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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

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

|Athens|, |Athens,| |Attica,| |Greece,| |c.| |454| |-| |404| |B.C.,| |Old| |Style| |Tetradrachm||tetradrachm|
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.
SL97993. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, NGC Ch AU (Choice about Uncirculated), strike 5/5, surface 5/5 (6156171-001), weight 17.199 g, maximum diameter 25.7 mm, die axis 180o, Athens mint, c. 420 - 413 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; ex Classical Numismatic Group, NGC| Lookup; $2350.00 (€1927.00)


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

|Athens|, |Athens,| |Attica,| |Greece,| |c.| |454| |-| |404| |B.C.,| |Old| |Style| |Tetradrachm||tetradrachm|
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.
SL97988. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, NGC Ch AU (Choice about Uncirculated), strike 5/5, surface 5/5 (6156171-003), weight 17.196 g, maximum diameter 25.3 mm, die axis 225o, Athens mint, c. 440 - 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; ex Classical Numismatic Group, NGC| Lookup; $2350.00 SALE PRICE $2115.00


Severus Alexander, 13 March 222 - March 235 A.D., Ephesos, Ionia

|Ephesos|, |Severus| |Alexander,| |13| |March| |222| |-| |March| |235| |A.D.,| |Ephesos,| |Ionia||AE| |36|
See this type online:
RPC Online VI
Asia Minor Coins
ANS Mantis (No photo on ANS, but photo of this specimen is available on RPC Online.)
SH87621. Bronze AE 36, Karwiese MvE 5.2 p. 164, 750b (O3/R3, only 1 spec. of this variety); RPC Online VI T4956 (5 spec.); ANS Mantis 1972.185.5, Choice EF, excellent centering, olive green patina, some legend weak, small flaw/punch on reverse, porous, weight 25.344 g, maximum diameter 36.3 mm, die axis 180o, Ephesos mint, obverse AYT K M AYP CEB AΛEΞAN∆POC, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind; reverse M-ONΩN - ΠPΩTΩN - ACIAC, on left: cult statue of Artemis standing facing, wearing ornate kalathos, flanked on each side by a stag, arms with supports; on right: Demeter enthroned left, wreathed in grain, two stalks of grain in right hand, long torch vertical in left hand; EΦECIΩN in exergue; only the second known of this variety with stags flanking Artemis, fantastic HUGE 36mm provincial bronze!; $2100.00 (€1722.00)


Seleukid Kingdom, Seleucus I Nikator, 312 - 280 B.C.

|Seleucid| |Kingdom|, |Seleukid| |Kingdom,| |Seleucus| |I| |Nikator,| |312| |-| |280| |B.C.||tetradrachm|
Seleukos (Seleucus) founded the Seleukid Empire and the Seleukid dynasty which ruled Syria until Pompey made it a Roman province in 63 B.C. Seleukos was never one of Alexander the Great's principal generals but he commanded the royal bodyguard during the Indian campaign. In the division of the empire after Alexander's death Seleukos did not receive a satrapy. Instead, he served under the regent Perdikkas until the latter's murder in 321 or 320. Seleukos was then appointed satrap of Babylonia. Five years later Antigonus Monophthalmus (the One-eyed) forced him to flee, but he returned with support from Ptolemy. He later added Persia and Media to his territory and defeated both Antigonus and Lysimachus. He was succeeded by his son Antiochus I.
GY95974. Silver tetradrachm, cf. Houghton-Lorber I 177; Newell ESM 314; BMC Seleucid p. 3, 33 - 34; HGC 9 18c (R1-R2), aVF, high relief head of Zeus, old cabinet toning, flow lines, porosity, light marks, minor edge flaw on reverse, weight 16.251 g, maximum diameter 26.9 mm, die axis 180o, Susa (Shush, Iran) mint, c. 295 - 280 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Zeus right; reverse Athena driving biga of horned elephants, BAΣIΛEΩΣ (king) downward on left, ΣEΛEYKOY in exergue, spearhead (control) above right, A(or E or M over Ω?, obscure, control) lower right before elephants; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $1600.00 (€1312.00)


Seleukid Kingdom, Demetrius III, c. 96 - 87 B.C.

|Seleucid| |Kingdom|, |Seleukid| |Kingdom,| |Demetrius| |III,| |c.| |96| |-| |87| |B.C.||tetradrachm|
The inscription on the reverse of this coin translates, "King Demetrios, the god, father-loving, savior." He was nicknamed Eucaerus ("the Timely") by the Syrian Greeks but was called Acaerus ("the Untimely) by the Jews. He defeated the Hasmonaean priest king Alexander Jannaeus but was forced to withdraw from Judaea by the hostile population. While attempting to dethrone his brother, Philip I Philadelphus, he was defeated by the Arabs and Parthians, and taken prisoner. He was held in confinement in Parthia by Mithridates II until his death in 88 B.C.
SL94920. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton-Lorber 2450(2); HGC 9 1305; cf. BMC Seleucid p. 101, 1 (SE 217, same controls); SNG Spaer 2863 (SE 219, different controls), NGC Ch XF, strike 5/5, surface 3/5 (5771210-005), weight 16.501 g, maximum diameter 30.10 mm, die axis 0o, Damaskos (Damascus, Syria) mint, 97 - 96 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Demetrios III right, fringe of curly beard at jawline, fillet border; reverse BAΣIΛEΩS / DHMHTPIOY / ΘEOY - ΦIΛOΠATOPOΣ / ΣΩTHPOΣ, cult image of Atargatis standing facing, holding flower, barley stalk behind each shoulder, two monograms (controls) outer left, date CIS (Seleucid Era year 216) in exergue, ∆H monogram (control) in exergue on right, laurel wreath border; from the Ray Nouri Collection, NGC| Lookup; scarce; $900.00 (€738.00)


Gallienus, August 253 - September 268 A.D., Irenopolis-Neronias, Cilicia

|Cilicia|, |Gallienus,| |August| |253| |-| |September| |268| |A.D.,| |Irenopolis-Neronias,| |Cilicia||7| |assaria|
Wandering the world in a panther-drawn chariot, Dionysos rode ahead of the maenads and satyrs, who sang loudly and danced, flushed with wine. They were profusely garlanded with ivy and held the thyrsus, a staff topped with a pine cone, a symbol of the immortality of his believers. Everywhere he went he taught men how to cultivate vines and the mysteries of his cult. Whoever stood in his way and refused to revere him was punished with madness.
RP96990. Bronze 7 assaria, Karbach Eirenopolis - (cf. 146-7 same obv. die, diff. rev. type); Leu web auction 12 (2020), 870 (same dies); SNG Levante -; SNG Paris -; SNG PFPS -, aVF/F, green patina with earthen deposits, weight 12.523 g, maximum diameter 27.7 mm, die axis 225o, Irenopolis (Düzici, Turkey) mint, 258 - 259 A.D.; obverse ΠOY ΛIK Γ/θ>AΛIHNOC, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind; uncertain round countermark; reverse IPHNOΠOΛE (or similar), Dionysos drinking with his entourage, standing facing, kantharos (wine cup) in his right hand, pedum (shepherd's crook) in his left hand, Pan on right supporting him, Satyr on left standing with outstretched right hand, panther seated left at feet on left, Z (mark of value) right; ex Leu Numismatik web auction 13 (15 Aug 2020), lot 921; the second known; $810.00 (€664.20)


Magnesia ad Maeandrum, Ionia, c. 282 - 225 B.C., In the Name of Alexander the Great

|Magnesia| |ad| |Meandrum|, |Magnesia| |ad| |Maeandrum,| |Ionia,| |c.| |282| |-| |225| |B.C.,| |In| |the| |Name| |of| |Alexander| |the| |Great||tetradrachm|
Magnesia ad Maeandrum was an inland city of Ionia, located on a small tributary of the Maeander River about 12 miles southeast of Ephesus. "..the temple of Artemis Leukophryene, which in the size of its shrine and in the number of its votive offerings is inferior to the temple at Ephesos, but in the harmony and skill shown in the structure of the sacred enclosure is far superior to it. And in size it surpasses all the sacred enclosures in Asia except two, that at Ephesos (to Artemis) and that at Didymoi (to Apollo)" -- Strabo, Geography 14. 1. 40.
SH98009. Silver tetradrachm, Price 2019, Müller Alexander -, SNG Alpha Bank -, SNG Saroglos –, SNG München -, Mektepini -, VF, obverse a little off center, light bumps and marks, small dark areas, weight 17.070 g, maximum diameter 31.6 mm, die axis 0o, Magnesia ad Maeandrum (near Tekin, Turkey) mint, c. 282 - 225 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean Lion skin, scalp over head, forepaws tied at neck; reverse Zeus Aëtophoros enthroned left, eagle in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, right leg drawn back, monogram left, AΛEΞAN∆POY downward on right, meander pattern in exergue; from the CEB Collection, ex Numismatic Fine Arts (Beverly Hills, CA); Coin Archives records only one specimen of the type at auction in the last two decades; very rare; $800.00 (€656.00)


Ptolemaic Kingdom of Kyrenaica, Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II (Physcon), 163 - 145 B.C.

|Kyrenaica|, |Ptolemaic| |Kingdom| |of| |Kyrenaica,| |Ptolemy| |VIII| |Euergetes| |II| |(Physcon),| |163| |-| |145| |B.C.||hemidrachm|
Ptolemy VIII was made co-ruler of Egypt with his older siblings in 170 B.C. Soon after, Ptolemy VI was captured in the Sixth Syrian War and Ptolemy VIII became sole king. When the war ended in 168 B.C. Ptolemy VI was restored to joint rule. The brothers quarreled and in 164 B.C. Ptolemy VIII drove out his brother out and became sole king, but he was in turn expelled in 163 B.C. As a result of Roman intervention, Ptolemy VIII was awarded rule of Kyrenaica. After Ptolemy VI's death in 145 B.C., Ptolemy VIII returned to Egypt as co-ruler with his sister.
GP95307. Bronze hemidrachm, Svoronos 1641, pl. LVI, 14; Asolati 84; SNG Cop 651; BMC Ptolemies p. 94, 78; Malter 242; Weiser -; Noeske -, EF, some areas of weakness, reverse with some doubling, obverse edge beveled, central depressions, weight 36.92 g, maximum diameter 44.0 mm, die axis 0o, Kyrene (near Shahhat, Libya) mint, c. 150 B.C.; obverse diademed and horned head of Zeus Ammon right, taenia with basileion above forehead; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΠTOΛEMAIOY EYEPΓETOY, eagle standing right on thunderbolt, head right, wings open, Φ right; ex Leu Numismatik web auction 10 (7 Dec 2019), lot 619; rare; $700.00 (€574.00)


Ptolemaic Kingdom of Kyrenaica, Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II (Physcon), 163 - 145 B.C.

|Ptolemaic| |Egypt|, |Ptolemaic| |Kingdom| |of| |Kyrenaica,| |Ptolemy| |VIII| |Euergetes| |II| |(Physcon),| |163| |-| |145| |B.C.||hemidrachm|
Ptolemy VIII was made co-ruler of Egypt with his older siblings in 170 B.C. Soon after, Ptolemy VI was captured in the Sixth Syrian War and Ptolemy VIII became sole king. When the war ended in 168 B.C. Ptolemy VI was restored to joint rule. The brothers quarreled and in 164 B.C. Ptolemy VIII drove out his brother out and became sole king, but he was in turn expelled in 163 B.C. As a result of Roman intervention, Ptolemy VIII was awarded rule of Kyrenaica. After Ptolemy VI's death in 145 B.C., Ptolemy VIII returned to Egypt as co-ruler with his sister.
GP95308. Bronze hemidrachm, Svoronos 1641, pl. LVI, 14; Asolati 84; SNG Cop 651; BMC Ptolemies p. 94, 78; Malter 242; Weiser -; Noeske -, EF, areas of weak strike, obverse edge beveled, edge crack, weight 36.82 g, maximum diameter 43.0 mm, Kyrene (near Shahhat, Libya) mint, c. 150 B.C.; obverse diademed and horned head of Zeus Ammon right, taenia with basileion above forehead; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΠTOΛEMAIOY EYEPΓETOY, eagle standing right on thunderbolt, head right, wings open, Φ right; ex Leu Numismatik web auction 10 (7 Dec 2019), lot 618; rare; $700.00 (€574.00)


Seleukid Kingdom, Antiochus IX Cyzicenus, 113 - 95 B.C

|Seleucid| |Kingdom|, |Seleukid| |Kingdom,| |Antiochus| |IX| |Cyzicenus,| |113| |-| |95| |B.C||tetradrachm|
After Antiochus IX's father died, his uncle Demetrius II Nicator took the throne. For his safety, his mother, Cleopatra Thea, sent him to Cyzicus (leading to his nickname). He returned to Syria in 116 B.C. to claim the throne from his half-brother Antiochus VIII Grypus, with whom he eventually divided Syria. He was killed in battle by the son of Grypus, Seleucus VI Epiphanes.
GY95956. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton-Lorber II 2384; Houghton CSE 725; Babelon Rois 1467; BMC Seleucid p. 92, 6; HGC 9 1288k (R2), gVF, well centered, dark old cabinet toning, old scratches, light deposits, weight 15.977 g, maximum diameter 29.2 mm, die axis 0o, Sidon (Saida, Lebanon) mint, 2nd reign, 113 - 112 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Antiochos right; reverse Athena standing left, Nike in right hand, resting left hand on grounded shield, spear behind, BAΣIΛEΩΣ ANTIOXOY in two lines downward on right, ΦIΛO−ΠATOPOΣ downward on left, ΣI∆Ω/IEP / AΣY in 3 lines over outer left, Σ (year 200) in exergue; from the Errett Bishop Collection; very rare; $630.00 (€516.60)




  



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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 Monday, October 25, 2021.
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