fastest of the gods and insatiable in fight. To this sharp picture as a person apply the Knossos plates which know of a god Ares (A-re).

On the other side the antipathy of the Homeric poet against Ares is unmistakable: He calls him frantic, pernicious and double-minded, lawless and perfidious, the man slaughter, who like no other god debased himself to kill the mortals by his own hands. In the burlesque episode with Aphrodite in the net of Hephaistos and as captive of the Aloades in the iron cauldron he doesn't make a good figure, and in the battle scenes of the Iliade he was assigned always to abhorrent and inglorious roles. In these constant defeats of the raging berserk against the always with superior intellect acting Athena the aversion is mirrored which the Greek had against the senseless war fury of barbaric-crude foreign people.

The odium of the daemonic-weird foreign god is adherent on Ares as son of Zeus and Hera and member of the Olympic family too. His origin from the barbaric Thracia is proofed; that even was named after him Areia, and so Detschew has supposed a derivation of his name from the Thracian language. Furthermore the Karic slaughter daemon Enyeus-Enyalios, the companion of the warlike Potnia Ma-Enyo and traceable already for Mycenic times, is melted with him in the Iliade and can be used synonymously. The Ares-Enyalios represents thus well the fusion of a Bronze Age mediterranean lance god with a war daemon of the Thracian influenced Mycenic chariot culture in the 17th/16th century BD. The original connection with a superposed battlesome female deity (Enyo) was transferred in Ares partially into the son relation to the battlesome Hera, partially into the weapon, love and cultural community of the Minor Asian Aphrodite.

referring to 'Der kleine Pauly'

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« Reply #27 on: January 16, 2006, 05:51:32 pm »

Aphrodite Pudica

Here I want to share a coin which I bought because its reverse. It is an AE23 of Gordian III from Deultum in Thracia.

Gordian III AD 238-244
AE 23, 6.42g
obv. IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AVG
       bust, draped and cuirassed, laureate, r.
rev. COL FL PAC / DEVLT
       Cult statue of Aphrodite with vase standing in Porticus of tetrastyle temple, seen
       in perspektive, with two-stepped Pedement, trigonal Pediment decorated with
       globe, and Akroteria decorated with crosses.
Jurukova 261 (4 Spec.: Sofia, Plovdiv, Burgas, Berlin); Moushmov 3735
rare, VF, nice blue-green patina

Deultum as founded by veterans of Vespasian's VIII. Legion Augusta before AD 77 under the name COLONIA FLAVIA PACIS DEULTUM.

Cultural history:
Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of  beauty and love. She is much older and more original than the Roman Venus. Venus was a more local goddess and came to Rome not before the 4th century BC. Aphrodite in contrast is a goddess of indoeuropean-hellenic, aegean-anatolic and semitic-orientalic elements. The origin of her name is unknown, perhaps related to the semitic *asthart. Her relation to Cypre would well apply to this origin. Some scholars assume, that the name of the month April is coming from the Etruscan *aprodita. That would aprove an Etruscan mediator role. She seems to be a conglomerate of old fertility goddesses. Her attributes dolphin and shell point to a marine, dove, sparrow and swane to a celestial, and apple, rose and pomegranate to a vegetable sexual sphere. Not until Homer Aphrodite was removed from this dark, sinister deity and changed to the bright goddess of charm and grace. She was called 'philommeides', the smiling, and she was the mistress of the Grace.

Art history:
On the reverse we see in the midth of the temple the statue of Aphrodite Pudica in the attitude of the Capitolinean Venus, with a vase right on ground. Her attitude today is hold for shame (therefore 'Pudica'), but in ancient times it was rather meant indicative.
 
Her support (here the vase) varies from depiction to depiction, is changing from r. to l., but the attitude of Aphrodite is always the same. This is the Venus which Giovanni Pisano cites on the pulpit in the Cathedral of Pisa (however for Prudentia) and then naturally the paradigm that was used by Botticelli for his most famous painting 'The birth of Venus' (and not the Venus Medici!). It was the favourite type of the Roman Empire! Sadly we don't know who has created it, and not even when it was created (anytime between the 4th and the 1st century BC). This statue was so wide spread over the Empire that it is impossible to say which copy Pisano or Botticelli have seen.

The same reverse type is known for Julia Domna and Plautilla from Nikopolis too. The Knidean and the Medicean Venus are much rarer on coins. But it should be mentioned that the Aphrodite type called Genetrix and seen on coins of Sabina and charakterized by uncovering herself (perhaps for Ares or Adonis) and offering an apple, existed in many copies too and was an as popular type as that we call Capitolinean.

As an addition a pic of the Capitolinean Venus

Thanks to Pat Lawrence!   

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« Reply #28 on: January 19, 2006, 04:12:54 pm »

The infant Dionysos

Dionysos is a very complexe mythological figure. Therefore I will split him into more than one contribution. Here the first: Dionysos as infant.

Thracia, Pautalia, Marcus Aurelius AD 161180
AE 18
obv. AYT KAI M AYR ANTWNINOC
        bust, draped (and Cuirassed?), bare-headed, r.
rev. PAYT - ALIW - TWN
       Dionysos as infant sitting in a winnowing fan, r., seen half from behind, stretching
       hands, Thyrsos behind
Ruzicka 60a

Until now I never had heard of a winnowing fan. Here the information I have found: A winnowing fan is a wooden or (in ancient times) plaited bowl used to separate the wheat from the chaff. By using the winnowing fan to toss the grain in the air the chaff was blown away by the wind. In Latin it is called 'vannus', as 'vannus mystica' in the Eleusinic Mysteries, in Greek it is 'liknon', that's why this depiction is called 'Dionysos Liknites' too. In the Demeter cult it was a basket with the first fruits, which played a big role in the Eleusinic Mysteries (Apuleius Met. 11). See the added pic from Pompeji too!

The Thyrsos on the rev. looks more like a Narthex birch from the Ferula communis used to cane scholars by schoolmasters. The inside is pithy and used like tinder to make fire. It is said that Prometheus has used Narthex to bring the fire to men. The Thyrsos is made from a Narthex birch.

Mythology:

The first Dionysos:
Following the Orphic stories Dionysos was the son of Zeus and Persephone. Hera has instigated Titans from the Underworld to kill the young boy. Two of them with white coloured faces hijacked him, cut him into seven pieces and cooked him in a cauldron. When they began to roast the pieces on spits Zeus smelled the flavour of the roast appeared and drove the Titans back into the Underworld where they belong. The cooked members were burnt to ashes, from which the grape-vine arose, except one which Zeus took for himself. It is said that this was the heart. But this is a word-play as I will show. It is said that Zeus has given the 'Dionysos Kradaios' to the goddess Hipte for maintenance. Hipte was a goddess of Asia Minor like Rhea. "Kradaios is ambiguous, it can be derived from kradia 'heart' but from krade 'figtree' too and then meaning an artifact made of figwood.. The basket which the priestresses of Demeter are carrying on their heads was a 'liknonon', a winnowing  fan, in which - being carried in the ceremonial procession - usually a phallos was lying under the fruits; an artifact which Dionysos has made from figwood." (Kerenyi, p.201) The liknites ('who is lying in the winnowing fan') was consistlenty 'revived' by the female attendants of Dionysos. (ibid.)

The second Dionysos:
Beside the son of Persephone there was a second Dionysos, the son of Semele and Kadmos. Actually he was the son f Zeus too, who was fallen in love with Semele. When Semele prayed Zeus to come to her in the same shape as to Hera he came as lightning and Semele was killed instantly. Zeus saved the unborn child from the belly of Semele and included him in his own thigh. At the mountain Nysa Dionysos was born a second time by Zeus and he gave the infant to divine nurses (or Hermes) to care for him.

If you are engaged with Dionysos you can recognize many parallels to Christianity. We find the central motive of death and subsequent resurrection. We see an infant with the mission to save the world as the Orphics belief, and we have the cradle of the child Jesus!

To round it up here a pic from a frieze from the Villa of mysteries in Pompeji AD 50: Scenes from the sanctification during the Dionysian Ceremonies. A wife is lifting the veiling drapery from a plaited basket, a winnowing fan. In the basket as symbol of fertility an erected veiled phallos.A female daemon beside with open wings is striking out with a long whip.

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« Reply #29 on: January 19, 2006, 05:03:28 pm »

Dionysos and the panther

The panther plays an important role in the mythology of Dionysos. Dionysos always also was a god of the wilderness. It is an integrative part of his cult to disrupt bloodily animal or human victims in bits. He too was disrupted (or cut) as Dionseus Zagreus in bits by the Titans too. This wild orgiastic nature was expressed by the wild animals which were his attendants. It is said that Dionysos most af all has loved the panther because the panther was as excitable as he was and would make the same leaps like the Maenads.

All wild animals are connected to Dionysos, but none more so than the lion or panther. The supple, feline elegance of its body, the ferocious and easily provoked temper, the boundless appetite, and uncanny intelligence of the creature make it uniquely and inevitably linked to the Dionysiac sphere - and indeed, the wild cat is frequently depicted in the company of the wild God. Like the Magna Mater, Dionysos' cart was drawn by lions and panthers. The cats freely accompanied him at other times, sitting tamely at his feet like puppies, or dancing enraptured with the rest of creation during the Bacchic revel.

When Dionysos sought to punish someone - for instance Lycurgos - the wild cat was often the agent of the God's awful chastisement.

Source: http://www.winterscapes.com/sannion/dionysos_symbols.htm

AE 28 of Gordian III from Hadrianopolis in Thracia
obv. AYT KM ANT GORDIANOC AV
        bust, draped, laureate, r.
rev.  ADP - IA - NO / POLEITWN
       Dionysos, nude, with Thyrsos, lying backwards on panther, riding r.
Mionnet 778; Lindgren III, A65A; Jurokova 482; Moushmov 2707. No.3071
SS, some spots to recognize on the panther's skin

As addition a pic of the famous mosaic from Pella in Macedonia showing the same scene.

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« Reply #30 on: January 19, 2006, 06:28:17 pm »

This thread needs to be in the Classical N board...
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« Reply #31 on: January 20, 2006, 02:51:22 pm »

Dionysos with Kantharos

Here is one of the most common Dionysos depictions: Dionysos standing, holding Thyrsos and Kantharos.

Moesia inferior, Nikopolis ad Istrum, Elagabal, AE 28
struck under the legate Novius Rufus
obv. AYT KM AYR ANTWNINOC
bust, draped and cuirassed, laureate, r..
rev. YPA NOB ROYFOY NIKOPOLITWN PROC ICTRON
Dionysos, stg. l., holding Thyrsos and poring wine from Kantharos
Moushmov 1397. No.2861.
about VF.

About the Thyrsos we have heard that it was made from Narthex. Often it was wrapped with binds or vine-leafs. On top was a knob made of ivy or vine-leafs, sometimes like a pinecone. The Thyrsos was the sign of the participants of the dionysos cult, used as well by the Mainads f.e. to kill Pentheus.

The Kantharos is a jug with high foot and two long handles shaped like loops. This form of jug was developed from preforms of the 2nd Millenium BC and belonged to Dionysos and his cult until the 5th century AD. So it is essential a cult device. Later on it was used with ring-shaped handles as a profane device too. There are other jugs too, f.e. the Oinochoe, a one-handled jug often with a trilobate nozzle as so-called trifoil-jug. But these don't refer to Dionysos!

Ref.: Der kleine Pauly

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« Reply #32 on: January 20, 2006, 02:54:35 pm »

Mount Argaios - the Sacred Mountain  of Cappadocia

I think you have sometimes seen coins of Caesarea with the reverse called 'Mt. Argaios' or 'Mt.Argaeus'. Here are two of them.

1) A Didrachm of Marcus Aurelius from Caesarea Cappadocia.
Marcus Aurelius AD 161-180 
obv. AYTOKP ANTWNEINOC CEB
        His bare curly head right
rev. YPA - TOC Gamma
        Mount Argaeus with star above
Sear GIC 1661
Scarce

2) An AE28 of Elagabal of Caesarea Cappadocia.
Elagabal AD 218-222
obv. AY KM AYRHLI - ANTWNINOC
         bust, draped and cuirassed, laureate, r.
rev.  MHTROP [KAYCARI]
         ET B in ex.
        Agalma of Mt. Argaios on altar
Sydenham 518 var. (year on altar)
nice naturalistic portrait of the young emperor

The Mount Argaios (or Latin 'Argaeus') is the highest mountain in Asia minor. 3916m high, volcanic and mostly covered with snow on top. Today it's called Erciyes Dagi, and at its foot lays the city of Caesareia, in early days called Mazaka, today Kayseri. The Argaios was a sacred mountain already in the times of the Hattits which have called him 'harara'. It is an very impressive mountain, due to its heighth and its volcanic activities. In 253 BC their should have been a big eruption mentioned on Roman Republican coins, but I couldn't find any example. Mazaka was the capital of the Cappadocian Kings, later the capital of the Roman province Cappadocia.

Iconography:
The pics of the Argaios on coins are rather similar. It is always trigonal and put together by parts which look like rocks. In the midth there is often a circle decorated with dots. The suggestion that this could be a flower seems to be discarded. Most probably it should be a cave perhaps for a cult statue(?). The figure of the Argaios is always rounded by needle-shaped lines or cones. These should be flames as symbols of his volcanic activities as could seen on others types too. The similarity of its pics is an evidence that it probably is the depiction of a real cult picture of the mountain, a so-called Agalma, which could be put in a temple. This theory is approved by the second coin where the cult statue of the Mount Argaios stands on an altar.

On the left frontal rock you can see a jumping deer and on the right rock a tree(?). But wether the Agalma was decorated with small statuettes which were put on the statue is not known.

On some types on the summit of the Argaios is seen a star, a crescent, the radiate Sol, or an eagle. Then there are types where the Argaios is carried by a man in a quadriga (probably Septimius Severus) or a rare type where the Argaios is seen on a chart dragged by two elephants. Then there is known a Tyche turreted with the Argaios and the personification of Cappadocia holding the Argaios.

Interesting is the following fact: Coins with the Argaios were known in the Hellenistic time only in the short periode from 101 BC to AD 17 where an alliance with Rome existed. There are no coins of Greek times even though the cult was known so long before! Not until the 1st century AD coins with references to the Argaios appeared. The explanation could be that the cult was re-introduced by the Romans to lead the Cappadocians to the the Roman Trias Jupiter-Helios-Serapis and to convince them of the Summus-Deus-belief. (P. Weiß). It is known that an Agon took place.
 
History:
Cappadocia was important already at the times of the Hattits (14th century BC) as central part of their empire. The capital was Hattusa near todays Boghazköi. With Kyros II Cappadocia came under Persian influence, but because of its distance to the centre it remained relative independent. This was true also in the time of Alexander and under the reign of the Antigonids since 303  BC. Under the Romans Archelaos was made king by Marcus Antonius. AD 18/19 under Tiberius it became the Roman province Cappadocia

Other mountain gods:
The sacred mountain Argaios is only one in a series of mountain gods. Another important cult was the cult of Zeus Kasios which could be backtracked to the Hattits  too. It was their sacred mountain Hazzi where the gods descended from heaven. Referring to Ugaritic tradition it was the seat of the storm and thunderbolts god Baal. In Greek-Seleucidian time these two deities were melted together and parallel to Baal the early mountain god was made to the god Zeus Kasios of Seleukeia Pierias.

I have added a pic of today's Erciyes Dagi

Sources:
http://people.freenet.de/albionworld/referate/argaios-ref.html
(Here you can find more references!)
http://www.volcano.si.edu/world/volcano.cfm?vnum=0103-01=
(From this site is the pic of the Erciyes Dagi!)

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« Reply #33 on: January 21, 2006, 05:10:53 am »

Some notes on the Roman god Liber

Because we have spoken about Dionysos in this thread some time before it is necessary to add informations about the Roman Liber too. He is often mixed up with Dionysos/Bacchus but this is not correct!

Liber is an old Roman deity and together with Libera a genuine Italic pair of gods. His name and his meaning are not sure until now.
1. The ancient interpretations tend in its majority to an origin of 'liberare', to free. Either because he admitted the wine pleasure in vast quantities and thus frees from worries, or because he admitted men to release their sperm (or in the case of Libera to deliver a child).
2. Today it is accepted that the origin of his name is probably *leudh, to sprout, to germinate. So these two deities are old fertility gods. Therefore they were worshipped together with Ceres. Already the dictator A. Postumus has dedicated to this trias a combined temple at the Circus Flaminius in 496 BC which was renewed by Augustus.

When Dionysos became familiar in Latium in the 5th century BC Liber was quickly equated with him which unfortunately darkens his origins. One of the oldest ceremonies recorded in the calendars belonged to Liber and Libera: the Liberalia on March 17. At this day old women presented cakes for sacrificing which then they sacrificed on a portable cooker for the buyer (this probably also pseudo-etymologically to 'libum', = cake for sacrificing). This day often was used for applying the toga virilis too, after which the young Roman was accepted as adult. More original as this seem to be phallic processions. Wether Liber was really related to wine in the earliest day is unsure but it would have make it easier to fulfill the equalization with Dionysos. In historic times the equilization was already done. Liber wears all attributes of Dionysos as you can see on the attached coin for Septimius Severus: Thyrsos, panther and ivy wreath.

Cicero however (in De Nat. Deor. II, 24) has differentiated sharply between the Latin Liber and the Greek Dionysos. The Senate f.e. had forbidden in 186 BC the Dionysos cult and the Bacchanalies but not the ceremonies of the Liberalia! It was Caesar who then allowed the cult again.

The coin is from a friend: RIC 99; C.304. Rev. LIBERO PATRI

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« Reply #34 on: January 21, 2006, 09:48:41 am »

The Aegis - the wondershield of  Zeus

The definition of the Aegis is a bit disturbing at least I was a bit confused. Now I'm better informed and I hope I can enlighten you too!

The first coin of Crispus from Trier RIC 347 shows on the obv. Crispus holding a phantastic shield! It shows the head of Medusa whose look will turn into stone everybody who is looking at it. Medusa, first as Gorgo a sole horror-being with snake hairs, in the later mythology was one of the three Gorgons, three terrible sisters. They were immortal except Medusa. Instead her look turned into stone. Perseus succeeded in killing her with the assistance of Athena by looking at her only through a mirror. From the cut head of Medusa sprung the winged horse Pegasos. The head of Medusa Perseus donated to Athena who wears it on her shield, the so-called Aegis. The head of Medusa is called 'Gorgoneion'!

Referring to others Athena herself killed the Gorgo. Anyway the Aegis was a wondershield of Zeus which was created by Hephaistos and decorated with golden tassels and pictures. Sometimes he borrowed it to Apollo and particularly to Athena. He used the shield everytime when he want to do perform same actions on earth which the other Olympic gods especially his wife Hera shouldn't not realize. The he tossed the Aegis high in the air and the Olymp mountain was wrapped in clouds and storm. So the Aegis was a kind of weather-shield.

The confusion began after Homer. Posthomeric the derivation of the word Aegis (greek Aigos) from Aix = goat, goat-skin became common. This was referring to the goat Amalthea which is said having nursed the young Zeus in his cave on Crete. This goat-skin shaped Aegis we see from the time of  Nero on often on coins worn on the left shoulder as the sign of power. I have chosen an antoninian of Probus to show the typical goat-skin Aegis. It is RIC 157 with an interesting bust depiction: the breastplate is decorated with an Aegis which bears in its midth a winged Gorgoneion. We see clearly the two wings r. and l. of the head. Additionally the emperor bears a second Aegis across his left shoulder according to the motto 'The more the better!'.

The third coin is an exceptional AE27 of Gordian III from Nikopolis ad Istrum Varbanov3328. The emperor has a Gorgoneion on the breastplate and then an Aegis with mounted Gorgoneion on his left shoulder. You see the erected snakes!

Mythological background:
The depiction of the killing of Gorgo by Athena is much older than the myth of Perseus. Formerly the scholars tend to the opinion, that Gorgo and Athena were the two sides of the same divinity in which then when Athena was changed to an Olympic goddess (which were regarded as bright and clear - rationalistic and human-like - in contrast to the old divinities), the horrible-daemonic part was removed from her and confronted as an adversary power.

This opinion today has changed. Now it is assumed that Athena has had an Aegean predecessor of chthonic character which she overcome and from which she has won some of the destructive power of the evil eyes.

Source: Der kleine Pauly

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« Reply #35 on: January 21, 2006, 09:53:28 am »

The Gorgoneion - the head of Medusa

Surprisingly the Gorgoneion is much older than the myth of Gorgo. Nearly all primitive (in the sense of very early!) people know of horror masks which require the belief in evil eyes and in the banning power of the increased expression of rage and sneer. Since when the Greek pass over from the impersonal grimace to the mythological personal is not known. Homer already know the myth of Perseus.
 
At first the Gorgoneion was predominant with broad face, dreadful eyes, bared tongue and snakes in the hair often with four wings. It was magic-apotropaically (= averting)
attached to shields, cuirasses, to doors and gates, to ships and horses and also to tombs.

When time goes by her ugliness was mitigated and around 400 BC in the Medusa Rondanini (in Munich) a exceptional beautiful type was achieved however from a cold, soulless beauty. The Hellenism then granted the Gorgoneion the painful traits of melancholia and does not show longer the tantalizing but the tantalized being.

Attached are the following three pics:
The Gorgona Rondanini from Munich
An tetradrachm of Philipp I from Antiochia Prieux 357 with a Gorgoneion on his breastplate.
The denar of Domitian RIC 65 var.-. Especially Domitian shows very often the Aegis accross his left shoulder. Here it is the Aegis with attached Gorgoneion. You see clearly the profile of  the head of Medusa (nose!) and the snake-hairs!

Resume:
So actually we should differentiate between three different depictions:
1) The Aegis, the mere goat-skin
2) The Gorgoneion, i.e. the head of Medusa
3) The Aegis with attached Gorgoneion, identifiable by its snakes.

Source: Der kleine Pauly

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« Reply #36 on: January 23, 2006, 03:42:50 pm »

Asklepios - the Healing God

Today I want to tell you something about the Greek Healing God Asklepios, lat. Aesculapius. For this purpose I present two coins both struck for Caracalla (AD 198-217).

1) Thracia, Serdika, Caracalla Ruzicka 245
    AE 30, 16.6g
    obv. AVT KM AVR CEVH - ANTWNEINOC
            bust, draped, laureate, r.
    rev. OVLPIAC - CERDIKAC
           Asklepios, half-nude, standing facing, feeding with r. hand snake, which  
          coiled around his rod, set on ground l. beside him.
    Ruzicka 245 (attribution by Curtis Clay)
    Very rare, EF
    Serdica is todays Sofia, capital of Bulgaria. Ulpia was the surname of the city in
    honour of  Ulpius Trajan who raised the city to a municipium..

2) Caracalla RIC IV, 253 var.
    AR - denar, 3.30g, 20.3mm
    Rome AD 215
    obv. ANTONINVS PIVS AVG GERM
            bust, laureate, r.
    rev. PM TRP XVIII COS IIII PP
           Aesculapius, standing frontal, nude to hips, head facing, holding snake-
           entwined rod in r. hand, l. hand across body with fold of drapery, r. at his feet
           globe; at the l.side a small figure with hooded cloak (Telesphoros)
    RIC IV, 253 var.; C.307; BMC 105
    FDC
    RIC listed this type only with head l., but market observation has shown that this
    variant is not so rare.

1. Mythology:
Asklepios is the famous Greek Healing God. At Homer however he was not yet a god, but a man, the father of Machaos and Podaleirios, two famous surgeons in front of Troy. He is said to be the father of Hygieia too. Referring to Homer the entire medicine originates from Paieon, which was another name for Apollon. Later on there are several myths of his divine ancestry. He was the son of Apollon and the princess Koronis, daughter of Phlegyas, king of the Lapiths. When she was pregnant, Apollon left a raven to guard her. But she betrayed him with Ischys, son of Elatos. When the raven reported the infidelity to Apollon he cursed the raven. From this time on all ravens are black. Artemis avenged her brother Apollo by killing Koronis with her arrows. But Apollon wanted to save his unborn son and Hermis cut him out of the body of the dead. He was called Asklepios and given over to the Centaur Cheiron who educated him and teached him the art of medicine.
Another myth tells that after his birth he was abandonned on the Tithion mountain where the herdsman Aresthanas found him and then nursed him alternately by his dog and his goats. Therefore Asklepios sometimes is depicted with these animals.
Asklepis not only was able to cure invalids but to reawake deads too. For that purpose Athena has given him two glasses with blood of the Gorgo Medusa. With the blood of her left side he could reawake to life, with the blood of the right bring to death. Back into life he brought f.e. Lykurgos, Kapaneos and Tyndareos. Asklepios came to his end when Hades complained at Zeus about Asklepios that he would steel him too much dead souls. Because of the reawakening of Orion he was accused of corruptibility and then killed by Zeus with a thunderbolt together with his patient. A short time later Zeus regretted what he has done and gave them back their lifes. Together with his snake-entwined rod Asklepios was set as a constellation on the sky.

(will be continued)
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« Reply #37 on: January 23, 2006, 03:47:59 pm »

(continued)

2. Background:
Asklepios is a pre-hellenic deity from Northern Greece, probably Thessalia, where his name is connected with 'Asgelatas' meaning the snake-footed god. Asklepios was worshipped at many Greek locations especially those with healing fonts. His temples therefore were found often outside of the cities and often on hills. In these temples numerous patients were staying so that they looked like todays hospitals. The main sanctuary stood in Epidauros. From there his cult came to Rome 359 BC during a great pest epidemic.
In Epidauros stood a great statue of Asklepios simulating Zeus. It is described by Pausanias: The demigod is seated on a throne, holding in one hand a rod, the other on a snake, a dog is laying at his feet.
Snakes were a symbol of renewing due to their regular moult. It is said too that they would be able to find healing herbs. Therefore Asklepios not only was depicted together with the Apollinic snakes but as snake himself. In his temples often snakes were kept.
The suggestions for healing the priests received by dreams (so-called thaumaturgy) or during a sleep (so-called temple sleep). To thank them a cock or a goat was hanged in the temple by the cured together with a plate described with the illness and the way and method of healing. These plates are found by archeologists.
The priests of Asklepios were called Asklepiadae. They were a sworn, sect like community of healers. Their profession passed over always from the father to his son. The acception was confirmed by a sacred oath.
This cult spread over the whole Empire. He was hold as Saviour and later on there were heavy theological conflicts with the apologets of Christianity.

Telesphoros

On the denar of Caracalla on the left side of Asklepios (or better Aesculapius for it is a Roman coin!) you see the small figure of Telesphoros. This is a talking name, meaning 'finalizer'. He is always depicted with a hooded cloak where only his feet stick out. The 'der kleine Pauly' calls him 'one of the most problematic figures in the history of religions'. Very late he was added to Asklepios as his 'son'. He was introduced by an oracle in Pergamon at the end of the 1st century AD from where his cult spread very fast. Because of his small shape  and the hooded cloak Telesphoros is identical with the 'genii cucullati', a group of fertility, healing but death gods too (cucullus = hood). Probably they are old celtic deities.

A last coin of Diadumenians from Deultum (Yurukova 88) shows Telesphoros on the reverse.

Sources:
Der kleine Pauly
Robert von Ranke-Graves, Greek Mythlogy
William Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (online!)
Karl Kerenyi, Die Mythologie der Griechen

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« Reply #38 on: January 23, 2006, 04:37:19 pm »

The gods of the Underworld

I think here is the appropriate place for this contribution therefore I moved it from 'Coins of Historical Interest'! The coin is an Antoninianus of Caracalla AD 198-217, one of the first ones:

AR - Antoninianus, 5.3g, 22.2mm,
       Rome AD 215
obv. ANTONINVS PIVS AVG GERM
        Bust cuirassed radiate head r.
rev. PM TRP XVIII COS IIII PP
       Pluto with modius on head, seated on throne l., sceptre in l. hand,
       stretching r. hand to three-headed Cerberus at his feet.
RIC IV/1, 261(d); not in in Cohen
Rare; nice EF

I was going to find more information of the figure of Pluto and now I think it is more likely Serapis! Here is what I have found:

Hades
Together with Zeus and Poseidon the third son of Kronos was Hades. After the struggle against the Titans he got the rule of the Underworld by drawing lots. His name is derived from Greek 'a-ides' = unvisible, like the word 'hell', the nordish goddess Hel, or the hebraic word 'sheol' for hell. As ruler of the Underworld he was weird to the people. His name not often was called, but only circumscribed. There were not much cults for him. But as a ruler of the wealth of the earth too he was related to Plutos.

Plutos
Plutos, not really a god in the strict sense, was the figure of wealth and abundance. In the beginning he was the master of the subterranean grain supplies, later ruler of the deads too (at first probably in Eleusis). In this function he was called Pluton mostly.

Pluton
Pluton, in the beginning the god of wealth, the donator of gifts, therefore depicted with the modius on head, the Roman grain measure.
In his shape very similar to Zeus: A venerable man with full hair and beard, holding sceptre. At his feet the three-headed Cerberus, the guard of the underworld. In opposition to Hades he stands for the moderate side of the chthonic powers and was helpful to human beings.
Therefore he was warshipped on many places, often together with Demeter/Proserpina. When times go by he was melted with Hades and then he replaced him as the ruler of the underworld.

Serapis
Serapis (sometimes Sarapis) was introduced about 300 BC to Alexandria as god of the state by Ptolemaeus I Soter (305-284 BC), known as the founder of the famous Alexandrian library too. He built the big Serapeion in Alexandria and the famous sculptor Bryaxis created the statue of Serapis: Also a venerable man with modius (Greek. kalathos, not polos!) on his head, holding sceptre, the three-headed Zerberos at his feet. Full beard and mighty hair let him look like Zeus, and reminds on Pluton. He was a syncretistic (= mixed up) deity und should unify the Greek and the Egyptian religions, so connecting the people of the East with the people of the West, an important objective of the Hellenism. His name was derived from Apis-Osiris, a god of grain, fertility and wealth too. He was melted with Asklepios, the god of healing, with Dionysos, of whom he got the secret consecrations, with Pluto, as god of the underworld, then with Zeus, and yes, with Christus, as sole god and creator of the world. The last time his cult was promoted by Julian II, who sometimes called himself Deus Serapidis.
AD 389 Theophilus, bishop of Alexandria, destroyed the Serapeion, probably by order of Theodosius, and with this event the time of paganism was gone for ever.

(will be continued)
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« Reply #39 on: January 23, 2006, 05:06:55 pm »

(continued)

Caracalla (AD 198-217)
Already Severus, father of Caracalla, had identified himself with Serapis! His depiction with the 5 curls on the forehead was called serapian (but now it seems to be more antoninian style). Caracalla continued his father's cult. He built a Serapeion in Rome on the Quirinal hill, which gave his name to the III. Roman region. To this temple he consecrated the sword with which he has killed his brother Geta, referring to Dio Cassius. Caracalla was very interested in religions. His visit of the Alexandrian Serapion was notorious. There he has done all rites and received the consecrations. His dead is characteristic: He was on a trip to the moongod of Carrhae when he was killed.

Depiction on the coin
The depiction on the reverse of the coin is in all details similar to the statue of Bryaxis in the Serapeion of Alexandria! The similarity with Zeus, the three-headed Cerberus, you find all. Therefore I think much stands for Serapis as depicted deity! Whereas RIC speaks of Pluto(n), CNG calls the figurs on the Aureus RIC 242, C.253, and on the Denar RIC 261(a) Serapis too!
Ok, the pictures of Serapis and Pluton are mixed together. So it could well be that the same picture was called Serapis by a Greek and Pluton by a Roman (Patricia Lawrence!). This point of view was characteristic for the syncretism!
 
Coming to the end: One can say that this coin is typically for the syncretism which now is coming to Rome from all sides - especially from the East. The time of the old gods now is fading away. Only short time and by Elagabal the first real monotheistic god will be introduced to Rome.

Added is the pic of a famous copy of the head of Bryaxis' Serapis from the 2nd century AD. The Ptolemaic eagle, which the gems show to have adorned the pediment of Serapis' temple, is here placed on the top of the kalathos.

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« Reply #40 on: January 24, 2006, 01:39:21 pm »

Sheol isn't hell, though Christian tradition tends to conflate the two. Hell has a moral dimension; only the wicked go there. Sheol has none; everyone ends up there. It's a shadowy afterlife which would be closer to Hades, except that it's a lot vaguer. God is assumed to be absend from Sheol, except in one text in Jonah, where he's present; that evidently represents a late development of the concept. Ideas of post-mortem rewards for the righteous, and punishment for the wicked, emerge in the Hellenistic period. They're essentially the reaction of a downtrodden people to the question of why they, the righteous suffer, while the wicked, who oppress them, do so well out of it. The old idea that the righeous will prosper in this life doesn't work any more, and something very like heaven and hell emerges as a response, in books like 1 Enoch. The idea simply crosses over into early Christianity, and develops from there.
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« Reply #41 on: January 24, 2006, 02:22:05 pm »

Thanks, Robert, for making this clear! I hope that my records of the etymological connection of 'sheol' with 'hidden, invisible' is correct?
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« Reply #42 on: January 24, 2006, 03:51:36 pm »

I don't have a decent Hebrew lexicon, but there's a good article in the ABD. The derivation is unclear, but the author feels that the most plausible possibility is a derivation from the Hebrew S'L, to ask or enquire. S'L is used of the practice of consulting the spirits of the dead, so there is an obvious link. alternatively, it could be intended in a forensic sense, as 'the place of interrrogation'. I can't think of any passage in the OT where Sheol is linked with anything of the sort, but I'd need to read the articles cited, if I could get hold of them, and see what the authors said. Alternatively, it could be derived from S'H, meaning 'no land' or 'unland', a place of emptiness and remoteness from God, which does seem to sum up what we know of the place.
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« Reply #43 on: January 24, 2006, 04:24:57 pm »

Thanks Robert!

I was only a half year in a Hebrew course at school and left it due to laziness. So my Hebrew knowledge stopped with BERESCHITH BARA ELOHIM.

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« Reply #44 on: January 31, 2006, 04:08:57 pm »

Dea Caelestis - the ancient City Goddess of Carthage

We have seen interesting mythological depiction on Imperial coins too (but not in such wide range of variation as in Provincial coins!). Here I want to present an Imperial coin which holds mysteries until now. It is a denar of Septimius Severus though there is the same motive for Caracalla too.

Septimius Severus AD 193-211
AR - Denar, 2.97g, 18.13mm
       Rome AD 204
obv. SEVERVS - PIVS AVG
      bust, laureate, r., beard plaited, braid across cheek (so-called Serapis type)
rev. INDVLGENTIA AVGG
      Dea Celestis, turreted, head r., riding on lion r., holding sceptre and thunderbolt. Below
      water flowing r., arising from rock on l. side.
     IN CARTH in ex.
RIC IV/1, 266; C.222; BMC 335
about EF

It should be said that this coin has four different types:
a) Goddess holding sceptre and thunderbolt, head facing
b) Goddess holding sceptre and thunderbolt, head r.
c) Goddess holding sceptre and drum
d) Goddess holding drum only
Type a and b are common, type c is rare and type d is very rare.

Already the cause for issueing this coin is not certainly known. Apparently Septimius, who as is generally known was coming from Leptis Magna in Northern Africa, has undertaken a journey to Carthage and Leptis. INDVLGENTIA is translated as 'clemency, mildness, grace'. In connection with the water flowing from the rock it could be an allusion to an aquaeduct which the emperor has built, enhanced or repaired. That would be expressed by 'grace'. Or he has lowered or cancelled any water rates. That would be expressed by 'clemency'. At any case after a first edition without IN CARTH in ex. this was added to the rev. Perhaps the depiction without IN CARTH has made no sense to the Romans. Another possibility worth to be discussed could be that the flowing water was an attribute of Dea Caelestis herself. And so we come to the pictured deity. And there we have much confusion as well. Naturally the religion of the Romans in these times was already syncretistic and many different deities were mixed up to form new deities. But this is not true for Dea Caelestis. Here we are still able to differentiate. 

At first she must be distinguished from the goddess Dea Syria. Dea Syria belongs to the ambit of Kybele-Rhea and has nothing to deal with our goddess. Dea Caelestis is nothing else than the ancient city-goddess of Carthage. Her old name was Tanit or more correctly Tinit. The Carthagean like the Phoenician font does not know vowels. The name of the goddesss was written TNT. The connecting vowels now are known from newly found Greek inscriptions.

Dea Caelestis or Virgo Caelestis as the city goddess of Carthage was called by the Romans,  came to Rome referring to the official version after the fall of Carthage by evocatio. But before Septimius she is not known outside of Africa. So this version can't be true. Her temple stood inside the Pomerium, the sacred district of Rome, on the Northern part of the Palatine. Her cult was on top of all other foreign cults. Here we find orgiastic activities as they were usual for Tinit. Naturally it came to a mixture with similar deities, f.e. with Kybele who was depicted with lions and drums too. (A contribution about Kybele-Rhea is comming soon.) BTW Caelestis should not be confused with the epitheton 'caelestis' which often is added to deities.

Tinit beside Baal Hammon was the main goddess of Carthage. Probably she came from Libya because her name has Berberic reminiscences and in Phoenicia were found no confirmations. By political-religious reforms during the 4th century BC she came on the top of the Carthagean pantheon. Partly uranic, partly chthonic, she was Heavens Goddess, Moon and Fertility Goddess with the symbols crescent, palm, dove, pomegranate etc. She was associated with Hera and Demeter, was called 'Mother', but was Death Goddess too with Hermes Psychopompos. It is said that children were sacrificed to her. With the Punic expansion her cult spread to Sicily, Sardinia, Malta and Spain. To the Roman Imperial cult she was introduced not before Elagabal.

Evocatio: After having defeated an enemy the Romans usually asked the deities of the conquered city to move to the victorious Rome where in a ceremonial procession they were assigned a sacred location. Thereby the power of the adversary deities was believed to be added to the Roman power.

Sources:
Der kleine Pauly
Gerhard Fink, Who's who in der antiken Mythologie

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« Reply #45 on: February 02, 2006, 05:29:35 pm »

Kybele - the great Earth Mother

For a long time I have hesitated to write about Kybele because it  is a so extensive area. But now it is time to start! The cause is a new coin, a denar of Julia Domna, where the Empress probably should be identified with the goddess.

Julia Domna, died AD 217(?), wife of Septimius Severus
AR - Denar, 3.6g, 17.79mm
        struck in Rome, AD 198, under Septimius Severus
obv. IVLIA - AVGVSTA
       bust, draped, bare head, r., hair in five horizontal waves, with broad bun behind
rev. MA - TER - DEVM
      Kybele, richly draped, turreted, sitting l., holding branch in extended r. and sceptre in l.
      hand; left ellbow resting on drum, standing on throne. On each side of the throne a lion,
      sitting l., the rear only half seen.
RIC IV, 564; C.123; BMC 54
scarce, good VF

Kybele, here called Mater Deorum (mother of gods), we see in one of her standard depictions. Her attributes are mural-crown, drum and the indispensable lions. There are other depictions too where we see Kybele riding on a lion or standing in a lin biga.

Mythology:
The mythology of Kybele is very extensive. Therefore I have chosen different attempts to describe Kybele, or as my Greek teacher once has said, "that only argues for her complexity which includes the contrariness as well!"

It is said that Kybele is grown from a stone which Deukalion and Pyrrha have thrown after the Flood. Or her father was Meon, king of Phrygia and Lydia, her mother Dindyma. Meon don't want a daughter and ordered to expose her on the Kybele mountain. There she was nursed by wild beasts. Panthers and other predators gave milk to her until shepherdesses found her and took her with them.
Kybele grow up to a beautiful young woman, stayed decent and rather invented pipes, drums and timbals which became important in the cult of the goddess. Moreover she was engaged in medicine especially for animals and children which she could heal by her words alone. A close friend was Marsyas, and her great love Attis.
When Kybele somewhat later returned to the court of her parents again she was accepted friendly. But soon it was decovered that she was pregnant. Meon in his rage commanded to kill Attis and the shepherdesses and to let the bodies unburied.
Kybele in her mourning began to rave nonsensically through the country, howling and beating her drums in company with the piping Marsyas. They met Apollo who defeated Marsyas in the famous musical competition and killed him. After that he joined Kybele and both went to the Hyperboreans. Meanwhile Phrygia suffered by plague and dearth. Asking an oracle they were said to bury immediatedly the unburied bodies and to worship Kybele. Because they couldn't find the bodies anymore they buried a statue of Attis and at Pessinus a magnificent temple was erected for Kybele. It was Midas who was engaged in that temple too.  
Another myth tells that Attis has betrayed Kybele and desired the nymph Sagaris. Because of that Kybele has punished him terribly, she has castrated him.
Famous too is her anger at Atalante and Hippomeneus. These two have loved in the sanctuary of Kybele for which the goddess transformed them into lions which had to pull her cart forever. (Ovid, Met. 10, 686-704)
Kybele was worshipped in many countries and so she is known under many names. Some of them are Antaia, Asporina, Daucia, Dindymene, Idaea, Maia, Magna mater, Mater Deum, Pessinuntia, Phasiane, Phrygia or Turrita.

Attis:
The bisexual entity Agdistis, another name of Kybele, went through the countries and killed all what she met. The gods deliberated and Dionysos was sent to appease Agdistis. He succeeded by making a source giving wine. Agdistis drank the wine and drunk he/she castrated him/her during the sleep. From the cut member a almond tree arose of which Nana, daughter of the river Sangar, put a fruit into her lap and became pregnant. Her child was Attis with whom Agdistis fall in love. But Attis wanted to marry the daughter of the king of Pessinus. Jealously Agdistis drove him into madness and he castrated himself like his father/mother.
Attis is equal to the eunuchs in the temple ministration of Kybele. These castrated priests were called Galli of which the Archigallus was the highest priest. The autocastration was forbidden for Romans priests. Because of that the cult of the Megale Meter (greek) resp.Magna Mater (lat. great Mother) was managed by non-romans, until the interdiction was cancelled by Claudius. After their emasculation the priests of Kybele were wearing coloured female clothes and decorations.

(will be continued)
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« Reply #46 on: February 02, 2006, 05:30:56 pm »

(continued)

On 15.-28. March a spring festival was celebrated in honour of Kybele and Attis. The latter became Sun God. In the late Empire Kybele was seen as cosmic power of the heaven.
Part of the Kybele cult in later times was the Taurobolium. In this purgation ritus the devotee sat down in a dump, a bull or a ram was sacrificed above him and the blood gushed over him. Attributes of the goddess were corn-ears too, key, pomegranate, sceptre or cornucopiae.On her head she wears a crown with houses or towers. The cult symbol of Kybele in Pessinius was a unworked black stone meteorite. This stone later was brought to the Kybele temple on the Palatine in Rome. This black stone by modifications of her name is connected to the stone of the Kaaba in Mecca.

Rhea:
Already in early times Kybele was identified with the Greek goddess Rhea.. Rhea, daughter of Uranos and Gaia, was the wife of Kronos and became mother of Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, Poseidon and Zeus. A real mother of gods! Kronos gorged all his children after birth because he was afraid of being disempowered by them. Due to the advices of her parents Uranos and Gaia Rhea gave birth to Zeus on Crete, in a cave of the Ida mountains, protected by the Kuretes and the noise made by the Korybants with their drums and flutes, nursed by the nymph or goat Amaltheia and so safe from his father Kronos. Rhea has given him a stone wrapped up in nappies instead of the infant. This stone was laying so heavy in his stomach that he spewed the stone together with the gorged children. This stone was erected by Zeus in Delphi after defeating his father Kronos and the Titans.

Background:
Kybele, mountain goddess from Asia Minor, that means pre-phrygean, with baetylic stone cult in the Phrygean Pessinus and several cave sanctuarities; from the 7th century BC patroness of the Lydian Mermnades in Sardeis with mountain cult on the Timolos mountain. Kybele is the most famous figure of the old anatolic, already prehistorical found chthonic Mother Goddess, which was called by the autochthonous people with the babble name Ma, Amma or Nana. In the area of Crete-Asia Minor-Northern Syria she developed several local figures becoming manifest in nearly unmanageable local hypostases. As 'Mountain Mother' or 'Mother of Gods' incorporated into the greek pantheon Kybele remained equal in character or akin to the Mysian Adrasteia, the Hurritic-Anatolean Hipta, the Dea Syria Atargatis, the Persian-Anatolic Artemis Anaitis, the Kilikian Artemis Parasia of Kastabala, finally the Phrygian MHTER IDAIA of the Troyan Aphrodite, mother of Aineias, and the Cretic-Minoic Rhea (where Ida are mountains of Asia minor, not the mountain on Crete!)

As another variant is added Attis, the priest lover of the goddess, who defeated by her power emasculates himself and so reminds of the phenomenon of Kybele's own androgynia which already was saved in Agdistis, while cultural-historical he is the archetype of the eunuch attendants of Kybele (Galloi) ecstatic agitated by music, dancing and bloody practices. Flutes, drums, rattels and timbals as stimulants of uncontrolled furor denominates symbolic the milieu in which the Kybele-Attis-cult in hellenestic times developed to a mystery religion and with the re-birthing and re-newing rites of the taurobolia spread over the whole world.

In Rome where Kybele was domiciled since the transfer of her cult stone from Pessinus in 204 BC was celebrated the annual festival of the Megalesia. The Romans regarded her as patroness of their Troyan ancestors; the Roman poets Lucretius, Catull and Ovid considered her as important like the greek epic Apollonios Rhodios before. Roman Empresses identified themselfes with Magna Mater - like here on this coin.

Her timeless figure outlasted the impact of Christianity and gave impulses to the early ecclesian worshipping of Maria in the scope of the montanistic heresia.

Sources:
Hederich, Gründliches Mythologisches Lexikon
Gerhard Fink, Who's who in der antiken Mythologie
Der kleine Pauly
wikipedia.org
http://bebis.cidsnet.de/weiterbildung/sps/latein/exkursion/kybele.htm
http://www.sungaya.de/schwarz/griechen/kybele.htm

Added is a pic of the copy of a Kybele statue from a museum in Berlin.

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« Reply #47 on: February 04, 2006, 09:40:18 am »

The Dioscurs - the divine pair of brothers

Moesia inferior, Markianopolis, Gordian III AD 238-244
AE 27, 10.98g
struck under the legate Menophilus
obv. M ANT GOR - DIANOC AVG
       bust, cuirassed, laureate, r., Aegis on l. shoulder
rev. VP MHNOFILOV M - ARKIANOP / OLIT
In front of a horse, standing l., with raised r. foot, one of the Dioscurs is standing facing, head l., wearing Phrygian hat, holding briddle in l. and sceptre in r. hand.
Pick 1091
good VF
Pedigree:
ex coll. Gordian III from George His
ex Lanz Auction 102 from 28. May 2002, lot 582
ex CNG Auction 132 from 1. Feb. 2006, lot 100

Mythology:
The Dioscurs (dios kuroi = sons of the god) Kastor and Polydeukes were sons of Zeus and Leda. Zeus fell in love with Leda and came to her in the shape of a swane. By his singing he beguile her. After this encounter Leda laid an egg, another egg was from her husband Tyndareus. This encounter is said to be on the Taygetos mountain (Kerenyi, p.86). From the eggs emerged Kastor, Polydeukes, Helena and Klytaimnestra, namely Polydeukes and Helena from the egg of Zeus, Kastor and Klytaimnestra from the egg of Tyndareus. That was the reason that Polydeukes was immortal, but Kastor mortal. There is another myth too which says that the egg was laid by Nemesis and given to Leda only to hatch it. Their birth took place on the island of Pephyos and Hermes has brought them to Pellanes to bring them up.  
 
The Dioscurs took part in the Hunt for the Calydonean Boar under Meleager. They were outstanding warriors and won prices at the Olympic Games too, Kastor as horseman, Polydeukes as fist fighter. Then they took part in the Journey of the Argonauts to Kolchis under Jason. During a heavy storm on sea above their heads a star appeared and the journey could be continued happily. Therefore they were suggested as patrons of the sailors (f.e. the voyage of Paulus to Syracuse, Acts of the Apostels, 28, 11: "After three months we left Alexandria by a ship, which had overwintered  near the island and keeps the signs of the twins."). When they were on the Journey of the Argonauts Theseus and Perithos abducted their sister Helena to Aphidna in Attica. But the Dioscurs were superior to them, conquered Aphidna, rescued Helena and captured Aethra, mother of Theseus

The end of the Dioscurs:
The end of the inseparable pair of brothers came by the fight against Idas and Lynkeus. The cause of the conflict were the daughters of Leukippos, Phoibe and Iliria (or it was a conflict about a cattle herd!). In any case Kastor was killed by Lynkeus who then was killed by Polyneikes. Zeus by throwing his thunderbolt avoided further killing of Polyneikes by Idas.
Polyneikes was mourning Kastor deeply and he begged Zeus to give his brother the same honour which he as immortal would get. And so Kastor and Polyneikes alternately (or together) were dead for one day and alive the other day (Homer, Odyssee 11, 298-304) or alternately for half a year. Finely they were put by Zeus on the sky as constellation of the Twins.

The Dioscurs were worshipped especially in Lakedaimon (Sparta) where the Dioskuria were celebrated in honour. They were venerated in many greek cities, but especially in Rome. It is said that Castor and Pollux have helped the Romans in a battle against the Latins and then have brought the news to Rome. Here their festival was on June 28. It is said too that the twins were seen at the battle of Aquae Sextiae against the Cimbers under Marius.

(will be continued)
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« Reply #48 on: February 04, 2006, 09:43:48 am »

(continued)

Background:
There are different interpretations of the Diskuroi Castor and Pollux (Greek Kastor and Polyneikes) found in literature. The most famous is they are divine twins, sons of Zeus, worshipped in Greece long time before the invasion of the Dorian tribes to Greece. They are an inseparable pair in emergency cases, in battle or storm for help and rescue. They are not the only twin pair. There are similar twin pairs in Greece, the Apharetides Idas and Lynkeus in Messenia, the Aktoriones Kteatos and Eurytos in Elis, or Amphion and Zhetos in Biootia. Their origin is still unknown. The mythology thinks that the divine origin of the twin pairs is the inexplicable fact of the twin birth, which for the people in that time was a mystery, and therefore as father was declared Zeus or another divine subject. So they are found in India, at the Celts, the Germans and on Swedish rock paintings.

The earliest symbols of the Dioskuroi in Lakonia (Sparta) were two beams bound together or amphoras decorated with two coiling serpents. So some scholars are thinking the Dioskuroi in the beginning could be house spirits accompanying the kings of Sparta into the battle and so finally became chivalrous youths.

A very different opinion has Bethe, who thinks that the relation to Zeus is only secondary. Much older is their name Tyndaridoi, the sons of king Tyndareos. Bethe assumes that the twins in the origin were two different heroes, who later are melted together to a twin pair. Even Homer made distinctions between them: Kastor was horse tamer, whereas Polyneikes was fist fighter. There were differences in worshipping too. In Italy Castor was dominant. At the time of Cicero the temple of the Dioskuroi was called 'aedes Castoris'. The oath of the women 'mecastor' was much older than that of men 'edepol'. The cult of the Dioskuroi came to Rome by the legend that they have helped the Romans in the battle of Lake Regillus 499 BC and have brought the victorious news personally to Rome, where they gave water to their horses  at Lacus Iuturae. At this place on the Forum Romanum the temple of Castor and Pollux was erected. The stars above their hats (piloi) are from the end of the 4th century BC and are symbolizing the saving stars in shipwreck.

Sources:
Der kleine Pauly
Karl Kerenyi, Griechische Göttersagen
Robert von Ranke-Graves, Griechische Mythologie
http://www.sungaya.de/schwarz/griechen/dioskuren.htm

Added pictures:
1. Maxentius RIC VI, Ostia  16; C.10. Here you see the characteristic stars above the
    caps.
2. The sculptures of the Dioscurs on the Esquilin in Rome, which is called therefore
    Monte Cavallo (Horse Mountain). There were brought here by Pope Sixtus V in the
    midth of the 16th century and named as sculptures of Phidias and Praxiteteles. But
    that is incorrect. They are late-roman copies.
3. Peter Paul Rubens: The Rape of the Daughters of Leukippos, c.1616

Best regards
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« Reply #49 on: February 06, 2006, 04:06:38 pm »

Hermes - the frontier runner

Actually I have seen Hermes always as a boring god because his depiction on coins is mostly monotonous. He stands regularly with Caduceus in one hand and purse in the other. So I was curious because on this coin Hermes could be seen in a different attitude and remarkable with one foot on rocks. Again we meet the strange stone cult we have seen so often.

Moesia inferior, Nikopolis ad Istrum, Gordian III AD 238-244
AE 27, 13.43g
struck under the legate Sabinius Modestus
obv. AVT KM ANTN - GORDIANOC AVG
       bust, laureate, cuirassed, with Gorgoneion on breastplate and Aegis on l. shoulder
      with erected snake heads.
rev. YP CAB MODECTOY NIKOPOLEITWN PROC ICTRON
       Hermes, nude, with Kerykeion in r. and purse in l. hand, standing l., r. foot on
       rock.
Varbanov 3328 (rev. same die); AMNG 2056 (rev. same die)
about EF, very rare bust variant, nice bright-green patina

1. Birth and first doings of Hermes
Referring to Hesiod Hermes was the son of Zeus and Maia, daughter of Atlas. Already short time after his birth he crept out of his cradle and stole the herd of noble cows from Apollo.To deceive Apollo he has bound shoes from gras on the hoofs of the cows so that there was no trace to find. Meanwhile he has invented the lyre too. For that he has bend strings over the shell of a tortoise. When he played the lyre a nymph betrayed him to Apollo. Only in front of Zeus he confessed his deed. But Apollo was so enthusiastic because of the lyre that he changed it against the herd of cows. Afterwards Hermes invented the flute from reed. That Apollo changed too from him against his golden crook. This was the origin of the Kerykeion (lat. Caduceus), which later became the herald's staff. The snakes on it primarily were ties. Additionally Apollo taught him prophesy. Hermes is said to have invented the alphabet, astronomy, the scala of notes and the art of boxing and gymnastics. As once is said he was a real jack-of -all-trades!

Zeus appointed him messenger of the gods, gave him winged shoes and the Petasos, the winged hat (originally the winged messenger of gods was Iris!). He had to mediate between fighting parties (therefore he is the patron of the translators!), he was patron of the travelling people and of the traders (and the thieves too!). As Psychopompos he escorted the souls of the deads to the Hades, and as such he played an important role in the myth of Orpheus and Eurydike.  

One of his most infamous deeds was the murder of the giant Argos with hundred eyes. Zeus was fallen in love to Io. Hera detected this but Zeus denied his infidelity. To save Io from Hera he transformed her to a white cow. But Hera gave her to the giant Argos with the hundred eyes to watch over her. When Zeus sent Hermes to free her it was impossible because even sleeping some eyes of Argos were always open. But Hermes playing on a flute conjured all eyes to sleep, decapitated him and freed Io. Hera put the eyes of Argo into the tail feathers of the peacock. Hermes was accused for murder at the Olympics. But the gods voted for not guilty by threwing small stones to his feet so that a heap of stones was growing around him.

The British scholar R.F.Willets calls Hermes "for many reasons the most friendly, the most baffling, the most confusing, the most complex and therefore the most Greek of all gods."

(will be continued)
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