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Offline Jochen

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #425 on: February 26, 2019, 03:19:08 pm »
Astakos and the founder myth of Nikomedeia

The Coin:
Bithynia, Nikomedeia, Severus Alexander, AD 222-235
AE 20, 4.26g, 20.24mm, 30°
        Bust, draped and cuirassed, seen from behind, laureate, r.
        Astakos, nude to hips, stg. r., looking back, with l. foot stg. on prow, in l. hand
        holding long sceptre and with r. hand pointing back
ref.: Rec. Gen. p. 557, 319, pl. XCVI, 24
about VF, black green patina

Astakos, eponym of the city, is depicted in the typical position of a city founder who prompted his companions to follow him.

According to Stephanos of Byzanz and Arrian Astakos was the son of Poseidon and the nymph Olbia. In a speech on occasion of the severe destruction of the city by an earthquake 358 BC Libanios tells, that the first city founders has sacrified to the gods at the wrong place. But an eagle and a snake have pointed them to the correct place where they then have built the city. This myth reminds strongly of the 2nd founder myth of Alexandreia Troas depicted on coins where an eagle is carrying the head of a bull.

According to Memnon of Herakleia Astakos was a descendant of the Spartoi (= the Sowed), the ancestors of the Thebans who have grown from the dragon teeth which Kadmos has sown. Astakos was father of Ismaros, Amphidikos, Leades and Melanippos who became famous when they defend their home city against the Seven against Thebens. He is said to have found the city of Astakos in Bithynia (Roscher).

Nonnos wites in his Dionysiaka that at the Gulf of Astakos the first battle was fighted between the army of Dionysos and the Indians. Dionysos has won the battle because he changed the water of the sea into wine and so have made the Indians drunken.
The nymph Olbia is said to have found a city named Olbia too, not the Sarmatian Olbia but an Olbia in the neighbourhood of Nikomedeia. Wether this was an independent city or only the surname or an earlier name of another Bithynian city is discussed. The assumption that it could be Astakos is close but there is no ancient evidence (Pauly).

In ancient times Astakos was known for its lobsters which must have lived in huge numbers in the shallow watersides. αστακος (Astakos) is the Greek name for the lobster. So there is some evidence that the founder myth of Astakos was invented according to the occurence of the lobsters. In this way it is an aetiological myth.

Astakos, the City:
Astakos was situated at the Gulf of the same name (today Gulf of Izmit) of the Propontis (today Sea of Marmara) whereby the exact location is not known until today. Therefore the position of Astacus on the attached map is questionable.

Astakos was founded 712/11 BC by colonists from Megara. It was member of the Delian League. After the settlement of Athenian colonists it lost its independence. Under Doidalses Astakos first came under Bithynian supremacy (about 405 BC). Zipoites (356-281 BC), son of the dynast Bas, was the first king of Bithynia. He tried to conquer Astakos but without success. To enlarge his territory he fought among others against strategists of Lysimachos and defeated him finally in the Battle of Kurupedion (281 BC) where Lysimachos lost his live. With this battle the Wars of the Diadochi ended and the Hellenistic world of states was established. During his war against Zipoites 281 Lysimachos had destroyed  Astakos. Some time later Zipoites died and his son Nikomedes I followed him to the throne. In 264 BC he founded the city of Nikomedeia that he called αντικρυ Αστακου (= ancient Astakos) and resettled the inhabitants of the ancient city to the new founded Nikomedeia. After the death of king Nikomedes IV 74 BC Bithynia came by will to the Roman Empire.

I have attached a map of ancient Bithynia (Source: summagallicana,it)

(1) Nonnos, Dionysiaka
(2) Stephanos of Byzanz, Ethnika
(3) Libanios, Orationes
(4) Arrian, Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker (FGrHist)
(5) Memnon, Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker (FGrHist)

(1) Der Kleine Pauly
(2) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon (auch online)
(3) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und
      römischen Mythologie (auch online)
(4) Wikipedia

Thanks to Frank Dapsul for important references.

Best regards

Offline stevex6

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #426 on: March 01, 2019, 06:48:08 pm »
Wow, this is amazingly extensive work! ... Jochen, this seems to be a very cool way to spend your coin-time (I'm glad to see that you're enjoying your hobby)

Thanks for all of your info/research (you rock)


Offline Jochen

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #427 on: March 04, 2019, 01:20:48 pm »
Thank you, Steve, for your encouraging words!


Offline Jochen

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #428 on: March 04, 2019, 01:33:33 pm »
Dione and the Oracle of Dodona

Recently I could add this coin to my collection. Here I want to share the results of my research.

The Coin:
Epeiros, Ambrakia, 238-168 BC
AE 18, 4.97g
obv. Head of Dione, veiled and laureate, r.
rev. A - M / B - R
       Obelisk of Apollo Agyieus, pointed, on two-stepped base, all in laurel wreath
ref. SNG Cop 23; SNG München 525; SNG Evelpidis 1770; BMC Thessaly p. 94, 5 
rare, F+, dark green patina, corrosion
Apollo Agyieus (Greek αγυιευς = guardian of the ways) was the the protector of ways and public places. He was worshipped as baetylic, pointed obelisk, that often was placed before house entrances, but never in a temple. The statue was maintained by priestesses (agyatides) and decorated with ribbons and laurel wreaths. These columns were found too on the stages of Greek plays. That Apollo was worshipped as aniconic stone column is known already from the Hittites where such a column was found at the entrance of a temple in Bogazköy with the inscription "apulunas" (= Apollo). In Kolophon we have the baetylic Apollo Klarios.

With Dione we are deep in the oldest Greek mythology. Etymologically like Zeus too originated from Greek διος (= divine), she was at first not an own goddess, but as "the divine" rather the female form of Zeus. When the later Greek mythology developed she was removed by Hera. Her ancient position being equal with Zeus she has kept only in Dodona.
According to Hesiod she was the daughter of Okeanos and Tethys, an Oceanid. She belonged to the most noble godesses. In the Homeric Hymns for Apollo it is told, that she together with Themis, Rhea and Amphitrite has supported Leto on Delos during the birth of Apollo.

By Zeus she had a daughter, the love goddess Aphrodite, who is called sometimes Dione to, so by Ovid (Fastes). In his Ilias Homer tells us that Aphrodite once fled into the bosom of her mother when she was wounded by Diomedes. Yes, at these times it was possible that mortals could hirt deities! Dione consoled her that she was not the only one and prophesized Diomedes an unlucky return.

In his "History of Phoenicia" Sanchuniathon, who has lived before the Trojan War, tells that Dione was the daughter of Uranos and Gaia and such the sister of Kronos/El. He has given Byblos to her. The real identity of this Dione remains unclear. It is possible that Sanchuniathon has meant the Phoenician goddess Ba'alat Gebal. But the ancestry from Uranos and Gaia, heaven and earth, was taken by the Orphics in their theology.

In Pergmon was found a bronze tablet from the 3rd century AD where Dione, Phoebe and Nyche were named as healer goddesses, probably used als magic device. In Homer's Ilias Dione tells her daughter Aphrodite that she once has healed Plutos the god of Underworld using the plant Paionia, when he was wounded in a struggle by Herakles. In the same way she has healed Ares who was wounded by Diomedes. Because she has supported too Leto at the birth of Apollo she was regarded here as healer goddess and midwife.

Dione can't be thought without Dodona. And this is the reason that coins with the depiction of Dione could be found only in Epeiros. Dodona in Epeiros was the oldest oracle in Greece and one of the biggest, after Delphi the second one. Already about 800 BC a sanctuary of Zeus has been located there. And here Zeus Naios and Dione Naia together were worshipped. Naios just is Greek = dweller and this name is evidence of the old age of this sanctuary. Pyrrhos I later has introduced games called Naia.

The priestesses of her sanctuary were called doves, birds sacred to Aphrodite. In later times they became as Dodonean Nymphs who should have suckled Zeus the nurses of Dionysos. And so we can find Dione too on vase pictures with Bacchanalian scenes.

In the centre of the oracle stood the famous oak of Dodona. The oak spoke by the murmur of its leaves and the curring of its doves. This then was interpreted by the priestesses. The visitors wrote their questions on tablets of lead and throw them in a jug. Therefore many of them are preserved and can be read in the museum of Ioannina. Until now c.4000 of these tablets were found, an inavaluable look into the ancient oracle practice. In 2012 however many of them lay still unevaluated in the Antikensammlung of the museums in Berlin.

The Dodonian Oak has played too a role in the myth of the Argonauts. When the ship Argo was built with the aid of Athena wood of the oak was mounted into the prow. It should warn the Argonauts against dangers by its power of forecasting (Apollonius of Rhodos). In AD 392 the oak was logged by Christian zealots who - as we all know - are responsible for an immense number of destroyed ancient artworks.

The mythological founder of Anbrakia was Ambrax, son of Thesprotos (after him this region is called Thesprotia), but according to Dionysos of Halicarnassos he was the son of Dexamenos, son of Herakles. Ovid in his Metamorphoses tells us that he has ruled as king at the time when Aeneas on his flight from Troy came to Epeiros. In this narration he calls the city "embattled in the struggle of the gods". That goes back to the following myth that we know from Antoninus Liberalis who has taken it from older sources: Apollo, Artemis and Herakles quarrelled about the control over the city. Because they couldn't find a solution they called Kragaleus, son of Dryops, a wise old man, who just pastured his herds. He awarded the city to Herakles whereupon Apollo in his rage turned him into a rock. The Ambriakotes have offered sacrifices to him always after the feast of Herakles.

In the 3rd century BC Pyrrhos I made Ambriaka the capital city of his kingdom of Epeiros. Pyrrhos I is known by his statement "Another such victory and we are lost!", that according to Plutarch he should have made after his victories involving heavy losses in his campaigns against the Romans in Lower Italy (Graeca Magna). Hence the phrase "Pyrrhic victory".

History of Art:
Dione is depicted on the east pediment of the Parthenon in Athens. Aphrodite is laying stretched out in the bosom of her mother Dione both infolded by in rich folds falling garments. Probably this depiction shows the scene were Dione consoles her daughter after she was wounded by Diomedes.
Furthermore Dione is found on the frieze of the Pergamon altar (Pergamonmuseum in Berlin), depicting the Gigantomachia. At the place where the north frieze continues the east frieze Aphrodite starts the series of deities. Because the frieze has to be seen continuous she is fighting beside her lover Ares. In the depicted moment she draws a spear out of a killed Giant. Beside her are fighting her mother Dione and her son Eros. Unfortunately only remnants of Dione are left.

I have added:
(1) a photo showing the sanctuary of Dodona, in the background the Tomaros
(2) a photo of the east pediment of the Parthenon
(3) a photo of the detail of the Pergamon altar
(4) a photo of the bronze tablet from Pergamon

(1) Hesiod, Theogony
(2) Homer, Ilias
(3) Homeric Hymns
(4) Apollodor, Gods and Heros of the Greeks
(5) Apollonios von Rhodos, Argonautika
(6) Ovid, Fastes
(7) Ovid, Metamorphoses
(8) Plutarch, Vitae parallelae
(9) Cicero, De natura deorum
(10) Pausanias, Voyages

(1) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches Lexikon der Mythologie, 1770 (online too)
(2) William Smith, A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology,
      1813-1893 (online too)
(3) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und
      römischen Mythologie, 1884-1937 (online too)
(4) Barclay Head, Historia Numorum (HN), 1886 (online too)
(5) Richard Wünsch, Antikes Zaubergerät aus Pergamon, 1905 (google books)
(6) Karl Kerenyi, Die Götter- und Menschengeschichten, 1978
(7) Robert von Ranke-Graves, Greek Mythology
(8) Der Kleine Pauly
(9) Wikipedia

Best regards

Offline Jochen

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #429 on: March 04, 2019, 01:34:45 pm »

These coins have been in my collection for a long time. Now I got myself up to write about them. Because she is an important deity this article will be more detailed.

1st Coin:
Cilicia, Korykos, Valerian I, AD 253-260
AE 32, 22.19g, 32.07mm, 135°
obv. AV K ΠO - ΛIK OVAΛEPIAN / OC (in field)
        Bust, draped and cuirassed, radiate, r.
rev. [KΩPV (in ex.) - KIΩ TΩ - N AV] NAV[AP]
        in upper field one below the other XI / C
        Decorated prize basket inscribed with ΘEMIA, with palm branch between
        kerykeion and aphlaston, stg. on a table with dolphin-shaped feet, below a bellied
        wine jug with handles and long neck, on the r. side Dionysos stg.l, nude,
        wreathed, with nebris around hips, resting with raised l. hand on ribboned thyrsos
        and holding in lowered r. hand bunch of wine grapes, at his feet l. the panther
        with raised r. paw std. l., looking r.
ref.: BMC 21; SNG Levante 820; SNG Copenhagen 123; SNG Paris 1123; SNG von
         Aulock 5686; Klose & Stumpf 259
about VF/VF

According to Edith Specht the pumpkin-shaped objects are not crowns nor urns, as one often reads, but prize baskets.

The Themian Games:
The presiding goddess of the Themian Games was Themis, the personification of right and order. Themia too means deposit, usually of money, and the Themian Games were exceptional because the prize for the winner was cash, and not like at the other games wreaths, wine, oil or celery.

From Side in Pamphylia are known a series of coins where a female deity is depicted throwing a pebble in an urn. This goddess is called not only Athena, but Athena-Themis or Themis-Athena too. So I have decided to add this coin to my article. This goddess differs from Athena by holding not a spear but a palm branch in her l. arm. In Anazarbos she is called Themis of the Koinonboulion. Koinoboulon was the assembly of the town councils (Gaebler).

2nd Coin:
Pamphylia, Side, Valerian II. as Caesar, son of Gallienus, AD 256-258
AE 30, 18.04g, 0°
        Bust, draped and cuirassed, bare-headed, r.; beneath eagle with open wings stg.
        r., head l.,; before chin c/m E in circular incus (Howgego 805)
       Themis-Athena, helmeted, in narrow peplos, stg. frontal, head l., palm branch
        over l. shoulder, throwing pebble in urn with 2 handles, r. beside her
        pomegranate on twig
ref. cf. SNG Pfälzer Privatsammlungen 882 (Gallienus); probably unpublished
F/about VF, a bit rough, rev. partially weakly, with distinct traces of smoothing process

The E of the c/m probably devaluates the coin from 10 units down do 5 units,
Coins of Sif´de regularly show a pomegranate. Cause: Side is Pamphylian the word for pomegranate and so became the symbol of the city.
It is not clear for what the goddess is voting. Gaebler assumes that it the voting after a competition. In each case it is an explicit democratic motive (Pat Lawrence).

The name Themis has the Greek root θη- as in τι-θη-μι (= to set, to prescribe). In this sense Themis is "who sets (laws)". The derivation from Phoenician them (= honest, fair) today is obsolete.

Her parents were Uranos and Gaia, heaven and earth, this evidence too of her great age. So she was older than Zeus and the other Olympean gods. As Titanide she was sister of Tethys, Rhea, Mnemosyne, Phoibe, Dione and Theia (Apollodor). And sister of Kronos. When Zeus wants to take she as wife she fled from him but was caught up at Ichnai in Makedonia, probably because she has left traces (ichnos)

She gave birth to Zeus the three Horae Eunomia, Dike and Eirene (just order, just retribution and peace) and the three Moira (goddesses of fate) Klotho, Lachesis and Atropos (Hesiod. Theog.). In a later mythology the Horai were at first the two seasons Thallo (flourishing, for springtime) and Karpo (maturing, harvesting, for summer). Later on Auxo (growing) joined in. It was told that these goddesses have dressed Aphrodite after her birth from sea foam. According to Herodot Themis was the mother of Prometheus too.

It is told that she as the first has introduced the art of fortune-telling, which is logical, because fortune-telling is only possible if the future is put in order and is unchangeably certain. She as the first has got the oracle of Delphi from her mother Gaia, in the first time together with Poseidon, until Apollo after he has killed Python has taken over the oracle. Another oracle existed in Kephisos in Boiotia which played a role in the myth of Deukalion and Pyrrha (see there). So she was able to warn Zeus and Poseidon against the marriage with Tethys foretelling that their sons would become greater than they were (Pindar).

Sometimes she can be regarded as Parhedros (guardian spirit) of Zeus: She advises him to wear the skin of the goat Amaltheia (Aigis) in the battles of the Gigantomachia and she helps him to find the Giants by pursuing their traces (ichnos).
She was involved in the education of the young Zeus, then together with Rhea, Dione and Amphitrite she helped Leto at the birth of Apollo and nourished him with nectar and ambrosia whereby he became immortal. She helped Aphrodite at the birth of Beroe (Nonnos, Dionysiaka). This is the reason that Themis often is seen as assistant of delivering women. Roman mythologists sometimes has identificated her with Carmenta, a Roman goddess, who originally was an assistant of delivering women and known too for her art of fotrune-telling. But some are assuming that this was told only because her connection to Zeus was morally indecent since she was the sister of Kronos, Zeus' father.

After Themis has prevented the marriage of Zeus and Poseidon with Tethys she advised them to give her up to the hero Peleus. As much as Tethys resisted finally she was defeated by Peleus. From this connection emerged Achilleus, the greatest but short living hero from Troy. At their wedding, told by Pindar, Eris threw among the goddesses Hera, Athena and Aphrodite a golden apple inscribed “For the most beautiful.”. To settle the dispute that's about to arise the goddesses choosed Paris and his judgement then triggered the Troyan War.

But actually the Troyan War has had a prehistory: Gaia, mother of Themis, has complained to her that she could no longer bear the burden of so many people. Then Themis advised Zeus to start a great war to help her mother. And so it came to the Trojan War, which did not only break out through the theft of Helena, as one thinks, but which Zeus and Themis had planned for a long time. This is told in detail in the Kypria, which describe the time before the Trojan War. Homer will have known them. That is why Raoul Schrott in his newly translated Iliad is also of the opinion that the invocation of the muse at the beginning of the epic means Themis: "Announce resentment, Themis, about Peleus' Son Achilles and his wrath"

Themis also plays an important role in the myth of the Great Deucal Flood. But I would like to deal with that in a separate excursus.

Themis is the personification of an abstract concept, a higher power that stands above the gods, undisturbed from primeval times, the embodiment of a sacred order. She comes from a time when it was not yet valid to say: "Nothing is more powerful than man" (Sophocles, Antigone). Without her holy order no society can exist. To this order basically belongs marriage and the inherent rule of nature in the interaction of the sexes, to which also belongs modesty (Pindar). Therefore their daughters, the Horai, immediately dressed Aphrodite when she ermerged from the sea. This includes the observance of oaths and treaties. She is the guardian of the right to hospitality and takes care of the protection of the needy. She even protects the murderer at her altar, if he is begging for blood atonement.

Themis takes care of the peace of God that reigns during the Olympic Games, something that no longer exists in our time. She is responsible for the correct functioning of an agon, and therefore we see her for example on the coins of Anazarbos, Tarsos or Side, as on the coin above. She is responsible for convening meetings, the Agora or the Koinoboulion.

Themis punishes the hybris. This is why the deed of Tantalus, who presents his son Pelops as food to the gods, including Themis, is so terrible. This challenges their heaviest revenge. And so she comes into close contact with Nemesis: If Themis is hurt, she will be avenged by Nemesis. Therefore both goddesses are worshipped together in Rhamnous.

Art of History:
Pausanias still knows the golden ivory statue from the Heraion in Olympia and the marble statue from Thebes. In Troizen even several Themides were worshipped! But only a colossal statue from Rhamnous in the north of Attica has survived, which today stands in the National Theatre in Athens.  There she was worshipped together with Nemesis, whereby later Nemesis came to the fore. The cult in Rhamnous was forbidden in 399 AD by a decree of the Eastern Roman emperor Arcadius, who ordered the destruction of the remaining "pagan" temples.
She is depicted on the frieze on the Pergamon Altar in Berlin, where sadly only parts of the chiton and the mantle can still be seen.

I have added
(1) a pic of the statue of Themis from Rhamnous, made by Chairestatos, 315 B.C., made of pentelic marble. She is missing the left hand in which she probably Held scales (from the Store norske leksikon, Lars Maehlum)
(2) a pic of the tondo on an attic red figure Kylix, which is attributed to the Kodros painter, ca. 430 BC, highly classical, today in the Antikensammlung Berlin. Depicted is the childless King Aigeus, to whom Themis is currently predicting the birth of a son. The goddess sits on the delphic tripod in the role of Pythia, the prophetess of this oracle. She holds a phiale in one hand and a laurel branch in the other.

(1) Hesiod, Theogony
(2) Apollodor, Bibliotheke
(3) Homer, Ilias
(4) Pindar, Odes
(5) Aischylos, Prometheus Bound
(6) Sophokles, Antigone
(7) Kypria
(8) Nonnos, Dionysiaka

(1) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisxhes Lexikon, 1770 (online too)
(2) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und
      römischen Mythologie, ab 1884 (online too)
(3) Karl Kerenyi, Die Götter- und Menschheitsgeschichten, dtv
(4) Robert von Ranke-Graves, Griechische Mythologie, rororo
(5) Der Kleine Pauly
(7) H. Gaebler, Die Losurne in der Agonistik, ZfN 39 (1929)
(8) Edith Specht, Kranz, Krone oder Korb für den Sieger, in "Zeitschrift für klassische
      Archäologie 14/III/2000
(9) Ilias. Neu übertragen von Raoul Schrott. Hanser, München 2008

Online Sources:
(2) Wikipedia

Best regards

Offline Jochen

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #430 on: March 18, 2019, 03:16:29 pm »
Excursus: Deukalion and Pyrrha

The mythology of Deukalion and Pyrrha is so comprehensive that I have decided to remove it from the article about Themis and summarize it in a separate excursus.

The legend of the Deucal Flood comes from the East, probably from Mesopotamia. There is the mighty Gilgamesh Epos, in which Utnapishtim is saved, and the story of Noah, described in the 1st book of Moses in the Bible. In Greece these flood legends had a rather small meaning and their traditions were so contradictory that finally three large floods were distinguished (Nonnos, Dionysiaka):

1. the flood of Ogygos
2. the Deucal flood, and
3. the flood of Dardanos

The fact that the Flood was caused by the eruption of the Santorini volcano (so-called Minoan eruption 3600 years ago) is not possible because the myths of the Flood are older. The new hypothesis that the Flood describes the breakthrough of the Mediterranean Sea through the Bosporus into the Black Sea is interesting, but is rejected by most scientists.

The human eras:
The Deucal flood is the middle one. In order to understand it, we must hear something about the history of mankind that Hesiod tells us. According to him, there were four human races who lived in four successive eras.

The first one was the Golden Age. It was under the rule of Kronos. People descended from the gods and lived like the gods themselves, without trouble or worries. It was a kind of Garden of Eden. Age and diseases were unknown to them. They died as if in sleep and then became good spirits, protecting the people.

The second race, the silver one, was created by the Olympians and was inferior to the golden one. Here people lived for a hundred years like small children with their mother, then for a short time they behaved like fools and madmen, did not honor the gods, and perished. But they are still revered by men as blessed.

Then Zeus created a third race: the bronze one. These people were strong and terrible. They built everything out of bronze, because iron did not yet exist. Their houses were made of bronze, their weapons and all their equipment. They fought against each other all the time and so wiped themselves out and came to Hades.

After they had perished by their own hands, a fourth human race came, the iron one, which still exists today. This people made everything out of iron and did not stop working, day and night, and fought against each other without end. The parents did not respect their children any more and the children did not respect their parents. There was no more hospitality and promises were broken at will. Also this race will end badly one day, Aidos (shame) and Nemesis will leave the people, so that mankind will perish defenceless. Dike (justice) had already retreated into the mountains, since the people no longer respected her. When things got worse, she will leave the earth and can be seen on the sky as virgin (Pindar).

The Deucal flood:
Zeus wanted to see for himself whether the people were really so bad and came to Lykaon, the king of Arcadia. Lykaon wanted to test the wisdom of the God and presented him the flesh of a killed, innocent guest. Thereupon Zeus destroyed his house with lightning and turned him into a wolf. And he decided to destroy all the people, not by fire, because it could have lit the heaven, but by a flood of water over Greece, so that all people and animals drowned. Except for two: Deukalion and Pyrrha.

Deukalion, son of Prometheus and Klymene, was king over the Phthiotis in Thessaly (Strabo) and had Pyrrha (the "redhead"), daughter of Epimetheus and Pandora, as his wife. These two were the most righteous and pious people on earth. Prometheus advised them to build a wooden box which Deukalion and Pyrrha entered. When the flood ended after 9 days, they landed at the Parnassos mountain (according to other tradition at Othrys). When Zeus saw the rescued, he ended the flood by making a deep hole in which the water ran off. This hole was still visible 1000 years later in the sanctuary of Olympia.

Deukalion came out of the ark and sacrificed to Zeus Phyxios. The latter sent him Hermes and granted him a wish. He asked for people, and in the sanctuary of Themis at the river Kephissos they were instructed by Themis to cover their heads and throw their mother's bones behind them. They realized that Themis had meant Mother Earth by this. So they threw stones behind them, and from the stones of Deukalion emerged men, from the stones of Pyrrha women. Therefore the new people were "a hard race, experienced in tribulation". The ancient Greeks thought that their word for people (λαοι) derived from stone (λαες), as we know today a so-called folk etymology.

Apollodor reports in his Bibliotheke that other people too who had saved themselves on mountains had survived: Megaros, Kerambos and the inhabitants of Parnassos, some of whom emigrated to Arkadia and there revived the terrible customs of Lykaon. So the flood had been of little use.

Deukalion, after his lucky rescue, built the first temple for Zeus in Athens and was buried there after his death (Pausanias). With Pyrrha he had five children, Protogeneia, Hellen, who became the progenitor of the Greeks (Hellenes), Graikos, Thyia and Orestheus, perhaps also Amphiktyon.

History of Art:
The representation of Deukalion and Pyrrha in antiquity is rare. I only found the mention of a stucco relief from Ostia around 120 AD. But in the Renaissance this theme was taken up. There are arrangements of this motive by Schiavone (1563, Galleria Nazionale in Parma), by Tintoretto (around 1541, Modena, GE; 1543/44, Padua, Mus. Civico) and later by Peter Paul Rubens (1636, Prado) and Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (1655, Denver Art Museum), to name only the most important.

I have chosen
(1) the painting of Rubens and
(2) the painting of Castiglione.
(3) Interesting is also a marble sculpture "Pyrrha or the population" from 1773, which is today in the Louvre. It shows Pyrrha and the people created by her stone throws, here represented by children. It was commissioned by Abbot Terray, the last financial controller of Louis XV and short-term director of the king's buildings before Louis XVI's arrival. Population here is meant as activity, not in the sense of "total number of inhabitants", but of "to populate", as in the peupulation policy of Frederick the Great. This peupulation was an important instrument of population policy in absolutism.

(1) Hesiod, Theogony
(2) Apollodor, Bibliotheke
(3) Ovid, Metamorphoses
(4) Pausanias, Voyages
(5) Strabo

(1) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon (online too)
(2) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Mythologie (online too)
(3) Der Kleine Pauly
(4) Karl Kerenyi, Die Mythologie der Griechen
(5) Robert von Ranke-Graves, Griechische Mythologie
(6) Aghion/Barbillon/Lissarrague, Reclams Lexikon der antiken Götter und Heroen in der Kunst, 2000

Online Sources:
(1) Wikipedia

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Offline Jochen

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #431 on: April 10, 2019, 08:31:44 am »
Apollo Lairbenos

Asia Minor is known as home of an infinite number of deities. Here I would like to tell something about the Phrygian Apollo Lairbenos.

1st coin:
Phrygia, Hierapolis, pseudo-autonomous, 2nd-3rd century A.D.
AE 24, 7.34g, 180°
        Bust of Apollo Lairbenos, draped and laureare, r.
       Roman she-wolf l., suckling he twins Remus and Romulus, above a star
ref. BMC 95 var.
about VF, dark green patina

The name means "holy city" and it is said to have been founded by Apollo. It was famous for its holy hot springs, whose gases were associated with Pluto, the underworld god. Hierapolis had an important Jewish community and is mentioned by Paul in his letters to the Colossians. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The white sinter terraces of Pamukkale are world famous.

In 1889 Ramsay and Hogarth were the first to discover the ruins of a small temple near Badliner near Dionysopolis in Phrygia, dedicated to a native god identified with Apollo. According to the inscriptions found, he was also worshipped in Dionysopolis. in Hierapolis, Motella and Atyochorion. His name is not uniform. In Hierapolis he was called Lairbenos. In the inscriptions, however, also occur: Lairmenos, Larmenos, Larbenos, Leimenos and Luermenos. This epithet of the Asia Minor Apollo is not Greek. In former times some have derived it from Greek labrys (= double axe), others from Hittite labarnas (= "Lord"). But rather a toponym or an ethnicon underlies it. The name can come from the place name Lyrbe near the found inscriptions. It was probably the case that the pronunciation of this Phrygian sound could not be accurately reproduced in Greek. Ramsay assumes that he might have been similar to the German "ö".

In the inscriptions he is often called Apollon Lairbenos or Apollon Helios. Epiphanes (the shining one) and Megas (the great one) are also mentioned, all references to his solar character. He was worshipped together with the maternal goddess Leto, who had an extensive cult in the southern and western Asia minor. Ramsay saw him as her son. A coin from Hierapolis with the legend ΛΗΤΩΕΙΑ.ΠΥΘΙΑ shows that there must have been a common celebration in both honours. Ramsay writes that the couple Leto and Lairbenos Apollo had their equivalent in Kybele and Atys in northern Asia Minor. In the course of time it became a triad through the arrival of Artemis. The priests of their cult also called themselves "Priests of Asklepios Soter", which shows that he additionally had the qualities of a healer god and that he must have been closely related to the god Sozon (Roscher).

Inscriptions in the temple of Badliner show that slaves were released in his name if they placed themselves for some time or forever as hieroi in the service of the deity (as so-called hierodouls, temple servants). But there were also steles which spoke of terrible punishments for those who had sinned against him in the service of God. This could also have been malaria, which was endemic in this valley. As offences that had been punished, are described: A woman had slept with her husband although she was a hiera. A man had not let his wife go, although she was a hiera (actually understandable!). A man had eaten the meat of a goat, which was intended as a sacrificial animal. The purpose of these steles was to warn others.

A building connected to the Apollo-Lairbenos cult was excavated in Hierapolis in 1960. It stands above the Plutonion (an entrance to the underworld), which was a cave filled with poisonous gases, of which Pliny writes that only the priests of the Great Mother (the so-called Galli) could come out of it undamaged. With Great Mother (= Kybele) Leto is meant here with security, who was called also MHTHP LHTΩ. Somehow in this time many deities were mixed with each other
On coins Lairbenos is regularly depicted with a crown of rays, which proves his function as sun god. The twins suckled by a she-wolf on the reverse of the coin are deliberately not called Remus and Romulus by Roscher, because exposed children who are raised by an animal are also found in many other myths.

Lairbenos also occurs on a horse riding r., not only on steles, but also on coins:

2nd coin:
Phrygia, Hierapolis, pseudo-autonomous, 3rd century A.D.
AE 24, 8.16g, 0°
obv. BOVΛΗ
        Bust of Boule (= council), draped and laureate, r.
       Apollo Lairbenos trotting on horse r., with l. hand holding the reins, in r. hand
       holding double axe
ref. BMC 240, 77
F+, black-brown patina, flan crack at 7h, perforated at 6h

From Thyatira there are coins on which a figure rides on a horse and holds a double axe (labrys) over the shoulder. For a long time this figure was thought to be an Amazon. Gerhard then realized that it had to be a male deity, but thought it was Men. Only Pick realized that it was Apollo Tyrimnaios. Also here it concerns the Lydo-Phrygian sun god, who appears on the coins of many cities in Lydia and Phrygia in this representation. This god is also depicted on coins of Eumeneia in Phrygia, here standing frontally with a double axe and a raven:

3rd coin:
Phrygia, Eumeneia, Nero as Caesar, 50-54 A.D.
AE 20, 4.60g, 0°
issued under the Archiereus Julius Kleon
       Bust, draped, bareheaded, r.
rev. from right to left, always from top to bottom:
       Apollo Tyrimnaios, nude, chlamys over left shoulder, standing frontal, looking l.,
       holding double axe in left arm and in extended r. hand raven
ref. SNG Copenhagen 394; SNG by Aulock 3591; SNG Munich 207; RPC 3149;
       BMC 41
Rare, VF, black, shiny patina

Julius Kleon was together with his wife Bassa high priest of Asia.

Excursus: The double axe
The double axe (Greek labrys, Latin bipennis) served for craft purposes, but also as a weapon, in Homer's case, however, only for the opponents of the Achaeans, above all for the Amazons. It had its special meaning in the cult. Originally coming from the Near East and then in Asia Minor, especially in Caria, it was the attribute of numerous native gods until the latest time. In Crete it became one of the most important religious symbols. There only goddesses are represented with the labrys. This is seen partly as evidence of a matriarchy, but partly also as an indication of the male partner of the Great Goddess and as insignia of the priest king. Double axes were set up as cult symbols and consecration gifts, partly made of precious material, and carved into the supporting foundation stones of the Cretan palaces as divine protection. In Asia minor, besides Demeter and Kybele, many male deities also carry a labrys, e.g. Zeus as Labraundos, Men and Apollo, as here on the coin. This is often interpreted as a sign of the weather and thunderstorm god, but without sufficient reason.

On the Greek mainland the Labrys passes completely into the hands of male figures. Since the so-called geometrical time the Labrys appears as a sign of holiness, e.g. with Herakles, Theseus, Hephaistos etc. In Italy it plays, except in eastern cults, no big role. The axe in the Fasces bundle has nothing to do with the Labrys. The Kleiner Pauly thinks that the actual character and the ritual use of the labrys needs further clarification.

Unfortunately the esotericism of this device has taken over again. On the Internet you will find the most peculiar explanations, especially from so-called feminists.

I have attached:
(1) a picture of the Plutonion (Mach, Wikipedia)
(2) the picture of a stele with the riding Lairbenos (Wikipedia)

(1) W. M. Ramsay, Artemis-Leto and Apollo-Lairbenos, The Journal of Hellenic
      Studies, Vol. 10 (1889) (via
(2) Kevin M. Miller, Apollo Lairbenos, in Numen, Vol. 32, No. 1 (Jul., 1985) (via
(3) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und
      römischen Mythologie, 1895
(4) Der Kleine Pauly
(5) Wikipedia

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Offline Jochen

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #432 on: November 01, 2019, 02:44:37 pm »
Sauroktonos revisited

The most important type for Nikopolis ad Istrum is undoubtedly the Apollo Sauroktonos, the "lizard killer", an unique feature of Nikopolis. This type is also available from Philippopolis (but scarce and only later) and 1x from Prusa ad Olympum, but these are probably borrowed from Nikopolis (Pick in AMNG). Therefore it is assumed that Nikopolis possessed at least one copy of this famous statue of Praxiteles. Common to all is the representation of Apollo stg. r. with crossed legs and with his right hand outstretched on a tree stump on which a lizard crawls upwards. It is interesting that Apollo does not hold an arrow in his hand at the first 3 emperors. And even under Severus, where first Apollo appears with arrow, as many types also occur without arrow! An observation that astonished me early on, because it doesn't really fit the lizard killer.

The Apollo Sauroktonos has long been one of my favourite types in art history as well as in numismatics. During my occupation with it I have been able to clear up a rare type for Commodus and have been able to show that a type for Severus actually holds a branch at the hip.

Here are 2 examples of early coins from Nikopolis:

1st coin:
Antoninus Pius, AD 138-161
AE 20, 5.85g, 20.28mm, 180°
struck under governor M. Antonius Zenon, c. AD 145 (Pick)
          Bare head n.r.
          Apollo Sauroktonos, nude, with crossed legs standing r., with outstretched left  
          hand resting on tree stump on which a lizard is crawling upwards; right hand at
Ref:: a) AMNG I/1, 1225 var. (head laureate)
         b) Varbanov 2111 var. (= AMNG 1225)
         c) Hristova-Hoeft-Jekov (2018) No (this coin)
         d) RPC online temp no. 4328
Rare, almost SS, black patina

This is the earliest and most elegant representation of Apollo Sauroktonos on a coin, but without an arrow.

2nd coin:
Commodus, AD 177-192
AE 22, 6.83g, 22.15mm, 105°
          Bust, cuirassed, laureate, r.
          Apollo Sauroktonos, nude, with crossed legs standing r., with outstretched left  
          hand resting on tree stump on which a lizard is crawling upwards; right hand at
          hip holding an (olive) branch; left behind him on his bow and quiver
Ref:: a) not in AMNG
         b) not in Varbanov
         c) Hristova-Hoeft-Jekov (2018) No (this coin)
         d) cf. Gorny&Mosch, auction 212, lot 2321 corr. (Heavily tooled and then
             misinterpreted as Artemis!)
Extremely rare (R9, only 2 specimens known!), F+, dark green patina, corroded

Although corroded, this is a nice and interesting example of the coinage of Nikopolis at the time of Commodus!

The representations for Severus with the arrow in the raised hand do not correspond with the arm position of the traditional statues in the Louvre and the Vatican, nor with the bronze statue of Cleveland, which is claimed to be the original. All of them have the right arm at hip height! Here is the list of the 30 types known from Nikopolis so far:

Sauroktonos types from Nikopolis, after Hristova-Hoeft-Jekov (2018):
1. Antoninus Pius
--- 4 Hand at hip, without object
2. Marcus Aurelius
--- 1 Hand at hip, without object
3. Commodus
--- 1 Hand at hip, without object
--- 3 Hand at hip with branch
4. Severus
--- 2 Hand on chest / at hip, without object
--- 2 Hand raised, with arrow?
--- 1 Hand raised with a branch
--- 1 Hand at hip with branch
--- 3 Hand raised with arrow
5. Caracalla
--- 1 Hand hanging down with branch
--- 2-3 2 Hand raised with arrow
--- 1 Hand hanging down with branch
6. Plautilla
--- 1 Hand raised with arrow
7 Geta
--- 1 Hand raised with arrow
--- 1 Hand at hip, without object
8. Macrinus
--- 1 Hand raised with arrow
--- 1 Hand at hip with branch
--- 1 ???
9. Diadumenian
--- 1 Hand hanging down with branch
10. Elagabal
--- 1 Hand hanging down with branch
11th Gordian III
--- -

With the exception of Gordian III, all emperors have issued coins with the depiction of Apollo Sauroktonos, of the empresses only Plautilla. Altogether we have 30 types so far. They are arranged in the following 3 groups according to their arm position::

(1) right hand at hip:
      a. Hand without object 10
      b. with branch in hand 3
      c. with branch to tree stump 1
(2) right hand retracted at shoulder height
      a. with branch in hand 2
      b. with arrow in hand 8
(3) right hand hanging down
      a. with branch in hand 4
(4) unclear 2

Accordingly, all coin representations with raised arm (group 2) and also those with hanging arm down (group 3) are irregular, because they do not correspond with the preserved marble copies. If we omit these, only 14 types remain, not a single one of which shows an arrow. This corresponds well with the preserved marble statues and the bronze statue from Cleveland, which also have no arrow in their hands. The description with the arrow goes back only to Pliny the Elder, who writes: (Nat. Hist. 34, 70): "Fecit et puberem Apollinem subrepenti lacerate comminus sagitta insidiantem quem sauroctonon vocant" (= He also created a juvenile Apollo, which closely pursues a crawling lizard with an arrow; this one is called Sauroktonos, the lizard killer)

Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717-1768), the founder of scientific archaeology and art history, who was appointed overseer of Roman antiquities shortly afterwards (1763), identified the statue described by Pliny in 1756 as Apollo Sauroktonos in the copy belonging to the Borghese Collection at that time. It is now in the Louvre after Camillo Filippo Ludovico Borghese sold part of the famous collection to his brother-in-law Napoleon Bonaparte in 1807.

But if so many facts, especially the "evidence of the coins (Pat Lawrence)" as shown above, speak against an arrow, then one must also consider that Pliny may have been wrong. In particular, one should consider that the inhabitants of Nikopolis will have known this statue and could have compared it with the coin depictions!

The interpretation of this statue has always caused problems. That the lizard is an allusion to the Python is implausible. It would degrade, even make ridiculous, at best ironic the memorable fight of Apollo against the dragon. The lizard has always caused difficulties. I had already once published an article about the Sauroktonos (Coins and Ancient Mythology, 2011), describing the obvious contrast between the youthful, playful type of Apollo and the merciless murderer of an innocent little animal, a contrast characteristic of Apollo. But now there is a new interpretation that I do not want to withhold from you.

I became aware of them through the article "Apollo Sauroktonos: No Lizards Were killed in the Making of These Coins" by Roman Collector in CoinTalk of September 8, 2019, which goes back to Irving Lavin, "The Fable of Apollo Sauroktonos and the Beauty of Apollo Medicus", which recalls the important work of Renate Preisshofen, "Der Apollon Sauroktonos des Praxiteles, 2002. But if Apollo has no arrow in his hand and doesn't want to kill the lizard, what is it about?

Like snakes, lizards also skin themselves. The ancients believed that the "newborn" lizards were blind after moulting and would only regain their sight through the rays of the sun. And that is where Apollo comes into play. As sun god and as Apollo Medicus only he could renew the sight. Hyginus writes that Apollo, the father of Asklepius, was the first to practice ophthalmology. Apollo doesn't want to kill the lizard, but his bright sunbeams heal it and give it back its sight. And that is why the lizard does not seek a hiding place here, as it would normally do in this situation, but crawls upwards towards the sun. A representation that can even be found in St. Peter's in Rome.

And so Apollo here is not the merciless killer, but the charitable youth. So not Apollo Sauroktonos, the lizard killer, is depicted, but Apollo Medicus, the charitable healer. An interesting thought. And a good possibility to finally break the knot of interpretation, not to cut it, but to loosen it!

I have attached
(1) a picture of the statue of Sauroktonos from the Louvre (Wikipedia)
(2) the detail of a bronze relief by Gianlorenzo Bernini: "Lizard creeps towards the sun" on a column of the canopy in St. Peter, Rome, ca. 1625

(1) Pliny the Elder, Naturae Historiae
(2) Hyginus, Fabulae
(3) Behrend Pick, The ancient coins of northern Greece, Vol. 1: Dacien and
      Moesia, 1898
(4) Patricia Lawrence, Apollo Sauroktonos: "The Evidence of the Coins". Online at
(5) Renate Preisshofen, Der Apollon Sauroktonos des Praxiteles, in "Antike Plastik 28  
      (2002): 41 115"
(6) Hans-Joachim Hoeft, Münzen und antike Mythologie - Reise in ein fernes Land, 2011
(7) Irving Lavin, The Fable of Apollo Sauroktonos and the Beauty of Apollo
       Medicus, Institute for Advanced Study. Online at
(8) Roman Collector, Apollo Sauroktonos: No Lizards Were killed in the Making of  
      These Coins, Cointalk, 8 September 2019

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Offline Jochen

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #433 on: November 01, 2019, 03:01:23 pm »
Herakles and the Lernaean Hydra

The coin:
AE 18, 2.77g, 17.56mm, 210°
obv.: TON KTI - CTHN
         Bearded head of Herakles r.
         Herakles, nude, stg. l., has grabbed the Lernaean Hydra with her several heads, entangling already his r. leg, with his l. hand and holding in his raised r. hand his club to slay the Hyda; behind him on the ground the quiver and his bow
ref.: Mionnet Suppl. II, 604
very rare, almost VF, dark green patina, slightly corroded

From Nikopolis coins are known for Macrinus and his son Diadumenian with almost the same depiction, also with the foot already entangled by the Hydra, so that there are some indications that this is the representation of a statue.

What happened before:
Herakles, the illegitimate son of Zeus and Alkmene, was persecuted from birth by the jealousy of Hera. After marrying Megara, the daughter of King Kreon of Thebes, she struck him with madness amd he killed his children with Megara and threw them into the fire. When he came to his senses again, he banished himself from Thebes and was atoned by King Thespius. Then he turned to the Pythia in Delphi to ask what he should do further. Pythia told him to serve his cousin Orystheus, King of Tiryns, for 12 years.

The killing of the Lernaean Hydra is the 2nd work in the Dodeka catalogue of the 12 works of Herakles. The Hydra, a daughter of Typhon and Echidna, from which other monsters came, was a huge water snake with seven heads, raised by Hera, living in the swamp of Lerna in the Argolis. She covered the land with her deadly breath, devastating the flocks and everything she came to. Herakles, together with Iolaos, climbed his cart and set off. On Athena's advice he chased her out of her cave under a plane tree on the river Amymone with glowing arrows. With effort he overpowered her - she was already wrapping herself around his legs - and struck her heads off with the sword. But each time two new ones grew out of the cut off head. Hera also sent a giant crab to bite Herakles in the foot. Then Heracles called his companion Iolaos for help. He ignited the nearby forest and then burned out the stumps of her neck with fire, so that they could no longer grow back. Finally Herakles cut off her middle head, which was immortal, and buried it under a heavy boulder on the road from Lerna to Elaios. He immersed his arrows in the poisonous blood of the Hydra, making them absolutely deadly.

The Hydra was so poisonous that her breath already killed when someone passed by her, even when she was asleep. The river Anigros in Elis stank unbearably just because once the centaur Chiron, hit by an arrow of Heracles, had bathed his wounds in it. Herakles himself had been bitten by the Hydra during his battle. As a result, he was constantly suffering from incurable ulcers. He asked the oracle in Delphi for help and the oracle advised him to look for a medicinal herb similar to the Hydra in Phoenicia. He found it near the city of Aka, today's Acre in Palestine, which then got its name from the Greek ακεομαι (= I heal, from ακος = healing). Unfortunately it is not handed down which plant it was.

There were problems with Erystheus because he did not want to accept the killing of the Hydra as one of the 12 works. He accused Heracles of using the help of Iolaos. But Herakles replied that he had only called Iolaos when the giant crayfish had helped the Hydra. So the killing of the Lernaean Hydra is considered a valid work of Herakles.

In the end Herakles also died from the poison of the Hydra: The blood of the centaur Nessos, whom he had killed with an arrow, had become so poisonous that he suffered insatiable pain from the blood-soaked nettle shirt that Nessos had given to Deianeira as a gift for him, and in his desperation he sought death by fire.

Lerna lies about 7km from Argos on the southern Peloponnesos and was notorious for its swamps, which were bounded in the north by the river Pontinos and in the south by the river Amymone. These had a dozen strong sources (Greek: κεφαλαι = heads), which were mythologically personified by the Lernaean Hydra with its numerous heads. There was also the "halcyonic pond", which was regarded as an entrance into the underworld. A holy plane tree grove was consecrated to Demeter Prosymna (a nurse of Hera) and Dionysos Saotes with the mystery cult of the Lernaeai. After Apollodoros Rhodios there was also a Poseidon cult (Pauly).

The number of heads the Hydra is said to have had varies from three to five, seven, nine, up to one hundred. Originally the hydra probably had only one head.
It is said to have been Pisander of Kamiros on Rhodes (about 640 B.C.), who first increased the number of heads to make them even more terrible (Pausanias).

Iolaos was originally a Heros who was worshipped in Thebes, but was later suppressed by the Herakles cult. As son of Iphikles and Automedusa, he was the nephew of Herakles and became his companion and charioteer. He helped Herakles in various of his works. At Plutarch and Euripides he is the lover of Herakles. He took part in the hunt for the Kalydonean Boar and in the voayage of the Argonauts. He was the first Olympian winner. Herakles gave him Megara, his first wife, as his wife. After the death of Herakles he had built the big burial mound and took care of Herakles' children. In their defense against Erystheus he died. In Thebes the Iolaeia took place in his honour with chariot races and sacrifices.

Palaiphatos the rationalist, writes:

Lernos was the king of Hydra in the Lerna area and an enemy of Eurystheus, the king of Mykenae. Erystheus sent Herakles to devastate the city. But Hydra was strongly fortified and guarded by 50 brave archers. Whenever Herakles met an archer with his arrow, 2 new ones took his place. When the distress by Herakles grew stronger, Lernos recruited a troop of Carians under the leadership of the great Karkinos (Greek cancer). Thereupon Iolaos helped Herakles with an army from Thebes, set Hydra on fire and the city and the enemy army were destroyed. From this the myth was made (Palaiphatos, middle of the 4th century BC).

History of Art:
I have added 2 pictures:
(1) The picture of an Attic black-figured Stamnos, middle of the 5th century B.C. It shows "Herakles, Iolaos and the Hydra" and is today in the Louvre in Paris. It is attributed to the Princeton painter. On the left you can see Athena, who helps Herakles.

(2) A picture by Antonio del Pollaiuolo "Herakles and the Hydra of Lerna", ca.1480, today in the Uffizi/Florence
This is a pair of paintings to which the painting "Hercules kills Antaeus" belongs too. It is often difficult to decide which of the two brothers Antonio or Piero is the artist. But these two works are attributed to Antonio Pollaiuolo. They show scenes of Greek mythology in the light of Christian philosophy. They were probably commissioned by the Medici. In 1609 they were first mentioned in the inventory of Palazzo Gondi, where they hung as a diptych. In the 2nd World War they were lost and were only rediscovered in Los Angeles in 1963 and returned in 1991. This success was due to Rodolfo Siviero (1911-1983), an Italian secret agent, historian and intellectual who was dedicated to retrieving the artworks stolen by the Nazis.

(1) Hesiod, Theogony
(2) Apollodor, Bibliotheke
(3) Apollonius Rhodios, Argonautika
(4) Pausanias, Travel in Greece
(5) Palaiphatos, Incredible Stories, 38

(1) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon, 1770
(2) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Mxthologie, 1884-1900
(3) Robert von Ranke-Graves, Greek Mythology, 1984
(4) Karl Kerenyi, The Mythology of the Greeks, Volume II: The Heroic Stories, 1966
(5) Der Kleine Pauly, 1979
(6) Aghion/Barbillon/Lissarrague, Lexikon der antiken Götter und Heroen in der Kunst, Reclam 2000

Online sources:
(2) Wikipedia

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #434 on: December 03, 2019, 09:15:45 am »
Excursion: The Hydra as Allegory of the Enemy

Today, the Hydra has become an allegory of the enemy, especially of an insidious and dangerous one who is constantly growing up. Here are a few examples:

(1) First, the infamous commemorative medal of St. Bartholomew's Night, struck under the French king Charles IX. (1550-1574):
AE - Bronze, 51mm, 60g
         struck 1572, medalist Alexandre Olivier (restrike from 1880)
          Bust in armour and sash, laureate, r.
         in ex. 1572
         Hercules, nude, in lion's fur and with lion's scalp on his head, stg. r.
         holding in his raised r. hand the club and in his extended l. hanf a burning torch
         towards the Hydra, which is a scale monster with claws and 3 heads on the right
         in the front of him; in the background a landscape
Ref: Armand III, 286, 1; Jones I, 108; Mazer Roll II, 168

1572 was the year of the terrible St. Bartholomew's Night. Hercules represents Charles IX, who with fire and sword exstirpates the Hydra of heresy. The motto on the back translated reads: "If he does not fear the sword, I will also meet him with fire", that meant the 3 million Protestants (Huguenots).
(2) Commemorative coin on the battle of Millesimo and the battle at Dego as an example of the defamation of the military opponent as Hydra:
Italy, Napoleon Bonaparte, 1796
AE - Bronze, 43mm   
       minted 1796, medallion by Lavy   
         Napoleon in the shape of Hercules stands to the left, fights with club
         seven-headed hydra
         in the field: LE / PEUPLE / FRANCAIS / A / L'ARMEE / D'ITALI
         (legend in 6 lines)
Ref:: ECR Julius 494, Hennin 733

The so-called Battle of Millesimo, rather the loss-making siege of Cosseria Castle on April 13, 1796, and the Battle of Dego on April 14, 1796 were part of several small battles of Napoleon Bonpartes' Italian campaign in the 1st Coalition War (1792-1797) between the revolutionary army of France and the allied armies of Austria and Sardinia-Piedmont in northern Italy, which Napoleon was able to end victoriously.
According to the republican calendar introduced after the French Revolution, the Floreal was a month from April 20 to May 19.

(3) Medal from Germany from the 1st World War:
AE - Iron medal, 85mm, one-sided
           in the field RJA (Medailleur)
           The German Michel as Hercules fights against the hydra of his war opponents

The saying 'VIEL FEIND - VIEL EHR!' = 'Much enemy, much honour' is attributed to Georg von Frundsberg (1473-1528), the lansquenet leader of the Habsburgs. In 1513 he surprisingly defeated a numerically superior army of Venetians at La Motta in Northern Italy.

Today the terror network of the Islamic state is regularly referred to as Hydra, but also the daily terror in the social networks, which is so difficult to deal with.

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #435 on: December 03, 2019, 09:17:35 am »
Sobek - the Egyptian crocodile god

This coin has been in my collection for 10 years. I always thought it was a crocodile on the back. But now Broucheion from CoinTalk has made me aware that the crocodile has a sun disk on its head. So it's not a simple crocodile, it's Sobek, the crocodile god! I had overlooked the sun disk, but I'm not alone: Förschner doesn't mention it either!

So now naturally follows an article about Sobek - the Egyptian crocodile god.

The coin:
Egypt, Alexandria, Arsinoites Nome, Hadrian, AD 117-138
AE - Dichalcum, 2.01g, 12.87mm, 30°, 2.01g
         struck in Alexandria AD 126/127 (year 11)
Obv.: laureated head n.r.
Rev.: Crocodile with sun disk above the head, r. (Crocodile God Sobek)
          in the upper field LIA (year 11)   >
          in ex. APC (for Arsinoites)
Ref.: Milne -; Dattari 6212; Geissen 3383f.; SNG Copenhagen 1085; Förschner 1344
          (Sun disk not mentioned!)
Not common, SS, light green patina

This coin is a so-called Nome coin. In the Old Kingdom Egypt was divided into 32 districts (Greek: Nomoi), which had emerged from the principalities of the Neolithic (Wikipedia). At their head stood a ruler (Strategos), who was relatively independent of the central power of the Pharaoh. Each district (Nomos) was assigned a deity who was especially worshipped. Many of these local gods did not have their own name, but were named after their main place of worship. The goddess of the city Bast in the Nile delta, the famous cat goddess, was simply called "Bastet = the goddess of Bast".

This coin was struck in Alexandria (like all Nome coins) for the Arsinoites district. This had been added to the ancient districts  in Greek-Roman times as the 21st district Noret-Pehet and belonged to Upper Egypt.

Arsinoites was located on the Fajum at the confluence of a contributary to the Nile and the ancient Fajum Lake. The Fajum was an extensive marshland, an ideal hunting ground, which was largely drained only under Ptolemaios II to settle his Greek mercenaries there.

The crocodiles living there since ancient times instilled admiration and fear in the people. So it is understandable that they were worshipped there in the shape of the crocodile god Sobek (Egyptian "sbk"). The Greeks called the city Krokodeilopolis because of this worship of the crocodile. Sobek was called Souchos. Sobek was also considered the ruler of water and the god of fertility. He was worshipped as a protector, but was also regarded as evil in part. In the New Kingdom he appears in the underworld books. In the late period he was even regarded as the creator god.

Sobek was depicted as a god with a human body and crocodile head. As a national emblem he carries the Was. scepter in the left and the Ankh in the right. In the New Kingdom around 1400 B.C. Sobek additionally received the sun disk, because he was considered at this time a revelation of the sun god Re and was known as Sobek-Re. We therefore have reason to believe that Sobek-Re is also meant on this coin.

Its importance was so great at that time that a number of pharaohs took its name as an addition, e.g. Queen Nofrusobek or Pharaoh Chankre Sobekhotep, which translated means "Sobek is satisfied".

To the crocodile god Sobek were consecrated numerous temples with ponds for the holy animals. Besides Krokodeilopolis, the most important were found at Kom Ombo in Upper Egypt and at Tebtunis. The ancient Egyptians knew two different crocodile species: the larger Nile crocodile and the smaller West African crocodile. The West African crocodile was usually used for religious purposes, probably because it was less dangerous. The crocodiles who died in this temple were embalmed like humans and buried as mummies. At Kom-Ombo and in the caves of the crocodile necropolis of El-Maabdeh thousands of these crocodile mummies were found, especially young animals.

The Romans renamed Krokodeilopolis to Arsinoites, the city of the Arsinoites. Besides Memphis, Pelusium and Alexandria, it was the court of the governor. Numerous papyri in Greek, Coptic and Arabic script came from there. Today it is Al-Fayum, a large city with over 475000 inhabitants.

I have added
(1) A drawing of the crocodile god Sobek, and
(2) a pic of the front of the Temple of Sobek-Re (Roland Unger, Wikipedia), Qasr Qarun, at Al-Fayum

(1) Old Kingdom ca. 2707 - 2216 B.C. (3rd to 6th Dynasty)
(2) New Kingdom ca. 1550 - 1070 B.C. (18th to 20th Dynasty)

(1) Wikipedia
(2) Gisela Förschner, Die Münzen der römischen Kaiser in Alexandria - Historisches Museum in Frankfurt, 1987
(3) Der Kleine Pauly

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #436 on: December 04, 2019, 05:36:30 pm »
Eirene - the Greek goddess of peace

The Coin:
Egypt, Alexandria, Vespasian, 69-79
AE - Tetradrachm, 12.89g, 24mm
         struck 69/70 (RY 2)
          Laureate head r.
          under the chin LB (year 2)
Rev.: EI - PH - NH
         Eirene in long robe standing frontal, holding kerykeion in her left arm and
         in raised l. hand grain-ears
Ref: Milne 388; Dattari 357; SNG Copenhagen 165f.; Cologne 274f: Förschner 188

Eirene was the Greek goddess of peace. As Hora she was a daughter of Zeus and Themis and therefore a sister of Eunomia (good order) and Dike (justice). Originally they were the deities of growing, blooming and maturing in nature. The word Eirene is etymologically connected with the Greek word ear = spring. It is fitting that in ancient Greece spring was the time when warlike ventures were resumed and peace was in great danger (Wikipedia). Pauly writes that the origin of the name is probably pre-Greek. 

Later the Horai, especially Eirene, were raised to the moral-political level. She stood for the fact that disputes were settled by negotiations and not by weapons. In 371 B.C. she was at the centre of the Peace of Sparta between Athens and Sparta, which ended the Peloponnesian War. With the participation of Dionysus I of Syracuse and the Persian Great King, a general peace (koinh eirene) was agreed upon for the entire eastern Mediterranean region. Already in 465 B.C. the Athenians are said to have built an altar for Eirene after Kimon had defeated the Persians at Eurymedon in Pamphylia (Plutarch). The feast of Eirene was celebrated on 15-16 Hekatombaion (July/August), the mythical day of Synoikia, on which Theseus had united the Attic small states.

Eirene is at the centre of Aristophanes' comedy "The Peace", with which he had won the 2nd place of the  Dionysia in 421 B.C.: The Attic winegrower Trygaios was fed up with the eternal war and went to heaven to reach the end of the war from Zeus. But the gods had left their castle out of anger against the Greeks and had given everything to Ares, the god of war. He had locked Eirene in a cave and was about to crush the Greek cities in a huge mortar. Only the pestle, the Athenian commander Kleon and the Spartan Brisidas were still missing: they had been lost in Thrace, both had fallen. So Trygaios had time to call the Greeks together and unite them. And together they could free Eirene and peace and prosperity reigned in Greece again. Only the manufacturers of weapons and war material were ruined.

History of art:
(1) Detail of the 3 Horai of a red figured Attic Kylix of the Sosias painter,
from the late archaic period, ca. 500 B.C. Each Hora bears an attribute of her season. Eirene, the middle one, carries a branch with spring flowers. Today in the Antikensammlung Berlin

(2) The most famous and significant statue of the Eirene is that of Kephisodotos (around 400-370 B.C.), the father of Praxiteles. It shows Eirene with the infant Plutos and a cornucopiae in her left arm. The symbolism is clear: the little Plutos, which stands for economic prosperity, can only thrive in the security of divine peace. This statue has been handed down in numerous Roman marble copies. The Greek original was made of bronze and was probably erected on the Agora in Athens on the occasion of the peace of Sparta in 371 BC. This image comes from the Glyptothek in Munich.

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #437 on: February 13, 2020, 06:31:47 am »
Pax - the Roman goddess of peace

Pax, the Roman goddess of peace, is not an ancient goddess of the Romans, this warlike people. She was adopted, like so many other things, of the Greeks. She does not appear on coins until 44 BC, after the end of the civil war. The Pax cult was introduced to Rome by Augustus in 10 B.C. (Dio Cassius). In 9 B.C. the Ara Pacis was erected on the Mars field to celebrate the return of the emperor from his campaigns in Hispania and Gaul.

In 71 under Vespasian a magnificent Temple of Peace was erected on the Peace Forum (Forum Pacis) north of the Basilica Aemiliana. It was a miracle, full of the most important works of art of Greece (Roscher). It celebrated the victory over the Jews. Under Commodus it was destroyed by fire in 191, but rebuilt by Severus.

The Romans probably only knew the victory peace. Not for nothing a Roman proverb says "Si vis pacem, para bellum (= If you want peace, prepare for war)". On coins, the pax is therefore usually decorated with attributes of the Victoria, the Fides, the Honor or the Virtus.

Here is a series of illustrations of the Pax on Roman coins:

1st coin:
Claudius, 41-54
AU - Aureus, 7.71g, 18mm, 180
         Rome, 46/47
       Laureate head r.
Left to right: PACI AVGVSTAE
        Winged Pax-Nemesis, in long robe, Walking r., holding in left hand
        winged caduceus, pointing to a snake that is coiling r.,
        with the right hand pulling the tip of its garment in front of its chin
Ref: RIC I, 38; C. 57 (Lyon 45!); BMC 39; v. Känel 628
ex Glendining&Co, Auction, London 3.12.1929, No. 666
ex Adolph E. Cahn auction no. 68, Frankfurt, 26.11.1930, lot 232
(coll. Moritz Simon, banker in Berlin)
ex Münzen und Medaillen AG, Basel
ex Classical Coins, Dr Brandt, February 2002

Nemesis is the goddess of just compensation. This representation wants to show that peace and balancing justice provide prosperity.

2nd coin:
Philip I. Arabs, 244-249
AR - Antoninian, 5.10g, 22mm, 180
        Antioch, 244, before the elevation of Philipp II to Caesar
        Bust, draped and cuirassed, radiated, r.
        Pax, in long robe and diademed, Standing l., holding in left Hand  
        transversal sceptre and in the right hand olive branch.
Ref: RIC IV/3, 69; C. 113
Philip's first great task was to end the war in the East. To this end he bought a peace treaty from the Persians under King Shapur for 50 Millions of sestertii and probably an annual tribute as well. Here one could truly not speak of a victory.

3rd coin:
Carus, 282-283
AR - Antoninian, 3.84g, 21mm, 0
         Ticinum, 1st Office
        Bust with breastplate, radiate, r.
       Pax in long robe standing l., holding with left hand standard and in the
       extended r. hand olive branch.
Ref: RIC V/2, 75; C, 56
The olive branch is the standard attribute of Pax and stands for economic well-being. The legend and the standard are rather an indication that the peace between the emperor and his army is meant here. After all, Carus is one of the few soldier emperors who was not killed by his soldiers. He died by a lightning strike near Ktesiphon.

4th coin:
Moesia superior, Viminacium, Trajan Decius, 249-251
AE - Sesterz, 19.19g, 29.14mm, 15°
        Bust, draped and cuirassed, laureate, r.
Rv.: P M S C - OL VIM
        Moesia-Pax, standing l. in long robe between bull and lion, Holding in r. hand
        an olive branch and in the left arm a sceptre, on which is a
        little Victoria with a wreath and palm branch floating towards her.
Ref.: AMNG I/1, 123, pl. I, 12; Varbanov 174 corr.; Jekov/ Hristova No. 46 (R6)
This type celebrates the restoration of peace on the lower Danube (Pick). In fact Decius did not succeed in stopping the Goths, but together with his son Herennius he fell in the battle of Abrittus in 251.

(will be contued)

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #438 on: February 13, 2020, 06:35:23 am »

Cities of peace:
Augustus had the idea to found so-called peace cities. They were to celebrate the Pax Augusta, which he had proclaimed in the entire empire. Among them was Pax Iulia in Lusitania (Portugal), today Beja, and the Colonia Pacensis (or Forum Iulia Pacatum) at today's Frejus in the province of Gallia Narbonensis.

This custom was taken up again by Nero after he had proclaimed general peace and closed the temple of Janus in 64 AD. These included Eirenopolis-Neronias in Cilicia and Sepphoris/Diocaesarea in Galilaia, both of which were given the name Eirenopolis under Nero.

5th coin:
Nero, 54-68
AE - Dupondius, 13.3g, 27mm, 210
         Rome, about 65
       Radiate head r.
        Temple of Janus Geminus with barred window left and closed
         double door on the right with a garland hanging over it:
         in left and right field large S - C
Ref: RIC I, 284; C. 150; BMC 198 (Var. #1)
With this piece Nero wanted to show that he had achieved peace for his time.

6th coin:
Cilicia, Eirenopolis-Neronias, Domitian, 81-96
AE - AE 19, 3.7g, 45
       struck 93/94 (year 42 of the era of Eirenopolis)
       Laureate head r.
Rv.: Pax/Nemesis, winged, naked to the hip, Walking r., holding in lowered l. hand
        kerykeion and pulling with right hand the tail of the garment in front
        of the chin; in front of her the wheel.
        [in right field BM (= year 42)]
Ref: RPC 1765; SNG Levante 1602; Karbach in JNG 42/43 (1992/93)
This piece is taking up Claudius' motive again!

(1) Hesiod, Theogony
(2) Aristophanes, Peace
(3) Plutarch, Kimon
(4 ) Pliny, Historia Naturae
(5) Sueton, Vespasian
(6) Pausanias, travel in Greece

(1) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Detailed Encyclopedia of Greek and Roman Mythology
(2) Benjamin Hederich, Thorough mythological dictionary
(3) The little Pauly
(4) The Great Ploetz

Online sources:
(2) Wikipedia

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #439 on: February 13, 2020, 06:36:57 am »
Selene - the Greek goddess of the moon

In the last weeks I have been studying the mythology of Selene. Here are some results.

First coin:
Egypt, Alexandria, Commodus, AD 177-192
AE - BI Tetradrachm, 12.44g, 26.5mm
         Alexandria, 189/90 (RY 30 of Marcus Aurelius)
          Laureate head r.
Rev.: Bust of Selene, diademed, l., crescent on her head, l. large crescent
         in the right field L Λ (year 30)
Ref:: Milne 2686; Cologne 2252; Dattari 3889; Emmet 2558.30; BMC 1404; SNG
         Copenhagen 582; SNG Munich 101; SNG Oxford 2686; Demetrio 2286;
         Förschner 785

It was already known in antiquity that the name Selene was derived from Greek. Σελας (= shine, glow).

Since the beginning of time the change of day and night has determined the life of the people. So it is understandable that there were deities for it. According to Hesiod, Apollodor and others the parents of Selene were Hyperion and Theia, but also Hyperion and Euryphaessa (Homeric hymns). Hyperion was also the father of Helios and Eos and hence Helios and Selene were brother and sister, which fits well with our two main stars. Theia was a daughter of Uranos and Gaia. So all of them are Titanids. Thus they belong to the ancient dynasty of gods from the time before the Olympians, which is appropriate to their importance.

Euryphaessa is another name of Theia and means "the shining one", so she is closely related to the moon. Theia had a sad fate. She demanded her share of the Titan rulership and was punished for it: Hyperion was killed and Helios drowned in Eridanos, whereupon Selene threw herself to death. Theia, however, fainted deeply, where Helios appeared to her and announced that he under the new Oöympian gods would walk across the sky as  sun and Selene would shine as the moon. Then Theia awoke again, went through the land with drums and cymbals and disappeared in a storm when they tried to seize her (Kerenyi).

The trinity of the siblings Helios, Selene and Eos ruled the day, the night and the early morning. An equal trinity results if we look at the phases of the moon: waxing moon, full moon, waning moon. So change is the characteristic of the moon.
She is usually depicted with the crescent moon on her head. Since the "horns" of the crescent moon resemble the horns of a bull, she is often depicted in a bull league or even riding on a bull.

Later on Artemis, Diana and Hecate came to the fore, all of whom have a reference to the moon. This is a sign that the old gods had now been replaced by the new Olympic gods.

For Selene, there are only few cult testimonies, in contrast to the moon god Men, who was widely worshipped in Asia minor. It is interesting, of course, that there was a male moon god! See the article in this thread "Men - the Anatolian moon god".

Virgil tells us that Pan, who is known to have often persecuted the nymphs, harassed the moon goddess with special love. But Selene rejected him. So Pan hid his hairy and goat-like figure under a white sheepskin. She didn't recognize him, so he was able to lure his beloved to him. She rode on his back and he could do with her what he wanted. Ranke-Graves writes that the seduction of Selene refers to the moonlight orgy on the eve of the May Day celebrations, when the young May Queen rode into the woods on the back of her chosen one to celebrate the forest wedding.

But her most famous love story is about her love for Endymion. Endymion was a handsome young man who lived as a shepherd in Caria. His parents were Aethlios (or Zeus himself) and Kalyke. Because of his justice (Ibykos) Zeus loved him and granted him a request. And Endymion asked for immortality and eternal youth. So Zeus put him into everlasting sleep. During her nocturnal journeys across the sky, Selene saw the sleeping youth and fell in love with him and placed him in a cave on Mount Latmos in Caria. There she visited him every night and always kissed him shyly without waking him up. This myth of Endymion is so beautiful because it is so pure and the delicate image of a slumbering man kissed by the moonbeam is covered with such sweet magic of the gods.

And this brings to mind one of my favourite poets, the tragic Friedrich Hölderlin (1770-1843) , who writes in his poem "When I was a boy":
"And as you delight the heart / Of plants, / When they stretch out their tender arms against you, / So you have delighted my heart Father Helios! and, like Endymion, / I was your favourite, / Holy Luna!"

But others say that Selene fathered 50 daughters with him.

Pausanias writes that Endymion was king of Elis and that he and his wife Asterodia (or Chromia, daughter of Iton) had the sons Aitolos, Paion and Epeios. In order to arrange his succession, he had a race between them in Olympia, which was won by Epeios. Paion then emigrated and founded Paionia. Aitolos, on the other hand, was banished due to a self-inflicted accident with fatal outcome and went to Kuretia. A daughter of Eurykyda had begotten a son Eleios with the sea god Poseidon, who after the flight of his uncle Aitolos had become his successor as king of Elis.

But this mythology does not fit at all to the Selene-Endymion myth, so that I believe that this Endymion must be a different figure. This is already mentioned by Hederich. He should be called Endymion(2), unlike the Endymion(1) of the Selene myth.

History of Art:
Hellenistic art did not actually deal with the mythology of Selene and Endymion. Only the Romans took up this topic. In Pompeii the first wall paintings are found. On sarcophagi it was understandably a popular motif because of the eternal sleep and eternal youth.

I have added the following pictures:
(1) Selene, Attic red-figured Kylix, early classical, c. 500-450 B.C., attributed to the Brygos painter, now in the Berlin Collection of Classical Antiquities. On a tondo we see the moon goddess Selene in a biga, drawn by 2 winged horses. The goddess wears a nightcap and is crowned with the moon disk.

(2) Selene and Endymion, Apulian red-figured volute crater, late classical-early Hellenistic, ca. 4th century B.C., attributed to the underworld painter, today in the Museum of Art, Dallas, USA. The upper panel of the vase shows the shepherd Endymion, who leads Selene, the goddess of the moon, down from heaven. The goddess stands in a quadriga and is crowned with the crescent moon and a radiant aureole.

(3) Selene and Endymion, sarcophagus, Roman, 3rd quarter of the 3rd century AD, sarcophagus relief in Parian marble, found in Saint-Medard-d'Eyrans, Gironde, France. Today in the Musee du Louvre, Paris.

(4) The motif of Diana and Endymion was very popular in the Renaissance and Baroque periods and there are countless paintings with this theme. I have chosen this one: Diana y Endimion, 1780, by Domingo Alvarez Enciso (1737-1800), now in the Museo Provincial de Bellas Artes in Cadiz, Spain.

(will be continued)

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #440 on: February 16, 2020, 04:57:23 am »

In ancient times Selene appeared too as an epithet of two queens from the house of the Ptolomeans. Cleopatra II Selene, daughter of Ptolemy VIII and Cleopatra III was Queen of Syria from 82-69 B.C. She was married to Antiochos VIII, Antiochos IX and Antiochos X and was a symbol for the continuity of the Seleucid rule until its end.

The famous Cleopatra VII. (69-30 B.C.) had 3 children with Marcus Aurelius. Ptolemy Philadelphos and the twins Akexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene, born 40 B.C., thus "sun" and "moon". You can see the high standards she had!
Cleopatra Selene was married to Juba II of Mauritania, who both grew up in the household of Octavia in Rome. There they founded a flourishing community which served as a Roman client state.

Second coin:
Mauritania, Juba II, 25 BC - 23 AD.
AR - Drachm, 3.24g, 17.83mm, 18
         struck AD 11 (?)
          Head of Juba, diademed, r.
         Isis crown with ears of grain, below crescent
Ref.: SNG Copenhagen 574
ex Harlan J. Berk.

The French name Celine (e.g. Ferdinand Celine, Celine Dion) is said to come from Selene.

(1) Hesiod, Theogony
(2) Pseudo-Apollodor, Bibliotheke
(3) Pausanias, travel in Greece
(4) Vergil, Georgica

(1) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon
(2) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Lexikon der griechichen und römischen Mythologie
(3) Robert von Ranke-Graves, Greek mythology
(4) Karl Kerenyi, The Mythology of the Greeks
(5) Drr Kleine Pauly
(6) Hans-Joachim Hoeft, Coins and Ancient Mythology, 2017
(7) Echtermeyer/von Wiese, German poems

Online sources:
(2) Wikipedia

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #441 on: February 16, 2020, 04:59:02 am »
Pelops and Hippodameia

The occasion for this article is this beautiful coin, which I could add to my collection. There is already an article about Pelops in this thread under "Pelops and the Curse of the Atrides". But here I will focus a bit more on Hippodameia.

The Coin:
Ionia, Smyrna, Antoninus Pius, 138-161
AE 35, 25.20g, 34.91mm, 0°
struck under the Strategos Theidianos, ca.147 AD
          Laureate head r.
          Hippodameia, in long robe and veiled, standing r., lifting fold of her robe on the
          left shoulder, holding with the right hand the right hand of Pelops, who ist
          standing frontally beside her, naked except for chlamys over left shoulder, head
          turned left, with his raised left hand resting on a long sceptre, both stg. in biga
          driving r.
          in the upper right field ΠEΛO [Ψ]
Ref:: BMC Ionia, 342; SNG von Aulock 2213; Mionnet 3, p.230, nr. 1289; Klose
         Series A (sixes)
S+, stripped

(1) The coin shows the moment when Pelops and Hippodameia get into the car to start the race with Oinomaos. This coin type is already mentioned by Roscher, Volume I, p.2670, 1884, and according to A. von Sallet refers to the celebration of the Olympic Games in Smyrna (Ztschr. f. N. 14, 1887). This motif appears on numerous representations.
(2) ANEΘHKE is a standard formula: Theudianos gave it to the people of Smyrna.

Hippodameia (Greek = mistress of horses) was the beautiful and much sought-after daughter of Oinomaos, king of Pisa at Elis, a fertile landscape in the west of the Peloponnesos, and the Pleiad Sterope (or the Danaid Eurythoe). Oinomaos himself was a son of Ares and Harpina, daughter of the river god Asopos. He was a great lover of horses. So he forbade his subjects to mate horses with donkeys, on pain of cursing. Oinomaos had been prophesied by the oracle that he would be killed by his son-in-law. It is also said that he was in love with his daughter and had an unseemly relationship with her (Hyginus). In any case, he did not want to give her to any suitor unless he was defested by him in a chariot race. Otherwise he would pay for it with his life.

The goal of the race was the Altar of Poseidon at the Isthmos of Corinth, and it was not only about Hippodameia, but about the whole country through which the track passed. The suitor had to take Hippodameia with him in his carriage, of course, to divert his attention from the carriage. Oinomaos, however, gave him an advantage of half an hour, as he sacrificed a ram to Zeus Areios (after others to Ares or Hephaistos) before the race. But he had been given two horses by his father Ares, Psylla, the flea, and Harpinna, the plucker, which we must imagine winged. These were faster than the north wind and were steered by the skilful Myrtilos, so that no suitor had a chance against him. He caught up with them and pierced them from behind with a spear he had also received from Ares. 12 (some say 13) suitors had already paid their application with death. He nailed their heads over the gates of his palace.

When Pelops, who came from his homeland, Mount Sipylos in Lydia, landed at Elis, he asked his lover Poseidon to give him the fastest car in the world for his advertisement to Hippodameia. Poseidon provided him with a winged chariot pulled by two immortal winged horses. There are two different versions:

(1) Pelops had fallen in love with Hippodameia and came to court her. He brought Myrtilus, the charioteer of the Oinomaus, on his side by promising him a night with Hippodameia. Myrtilos was a son of Hermes and Cleobule. He too had fallen in love with Hippodameia, but did not dare to take part in a chariot race. Or Hippodameia had fallen in love with Pelops at the first sight of him and persuaded Myrtilos to help her by promising him a night with her.
(2) The other version: Pelops came to Elis actually to win the kingdom of Oinomaos. Then Hippodameia would have been only a nice sideline, so to speak. It fits to this version that he is said to have promised Myrtilos half of the empire.
In any case, Myrtilos manipulated the wheels on Oinomaos' chariot by replacing the nails on the axle with wax nails. When Oinomaos had just caught up with Pelops on Isthmos, the wheels flew off the chariot, Oinomaos got entangled in the reins and was dragged to death. But before that he cursed Myrtilos and prayed to the gods that he would be killed by Pelops. But Pelops received Hippodameia and the kingdom of Elis by this deceit. He became one of the greatest founding fathers of the Greeks and gave the "Peloponnesos" (= Island of Pelops) its name. By the way, in the Middle Ages the Peloponnesos was also called Morea (mulberry) after its shape!

On the return journey, Myrtilos tried to approach Hippodameia as promised. But she defended herself and Myrtilos was pushed into the sea by Pelops at the Geraist promontory, which is called the Myrtoic sea after him.
But there is also the Phaidra motif: Hippodameia had feigned thirst and sent Pelops for water. So she could seduce Myrtilos in his absence. When Myrtilos rejected her,
she accused him of rape at Pelops and Pelops pushed him into the sea. But before his death, Myrtilos cursed the family of Pelops. This is the real Curse of the Atrides! So it did not help that Pelops erected a cenotaph in Olympia to atone for him. Hermes remained a bitter enemy of his family.

At first, her happiness with Pelops was so great that she donated special games to Hera in Olympia, the Hereia, which took place every 5 years and where young girls competed against each other. Pelops sired with Hippodmeia among others the Hippalkos, the Atreus and the Thyestes.

But Pelops had another son, the handsome Chrysippos (= the one with the golden horses) of Danais, who was his favourite son. Laios, the son of Labdakos and later father of Oidipous, had escaped from Thebes and was taken in as a guest by Pelops. Here he was entrusted with the education of Chrysippos. So he taught him e.g. how to drive a chariot. He fell in love with Chrysippos and abducted him to Thebes when he was allowed to return. But Atreus and Thyestes were able to bring him and Laios back. Pelops forgave him when he saw how much Laios loved Chrysippos. Euripides calls him in his "Chrysippos" the inventor of boy love.

But Hippodameia hated Chrysippos above all else, because she feared that he would deprive her children of their inheritance. So she tried to persuade Atreus and Thyestes to kill him. When they refused, she took action herself. At night she went to the sleeping chamber of Laios, where he slept with Chrysippos. She took the sword of Laios and plunged it in his body. Of course, Laios was suspected of murder, but with his last breath Chrysippos could name Hippodameia as the murderer. Pelops banished her and she fled to Midea in the Argolis (Pausanias). There she died or killed herself. Pausanias tells that Pelops had her bones brought back by order of the oracle and buried her in Olympia. There she already had a sanctuary, the Hippodameion, which the women were allowed to enter once a year.

There are indications in this mythology that this race must have taken place somewhere else than it is told in the myth. The distance from Pisa in Elis to the Isthmus of Corinth alone is too long for a chariot race. The description of the horses of the Oinomaos as well as the horses of Pelops as winged rather fit for a race over the sea. Thus it is described how Pelops tries his horses before the race, in which he drives from Sipylos to Greece (rather flies!), so fast that the horses' hooves do not touch the water and his charioteer Kylas dies. In Euripides' "Orestes" Myrtilos is thrown out of the chariot into the sea. This happened at the geraistic promontory and this is in the south of the island Euboea. In Scholion C and already at Pherekydes of Syros Oinomaos was king of Lesbos. That fits well also geographically; because the Geraistos lies in the air-line distance between Lesbos and the Isthmus of Corinth. Here the distance does not matter, because it was a flying competition with winged horses. The motive of the father's love for his daughter fits culturally more to Lesbos than to Elis. Kylas, the charioteer of Pelops, is written by Theopompos of Chios as Killas and he is the eponymous hero of the Lesbian town of Killa, where he had a burial mound that Pelops is said to have built for him. Therefore there is the opinion that the mythology of the abduction of Hippodameia originally comes from Asia Minor and was only transplanted to Greece with the migration of the Pelopids to Greece.

The Hippodameia myth was treated dramatically by Sophokles in his "Pelops or Hippodameia", which is lost, and by Euripides in his "Oinomaos", which is preserved in fragments, and in the play of the same name by Lucius Accius (c. 170 B.C.- c. 90 B.C.)

History of Art:
I have added the following pics:
(1) Pelops and Hippodameia in a quadriga r.. Attic red-figured amphora, around 410 B.C., today in the Museo Archaeologico in Arezzo/Italy
(2) Pelops and Hippodameia in a biga r.; terracotta tablet with relief, Roman, Augustan or Julian-Claudian, 27 B.C.-68 A.D., today in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

(3) The race and the accident in which Oinomaos lost his life was often depicted on Roman sarcophagi. This one is Roman, ca. 230-240 AD, 1615 in the Villa Borghese/Rome, since 1808 in the Louvre in Paris. This detail shows the death of king Oinomaos. The king lies with his knees drawn up under the horse and holds the reins with his left hand.

(1) Apollodor, Epitomes 2, 3-10
(2) Apollonios Rhodios, Argonautica
(3) Hyginus, Fabulae
(4) Pausanias, Periegesis
(5) Pindar, Olympic Odes

Secondary literature:
(1) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon
(2 ) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der griechoschen und römischen Mythologie
(3) Der Kleine Pauly
(4) Karl Kerenyi, The Mythology of the Greeks
(5) Robert von Ranke-Graves, Greek mythology

Online sources:
(2) Wikipedia

Best regards

Offline Jochen

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #442 on: February 24, 2020, 05:30:26 am »
Elagabal - The sun god of Emesa

The Roman emperor Elagabal (218-222) was actually called Varius Avitus Bassianus and was given the name Marcus Aurelius Antoninus as emperor. Elagabal or Heliogabal he was called much later. But Elagabal was actually the name of the god he worshipped, the sun god of Emesa, today's Homs in Syria. To distinguish these two, I will always call the emperor Antoninus here. So Elagabal always means the sun god!

In this article I would like to show where Elagabal comes from and into which cultural landscape he is to be classified.

1st coin:  The Holy Stone of Emesa
Syria, Emesa, Antoninus Pius, 138-161
AE 23, 10.19g, 180
struck 138/9 (RY 1)
Obv.: [AVT KAI TI] AIΛ A [NTO - NEINOC CEB EVC] Awarded head n.r.
Rev.: EMI - [C]HNΩN
Eagle with closed wings standing r. on the Holy Stone of Emesa, head with wreath in beak turned.l., [stone decorated with a star in the middle at the top and a pellet on the left and right].
in right field A (RY 1)
Ref.: BMC 1; SNG Copenhagen 307; RPC IV online temp 5782
Abaut VF, black-green patina with light green highlights

This is the only pre-Severan coin with the Sacred Stone of Emesa. The stone itself was brought to Rome by Antoninus and returned to Emesa after his death. That this is the stone in the Kaaba in Mecca is only a rumour.

The name Elagabal is composed of the Aramaic word 'LH = ilaha (god) and GBL = gabal (mountain), which means "god mountain", not "god of the mountain", because ilaha is in the status emphaticus and not in the status constructus (Jean Starcky). This is a subtle but not insignificant difference. The word for mountain is also known to us from Arabic, e.g. in Djabal al-Tariq, (mountain of Tarik), the name for Gibraltar. However, the mountain at Emesa was only about 30m high!

Elagabal was first a local mountain god of Emesa on the Orontes, as there were so many in the Near East. But very early on he had a claim to universality due to his solar character, as was characteristic of the Semitic Baalim.

Elagabal formed a triad with two female astral deities. Such triads were not unusual in Syria and Mesopotamia. His female consorts were Juno Caelestis and Pallas. Juno Caelestis=Tannit=Urania introduced the goddess of the moon and Pallas as Aphrodite=Astarte=Atargatis as the Venusian star the Arab Al-Uzza. As Athena Allath she was also the Arabian goddess of the moon.

Elagabal had the solar character together with the East Semitic sun god Shamash from Mesopotamia, who was also depicted on Severan coins in Emesa. The cult of Elagabal also later came under his influence.

Elagabal was not worshipped anthropomorphically (in human form), as it was common in the western religions, but aniconically in the shape of a black stone in conical form, a baetyl (from Semitic bet el = house of God), which probably was a meteorite. Mountain gods were already known in Anatolia, Syria and Palestine since the times of the Hittites. It was adorned on top, as we know from coins, with an eagle, as a sign of the highest god, as was the case with Jupiter.

Many things point to Arabia. For example, it has the baetyllic format of its black stone together with the likewise solar Dusares of Petra. The priestly princes of Emesa have Arabic names: Azisos, Soaemus, Samsigeramus (Strabo), as well as later the female members of the Severan dynasty Maesa, Soaemias and Mammaea.

According to Herodian, the worship of Elagabal was not only a local phenomenon in Emesa, but was also known from other places in Syria. Sacrifices were brought to Emesa by all the inhabitants of the surrounding areas, which became richer and richer. It is believed that the cult of Elagabal was the main cult of Syria and that Emesa was its religious centre. It is interesting to note that the cult of Elagabal was already widespread in the Roman Empire long before Antoninus. For example, a stele from 196 B.C. was found in Augsburg in what was then Raetia, dedicated to the sun god Elagabal, and another for the sun god Elagabal and Minerva in Woerden/Netherlands, the then Laurium in Germania inferior, i.e. from the other end of the world. This one is from the time of Antoninus Pius, which fits well with our coin.

There is nothing left of the temples on the mountain near Emesa today. And the city itself, today's Homs, a UNESCO world heritage site. has been almost completely destroyed by the long civil war in Syria.

Elagabal in Rome
After Antoninus had been elevated to emperor by his soldiers in May 2018, he set off for Rome after his victory over Macrinus. He used the land route, spent the winter in Nicomedia and carried the Holy Stone with him. In late summer 219 he reached Rome. Since he was already murdered in March 222, he was only in Rome for 2 1/2 years. From his magnificent entry into Rome we know descriptions The Sacred Stone of Elagabal was pulled on a chariot by horses. Antoninus in white priestly garb walked backwards in front of them so that he did not lose sight of his God. An unusual sight for the Romans.

As soon as he arrived, he made Elagabal the supreme god of the Roman pantheon. He had two temples built for Elagabal. One, the Elagabalium, on the Palatine in the area of the imperial gardens, of which remains can still be seen today, and a second outside the city in what is now Trastevere. To decorate his new temple, the most sacred relics of the Roman religion were transferred from their original sites to the Elagabalium, the statue of the Great Mother, the fire of Vesta, the shields of the Salians and the Palladium. There should be no cult outside the priesthood of the Elagabal, all other deities were only the servants of his God. Herodian writes that Antoninus forced the senators to watch him while he danced around the altar of Elagabal to the sound of drums and cymbals.

2nd coin:  Antoninus sacrificing
Antoninus, 218 - 220
AR - Denar, 3.51g, 18mm
Rome 220 - 222
Bust, draped, laureate, r., with "horn" on the forehead
Antoninus in Syrian priest clothes stg. l., holding in his outstretched right hand  
patera over burning altar and club in the left arm; behind the altar a lying bull
in upper left field a star
Ref.: RIC IV, 88; C. 61
almost EF

Antoninus wears here parthian trousers and a long-sleeved short tunic with a decorative cast buckle in front of the belly, in addition chlamys and imperial diadem. Because of this costume he is called "the Assyrian" by Dio! But all in all this was more of an approximation to Roman customs. His clothing is different from Syrian and is not known there. Dirven thinks that this is an approximation to Caracalla's Germanic dress and the attempt to make himself more familiar to the troops and to profit from his father's military victories. Also the bull is not unusual
The star in the field is probably intended to indicate the divine status of Antoninus and his belonging to the domus divina. Curtis Clay: Let it be a sign of the mint of Rome
Since an upper ray of the star is much longer, it is also interpreted as Halley's comet, which must have been visible in Rome in 220.
Elke Krengel interprets the "horn" as a dried bull penis as a sign of power and strength. However, this interpretation is not undisputed. At the beginning of 222 the "horn" disappears from the coins again, probably because the soldiers started to grumble.

At the summer solstice he had a big festival celebrated, which was very popular with the masses, for example because food was generously distributed. During this festival Elagabal was put on a chariot, decorated with gold and jewels, and taken across the city in a pompous procession to the suburban temple outside the city. Presents were thrown into the crowd. Antoninus walked backwards in front of the chariot as usual. Several officers took care that he did not stumble. Then, from towers he had erected, vessels of gold and silver, clothes and cloths were thrown at the mob. The actual purpose of this procession has not been clarified to this day. Perhaps one reason was that many Syrian citizens lived in these districts.

I have added:
(1) Pic of coin #1: The Holy Stone
(2) Photo of the stele in Augsburg
(3) Photo of the relics of the Elagabalium on todays Vigna Barberini/Rome
(4) Pic of coin #2: Antoninus sacrificing

(will be continued)

Offline Jochen

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #443 on: November 25, 2020, 07:09:09 am »

The Holy Weddings
The Holy Wedding ('ιερος γαμος) was widespread in oriental religions. With the actions of Antoninus in Rome one should know that these were mirrored events in his pantheon. This means that when Antoninus married a Vesta priestess, it was actually about the marriage of his sun god Elagabal to the Roman goddess Vesta. But he himself was never the incarnation of his god. These weddings were very unusual events for the Romans.

First Antoninus married Julia Paula. This probably went back to the clan of Emesa under his mother Julia Maesa and is seen as an attempt to connect him with the Roman aristocracy. However, he rejected her because she had a physical mark, which was not compatible with his idea of divinity. He also had his own ideas about marriage, which were intended to spread his faith.

And this led him to Aquila Severa, the chief Vesta priestess. By marrying her he wanted to establish a connection between his Elagabal cult and that of Vesta, the holiest cult of Rome. Moreover, divine children were to emerge from this marriage, with whom Antoninus wanted to found a divine dynasty. This marriage took place parallel to the marriage of Elagabal to Athena, which according to Halsberghe, however, arose from the misunderstanding that Antoninus considered the palladium to be Vesta because it was kept in the Vesta temple. His marriage with the supreme vestal virgin caused great unrest in Rome, as the vestal virgins were considered untouchable, so that Julia Maesa convinced him to break his connection and that of Elagabal.

He then married Annia Faustina, a descendant of Marcus Aurelius. This had the advantage of creating a real connection between the Severans and the Antonines and especially with the popular philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius. Children from this marriage would have had a strong dynastic claim to the throne. Parallel to this marriage he married Elagabal to Urania, whom he had brought from Carthage and who, as goddess of the moon, was to be an expression of divine harmony together with Elagabal as sun god.

But Annia Faustina did not match his ambitions. He divorced her and brought back Aquilia Severa. His religious convictions had won!

Antoninus was lucky to have ruled in a rather peaceful time. There were no warlike entanglements and the officials of the empire worked as usual with routine in the administration of the empire and the maintenance of the infrastructure. He was never actually active as emperor. He saw himself as the high priest of his god Elagabal, to whom he wanted to gain global recognition as the supreme god. A local Syrian cult was to become a comprehensive world religion. But this was not a monotheism, as some wrongly assume (e.g. Gaston Halsberghe). Other deities also existed under Elagabal, just as a kind of servant and under him. So he is not a forerunner of Christianity.

In March 222 Antoninus was murdered by his Praetorians after he had tried to hide in a latrine. His cousin and adopted son Severus Alexander became his successor. Immediately after his elevation, Alexander restored the old circumstances. The relics of the Elagabalium were returned to their old locations and the temple was rededicated to Jupiter Ultor, the Avenger. A convincing name! He had the Sacred Stone of Elagabal brought back to Emesa. With that the haunting was over. One can see where religious fanaticism can lead!
It is reported that after his victory over Zenobia of Palmyra (272), Aurelian offered sacrifices to the Elagabal at the altar of the sun god. This homage, however, was not so much to the black stone but to his own idea of a universal and supranational Sol invictus (Pauly).

I have added the picture of a tetradrachm with the image of Aphrodite Urania: Sicolopunian, 320-313 BC, Jenkins III, 271; Künker. €180.000.-
(1) Cassius Dio, Roman history
(2) Herodian, History of the Empire from the Death of Marcus
(3) Historia Augusta

Secondary literature:
(1) RIC
(2) BMCR
(3) Artaud, A., Heliogabale ou l'anarchiste couronne, 1943
(4) Dirven, L., The emperor's new clothes: a note on Elagabalus' priestley dress, 2007
(5 ) Halsberghe, G.H., The Cult of Sol Invictus, 1972
(6) Hans-Joachim Hoeft, Münzen und antike Mythologie, 2011
(7) Martin Icks, The Crimes of Elagabalus, I.B.Tsuris 2013
(8) Der Kleine Pauly
(9) Dietmar Kienast, Roman Imperial Tables, 1990
(10) Elke Krengel, The so-called "Horn" of the Elagabal - The tip of a bull penis. A reinterpretation as a result of interdisciplinary research, 1997

Online sources:
(2) Halley's Comet: A Visual Record on Coins of Elagabalus, 2020
(3) Wikipedia

Best regards

Offline Jochen

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #444 on: November 25, 2020, 07:13:51 am »

Demeter was one of the most important goddesses of ancient Greece. And so she is understandably one of the deities most frequently depicted on coins. Her depiction has interested me for a long time.

Her standard attributes always include the ears of grain in her hand, often together with a head of a poppy, and a burning torch, sometimes two torches. The torch may be surrounded by a snake. More rarely it is accompanied by an additional cista mystica from which a snake rises. But there are also pictures of her riding a biga with torches in her hand, pulled by winged snakes. She is often veiled, as befits one of the most venerable goddesses. Sometimes she wears a Kalathos, but not always.

Coin #1:
Moesia inferior, Nikopolis ad Istrum, Diadumenian, AD 217-218
AE 27, 13.88g, 0°
struck under governor Statius Longinus
        Bust, draped and cuirassed, seen from front, bare-headed, r.
        Demeter, in long robe and mantle, veiled, standing frontal, looking l., resting          
         with raised left hand on a long, burning torch, around which a snake is coiling
          and holding ears of grain in her extended right hand over a cista mystica with
         open lid, from which a second snake rises.
Ref.: a) not in AMNG:
            Rev.  AMNG I/1, 1836
         b) Varbanov 3722
         c) Hristova-Hoeft-Jekov (2020) No. (same dies)
rare, almost VF, dark green patina  

Even the ancient world recognised a composite in its name, the second part of which is μητερ (Greek = mother). The first element has not been unanimously clarified until today. Of course γη- = earth (especially the Orphicists) is discussed, so that she would then be the earth mother (Pauly). It is possible that Demeter already appears in Linear A as da-ma-te.

Demeter was the daughter of Uranos and his sister Rhea. Like all his children, she was eaten by Uranos after her birth, but spat out again when Metis gave him an emetic. She was considered the goddess of the field and of fruits, especially of grain. At first the grain grew among the other grasses and herbs and was unknown to man. She taught them how to collect and store it, sow it and bake bread with it. Before that, people had fed only on acorns (Virgil, Georgica). According to some, this was done in Egypt, according to others by the Athenians or in Sicily. Egypt was considered by the Greeks to be the oldest country in the world and the source of all knowledge, Sicily was an important supplier of grain in ancient times

In the Orphic Hymns it is said that she also invented ploughing with oxen. According to Kallimachos and Diodoros Siculus, she is said to have been the inventor of the laws and to have urged people to respect the property of others. That is why in Greek she was called thesmophoros = bearer of the laws.

Because of her beauty her brother Zeus fell in love with her and sired Persephone with her. Her brother Poseidon also desired her. She tried to escape him by turning into a horse and joining the herd of horses of king Onkios in Arcadia. But she was not successful. Poseidon recognised her anyway, turned into a horse as well and sired the famous black-maned stallion Areion and a daughter with her. Their name is sometimes called Despoina or Hera. But her real name could not be mentioned outside the mysteries (Apollodor; Pausanias).

This misdeed grieved her so much that she wrapped herself in black clothes, avoided the other gods, and finally retreated into a cave. She no longer cared for the grain, everything withered away, and man and cattle began to suffer and die of hunger. No one knew where she was until Pan, who roamed everywhere, discovered her in Arcadia and reported this to Zeus. Zeus sent the Parzes to her and they succeeded in persuading Demeter to change her mind.

Demeter herself, on the other hand, loved Jasion above all, a son of Zeus and Elektra. To him she gave birth to Pluto, the god of wealth and prosperity. But Zeus' jealousy was so great that he killed Jasion with a bolt of lightning.

I have already told the story of Persephone's abduction by Hades in detail. Among the other known mythologies of the Demeter is the story of Triptolemos, the oldest son of Keleus in Eleusis, to whom she gave her snake biga so that he could spread the use of grain throughout the world. To this story belongs the following coin (both stories are, by the way, in my first volume of mythology from 2017).

Coin #2
Cilicia, Kelenderis, Elagabal, 218-222
AE 22, 6.16g, 330°
Av.: M(?) AVP AN - TΩNINOC (both N's retrograde)
       Awarded head n.r.
Rv.: K - E - [ΛE]NΔEPITΩN (both N's retrograde)
      Demeter holding torch in her raised right hand diving r. in a biga, which is drawn by two winged  
Ref.: SNG Levante 548 (same dies); SNG von Aulock 5650
rare, good SS, extraordinary style
ex Hirsch auction 168 (1990), lot 729
ex Gorny & Mosch auction 108 (2001), lot 1525
ex. Münzen und Medaillen 20 (2006), lot 233

Here Demeter drives the snake biga, which she later gave to Triptolemos.

If someone had helped her find Persephone, he was rewarded by Demeter. In gratitude she gave Phytalos the branch of a fig tree and taught him how to plant and cultivate it. She gave  Pandareios the gift of eating as much as he wanted without harming him. On the other hand, she took revenge on those who had not helped her. To Ascalabos, who had mocked her when she drank thirstily from a bowl, she poured the rest of the barley-filled water (kykeon) into his face, turning him into a spotted lizard (Greek: askalabotes). Lynkos, king of the Scythians, who wanted to execute Triptolemos, she turned into a lynx (Greek lynkos). Erysichthon, who who cut down a forest sacred to her she gave insatiable hunger, so that he finally ate himself. Acheron, who had revealed that Persephone had eaten some pomegranate seeds, so she had to stay in the underworld, she turned  into a night owl. According to others, she had hung an enormous stone around his neck.

According to Pauly she was a special form of the earth goddess with a strong emphasis on the agricultural aspect. Hiding in a cave, the abduction of her daughter into the underworld and the snakes tied to her show that there was a connection to the chthonic gods. But unlike the underworld gods, she was rather peaceful and not threatening.

She was a harvest goddess with wheat blond hair (Iliad). The farmers prayed to her for good harvests. In Crete "harvest" even meant "to pay homage to Demeter". The origin of her complex form was probably Thessaly with a connection to the pelasgian Dos = Pheraia. Their connection to Iasion and Plutos also speaks for this. These were not grain demons, but chthonic healers (Pauly).

According to some, she was once a queen in Sicily whose daughter was kidnapped by a pirate who took her to Pluto. In Sicily, the granary of antiquity, there was a true Demeter religion, which, like the mother in Persephone/Kore, lamented the disappearance of the plant world. With the gathering of Core flowers in the meadows, hopes of immortality were attached to the rebirth of nature in spring. This was also expressed in the balance between the chthonic and epichthonic nature of the corn. and underworld goddess Demeter herself. From the Christian side, such as Augustinus, the idea of a cyclical process of creation associated with Demeter was vehemently rejected, as it was contrary to her eschatological idea that history should be directed towards one goal.

The mystical seeds of Demeter as the guide to rebirth did not only include the grains of the field, but also the flocks of the dead! Thus not only did her Eleusinian retinue include agricultural demons such as Dysaules and cultural heroes such as Triptolemos, but also infernal beings such as Baubo and Daeira. In the theology of Orphism, she is fused with the Magna Mater, which also includes Kabiren and Idaean dactyls.

Festivals of Demeter:
The most important place of worship for Demeter was in Eleusis, which is said to have been an entrance to the underworld. The Eleusinian Mysteries were held every year in their honour. But with the spread of Christianity, the cult of Eleusis lost its importance. After an attempt by Emperor Julian II. Apostata to revive the mysteries, Emperor Theodosius I had the temple closed in 392. Four years later the Temple of Eleusis was finally destroyed by the Visigoths under Alaric I.

Coin #3
Thrace, Anchialos, Gordian III, 238-244
AE 25, 9.8g, 24.74mm, 225
the so-called "Dreier (= value of Three)"
       Laureate head.r.
        Demeter, richly draped and veiled, sitting on a basket (cista mystica), holding in her
        outstretched right hand ears of grain and poppy and in her raised left hand long
Ref: AMNG II, 641 var. (3 ex., 1, 2 in Berlin, 3 in Sofia), Av. (3) Sofia
rare, almost VF

Here Demeter is depicted sitting as in Knidos (see below), but on a cista mystica, and thus has a relationship with the Eleusinian Mysteries.

In Greece there was the Thesmophoria, a 10-day festival in honour of Demeter. Only women were allowed to participate in this festival. In his comedy "Thesmophoriazusai", 411 B.C., Aristophanes mocks the festival: He has Euripides and his brother-in-law dressed in women's clothes mingle with the celebrants, which gives the opportunity for rough jokes. It is known that Alkibiades, together with his comrades, had imitated this festival a few years earlier, in 415. He had disguised himself as the high priest, another one had played the torchbearer. This led to the famous trial against him and to his deposition as commander-in-chief of the campaign to Sicily (the so-called Hermen Crimes).

History of Art:
A popular theme in antiquity was the abduction of Persephone by Hades, pictures of her stay in the underworld and her return. Triptolemos are also frequently found. But motifs from other Demeter mythology are rarely found. Here is one of these rarer depictions:

Demeter sitting on a throne stretches out her hand to Metaneira, who sits before her and hands her three ears of wheat. Detail of an Apulian red-figured hydria, c. 340 BC, attributed to the Varese painter. Today in the Old Museum of the National Museum in Berlin. Metaneira, the mother of Triptolemos, had given Demeter a warm welcome when she came to Attica.

Reliefs with triptolemos and statues of Demeter are known from ancient times, such as the sitting statue of Knidos. Here Demeter is depicted in a serene, timeless posture, underlining her maternal role in the pantheon of the 12 Olympic Gods. In Knidos she was worshipped together with Hades and other underworld gods and her daughter Persephone.  The marble statue dates from 350 BC and is now in the British Museum in London.
Mythological representations of Demeter, on the other hand, as already mentioned, are only few in antiquity. This changed in modern times. As an example: the ceiling painting by Giovanni the Udine from the Villa Farnesina in Rome (1511/12) shows Venus, Hera and Demeter.

Demeter/Ceres is often depicted in a triumphal chariot to celebrate happiness and prosperity. She was painted by Rubens with Pan and nymphs. The motto of Terenz "Sine Cerere et Libero friget Venus" (= without fruit and wine Venus freezes) also served as a model for emblems and paintings.

(1) Homer,  Ilias
(2) Hesiod,  Theogony
(3) Vergil,  Georgica
(4) Ovid,  Ars amatoria
(5) Kallimachos,   Hymnes
(6) Apollodoros,  Bibliotheke
(7) Diodorus  Siculus,  Bibliotheke
(8) Pausanias,  Voyages in Greece  

Secondary Lietrature:
(1) Benjamin  Hederich, Gründliches  mythologisches  Lexikon
(2) Wilhelm Heinrich Röscher, Lexikon der Mythologie
(3) Karl  Kerenyi,  Die  Mythologie  der  Griechen
(4) Robert  von  Ranke-Graves,  Griechische Mythologie
(5) Der  Kleine  Pauly
(6) Reclams  Lexikon  der  antiken  Götter  und  Heroen  in  der  Kunst  
(7) Hans-Joachim  Hoeft,  Münzen  und  antike  Mythologie  -  Reise  in  ein  fernes  Land,  2017
Online Sources:
(3) Wikipedia

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #445 on: December 07, 2020, 05:43:04 am »
The rest of the pictures


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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #446 on: December 07, 2020, 05:49:00 am »
Excursion: The procession of the Kalathos of Demeter

The following coin is an essential part of the great Demeter theme:

The Coin:
Titus, 79-81 AD
AR - Denar, 3.22g, 18.14mm, 180
        Rome, January - June 79 (as Caesar)
Obv.: T CAESAR IMP VESPASIANUS (from lower rigtht counterclockwise)
         Laureate bust r.
        slow quadriga l., on top of it high, garlands-decorated basket with grain ears
Ref:: RIC II, (Vepasian) 206var (Quadriga r.); CBN (Vespasian) 226-7 and pl. XXXIV; C.336; BMC 256
scarce, good VF, old cabinet tint
ex coll. Lawrence M. Woolslayer, certificate of David Sear, 13.12.2005

"The quadriga with the basket of corn-ears shows the procession of the calathus of Ceres, sung by Callimachus in his hymn; it already had appeared on coins of the moneyers of Augustus in 17 BC. It is unmistakenly derived from Alexandria, and suggests the importance of Egypt as the granary of Rome, even besides any endeavours of the Emperor to revive Italian agriculture."
(Mattingly, BMCR II, p. xIii)

The hymn of Kallimachos:
"[Begin singing], virgins, and sing the chorus, mothers: 'Demeter, cordially welcome, you much nourishing, you many bushelful! And just as the light-haired mares bring the holy basket, four in number, so will the great Goddess come to us, reigning far and wide, bringing a glorious spring, a bright summer and winter, and the autumn, year after year she will shield us.
(Kallimachos, Hymnos VI, 118th translation by me, Kallimachos, Works, 2004 WBG)

Kallimachos of Cyrene (305-240 B.C.,) was a significant Hellenistic poet and scholar.

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #447 on: December 07, 2020, 05:51:25 am »
Ahura Mazda - The Wise Lord

I have wanted to write an article on Ahura Mazda for a long time, but have always shied away from it because it seemed like too extensive an undertaking. Now, during my Corona leave, I have decided to finally start. For this article, the subtitle of my mythology book applies especially: "Journey to a distant land"! I have 3 coins in my collection that refer to Ahura Mazda, and they are closely related, as we will see. The coin that is at the beginning of the article I have already presented once in an article about Hormisdas. But that was about the Sassanid Great King. The Sassanid Empire was the second Persian empire after the Achaemenid Empire and declined in the 7th century AD due to the expansion of the Islamic Arabs.

Coin #1
Sassanid Empire, Hormizd II, 309-309 AD.
AR - Drachm, 3.48g, 27.2mm, 90°.
Av.: Legend in Pahlevi, abbreviated and corrupted:
       ly. .KLM n . KLM [ydzmrhw'] y gb n s d [y?]z m
       (= "The worshipper of Mazdah, the divine Hor-.
       mizd, the king of the kings of Iran, who descended from 
      the gods")   
      Bearded bust n.r., crown with eagle r.,
      carrying a pearl in its beak, above Corymbos
       (Göbl crown type I)
Rv.: garlanded fire altar, in the flames of the altar the bearded
       bust of Ahura Mazda l., on the left Hormizd with eagle crown and
       Korymbos r. and on the right a bearded priest with muralcrown             
       standing l., both with harem pants and holding a sword in both              
        hands (Göbl reverse 1a); behind the figures in Pahlevi 'Fire of Hor-   
         mizd', on the base of the altar 3 globuli.
Ref.: cf. Göbl 83; cf. Mitchener
        ACW 867; cf. Paruck 176 (all have only one globule)
almost VF, thin flan break on rev.

The Korymbos (not the globe!) was a typical hair dress of the Sassanid kings. It consisted of a spherical summary of the hair on the head, which was surrounded with a silk scarf. Each Sassanid king had his own crown, which is how you can tell them apart on coins. Thanks to T.K.Mallon (1956-2014) from for translating the Pahlevi legend

Coin #2:
Nezak Huns, Napki Malka, 475-576
AE 27 (drachm), 3.8g, 27.31mm, 90°
Kapisa (Kabul), so-called Bull crown type
Av.: Bust with winged helmet and buffalo protome, draped
       and with earrings
       r. 'NPK MLK, l. A (all in Pahlevi)
Rv.: altar of fire with one highly stylised servant right
       and left, above each a sun wheel
Ref.: Göbl type 198; Mtchener 1510-12
VF/F+, with pretty green patina, perfectly centred

The Nezak Huns, not to be confused with the White Huns (Hephthalites), were the last of the 5 Hun peoples in the Hindu Kush and ousted the Alchon Huns from Kapisa, today's Kabul. After the defeat of the Sassanid king Peroz I against the Hephthalites in 474, they established an empire in northern Afghanistan until they themselves perished by the hands of the Islamic Arabs. They excelled in extensive coinage. This coin imitates the Sassanidian coins. Some think that Napki Malka, the legend on the obv, is not the name of a king but a title.

Unlike the Sassanid coin, the bust of Ahura Mazda does not appear in the flames of the altar. Perhaps this was a difference to the survanist variant of Zorastrianism of the Sassanids?

The next one is the oldest of the 3 coins. The Sassanids had extended their empire to the Indus. Bactria in what is now northern Afghanistan was also under their control. There they appointed governors, the Kushan Sassanids, who ruled the country for them. They too perished due to the expansion of Islam.

Coin #3:
Kushan-Sassanid, Hormizd I, "Kushanshah", ca. 265-295 AD,
AE 16 (drachm)
Av.: Legend in Pahlevi
         Bearded bust with lion headdress r., above segmented globe;
         behind long ribbons flying from the hair
Rv.: Legend in Pahlevi
        Garland-decorated altar, from which Ahura Mazda
         ascends, in left hand sceptre, in right hand wreath with long ribbons. 
Ref.: Mitchiner ACW 1280-87
F/FF, dark green patina

The figure rising from the altar is regularly called Ahura Mazda., however, calls her "Anahita(?)", an ancient Iranian goddess of water and fertility who later merged with the Semitic Ishtar.

In the 8th century, the name Ahura first appeared in Media, related to the Vedic word "asura" for "Lord". Mazda is related to the Vedic word "medh" for "mind, wisdom". Both terms thus originate from Proto-Indo-Iranian. At first they were used separately, e.g. also under Zarathustra. Only under the Achaemenid Darius I (522-486 BC) were they united to Ahura Mazda, which then means "Wise Lord". This is evident from the Behistun inscription in a large rock relief near Kermanshah. This inscription played a similarly outstanding role for the decipherment of the cuneiform script as the Rosetta Stone did for the decipherment of the hieroglyphs). One can see here how closely etymology is also linked to political history.

When the nomadic culture merged with the farming culture in connection with the settling down, a new religion was also formed. Zoroastrianism probably originated in Bactria (in what is now northern Afghanistan) and had close ties to ancient Indian ideas. Ahura Mazda itself is already known pre-Zoroastrian.

It split into Mazdaism and Parsism, all of which existed side by side in the Achaemenid Empire. In the Sassanid Empire, a Survanist variant also developed. In this form it had a great influence on Judaism, which during the Babylonian captivity adopted from it, for example, the concept of the end times and hell, which was later also adopted by Christianity.

(1) Zarathustra:
Zarathustra (Greek: Zoroaster), 2nd-1st century B.C., was a philosopher and founder of religion in Northeast Iran. His teachings are written down in the Avesta, the holy book of Zoroastrianism, of which only copies still exist, and in commentaries, the Zend. These were written during the Sassanid period. The oldest parts, the Gathas, are said to have been written by Zarathustra himself. When Islam overran the Persian Empire, the Parsees fled to India with the holy books. In 1907, copies were acquired by Sir Aurel Stein and thus made accessible to Western scholarship. 

Under Darius I, the first ruler of the Achaemenids, Zoroastrianism became the state religion. The creator god Ahura Mazda (therefore often called Mazdaism) or Ormuzd, also the creator of the moral order, whose focus was on truth, was at the centre. Subordinate to him were the two dualistic spirit beings Spenta Manju (high-bringing god) and Angra Manju (evil spirit), called Ahriman in Middle Persian texts. Among the Sassanids, the variant of Survanism developed, in which Survan, the personification of time, was the father of the two. This gave rise to the dualistic idea of the eternal struggle of good against evil. This actually contradicted the doctrine of Ahura Mazda, which was monotheistic at its core. But under the Sassanids, all religious variants coexisted peacefully. According to the teachings of Mazdaism and Parsism, Ahura Mazda destroys Ahriman at the end of time. A world judgement takes place, the wicked are punished and the good are rewarded with eternal life in the realm of Ahura Mazda. Basically, this religion is not dualistic at the end, as is often claimed.

(2) Mani
Mani (216-276) was a Persian founder of religion under the Sassanids who invented the syncretic religion of Manichaeism as a religion of revelation. It was composed of oriental, Hellenistic and Christian elements, and in particular of gnosis. It was now completely focused on the eternal struggle of the 2 dualistic powers Ormuzd (of good) and Ahriman (of evil). Man has a share in both.  He can only be redeemed by bringing his light parts into the kingdom of light, while the dark, material parts are abandoned to darkness. At the end of time, evil perishes by fire (ekpyrosis, which was already known to Heraclitus). Mani was opposed by the Zoroastrian priests, who succeeded in having him thrown into prison under Bahram I, where he died. Manichaeism was vehemently opposed by Christianity because of its duality, but also had great influence on it, e.g. on Augustine with his doctrine of the two kingdoms.

Zoroastrianism today:
There are still followers of Zoroastrianism today. 150,000 Zoroastrians live in India, Iran, the USA and Canada, of which 10,000 live in the Iranian desert city of Yazd alone, but they all differ considerably.

Famous followers were the Achaemenid 'Xerxes I (519-465 BC) and the Sassanid Shapur I the Great (died around 270 BC). Zoroastrians in the present day were, for example, Feroze Gandhi, the husband of Indira Ganhi, and the rock musician Freddie Mercury of the Queens.

History of Art:
(1) Ahura Mazda was a spiritual entity rather than a physical god, unlike, for example, Mithras, Thus, according to Herodotus, there were no images of him in ancient Iran. His symbol was fire. Thus the well-known Faravahar does not represent Ahura Mazda either! He is a symbol for the 3 Zoroastrian principles of Good Thinking, Good Speaking and Good Doing. Because of its great significance, it became a national emblem in the Achaemenid Empire, carved into palaces and monuments. The picture shows the Faravahar relief in Persepolis.

(2) After iconoclasm under the Parthians, Ahura Mazda was allowed to be depicted again under the Sassanids. The relief from Naqsh-e Rajab, 3rd century AD, shows Ahura Mazda presenting the ring of power (Cydaris) to Ardashir I, the founder of the Sassanid dynasty. However, this scene is also interpreted differently: Ardashir I, receives the ruling ring from the spirit of Darius I of the Achaemenid dynasty. Under Ardashir's horse lies Artabanus, the last Parthian king, and under Darius I's horse lies the magician Gautama, a usurper.

(1)  Regenbogen/Meyer,  Wörterbuch  der  philosophischen  Begriffe,  WBG  1998
(2)  Friedrich  Nietzsche,  Also  sprach  Zarathustra
(3)  Wikipedia

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #448 on: December 18, 2020, 05:19:06 pm »
Excursion: Nietzsche, Thus spoke Zarathustra

Nietzsche's "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" absolutely belongs in this context. This powerful work by Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) was unfortunately misused by the Nazis. And this shadow still hovers over Nietzsche, but especially over this work. But first it must be said that Nietzsche's Zarathustra has nothing in common with the historical Zarathustra from the previous article, apart from the name.

After living as a hermit for 10 years, Zarathustra decides to preach his acquired wisdom to the people. In a village whose inhabitants are waiting for a tightrope walker to perform, he begins to preach about the "Übermench (Beyond-man)": "Man is something that is to be overcome. What have you done to overcome him?"

Rebuffed by the derisive laughter of the villagers, he decides to no longer speak to the people, but only to outstanding personalities. He continues his journey and begins a long series of sermons, chants and lyrical soliloquies with which he reveals his teachings to the reader. No area of life is left without criticism: church, state, science and the arts. His rhetoric is powerful, he uses all stylistic elements and means of expression. The eternal return of the same ends in nihilism. Only the will to power can overcome it. The decadent perish, only the truly strong accept their fate (amor fati). Thus, the strength of man can only be measured by his apostasy from the traditional and his love of existence.

Zarathustra constantly vacillates between his desire for hermitism, which could give him the opportunity for fulfilling thought, and his sense of mission. But when he sees his disciples spreading his doctrine of the superman, he retreats to his cave.

In the end, he is haunted there by a final seduction. "Higher men", who know about the decadence of the world, ask him for pity, as they lack the strength to overcome it. Zarathustra, however, recognises their temptation in compassion, rejects it and thus takes the last step towards the perfection of the Übermensch. Zarsthustra's "great noon" has come. He leaves his cave "glowing and strong, like a morning sun coming out of dark mountains."

Nietzsche and the Nazis
"Thus Spoke Zarathustra" was laid down next to Hitler's "Mein Kampf" and Rosenberg's "The Myth of the 20th Century" in the burial vault of the Tannenberg monument. Nietzsche's sister Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche in particular had an affinity with the Nazis. Hitler himself appeared at the funeral service at her burial. And of course the "Übermensch" was understood as the "Herrenmensch" in the Nazi sense. But even among the Nazis, opinion was not unanimous. In part, his philosophy was seen as incompatible with National Socialism. Thus Nietzsche had been an opponent of socialism, an opponent of nationalism and an opponent of racial thought. If he had abandoned these ideas, an article in one newspaper said, he might have become a good National Socialist. He was also reproached for his friendliness towards Jews and for never having had any understanding of the workers' question. So there was a clear contradiction between the Nazi institutions' veneration of Nietzsche and the individual reception of his philosophy.

In today's research, it was especially Marxists and left-liberals who consider Nietzsche to be partly responsible for National Socialism. Some conservatives also hold this view. The Germans as a whole had a hard time with Nietzsche after 1945. In France and Italy, on the other hand, he was rehabilitated. Important philosophers, e.g. Deleuze or Montinari, made a strong case for him and saw a falsification by National Socialism (Wikipedia)

Meanwhile, he is the philosopher on whom most works are published today.  Current Nietzsche research in Germany now also assumes almost unanimously that Nietzsche was abused. An abuse that continues with today's right-wing extremists!

I have added a pic of the painting Edvard Munnch, Friedrich Nietzsche, 1906

(1) Friedrich Nietzsche, Also sprach Zarathustra
(3) Wikipedia

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Re: Coins of mythological interest
« Reply #449 on: December 18, 2020, 05:22:05 pm »
The Family of Maiandros

Coin #1:
Phrygia, Apameia, pseudo-autonomous, 2nd-3rd century BC
AE 15, 3.76g, 14.6mm, 180°
Obv.: AΠAME - ΩN
         Bust of Athena, wearing Corinthian helmet, draped and with aegis, r.
Rev.: AΠAME - ΩN
         River god in hip dress leaning l., holding in extended right hand long waterplant
         and in l. arm cornucopiae; resting with l. elbow on overturned vase from which
         water is flowing l.
Ref.: BMC 116; Imhoof Phrygia 115; Prowe III, 1643; SNG München 132-133; not in
Rare, VF, remains of sand patina

Apameia, also called Apameia Kibotos in contrast to other cities with the same name, was founded by the Seleucid king Antiochos I Soter (324-261 BC) on the site of the older residence Kelainai, and named after his mother Apame. Apameia was situated at the sources of the Maiandros and the Marsyas.

Mythology of Maiandros
Maiandros as river god was already known by Hesiod. Like all great rivers, he was considered the son of Okeanos and Thetys. There was a multifaceted family mythology around him. One of his daughters, the Naiads, was the nymph Kyanee, and Kalamos (Nonn. Dion.) and Marsyas are mentioned as his sons.

Kyanee, the daughter of Maiandros, was the nymph of a spring or well near Miletos. She was the wife of Miletos, the founder of the city of Miletos. Miletos was a son of Apollo and Aireia in Crete. Minos, Rhadamanthys and Sarpedon had fallen in love with him and fought over him. When he chose Sarpedon, he was driven out of Crete by Minos, sailed with Sarpedon to Karia and founded the city of Miletos (Apollodor) there. Kyanee gave birth to the twins Byblis and Kaunos.

Byblis and Kaunos:
The story of Byblis is the story of her incestuous love for her twin brother Kaunos. There are different versions of this mythology:

(1) The beautiful Byblis was desired by many noble Carians. But she rejected them all and began to love her twin brother Kaunos. But she kept this a secret, which weighed so heavily on her that in her hopeless love she decided to kill herself to shorten her suffering, and she threw herself from a high cliff. But the nymphs took pity on her and caught her. Then they sank her into a deep sleep and made her one of their companions as a hamadryad (tree nymph) and immortal (Nicander).

(2) Ovid tells us that she actually confessed her forbidden love to her brother through a messenger. Horrified, he fled from her into a foreign land, where he founded the city of Kaunos.  Byblis then set off in search of him and wandered through Caria, Lycia and other countries as if out of her mind, until she finally fell to the ground exhausted and no nymphs could help her. She dissolved into tears and was transformed into a fountain (Ovid. Metam. IX, v.452). This fountain bore her name and was known for a long time at the foot of an oak tree in Miletos (Strabon).

(3) Others say that after her brother fled from her to the land of the Lelegen (neighbours of the Carians), she hanged herself in despair from an oak tree with a belt. From her tears, however, the Byblis fountain was formed (Aristokritos).

(4) There is also the version that Kaunos fell in love with her, but since this love was impossible, he fled her and went far away in despair. Byblis, however, set out to look for him. When she could not find him, she hanged herself from a walnut tree (Conon. Narr.).

The Byblis myth is probably related to the traditions of the cult of Aphrodite near Miletos and was genealogically linked to Minos by the Cretan colonists of this city (Roscher). According to Stephanos of Byzantium, the city of Byblos in Phoenicia is said to have been named after Byblis.

Kalamos, the son of Maiandros, had a companion Karpos, a son of Zephyr and a Hore (goddess of Season), whom he loved above all things. When he was thrown back by a vicious gust during a swimming race in the Maiandros and drowned, he no longer wanted to live and begged Zeus to allow him to die too, so that he could be reunited with his beloved. Zeus took pity on him and transformed him into a reed (calamus). It is said that the sound of the rustling reed was the lamentation of Kalamus over the death of his beloved. Karpos became a crop. This story is told by Eros to Dionysus to comfort him over the loss of his lover Ampelos (Nonn. Dion.).

The Maiandros (Meander, also Great Meander), today Büyük Menderes, is the longest river in southwestern Asia Minor. It rises near Kelainai and after a short course takes in the Marsyas. In a strongly winding course it flows into the Icarian Sea in ancient times near Priene through a wide alluvial plain. The Μαιανδρου Πεδιον , the valley through which the Maiandros flows, was famous for its fertility. There is also the Small Meander (Kücük Menderes), which was called Kaystros in ancient times. It should not be confused with the Mainandros. The Maiandros was known early on. Homer already mentions it in his Iliad (II, 869), when he reports at the end of the catalogue of ships that Nastes led the Carians, a people of barbarian dialect, who inhabited Miletos and the floods of the Maiandros.

The most striking feature of the Maiandros is its meandering course, which has given the name meandering to the similar behaviour of other rivers. In the case of the river loops, a distinction is made between the impinging slope and the sliding slope, whereby over time the impinging slopes of two loops come closer and closer together until a breakthrough occurs. Then the river takes the shorter path and the old loop becomes an oxbow lake or silts up completely. If there was an elevation in the middle of the loop, a circulating hill was formed, popular as a site for a castle.

Art history:
The meander pattern has been known since the Neolithic period. It was used as an ornament in the borders of garments, on clay vessels, as a relief or frieze in architecture. The meander also exists rounded as a so-called running dog or as a double meander consisting of 2 meanders running in opposite directions, e.g. in the Pompeian wall painting of the Villa dei Misteri.

Originally, however, it is a characteristic of Greek art. In antiquity it stood for the attainment of eternity through repetition. It is an allusion to the eternally young god Eros and the eternally renewing cosmos. The meander pattern was the distinguishing feature of several cities on the Meander. Thus it is often found as an ethnicon on coins.

Coin #2:
Phrygia, Apameia, cs. 88-40 BC.
AE 25, 7.88g, 180°.
struck under the magistrate Andronikos, son of Alkios
Av.: Bust of Athena with Corinthian helmet, draped and wearing aegis, .r.
Rv.: above AΠAMEΩ[N].
        below in 2 lines ANΔPONIKO[V] / AΛKIOV.
        Eagle rising from a meandering pattern r., behind its head an 8-pointed
        star, on both sides the pileus of a dioscuri with an 8-pointed star above
Ref.: SNG Copenhagen 163; SNG Tübingen 3955-2956; SNG Munich 109; SNG
         Lewis 1010; Weber 7024; Hunter 3; Walcher 2474; BMC 37-39; HGC 7, 670;
VF, de-patinated

Note: These coins are among the first to have been struck in brass (Tatjana N. Smekalova, 2009).

Authors cited by Hederich:
(1) Aristokritos, from Milet(?), 1st century BC (at least before Parthenios from Nikaia, d. 73 BC), wrote a book "Peri Miletou".

(2) Konon, around 30 BC, wrote "Diegeseis", 50 mythological tales, known only through Photius' "Myriobiblon".

(3) Nikander from Kolophon, 197-133 B.C. 2 didactic poems on remedies and poisons have survived. Not preserved are his "Metamorphoses", which Ovid used, and the "Georgika", which Virgil used.
(4) Stephanos of Byzantium, a late ancient Greek grammarian from the early period of Justinian I, worked at the University of Constantinople. Wrote 50-60 books of "Ethnika". The quality of his works is rather variable, nevertheless his excerpts represent a not unimportant source (Wikipedia).

I have added the following Pictures:
(1) Byblis. Painting by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905).

(2) Map of river Maiandros in ancient times
(3)The photo shows the circulating hill at the Neckarburg/Germany in the upper Neckar valley. The Neckar once flowed in the flat loop around the hill. Now it takes a shortcut in the background of the photo.

(1) Homer, Ilias
(2) Apollodor, Bibliotheke
(3) Hesiod, Theogonia
(4) Strabon, Geographika
(5) Nonnos, Dionysiaka
(6) Plinius, Naturalis historiae
(7) Ovid, Metamorphoses

(1) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon
(2) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und    
      römischen Mythologie
(3) Der Kleine Pauly
(4) Robert von Ranke-Graves, Römische Mythologie
(5) Westermanns Atlas zur Weltgeschichte

Online Sources:
(1) Wikipedia

Best regards


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