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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

Persian Empire, Philistia - Gaza or Samaria, Lot of 7 Drachms, Early 4th Century - 333 B.C, Imitative of Athens

|Holyland| |Bulk| |Lots|, |Persian| |Empire,| |Philistia| |-| |Gaza| |or| |Samaria,| |Lot| |of| |7| |Drachms,| |Early| |4th| |Century| |-| |333| |B.C,| |Imitative| |of| |Athens||Lot|NEW
 
LT113400. Silver Lot, Lot of 7 Athens pi-style imitative drachms, cf. Gitler & Tal IX.1D, F - aVF, toned, some corrosion and porosity, uncertain Gaza or Samaria mint, early 4th century - 333 B.C; obverse helmeted head of Athena right, with profile eye, olive leaves and pi-style floral ornament on crested helmet, large round earring; reverse owl standing right, head facing, olive spray and crescent upper left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; ex CNG mail bid auction 84 (5 May 2010), lot 737 (realized $2000 plus fees); ex Dr. Patrick H.C. Tan Collection; $2200.00 SALE PRICE $1980.00


Octavian, Imperator and Consul, 32 - 31 B.C.

|Octavian|, |Octavian,| |Imperator| |and| |Consul,| |32| |-| |31| |B.C.||denarius|
Mercury was the inventor of the lyre and the protector of commerce. This may refer to the restoration of commerce to Italy after the battle of Naulochus. -- Roman Silver Coins, Vol. I, The Republic to Augustus by H.A. Seaby

In 31 B.C., Gaius Julius Caesar Octavian was Roman Consul for the third time. His partner was Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus, who replaced Mark Antony.
SL113452. Silver denarius, RIC I 257, RSC I Augustus 61, Hunter I 251, BMCRE I 596, SRCV I 1550, ICG VF30 (1965730105), weight c. 3.7 g, maximum diameter 19.5 mm, die axis 315o, uncertain Italian (Rome or Brundisium?) mint, 32 - 31 B.C.; obverse bare head of Octavian right; reverse Mercury seated right on rock, playing lyre, petasos around neck, CAESAR - DIVI F divided across field; from a Virginia Collector, ex Eastern Numismatics Inc (Garden City, NY, 24 Feb 2011, $2000); ICG Verify; $2000.00 SALE PRICE $1800.00


Roman Republic, Marcus Junius Brutus, Late Summer - Autumn 42 B.C.

|The| |Tyrannicides|, |Roman| |Republic,| |Marcus| |Junius| |Brutus,| |Late| |Summer| |-| |Autumn| |42| |B.C.||denarius|
Brutus is best known for his leading role in the assassination of Julius Caesar. Struck by the legate Peanius Costa at a mobile military mint in either Western Anatolia or Northern Greece.
SL113451. Silver denarius, Crawford 506/2, Sydenham 1296, RSC I Brutus 4, BMCRR East 59, Sear CRI 209, RBW Collection 1778, SRCV I 1436, NGC VF, strike 4/5, surface 4/5 (2411112-004), weight 3.61 g, maximum diameter 20.6 mm, die axis 0o, mobile military mint, legate Peanius Costa, late summer - autumn 42 B.C.; obverse COSTA LEG, laureate head of Apollo right; reverse BRVTVS IMP, trophy of captured arms, composed of helmet, cuirass, shield, and two spears; from a Virginia collector, ex Metropolitan Rare Coin Galleries (Stony Brook, NY, 8 Dec 2010, $1950); NGC| Lookup; very scarce; $1950.00 SALE PRICE $1755.00


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 ΔEΛΦΩN, 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; $1620.00 SALE PRICE $1296.00


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

|Athens|, |Athens,| |Attica,| |Greece,| |c.| |454| |-| |404| |B.C.,| |Old| |Style| |Tetradrachm||tetradrachm|NEW
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.
GS113614. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, VF, well centered, light toning, oval flan, flow lines, scrapes, weight 16.946 g, maximum diameter 25.0 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, AΘΕ downward on right, all within incuse square; ex Tarshish (J. Zaddok & Sons, Jerusalem, Israel); $700.00 SALE PRICE $630.00


Nero, 13 October 54 - 9 June 68 A.D. (or Otho or Galba?), Mallus, Cilicia

|Nero|, |Nero,| |13| |October| |54| |-| |9| |June| |68| |A.D.| |(or| |Otho| |or| |Galba?),| |Mallus,| |Cilicia||AE| |25|
In "An intriguing new coin from Mallus, Cilicia" (2008), Jyrki Muona, based on a high grade specimen with an excellent portrait, identified the head on this type as Otho. He noted the portrait is influenced by the style of the Antioch mint. Indeed the portrait on that specimen looks very much like the portraits of Otho from Antioch. RPC I attributes the type to Nero but notes, "The portrait does not look much like Nero, but the date seems clear. Could it possibly be a coin of Galba?" We are following RPC I, listing it as Nero, but noting the other possibilities.
RP112383. Bronze AE 25, RPC Online I 4024 (3 spec.), SNG Levante 1269, aVF, dark green patina with traces of red, cleaning scratches, minor flan flaws on rev. edge, weight 9.678 g, maximum diameter 25.4 mm, die axis 0o, Mallus (near Karatas, Turkey) mint, 67 - 68 A.D.; obverse ...CEBACTOC..., laureate head right; reverse MAΛΛΩTΩN, Athena Magarsis standing facing, spear vertical in right hand, star above each arm, EΛP (year 135) outer left; ex CNG e-auction 538 (10 May 2023), lot 413; very rare; $650.00 SALE PRICE $585.00


Cappadocian Kingdom, Ariarathes VII, c. 138 - 129 B.C.; In the Name of the Seleukid King, Antiochus VII, 138 - 129 B.C.

|Cappadocian| |Kingdom|, |Cappadocian| |Kingdom,| |Ariarathes| |VII,| |c.| |138| |-| |129| |B.C.;| |In| |the| |Name| |of| |the| |Seleukid| |King,| |Antiochus| |VII,| |138| |-| |129| |B.C.||tetradrachm|
Oliver Hoover, in Coins of the Seleucid Empire from the Collection of Arthur Houghton, attributes this type to the Cappadocian Kingdom, c. 130 - 80 B.C. The symbols were used on Cappadocian royal coinage, the coins are found in Cappadocian hoards and a tetradrachm naming the Cappadocian King Ariarathes VII Philometor (116 - 99 B.C.) bears the obverse portrait of Antiochus VII. He notes they may have been struck to pay foreign (Syrian?) mercenaries who preferred the types of Antiochus VII.
SL113679. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton-Lorber II 2144.4, SNG Spaer 1862, Newell SMA 288, HGC 9 1068, NGC Ch XF, strike 4/5, surface 5/5 (3598726-018), weight 16.69 g, maximum diameter 28.5 mm, die axis 0o, obverse diademed head of the Seleukid King Antiochos VII right, fillet border; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ ANTIOXOY EYEPΓETOY, Athena standing left, Nike in right, spear and shield in left, ligate ΔI / A left, small Δ inner right, Nike extends wreath into laurel wreath border; ex Stacks Bower auction (22-25 Aug 2023), lot 53174; NGC| Lookup; $630.00 SALE PRICE $567.00


Mesembria, Thrace, c. 275 - 225 B.C., Civic Issue in the Types and Name of Alexander the Great

|Mesembria|, |Mesembria,| |Thrace,| |c.| |275| |-| |225| |B.C.,| |Civic| |Issue| |in| |the| |Types| |and| |Name| |of| |Alexander| |the| |Great||tetradrachm|
Mesembria, Nesebar Bulgaria today, was a Doric settlement on a Black Sea island just off mainland Thrace. Thrace was invaded by the Galatians in 279 B.C. Only the wealthy coastal cities, including Mesembria, withstood their attacks. Following that chaos, rule of Thrace was divided between many tribes. Philip V, 221 - 179 B.C., tried to regain control of the area for the Macedonian Kingdom, but his success was limited and short lived. Mesembria was taken by Mithradates VI in the First Mithradatic War and surrendered to Rome in 71 B.C. The city struck Alexandrine tetradrachms as early as 275 B.C., more than 50 years after Alexander's death, and probably issued the very last Alexandrine tetradrachms struck anywhere, possibly under Roman rule as late as 65 B.C.
GS112925. Silver tetradrachm, Karayotov p. 83 and pl. VI, 24 (O7/R11); Price 992; MŁller Alexander 436, VF, well centered, marks/scratches, rev. double struck, uneven toning, weight 16.709 g, maximum diameter 29.4 mm, die axis 45o, Mesambria (Nesebar, Bulgaria) mint, c. 275 - 225 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean Lion skin, scalp over head, forepaws tied at neck; reverse AΛEΞANΔPOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ, Zeus seated left, nude to waist, himation around hips and legs, right leg drawn back, eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, Corinthian helmet right over (ΠA monogram) in inner left field under arm; $550.00 SALE PRICE $495.00


Seleukid Kingdom, Antiochus X Eusebes Philopator, c. 94 - 88 B.C.

|Seleucid| |Kingdom|, |Seleukid| |Kingdom,| |Antiochus| |X| |Eusebes| |Philopator,| |c.| |94| |-| |88| |B.C.||tetradrachm|
Antiochus is a Greek name meaning "resolute in contention". The capital Antioch received its name in deference to Antiochus, the father of the Seleucid dynasty's founder Seleucus I; the name became dynastic and many Seleucid kings bore it. Ancient Hellenistic kings did not use regnal numbers. Instead, they usually employed epithets to distinguish themselves from other rulers with similar names; the numbering of kings is mostly a modern practice. On his coins, Antiochus X appeared with the epithets Eusebes (the pious) and Philopator (father-loving)
SH113423. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton-Lorber II 2429, SNG Spaer 2790, HGC 9 1287 (S), EF, excellent portrait, well centered on a tight flan, dark toned areas in recesses, scratches, flan flaw on obv., weight 14.697 g, maximum diameter 28.3 mm, die axis 30o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 94 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Antiochos X right; reverse Zeus seated left, nude to the waist, himation around hips and legs, Victory in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, control-marks outer left and beneath throne, BAΣIΛEΩΣ / ANTIOXOY in two downward lines in right, EYΣEBOYΣ / ΦIΛOΠATOPOΣ in two downward lines on left; from the PS Collection, ex Musa Numismatic Art; scarce; $500.00 SALE PRICE $450.00


Seleukid Kingdom, Alexander II Zabinas, 128 - 122 B.C.

|Seleucid| |Kingdom|, |Seleukid| |Kingdom,| |Alexander| |II| |Zabinas,| |128| |-| |122| |B.C.||tetradrachm|
Zabinas claimed to be an adoptive son of Antiochus VII, but may have been the son of an Egyptian merchant. He was used as a pawn by the Egyptian king Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II (Physcon). Zabinas managed to defeat Demetrius II and thereafter ruled parts of Syria, but soon ran out of Egyptian support and was defeated by Demetrius' son Antiochus VIII Grypus. As a last resort, Zabinas plundered the temples of Antioch. He is said to have joked about melting down a statuette of the goddess of victory, Nike, which was held in the hand of a Zeus statue, saying "Zeus has given me Victory." Enraged by his impiety, the Antiochenes expelled Zabinas, who was captured and executed soon after. "Zabinas" is a derogatory name meaning "the bought one," implying he was Ptolemy's slave.
SH113424. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton-Lorber II 2219(3)c, SNG Spaer 2288, Newell SMA 333, HGC 9 1149d, VF, well centered, toned, scratches and bumps, edge cracks, weight 16.766 g, maximum diameter 31.2 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 128 - 127 B.C.; obverse diademed head right, fillet border; reverse Zeus seated left on throne, nude to the waist, himation around hips and legs, Nike in right hand, long lotus tipped scepter vertical behind in left hand, BAΣIΛEΩΣ (king) downward on right, AΛEΞANΔPOY (Alexander) downward on left, monogram left, Σ under throne; from the PS Collection, ex Aegean Numismatics (Mentor, OH); $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.


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