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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

Macedonian Kingdom, Alexander the Great, 336 - 323 B.C.

|Alexander| |the| |Great|, |Macedonian| |Kingdom,| |Alexander| |the| |Great,| |336| |-| |323| |B.C.||stater|NEW
Alexander the Great lifetime issue, struck by his Satrap in Lydia, Menander. Menander, the commander of a force of mercenaries in Alexander's army, was appointed by Alexander as the satrap in Lydia in 331. In 323 B.C., he was commissioned to conduct a reinforcement of troops to Alexander at Babylon, where he arrived there just before Alexander's death. In the division of the provinces after the death of Alexander, Menander received his former government of Lydia. He appears soon to have attached himself to the party of Antigonus. In the new distribution of the provinces at Triparadisus in 321 B.C., he lost the government of Lydia, which was given to Cleitus; but this was probably a promotion by Antigonus, as he commanded part of Antigonus' army in the first campaign against Eumenes in 320 B.C. The following year, Menander learned of the escape of Eumenes from Nora, and advanced with an army into Cappadocia to attack him, forcing him to take refuge in Cilicia. After this, no further mention of Menander is found in history.
SL96805. Gold stater, Price 2537, Müller Alexander 145, SNG Cop 645, ICG AU50 (2064440108), weight c. 8.5 g, maximum diameter 16.5 mm, die axis 0o, Sardes (Sart, Turkey) mint, lifetime issue, c. 334 - 323 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, wearing earring, necklace, and crested Corinthian helmet ornamented with a coiled snake; reverse Nike standing half left, wreath in extended right hand, stylus in left, tripod lebes with loop handles (control symbol) to left, AΛEΞAN∆POY downward on right; mint luster that is not captured by the photograph; ICG| Lookup; $5200.00 SALE |PRICE| $4680.00


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

|Commodus|, |Commodus,| |March| |or| |April| |177| |-| |31| |December| |192| |A.D.||medallion|
Giovanni Dattari (1853 - 1923) was a self-taught collector and successful trader of Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities. He held a near monopoly in the antiquities trade in Cairo, Egypt. He also shared his expertise and first-hand knowledge of Egypt with the foremost scholars of his time. Dattari assembled a collection of over 25,000 ancient coins. His 1901 work, Numi Augg. Alexandrini, cataloged 6411 of his coins from Roman Alexandria, and is still a primary reference for the coinage of Roman Egypt. Dattari also made pencil rubbings of more than 13,000 coins from Roman Alexandria in his collection; these were finally published in 2007 by Adriano Savio. In 1920, Dattari donated large parts of his collection to the Museo Nazionale Romano. After his death, the remainder of his collection was sold.
SL96389. Bronze medallion, Gnecchi II p. 51, 1 & tav. 78, 1, NGC AU, strike 5/5, surface 2/5, Fine Style (ex Coin Gall., 2/95, 1865; The Morris Collection; 4632497-011), weight 53.33 g, maximum diameter 39.5 mm, die axis 345o, Rome mint, 190 - 192 A.D.; obverse COMMODVS ANTONINVS PIVS FELIX AVG BRIT, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right, seen from the front; reverse APOL PALATINO P M TR P XVI IMP VIII, Apollo Palatine on left, standing facing, head right, plectrum in right hand, Victory on right, standing left, presenting kithara (lyre) to Apollo, COS VI P P in exergue; ex Heritage NYINC auction 3071 (6-7 Jan 2019), lot 32133; ex Morris Collection; ex Coin Galleries (15 Feb 1995), lot 1865; ex Spink & Sons (1950's); ex Dattari Collection; NGC| Lookup; extremely rare; $4800.00 SALE |PRICE| $3880.00


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!; $2655.00 SALE |PRICE| $2390.00


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

|Nero|, |Nero,| |13| |October| |54| |-| |9| |June| |68| |A.D.||sestertius|
The Lost Arch of Nero. This arch is undoubtedly the one that Tacitus says was voted to Nero for Corbulo's victory in Armenia in 58, and that he further reports was being constructed "in the middle of the Capitoline Hill" in 62, despite a successful invasion of Armenia by the Parthians in that year. No traces of the arch have ever been found. The arch was completely destroyed either shortly after Nero's death with the damnatio memoriae Nero received when the senate proclaimed him an enemy of the state, or in one of the two fires that consumed the Capitoline hill in 69 and 80. However, the quadriga on top of the arch is similar to that depicted on sestertii at the center of the Flavian amphitheatre (the Colosseum). It may have been reallocated.
SH96391. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 144, BMCRE I 184, Cohen I 306, Mac Dowall WCN 134, SRCV I -, Choice gVF, excellent portrait, dark patina, well centered, light marks, scattered light porosity, weight 27.125 g, maximum diameter 35.0 mm, die axis 180o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, c. 65 A.D.; obverse NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG GER PM TR P IMP P P, laureate head left, globe at point of bust; reverse triumphal arch; surmounted by statue of Nero in a facing quadriga, led by Pax on left and Victory on right, and flanked below by two soldiers; front ornamented with statue of Mars in a niche and bas-reliefs of small figures; garland hanging in arch; ex Pegasi Numismatics; $1850.00 SALE |PRICE| $1490.00


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

|Other| |Caria|, |Britannicus,| |Son| |of| |Claudius| |and| |Messalina,| |b.| |12| |February| |41| |-| |d.| |11| |February| |55| |A.D.,| |Alabanda,| |Caria||AE| |23|
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; $990.00 SALE |PRICE| $891.00


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.
SH95944. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, VF, high relief (as usual for the type), toned, bumps and scratches, weight 16.574 g, maximum diameter 25.4 mm, die axis 290o, 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; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $950.00 SALE |PRICE| $855.00


Kyrene, Kyrenaika, N. Africa, c. 325 - 313 B.C.

|Kyrenaica|, |Kyrene,| |Kyrenaika,| |N.| |Africa,| |c.| |325| |-| |313| |B.C.||AE| |19|
Cyrene was an ancient Greek and later Roman city near present-day Shahhat, Libya. It was the oldest and most important of the five Greek cities in the region. It gave eastern Libya the classical name Cyrenaica that it has retained to modern times. Cyrene lies in a lush valley in the Jebel Akhdar uplands. The city was named after a spring, Kyre, which the Greeks consecrated to Apollo. It was also the seat of the Cyrenaics, a famous school of philosophy in the fourth century BC, founded by Aristippus, a disciple of Socrates.
GB91338. Bronze AE 19, Asolati 18 var.; Buttrey Cyrene 139 var.; SNG Cop 1219 var.; BMC Cyrenaica p. 58, 277 - 278 var.; Müller Afrique 93 var. (all no caduceus/trident), gVF, very nice for the type, caduceus and trident not visible on other examples known to FORVM, light deposit, edge crack, weight 8.525 g, maximum diameter 18.6 mm, die axis 180o, Kyrene (near Shahhat, Libya) mint, c. 325 - 313 B.C.; obverse head of Ammon with horn and beard right, small caduceus before; reverse shield (or wheel?) with handle and six ribs, small trident to right, shallow incuse; very rare; $650.00 SALE |PRICE| $585.00


Kyrene, Kyrenaika, N. Africa, c. 325 - 313 B.C.

|Kyrenaica|, |Kyrene,| |Kyrenaika,| |N.| |Africa,| |c.| |325| |-| |313| |B.C.||AE| |15|NEW
Silphium, which is now extinct, was so critical to the Kyrenian economy that most of their coins depict it. The plant was used as a spice and to treat all kinds of maladies including cough, sore throat, fever, indigestion, pain, and warts. It was so widely used as a contraceptive that it was worth its weight in denarii. The traditional heart shape, the symbol of love, is probably derived from the shape of the silphium seed due to the use of silphium as an contraceptive.

"By the next day this maiden and all her girlish apparel had disappeared, and in the room were found images of the Dioscuri, a table, and silphium upon it." - Description of Greece, Pausanias 3.16.3, 2nd Century A.D.
GB96101. Bronze AE 15, Asolati 12/2 (same dies); cf. Müller Afrique 228 ff.; Buttrey Cyrene I 12, SNG Cop 1226; BMC Cyrenaica p. 45, 198, VF, porosity, some corrosion, tight flan, weight 3.799 g, maximum diameter 15.4 mm, die axis 180o, Kyrene (near Shahhat, Libya) mint, 325 - 313 B.C.; obverse head of Apollo Carneius right, short curly hair, THP (magistrate) upward behind; reverse triple silphium plant, seen from above, K-Y-P around divided by members, all within a round incuse; rare; $650.00 SALE |PRICE| $585.00


Macedonia Prima Merida (First Region), Roman Dependent Republic, c. 168 - 148 B.C.

|Roman| |Macedonia|, |Macedonia| |Prima| |Merida| |(First| |Region),| |Roman| |Dependent| |Republic,| |c.| |168| |-| |148| |B.C.||tetradrachm|NEW
The monograms appear as (above) - (lower left) - (lower right). In 168 B.C., Rome split Macedonia into four republics which nominally managed their own internal affairs but were denied the right to make external agreements. The Prima Merida (1st region), with its capital at Amphipolis, included the area between the Strymonas and Nestos rivers, up to the eastern lands of Nestos, without the towns of Aenos, Maroneia and Avdera.
GS95928. Silver tetradrachm, Prokopov Silver, group 2A, 426 (O85/R322); SNG Ash 3297; SNG Saroglos 975; SNG Delepierre 1069; BMC Macedonia p. 8, 7; AMNG III.1 176; HGC 3.1 1103, Choice VF, old collection toning, marks, weight 17.015 g, maximum diameter 29.9 mm, die axis 0o, Amphipolis mint, issue 3, c. 158 - 148 B.C.; obverse Macedonian shield (the whole obverse represents a shield) with bust of mature Artemis Tauropolos (Diana to the Romans) at the center facing right, bow and quiver at her shoulder; reverse MAKE∆ONΩN / ΠPΩTHΣ (First Macedonia) above and below club, thunderbolt (control) left, ΣHY∆P monogram (control) above, TKP monogram (control) below left, TYPME monogram (control) bottom right, all within oak wreath; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $550.00 SALE |PRICE| $495.00


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

|Celtic| |&| |Tribal|, |Eastern| |Celts,| |Imitative| |of| |Philip| |II| |of| |Macedonia,| |"Dachreiter"| |Type,| |2nd| |-| |1st| |Century| |B.C.||tetradrachm|
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; $500.00 SALE |PRICE| $450.00




  



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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 Monday, October 26, 2020.
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