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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

Hadrian, 11 August 117 - 10 July 138 A.D., Delphi, Phokis

|Phokis|, |Hadrian,| |11| |August| |117| |-| |10| |July| |138| |A.D.,| |Delphi,| |Phokis||AE| |21|
Delphi is a town on Mount Parnassus in the south of mainland Greece. It's the site of the 4th-century-B.C. Temple of Apollo, once home to a legendary oracle. This extensive mountainside archaeological complex contains the remains of the sanctuaries of Apollo and Athena Pronaia, as well as an ancient stadium and theater. Delphi Archaeological Museum displays artifacts found among the ruins.
RP111645. Bronze AE 21, RPC III 429.6 (this coin, 7 spec.); BCD Lokris 394 (this coin); Svoronos p. 36, 55, pl. XXVII, 13; BMC Central p. 28, 25 pl. IV, 16; SNG Cop 156, VF, nice green patina, light roughness, weight 5.289 g, maximum diameter 20.8 mm, die axis 0o, Delphi (Greece) mint, obverse AY KAI TPAIANOC AΔPIANOC AYΓ (Imperator Caesar Traianus Hadrianus Augustus), laureate bust of Hadrian right, bare chest (heroic bust), aegis on left shoulder; reverse ΔΕΛΦΩN, Apollo Citharoedus standing right, wearing long chiton and long chlamys, playing Kithara (lyre); ex Numismatica Ars Classica auction 55 (8 Oct 2010), lot 394 (price realized 1,500 CHF, plus fees); ex BCD Collection ; rare; $2000.00 SALE PRICE $1800.00


Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 440 - 404 B.C., Old Style Tetradrachm

|Athens|, |Athens,| |Attica,| |Greece,| |c.| |440| |-| |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.
SL110173. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, NGC Ch AU, strike 5/5, surface 4/5 (6556678-005), weight 17.212 g, maximum diameter 24.8 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, ΑΘΕ downward on right, all within incuse square; ex Classical Numismatic Group, NGC| Lookup; $1530.00 SALE PRICE $1377.00


Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 440 - 404 B.C., Old Style Tetradrachm

|Athens|, |Athens,| |Attica,| |Greece,| |c.| |440| |-| |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.
SL110170. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, NGC Ch AU, strike 5/5, surface 3/5 (6556678-002), weight 17.189 g, maximum diameter 24.5 mm, die axis 0o, 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, ΑΘΕ downward on right, all within incuse square; ex Classical Numismatic Group, NGC| Lookup; $1450.00 SALE PRICE $1305.00


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

|Ptolemaic| |Egypt|, |Ptolemaic| |Kingdom| |of| |Egypt,| |Ptolemy| |III| |Euergetes,| |246| |-| |222| |B.C.||octobol|
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.
GP111845. Bronze octobol, Lorber CPE B365; Svoronos 446; Weiser 19; BMC Ptolemies p. 37, 158; SNG Cop 142; Noeske 64; Hosking 13; Malter 67, Choice VF, well centered, central dimples, obv. edge beveled, flan casting voids, weight 97.987 g, maximum diameter 48.2 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 246 - 230 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Zeus-Ammon right; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΠTOΛEMAIOY, eagle standing left on thunderbolt, wings open, head turned back right, E between legs; HUGE 97.987g, 47.7mm bronze! among the largest of all Ptolemaic bronze coin types; scarce; $1400.00 SALE PRICE $1260.00


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.
GS110594. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, VF, tight flan, die wear, weight 16.576 g, maximum diameter 24.1 mm, die axis 270o, 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, ΑΘΕ downward on right, all within incuse square; from the CEB Collection; $700.00 SALE PRICE $630.00


Seleukid Kingdom, Antiochus II Theos, 261 - 246 B.C.

|Seleucid| |Kingdom|, |Seleukid| |Kingdom,| |Antiochus| |II| |Theos,| |261| |-| |246| |B.C.||tetradrachm|
Antiochus faced a formidable task holding the empire together. Revolt broke out in Syria almost immediately after his father's death. He earned the title Soter (savior) for victory over hordes of Gauls that attacked Anatolia. Elsewhere, he had little success. He was forced to abandon Macedonia, Thrace, Bithynia, and Cappadocia and to execute his eldest son for rebellion.
SH99542. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton-Lorber I 587(4); HGC 9 236g; cf. Newell ESM 188 ff. (various 2nd control monograms); BMC Seleucid p. 9, 18 (2nd monogram ΩΠA), VF/F, well centered, bumps and marks, areas of light corrosion, weight 16.592 g, maximum diameter 28.3 mm, die axis 0o, Seleukeia on the Tigris (south of Baghdad, Iraq) mint, 261 - 246 B.C.; obverse diademed head right; reverse Apollo Delphios seated left on omphalos, nude, examining arrow in right hand, resting left hand on bow grounded behind, BAΣIΛEΩΣ (king) downward on right, ANT-IOXOY downward on left, XAP monogram (primary control) outer left, monogram (obscure, secondary control) outer right; ex Forum (2021), ex Errett Bishop Collection; $390.00 SALE PRICE $351.00


Ephesos, Ionia (or perhaps Bargylia, Caria or Amyntas, King of Galatia), c. 2nd - 1st Century B.C.

|Ephesos|, |Ephesos,| |Ionia| |(or| |perhaps| |Bargylia,| |Caria| |or| |Amyntas,| |King| |of| |Galatia),| |c.| |2nd| |-| |1st| |Century| |B.C.||trihemiobol|
The type is most often attributed to Ephesos, but the style and denomination/weight do not strongly support any link to that city. NGC tags for the type note the origin may be Bargylia, Caria. The style certainly fits Bargylia better than Ephesos. The consignor of this coin, a professional numismatist, believes it was struck under Amyntas, King of Galatia, 37 - 25 B.C. Amyntas also issued Artemis and stag types.
GS98643. Silver trihemiobol, cf. SNG Davis 270, SNG Cop -, SNG Kayhan -, SNGvA -, BMC Galatia -, aVF, toned, light marks and scratches, weight 1.337 g, maximum diameter 12.3 mm, die axis 0o, Ephesos mint, c. 2nd - 1st Century B.C.; obverse draped bust of Artemis right, quiver at shoulder; reverse forepart of stag right, head turned back left; extremely rare; $310.00 SALE PRICE $279.00


Nero, 13 October 54 - 9 June 68 A.D.

|Nero|, |Nero,| |13| |October| |54| |-| |9| |June| |68| |A.D.||sestertius|
One explanation for Nero's slight beard on this coin is that it is his "beard of mourning" for the death of his wife Poppaea. According to Suetonius, one day in the summer of 65, Poppaea quarreled fiercely with Nero over his spending too much time at the races. She was pregnant with her second child. In a fit of rage, Nero kicked her in the abdomen, killing her. The story of her death may have been a lie, part of a larger effort to denigrate Nero after his suicide. Certainly Poppaea was deeply mourned by Nero. During the mourning period, Nero may have followed Roman customs and not shaved his face. A similar light beard also occurs on some tetradrachms of Antioch dated 65 - 66 A.D.
RB112056. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 138, BMCRE I 129, Mac Dowall WCN 128, Cohen I 18, BnF II -, Hunter I -, SRCV -, aVF/F, brown tone, corrosion, a few pits, weight 27.266 g, maximum diameter 33.5 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 65 A.D.; obverse NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG GER P M TR P IMP P P (Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus Pontifex Maximus Tribunicia Potestate Imperator Pater Patriae), laureate head left, short beard visible, no globe at point of bust; reverse ANNONA AVGVSTI CERES, Annona standing right, right hand on hip, cornucopia in left hand, facing Ceres enthroned left, veiled, feet on footstool, stalks of grain in right hand, torch in left hand; in center modius on garlanded altar, prow behind, S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; $300.00 SALE PRICE $270.00


Faustina Junior, Augusta 146 - Winter 175/176 A.D., Wife of Marcus Aurelius, Roman Provincial Egypt

|Roman| |Egypt|, |Faustina| |Junior,| |Augusta| |146| |-| |Winter| |175/176| |A.D.,| |Wife| |of| |Marcus| |Aurelius,| |Roman| |Provincial| |Egypt||drachm|
This coin was struck during the reign of her father Antoninus Pius. Faustina II was the daughter, wife, and mother of emperors and empresses. When she gave birth to the first of many children she was given the title of Augusta, which for a time made her superior in rank to her husband. She was a devoted wife and mother and accompanied her husband on all his military campaigns.
RX110732. Bronze drachm, Geissen 1954 (same obv. die); RPC Online IV.4 T13703; BMC Alexandria p. 163, 1334; Kampmann 38.60; Emmett 1976; Dattari 3279 var. (L - I∆), F, attractive green-brown patina, centered, most of legend weak/unstruck, small edge splits, obv. edge beveled, weight 25.632 g, maximum diameter 33.7 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 29 Aug 150 - 28 Aug 151 A.D.; obverse ΦAVCTINA CEB EVCEB ΘVΓ (from upper right), draped bust right; reverse Athena standing facing, head left, wearing crested helmet, chiton with diplois and aegis, Nike in her extended right hand offering wreath and bearing palm frond, spear vertical in left hand, L I-Δ (year 14) divided across fields, no shield; $270.00 SALE PRICE $243.00


Trajan Decius, September 249 - June or July 251 A.D., Augusta, Cilicia

|Cilicia|, |Trajan| |Decius,| |September| |249| |-| |June| |or| |July| |251| |A.D.,| |Augusta,| |Cilicia||AE| |19|
Augusta, Cilicia was founded in 20 A.D., and named for Livia (Julia Augusta). Just over 16 km north of Adana in a loop of the river Seyhan (Sarus), and at the west end of a narrow plain bounded to the north and south by low hills. Represented at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, the city probably did not long survive the Moslem invasion of Cilicia in the 7th century. The site, discovered by chance in 1955, was identified by ancient literary sources and from finds there, and in the neighboring village of Gbe, of Roman provincial coins naming the city. Later that same year Gbe, and with it the ruins of Augusta, disappeared below the waters of the Seyhan dam, but not before the site had been partially surveyed. Two colonnaded streets crossed each other at right angles typical of Roman towns in Cilicia. The foundations of a triumphal arch, a theater, a civic basilica, some shops, a bath building, were mapped. These structures were all of brick and mortar, and probably dated to the 3rd century.
RP111040. Bronze AE 19, apparently unpublished; SNG BnF -, SNG Levante -, SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, SNG Tahberer -, SNG Pflzer -, BMC Cilicia -, Lindgren -, VF, near centered, dark patina, choice reverse, light marks, weight 4.773 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, die axis 0o, Cilicia, Augusta (under Seyhan Dam Reservoir) mint, autumn 249 - Jun/Jul 251 A.D.; obverse AVT KAI KYN ΔEKION TPAIANON CEB, laureate head right, light beard; reverse AVΓOVCTANΩN ΕT ΘKC (of Augustus, year 229), draped bust of ivy wreathed Dionysos right; zero sales of this type listed on Coin Archives in the last two decades; extremely rare; $250.00 SALE PRICE $225.00




  



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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.


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