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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

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!; $2350.00 (€2162.00)


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; $1000.00 (€920.00)


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.
SL94921. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton-Lorber 2450(3); Newell LSM 116a corr. (control ex. in error); Cohen DCA 303; HGC 9 1305; BMC Seleucid p. 101, 1 var. (different controls), NGC Ch XF, strike 5/5, surface 3/5 (5771210-004, in error has date yr. 218, 95/4 BC), weight 16.852 g, maximum diameter 30.2 mm, die axis 0o, Damaskos (Damascus, Syria) mint, 96 - 95 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, A over N (controls) outer left, date ΞIC (Seleucid Era year 217) in exergue, laurel wreath border; from the Ray Nouri Collection, NGC| Lookup; scarce; $1000.00 (€920.00)


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; $1000.00 (€920.00)


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; $800.00 (€736.00)


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; $700.00 (€644.00)


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

|Kyrenaica|, |Kyrene,| |Kyrenaika,| |N.| |Africa,| |c.| |325| |-| |313| |B.C.||AE| |15|
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; $580.00 (€533.60)


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

|Bithynia|, |Commodus,| |March| |or| |April| |177| |-| |31| |December| |192| |A.D.,| |Nicomedia,| |Bithynia||AE| |26|
Nicomedia was the Roman metropolis of Bithynia. Diocletian made it the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire in 286 when he introduced the Tetrarchy system. Nicomedia remained the eastern (and most senior) capital of the Empire until co-emperor Licinius was defeated by Constantine the Great at the Battle of Chrysopolis in 324. Constantine resided mainly in Nicomedia as his interim capital for the next six years, until in 330 when he declared nearby Byzantium (renamed Constantinople) the new capital. Constantine died in his royal villa near Nicomedia in 337. Due to its position at the convergence of the Asiatic roads leading to the new capital, Nicomedia retained its importance even after the foundation of Constantinople.
RP92638. Bronze AE 26, RPC IV.1 T9895 (1 spec.), Rec Gen 144(2), SNG Cop 568, SNGvA -, Corsten -, aVF, well centered, earthen highlights, porous, weight 10.629 g, maximum diameter 26.0 mm, die axis 30o, Nikomedia (Izmit, Turkey) mint, obverse A K M AV KO ANTΩNI, laureate head right; reverse MHT NEΩ NEIKOMH∆, Athena standing left, wearing crested helmet, small galley in extended right hand, grounded vertical spear and round shield in left hand; from the Errett Bishop Collection, this is the second known and finest know specimen of the type; extremely rare; $500.00 (€460.00)


Seleukid Kingdom, Alexander I Balas, 152 - 145 B.C.

|Seleucid| |Kingdom|, |Seleukid| |Kingdom,| |Alexander| |I| |Balas,| |152| |-| |145| |B.C.||tetradrachm|
Alexander Balas, of humble origin, claimed to be Antiochus IV's son and heir to the Seleukid throne. Rome and Egypt accepted his claims. He married Cleopatra Thea, daughter of King Ptolemy Philometor of Egypt. With his father-in-law's help, he defeated Demetrius Soter and became the Seleukid king. After he abandoned himself to debauchery, his father-in-law shifted his support to Demetrius II, the son of Demetrius Soter. Balas was defeated and fled to Nabataea where he was murdered.
SH95962. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton-Lorber II 1782.2c; BMC Seleucid p. 52, 11 var. (outer left monogram); SNG Spaer 1424 var. (same); Newell SMA 142 (same); HGC 9 875a, gVF, fine Hellenistic style, old cabinet toning, edge split, weak area at neck/date, old scratches, weight 16.327 g, maximum diameter 31.3 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, c. 149 - 148 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Alexander Balas right; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ AΛEΞAN∆POY in two downward lines on the right, ΘEOΠATOPOΣ EYEPΓETOY in two downward lines on the left, Zeus seated left on high back throne, himation over left shoulder and around hips and legs, Victory in extended right hand offering wreath, lotus topped scepter in left hand, Θ outer left, PA monogram inner left, date ∆ΞP (Seleucid Era year 164) in exergue; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $500.00 (€460.00)


Persian Empire, Samaria, c. 375 - 333 B.C.

|Judaea| |&| |Palestine|, |Persian| |Empire,| |Samaria,| |c.| |375| |-| |333| |B.C.||obol|
Meshorer-Qedar lists Athena on the obverse, but on the three specimens known to FORVM it is clear that Athena is on the reverse. The types copy contemporary Cypriot stater types from Kition (obverse) and Lapethus (reverse).
GS95808. Silver obol, Meshorer-Qedar 102, cf. Sofaer Collection 63 (hemiobol), HGC 10 -, VF, well centered, toned, struck with worn dies (as are all specimens of this type known to FORVM), weight 0.65 g, maximum diameter 8 mm, die axis 10o, Samaria (10 km NW of Nablus, West Bank) mint, c. 375 - 333 B.C.; obverse lion right atop and attacking a stag fallen right, (Aramaic 'šn', abbreviating Samarian) above; reverse head of Athena facing, wearing crested Attic helmet; ex Leu Numismatik web auction 11 (22 Feb 2020), lot 1128; ex Canaan Collection; only three sale of this type recorded on Coin Archives for the last two decades (and one of the three is this coin); very rare; $450.00 (€414.00)




  



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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, April 15, 2021.
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