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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Themes & Provenance| ▸ |Types| ▸ |Athletics & Games||View Options:  |  |  | 

Atheletics and Games on Ancient Coins
Roman Republic, L. Calpurnius Piso Frugi, 90 B.C.

|99-50| |B.C.|, |Roman| |Republic,| |L.| |Calpurnius| |Piso| |Frugi,| |90| |B.C.||denarius|NEW
Lucius Calpurnius Piso Frugi's massive issue was struck to support Rome in the Social War against the Marsic Confederation, the Marsi, Peligni, Piceni, Vestini, Samnites, Frentani, Marrucini, and Lucani. Despite making up over half the Roman army, the Italians had been denied Roman citizenship and denied a fair share of the booty and lands taken in Rome's conquests. In 91 B.C., they rebelled with an army of 100,000 battle-hardened soldiers, most Roman army veterans. In 90 B.C., Rome only just managed to stave off total defeat. After some Roman victories and citizenship concessions, the war was nearly over by 88 B.C. The type has numerous variations and control marks, indicating the enormity of the issue. The head of Apollo and the horseman refer to the Ludi Apollinares, games which were first held in 212 B.C. The following year, the praetor C. Calpurnius Piso, an ancestor of this moneyer, made the games a permanent annual event to honor of Apollo to maintain his support of the public health.
RR110663. Silver denarius, Sydenham, class IV, 671; RSC I Calpurnia 11a; BMCRR p. 255 type III, var. a (unlisted control letters); Crawford 340/1; SRCV 235, gVF, light toning, rev. slightly off center, mild die wear, weight 3.704 g, maximum diameter 19.9 mm, die axis 135o, Rome mint, 90 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right, XVI ligature (mark of value) behind, E below chin; reverse naked horseman galloping right holding palm frond, H above, L PISO FRVGI below; ex Gorny & Mosch auction 291 (8 Nov 2022), lot 3292; $220.00 SALE PRICE $198.00 ON RESERVE


Gordian III, 29 July 238 - 25 February 244 A.D., Neocaesarea, Pontus

|Pontos|, |Gordian| |III,| |29| |July| |238| |-| |25| |February| |244| |A.D.,| |Neocaesarea,| |Pontus||AE| |28|
Neocaesarea (modern Niksar, Turkey) was a favorite residences of Mithridates the Great and later of King Polemon and his successors. Pompey made it a city and gave it the name of Diopolis, while Pythodoris widow of Polemon, made it her capital and called it Sebaste. Judging from its coins the city was probably renamed Neocaesarea during the reign of Tiberius. In 344 and again in 499 the city was destroyed by an earthquake.
RP110054. Bronze AE 28, RPC Online VII-2 2830 (10 spec.); Rec Gn I p. 93, 51; SNG Cop 218; SNGvA 6765; Waddington 77; Cizmeli 352, gF, green patina, well centered, porosity, weight 14.615 g, maximum diameter 28.1 mm, die axis 180o, Neocaesarea (modern Niksar, Turkey) mint, 241 - 242 A.D.; obverse AY K M ANT ΓOP∆IANO CEB, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from the rear; reverse KOI ΠONT MH NEOKAICAPIAC, prize table with curved legs holding agonistic crown with palm, ET / PO / H (year 178) in three lines between legs; $130.00 SALE PRICE $117.00


Commodus, March or April 177 - 31 December 192 A.D., Tarsos, Cilicia

|Cilicia|, |Commodus,| |March| |or| |April| |177| |-| |31| |December| |192| |A.D.,| |Tarsos,| |Cilicia||AE| |27|
The title Neokoros, designating a guardian of a temple of the imperial cult, was highly prized and advertised on the coins of many cities. Tarsos was the first city in Cilicia to receive the title, during the reign of Hadrian, not long after 130 A.D. This first temple dedicated to the cult of Hadrian is named in the reverse legend. A second imperial temple was dedicated to Commodus during his reign, before August 191. The B (the Greek number two) indicates this second neokorie. The Kommodeios isolympic worldwide festival was held in honor of this temple. Commodus probably honored Tarsos because its chief god was Hercules, and Commodus had come to believe he was Hercules reincarnated.
RP97264. Bronze AE 27, RPC Online IV.3 T5845, SNG Levante Supp. 260, SNG BnF 1466, SNGvA 5997, Waddington 4636, VF, nice green patina, uneven slightly off-center strike with parts of legends weak or unstruck, weight 11.189 g, maximum diameter 26.8 mm, die axis 30o, Tarsos (Tarsus, Mersin, Turkey) mint, Mar/Apr 177 - 31 Dec 192 A.D.; obverse AYT KAIC AYP KOMO∆OC CEB, mantled bust right, wearing demiurgic crown; club of Hercules behind; reverse A∆P KOM - TAP MHO (Hadrianeia, Kommodeios - Tarsos Metropolis), agonistic crown inscribed KOMO∆EI, OIKO/VME (Kommodeios worldwide) in two lines above, B / NEWKO (two neokorie) in two lines below; ex Zeus Numismatics, auction 11 (01 Aug 2020), lot 453; $100.00 SALE PRICE $90.00


Macedonian Kingdom, Philip II of Macedonia, 359 - 336 B.C.

|Macedonian| |Kingdom|, |Macedonian| |Kingdom,| |Philip| |II| |of| |Macedonia,| |359| |-| |336| |B.C.||unit|
Philip II became the ruler of all Greece when he defeated the Athenians at the Battle of Chaeroneia in 338 B.C. Philip personally selected the design of his coins. His horse, on the reverse of this coin, won a race in the Olympic Games in 356 B.C., the year his son Alexander the Great was born.
GB110094. Bronze unit, SNG Alpha Bank 454, SNG ANS 850, SNG Cop 602, VF, broad flan, mild porosity, closed flan crack, obverse edge beveled, weight 5.566 g, maximum diameter 18.2 mm, die axis 90o, Macedonian mint, c. 359 - 336 B.C.; obverse head of Apollo right wearing taenia; reverse ΦIΛIΠΠOY, young male riding horse prancing to right, spearhead and part of shaft right below, all in a shallow round incuse; $90.00 SALE PRICE $81.00


Salonina, Augusta 254 - c. September 268 A.D., Damascus, Coele-Syria

|Other| |Syria|, |Salonina,| |Augusta| |254| |-| |c.| |September| |268| |A.D.,| |Damascus,| |Coele-Syria||AE| |24|
Saul (later known as Paul) was on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians when he was blinded by a light from the presence of Jesus. He spent three days in Damascus, blind, until Jesus sent a disciple named Ananias to Saul. Damascus was the city in which Paul began his work as a great evangelist, teaching people in Asia, Africa and Europe about Jesus.
RP110196. Bronze AE 24, SNG Mnchen 1027; Rosenberger IV p. 33, 63; De Saulcy p. 56, 2; Lindgren 2154; SNG Cop -; BMC Syria , aF, uneven strike with right side weak on obv. and rev. green patina, light earthen deposits, porosity, weight 8.793 g, maximum diameter 23.8 mm, die axis 225o, Damascus mint, 254 - c. Sep 268 A.D.; obverse CORNE SALONA AVG (blundered), draped bust right, wearing stephane, crescent behind shoulders; reverse COL ∆AMAS METRO, agonistic urn between uncertain objects, all on ornate three-legged table with curved legs; $65.00 SALE PRICE $58.50


Macedonian Kingdom, Philip II of Macedonia, 359 - 336 B.C.

|Macedonian| |Kingdom|, |Macedonian| |Kingdom,| |Philip| |II| |of| |Macedonia,| |359| |-| |336| |B.C.||stater|
Philip II expanded the size and influence of the Macedonian Kingdom but is perhaps best known as the father of Alexander the Great. He personally selected the design of his coins.
SH29161. Gold stater, Le Rider pl. 75, 63 (D31/R52), SNG ANS 251 (also same dies), SNG Cop 523, aEF, sculptural high relief obverse die, weight 8.591 g, maximum diameter 17.4 mm, die axis 90o, Macedonia, Amphipolis mint, 340/336 - 328 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right; reverse ΦIΛIΠΠOY, charioteer driving a racing biga right, wearing a himation, kentron in right hand, reins in his left hand, ivy leaf right below horses; SOLD


Pharsalos, Thessaly, Greece, Late 5th - Mid 4th Century B.C.

|Thessaly|, |Pharsalos,| |Thessaly,| |Greece,| |Late| |5th| |-| |Mid| |4th| |Century| |B.C.||drachm|
The tiny letters on the obverse and reverse are artist signatures. TH has been identified as Telephantos and MI as his "apprentice." The referenced BCD coin with the same obverse die and a reverse die by the same hand, near EF and well-struck, sold for $90,000 plus fees.
SH76215. Silver drachm, Lavva 153 (V72/R89); BCD Thessaly II 642 (same obv. die); cf. BMC Thessaly p. 43, 10; SNG Cop 221, gVF, full helmet crest on obverse, some die wear, weight 5.946 g, maximum diameter 20.1 mm, die axis 135o, Pharsalos (Farsala, Greece) mint, late 5th - mid 4th century B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet with Skylla on bowl, raising hand to shade her eyes, tiny TH over MI behind neck; reverse Φ-A-P-Σ (clockwise from upper left, Σ and P retrograde), Thessalian cavalryman on horse prancing right, wearing petasos, chlamys, and chiton, brandishing lagobolon overhead in right hand, reins in left hand, horse wears beaded strand around neck, tiny TH below the feet of the cavalryman; SOLD


Annia Faustina, Augusta, 221 A.D., Third Wife of Elagabalus, Hierapolis, Phrygia

|Hierapolis|, |Annia| |Faustina,| |Augusta,| |221| |A.D.,| |Third| |Wife| |of| |Elagabalus,| |Hierapolis,| |Phrygia||AE| |23|
In 221, after Elagabalus was induced to end his highly controversial marriage to the Vestal Virgin Aquilia Severa, he married the recently widowed Annia Aurelia Faustina. The marriage was intended to form an alliance with the powerful aristocratic Nerva-Antonine clan, resulting from her blood relation to the dynasty. Elagabalus gave her the title of Augusta. Supporters of Elagabalus had hoped that Annia, the mother of two small children from her previous marriage, would bear him a natural heir; however, she bore him no children. There are no surviving sources providing details of Annia Aurelia Faustina's short time as a Roman empress. Before the end of 221, Elagabalus divorced her and returned to Julia Aquilia Severa. After her marriage to Elagabalus ended, she returned with her children to her Pisidian Estate where she spent the final years of her life.

The AKTIA festival and games at Hierapolis were founded in honor of Augustus' victory at Actium.
RP77251. Bronze AE 23, Johnston Hierapolis 74; BMC Phrygia p. 242, 89; SNG Cop 444; Waddington 6128; SNGvA -; SNG Tb -; SNG Hunterian -; SNG Leypold -; Weber -; McClean -, aF, weight 7.085 g, maximum diameter 23.0 mm, die axis 180o, Phrygia, Hierapolis (near Pamukkale, Turkey) mint, c. 221 - 268 A.D.; obverse IEPACY-NKΛHTO-C, draped bust of the senate right; reverse IEPAΠOΛEITΩN NEΩKOPΩN, A/KTI/A in three lines within a demos crown (laurel wreath); very rare; SOLD


Larissa, Thessaly, Greece, c. 460 - 420 B.C.

|Thessaly|, |Larissa,| |Thessaly,| |Greece,| |c.| |460| |-| |420| |B.C.||hemidrachm|
During religious games, the young men of Thessaly participated in bull jumping and bull wrestling. In bull wrestling, participants would jump from a horse, naked save a chlamys and cap, to bring a bull down to the ground. The obverse shows a wrestler bringing down a bull and the reverse shows the horse running free after the leap was made. The game may have originated in Asia Minor and then traveled to Crete, where it is known the people of Thessaly learned the sport.
SH90334. Silver hemidrachm, Lorber Thessalian 2 (O1/R2); BCD Thessaly II 373.1 (same dies); SNG Cop 102 var. (ethnic breaks, no sandal); BMC Thessaly p. 25, 10 (same), aVF, weight 2.913 g, maximum diameter 16.1 mm, die axis 270o, Larissa mint, c. 460 - 420 B.C.; obverse Thessalos right wrestling bull forepart leaping right, naked but for chlamys over shoulders and petasos flying behind, holding bull with strap around its forehead held in both hands, RI (retrograde) below; reverse bridled horse forepart galloping left, all in incuse square, Λ−API left and above, Jason's sandal left below, all in shallow square incuse; SOLD


Philip I the Arab, February 244 - End of September 249 A.D.

|Philip| |I|, |Philip| |I| |the| |Arab,| |February| |244| |-| |End| |of| |September| |249| |A.D.||antoninianus|
During Philip's reign the 1000th anniversary of Rome (248 A.D.) was celebrated, and magnificent games were held. This coin was issued as part of that celebration and the reverse undoubted depicts one of the animals displayed during the games.
RA86812. Silver antoninianus, RIC IV 22 (R2), RSC IV 188, SRCV III 8959 var. (antelope left), Hunter III 48 var. (same), Choice aEF, excellent centering on a broad flan, excellent portrait, light toning, some luster, strike slightly soft/flat, some die wear, weight 4.402 g, maximum diameter 23.8 mm, die axis 0o, 6th officina, Rome mint, 248 A.D.; obverse IMP PHILIPPVS AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse SAECVLARES AVGG (Secular games [provided by] the Emperors), antelope walking right, VI in exergue; very rare with antelope right (only two on Coin Archives and one sold for $700!; ex Beast Coins; SOLD







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REFERENCES|

Klose, D. & G. Stumpf. Sport, Spiel, Sieg. (Munich, 1996).


Catalog current as of Tuesday, January 31, 2023.
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