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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Themes & Provenance| ▸ |Gods, Olympians||View Options:  |  |  |   

The Twelve Olympians on Ancient Coins

The Twelve Olympians, the principal gods of the Greek pantheon, residing atop Mount Olympus, included the following gods:

Greek

Roman

Zeus

Jupiter

Hera

Juno

Poseidon

Neptune

Demeter

Ceres

Ares

Mars

Hermes

Mercury

Hephaestus

Vulcan

Aphrodite

Venus

Athena

Minerva

Apollo

Apollo

Artemis

Diana

Hestia

Vesta


Kingdom of Thrace, Lysimachos, 305 - 281 B.C., Portrait of Alexander the Great

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Lampsacus was known as a center for worship of Priapus, who was said to have been born there.

Thompson notes that Lampsacus was Lysimachos' largest mint in Asia Minor, with approximately 150 known obverse dies. Output from Lampsacus declined when Amphipolis began its extensive coinage c. 288 B.C.
SL89730. Silver tetradrachm, Thompson 195, Müller 102, HGC 3 1750l, NGC VF, strike 5/5, surface 4/5, fine style, scratches (2490386-005), weight 16.859 g, maximum diameter 32.0 mm, die axis 30o, Amphipolis mint, 288 - 281 B.C.; obverse diademed head of deified Alexander the Great wearing the horn of Ammon; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΛYΣIMAXOY, Athena Nikephoros enthroned left, Nike crowning name in extended right hand, left arm rests on grounded round shield decorated with lion head, transverse spear against right side, kerykeion with handle inner left field, YE monogram outer right; $1500.00 (€1320.00)


Britannicus, Son of Claudius and Messalina, b. 12 February 41 - d. 11 February 55 A.D., Alabanda, Caria

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Of this type, RPC I notes, "Uncertain. This coin was published by Mi 3.307.22, and is known from a Mionnet cast. The coin [the Mionnet specimen] has been tooled ('médaille retourchée') but may perhaps represent a genuine denomination." Our coin allays the RPC I doubts. The denomination is 1/3 of 18.5g RPC I 2818.
SH88430. Orichalcum AE 23, RPC I 2821 (= Mionnet III, p. 307, 22), F, porous, weight 6.496 g, maximum diameter 23.3 mm, die axis 0o, Alabanda (Doganyurt, Aydin, Turkey) mint, 50 - 54 A.D.; obverse KΛAV∆IOC BPETANNIKOC KAIΣAP, bare-headed and draped bust right; reverse AΛABAN∆EΩN, Apollo Kissios standing left, nude, bow in right hand with raven on top, sheep standing left at feet on left ; ex Forum (2013), ex J. S. Wagner Collection; of greatest rarity; $1100.00 (€968.00)


Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, Ptolemy IV Philopator, 221 - 204 B.C.

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Ptolemy IV's surname, Philopator, means father lover, ironic since according to some authorities he poisoned his father. Ptolemy IV is a major protagonist of the apocryphal 3 Maccabees, which describes events following the Battle of Raphia, in both Jerusalem and Alexandria. He was a cruel and evil monarch.
SH93419. Bronze drachm, Lorber CPE B495; Svoronos 1125; Noeske 140 ff.; SNG Cop 199; Weiser 49; BMC Ptolemies p. 57, 106 ff.; Hosking -, Choice EF, beautiful depiction of Zeus, perfect centering, slight weakness in hair, light deposits, central depressions, beveled obverse edge, weight 68.235 g, maximum diameter 41.7 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, c. 219 - 204 B.C.; obverse horned head of Zeus Ammon right, wearing taenia; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ (King Ptolemy), eagle standing left on thunderbolt, wings closed, filleted cornucopia left, ∆I between eagle's legs; from the Errett Bishop Collection, a superb and massive 68g Ptolemaic bronze!; $1100.00 (€968.00)


Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 454 - 404 B.C., Old Style Tetradrachm

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The old-style tetradrachm of Athens is famous for its almond shaped eye, archaic smile, and charming owl reverse. Around 480 B.C. a wreath of olive leaves and a decorative scroll were added to Athena's helmet. On the reverse, a crescent moon was added.

During the period 449 - 413 B.C. huge quantities of tetradrachms were minted to finance grandiose building projects such as the Parthenon and to cover the costs of the Peloponnesian War.
BK20797. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG München 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, EF, well centered on a tight flan with unusual near full crest, some obverse die wear, weight 17.166 g, maximum diameter 24.1 mm, die axis 45o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 404 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves and floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair in parallel curves; reverse owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; $1100.00 (€968.00)


Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, Ptolemy III Euergetes, 246 - 222 B.C.

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Ptolemy III Euergetes promoted the translation of Jewish scriptures into Greek as the Septuagint. Due to a falling out at the Seleucid court, his eldest sister Berenice Phernophorus was murdered along with her infant son. In response, he invaded Syria, occupied Antioch, and even reached Babylon. This war, the Third Syrian War, is cryptically alluded to in Daniel XI 7-9. The Ptolemaic kingdom reached the height of its power during his reign.
GP93831. Bronze drachm, Lorber CPE B395, Svoronos 964; Weiser 71; SNG Cop 171; SNG Milan 155; Hosking 30; BMC Ptolemies p. 55, 87, Choice gVF, attractive red-brown surfaces, attractive style, small edge crack, central depressions, weight 70.654 g, maximum diameter 42.1 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 246 - 222 B.C.; obverse horned head of Zeus Ammon right, wearing taenia; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ (King Ptolemy), eagle standing left on thunderbolt, wings closed, filleted cornucopia left, chi-rho monogram between eagle's legs; a massive 71 gram Ptolemaic bronze with nice surfaces!; $850.00 (€748.00)


Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, Ptolemy II Philadelphos, 285 - 246 B.C.

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Ptolemy II requested copies of Jewish texts for the Library at Alexandria. They were translated and transcribed by seventy Jewish scholars hired for the purpose, creating the Septuagint, the oldest Greek version of the Hebrew Bible. Many of the oldest Biblical verses in the Dead Sea Scrolls, particularly those in Aramaic, correspond more closely with the Septuagint than with the Hebrew text.
GP93830. Bronze diobol, Lorber CPE 242 (4 spec.), Svoronos 466 (1 spec.), Picard-Faucher 286, Malter 74 (=Svoronos 466a), SNG Cop -, Weiser -, Noeske -, Choice gVF, attractive toned brassy surfaces, nice style, well centered, central depressions, beveled obverse edge, weight 21.621 g, maximum diameter 29.7 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, c. 261 - 246 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus right; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ (King Ptolemy), eagle standing left on thunderbolt, head left, wings closed, ME between eagle's legs, Θ below tail; from a New England collector, the first example of this type handled by FORVM, about a half-dozen known, only one sale of this type recorded on Coin Archives in the last two decades; extremely rare; $800.00 (€704.00)


Macedonian Kingdom, Philip III Arrhidaeus, 323 - 317 B.C.

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Struck in the name of King Philip III Arrhidaeus, Alexander the Great's half-brother, under the regent Perdikkas. Philip III and Alexander's infant son, Alexander IV, were made joint kings after Alexander's death. Philip was the bastard son of Philip II and a dancer, Philinna of Larissa. Alexander the Great's mother, Olympias, allegedly poisoned her stepson Philip III as a child, leaving him mentally disabled, eliminating him as a rival to Alexander. Neither Philip III nor Alexander IV was capable of actual rule and both were selected only to serve as pawns. The regents held power, while Philip III was actually imprisoned. In 317, Philip was murdered by Olympias to ensure the succession of her grandson.
SL89735. Silver drachm, Price P56, SNG München 947, SNG Cop 1105, HGC 3.1, 974e (S), Müller Alexander -, SNG Alpha Bank -, NGC MS, 5/5 strike, 5/5 surface, fine style (4629644-013), weight 4.26 g, maximum diameter 15.6 mm, die axis 0o, Ionia, Magnesia ad Maeandrum (near Tekin, Turkey) mint, struck under Menander or Kleito, c. 323 - 319 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean lion scalp headdress; reverse Zeus seated left on throne without back, nude to waist, himation around hips and legs, feet on footstool, right leg drawn back, eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, IAT monogram left, ΦIΛIΠΠOY downward on right; ex Giessener Munzhandlung D. Gorny GmbH; $750.00 (€660.00)


Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, Ptolemy II Philadelphos, 285 - 246 B.C.

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Huge 71.416 g, 46.8 mm bronze! The largest of all Ptolemaic bronze coin types.
GP92402. Bronze octobol, Lorber CPE B365; Svoronos 446; Weiser 19; BMC Ptolemies p. 37, 158; SNG Cop 142; Noeske 64; Hosking 13; Malter 67, gVF, well centered on a broad flan, partial red encrustation/patina, light double strike on reverse, central depressions, beveled obverse edge, weight 71.416 g, maximum diameter 46.8 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 285 - 246 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Zeus-Ammon right; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ (King Ptolemy), eagle standing left on thunderbolt, wings open, head turned back right, E between legs; from a New England Collector; scarce; $700.00 (€616.00)


Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, Ptolemy III Euergetes, 246 - 222 B.C.

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Ptolemy III Euergetes was the third ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt. He promoted the translation of Jewish scriptures into Greek as the Septuagint. Due to a falling out at the Seleucid court, his eldest sister Berenice Phernophorus was murdered along with her infant son. In response, he invaded Syria, occupied Antioch, and even reached Babylon. This war, the Third Syrian War, is cryptically alluded to in Daniel XI 7-9. The Ptolemaic kingdom reached the height of its power during his reign.
GP93402. Bronze hemidrachm, Lorber CPE B936; Svoronos 965; SNG Cop 173; Weiser 72; BMC Ptolemies p. 55, 89; SNG Milan 166; SNG Blackburn 1165; Noeske 120; Hosking 31; Weber 8259, Choice EF, attractive style, well centered, mottled burgundy, red, brown and olive patina, ares of light corrosion, central depressions,, weight 30.905 g, maximum diameter 35.7 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 246 - 222 B.C.; obverse horned head of Zeus Ammon right, wearing taenia; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ (King Ptolemy), eagle standing left on thunderbolt, head left, wings closed, filleted cornucopia left, chi-rho monogram between eagle's legs; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $700.00 (€616.00)


Eastern Celts, Imitative of Philip II of Macedonia, "Dachreiter" Type, 2nd - 1st Century B.C.

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Although the body and head of the horseman on the prototype drachm of Philip III of Macedonia have been replaced by an S-shaped line over three pellets, the horseman's leg can still be found on the side of the horse!
SH89462. Silver tetradrachm, Göbl OTA tf. 15, 170/4; Lanz 448, aVF, light toning, reverse slightly off center, light marks, weight 11.953 g, maximum diameter 21.7 mm, die axis 0o, tribal mint, 2nd - 1st century B.C.; obverse laureate and bearded head of Zeus right; reverse stylized horseman prancing left, rider's head and body reduced to an S-shaped line over three pellets, leg of horseman on side of the horse; $600.00 (€528.00)




  



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The first ancient reference of religious ceremonies for the 12 Olympians is found in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes.

There was a great deal of fluidity when it came to who was counted among their number in antiquity. Around 400 B.C. Herodorus included in his Dodekatheon the following deities: Zeus, Poseidon, Hera, Athena, Hermes, Apollo, Alpheus, Cronus, Rhea and the Charites. Herodotus includes Heracles as one of the Twelve.

Lucian also includes Heracles, and also includes Asklepios, as members of the Twelve, without explaining which two had to give way for them. At Kos, Heracles and Dionysus are added to the Twelve, and Ares and Hephaestus are left behind. However, Pindar, Apollodorus, and Herodorus disagree with this. For them Heracles is not one of the Twelve Gods, but the one who established their cult.

Plato connected the Twelve Olympians with the twelve months, and proposed that the final month be devoted to rites in honor of Pluto and the spirits of the dead, implying that he considered Hades, one of the basic chthonic deities, to be one of the Twelve. Hades is phased out in later groupings due to his chthonic associations. In Phaedrus Plato aligns the Twelve with the Zodiac and would exclude Hestia from their rank.

Hestia is sometimes displaced by Dionysus. Hebe, Helios and Persephone are other important gods, goddesses, which are sometimes included in a group of twelve.

The Twelve Olympians gained their supremacy in the world of gods after Zeus led his siblings to victory in war with the Titans. Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Hestia, and Hades were siblings. Ares, Hermes, Hephaestus, Aphrodite, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, the Charites, Heracles, Dionysus, Hebe, and Persephone were children of Zeus. Although some versions of the myth state that Hephaestus was born of Hera alone.


Catalog current as of Thursday, October 17, 2019.
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Olympians