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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

|Kingdom| |of| |Thrace|, |Kingdom| |of| |Thrace,| |Lysimachos,| |305| |-| |281| |B.C.,| |Portrait| |of| |Alexander| |the| |Great|, tetradrachm
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; $1725.00 SALE |PRICE| $1553.00


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

|Nero|, |Nero,| |13| |October| |54| |-| |9| |June| |68| |A.D.|, sestertius
Annona was the goddess of harvest and Ceres the goddess of agriculture. This reverse refers to the transportation of grain by sea from the provinces (especially from Africa) and its distribution to the people. By the Code De Naviculariis, the mariners appointed to carry grain from Egypt could be executed if they did not keep the proper course; and if they did not sail in the proper season, the master of the vessel would be banished.
SH94037. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 137, BMCRE I 128, Mac Dowall WCN 119, BnF II 273 var. (NERO CLAVDIVS...), Cohen I 24 var. (same), Hunter I -, SRCV I -, VF, well centered on a broad flan, nice green patina, pin-prick pitting, weight 26.678 g, maximum diameter 35.3 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 65 A.D.; obverse NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG GER P M TR P IMP P P, laureate bust right wearing aegis; reverse ANNONA AVGVSTI CERES, Annona standing right, right hand on hip, cornucopia in left hand, facing Ceres enthroned left, holding grain-ears in right hand, torch in left hand, modius on garlanded altar in center between them, ship's stern in background, S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; ex Pegasi Numismatics; $1350.00 SALE |PRICE| $1215.00


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.
SH94261. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG München 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, Choice VF, near full crest, well centered, high relief as usual for the type, flow lines, light marks, weight 17.172 g, maximum diameter 24.5 mm, die axis 330o, 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; ex Numismatik Naumann auction 83 (1 Sep 2019), lot 157; $1175.00 SALE |PRICE| $1058.00


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

|Ptolemaic| |Egypt|, |Ptolemaic| |Kingdom| |of| |Egypt,| |Ptolemy| |IV| |Philopator,| |221| |-| |204| |B.C.|, drachm
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!; $1000.00 SALE |PRICE| $900.00


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


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

|Alexander| |the| |Great|, |Macedonian| |Kingdom,| |Alexander| |the| |Great,| |336| |-| |323| |B.C.,| |Lifetime| |Issue|, tetradrachm
Born a leader, his genius and charisma led the Macedonian army to create an empire covering most of the then-known world, from Greece to India. His reign begins the Hellenistic Age, a time when civilization flourished. He was regarded as a god and his fame grew even greater after his premature death at thirty-two.
GS94444. Silver tetradrachm, Price 3485, Newell Dated 24 (obv. die XII), Cohen DCA 874 (R3), Demanhur 3739, Prokesch-Osten I 34, Newell Reattribution 145, Newell Sidon 24, EF, high relief, grainy porous surfaces, obverse a little off center, reverse double struck, small edge splits, weight 16.544 g, maximum diameter 27.1 mm, die axis 0o, Sidon (Saida, Lebanon) mint, struck under Menes, 326 - 325 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean Lion skin, scalp over head, forepaws tied at neck; reverse Zeus Aëtophoros seated left on throne without back, right leg forward (archaic lifetime style), eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, AΛEΞAN∆POY downward behind, Phoenician letter het (year 8) in left field, ΣI under throne; only one specimen recorded on Coin Archives; very rare date; $950.00 SALE |PRICE| $760.00


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

|Kingdom| |of| |Thrace|, |Kingdom| |of| |Thrace,| |Lysimachos,| |305| |-| |281| |B.C.,| |Portrait| |of| |Alexander| |the| |Great|, tetradrachm
Thompson notes that Pyrrhus held Pella until 286 B.C. It was one of the last, if not the last, mint opened by Lysimachos. Twenty-six obverse dies are known for the tetradrachms.
SH93849. Silver tetradrachm, Thompson 248, HGC 3.2 1750p (S), Müller 353 var. (monogram in ex.), VF, superb high relief portrait, light toning with some darker spots, bumps and marks, weight 16.645 g, maximum diameter 29.5 mm, die axis 180o, Pella mint, 286 - 281 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Alexander the Great wearing the horn of Ammon; reverse Athena enthroned left, Nike crowning name in her right hand, resting left arm on grounded round shield behind, transverse spear against right side, HP monogram outer left, monogram inner left, BAΣIΛEΩΣ downward on right, ΛYΣIMAXOY downward on left; ex Divus Numismatik; scarce; $750.00 SALE |PRICE| $675.00


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

|Macedonian| |Kingdom|, |Macedonian| |Kingdom,| |Philip| |III| |Arrhidaeus,| |323| |-| |317| |B.C.|, drachm
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; $700.00 SALE |PRICE| $630.00


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

|Ptolemaic| |Egypt|, |Ptolemaic| |Kingdom| |of| |Egypt,| |Ptolemy| |III| |Euergetes,| |246| |-| |222| |B.C.|, hemidrachm
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 SALE |PRICE| $630.00


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




  



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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 Sunday, February 23, 2020.
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Olympians