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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., Possible Lifetime Issue

|Alexander| |the| |Great|, |Macedonian| |Kingdom,| |Alexander| |the| |Great,| |336| |-| |323| |B.C.,| |Possible| |Lifetime| |Issue||tetradrachm|
Ancient Arados, surrounded by massive walls on an island about 800 m long by 500 m wide, about 50 km north of Tripolis, was an important trading city with an artificial harbor on the east side toward the mainland. Its powerful navy and ships are mentioned in the monuments of Egypt and Assyria. The Biblical "Arvad" is noted as the forefather of the "Arvadites," a Canaanite people. Arados directly ruled some nearby cities on the mainland, such as Marat (Amrit today) nearly opposite the island, and held hegemony over the northern Phoenician cities from the mouth of the Orontes to the northern limits of Lebanon (similar to Sidon in the south). Under the Persians, Arwad was allowed to unite in a confederation with Sidon and Tyre, with a common council at Tripolis. In 332 B.C., Arados submitted to Alexander the Great without a struggle under her king Strato, who sent his navy to aid Alexander in the reduction of Tyre. The city received the favor of the Seleucid kings of Syria and enjoyed the right of asylum for political refugees. It is mentioned in a rescript from Rome about 138 B.C. in connection with other cities and rulers of the East, to show favor to the Jews. This was after Rome had begun to interfere in the affairs of Judea and Syria and indicates that Arwad was still of considerable importance at that time.Arados
SL99295. Silver tetradrachm, Price 3309, SNG Cop 796, Mller Alexander 796, HGC 3.1 943k (S), NGC Ch XF, strike 5/5, surface 3/5, scratches (4285504-008), weight 17.26 g, maximum diameter 28.8 mm, die axis 75o, Arados (Arwad, Syria) mint, lifetime or early posthumous, c. 328 - c. 320 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean Lion skin, scalp over head, forepaws tied at neck; reverse Zeus Atophoros enthroned left, eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, right leg forward (archaic lifetime style), (Arados monogram) under throne, AΛEΞAN∆POY downward behind, BAΣIΛEΩΣ in exergue; from a private collector in New Jersey, NGC| Lookup; scarce; $2500.00 SALE PRICE $2250.00


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, 13 Mar 222 - Mar 235 A.D.; 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!; $1900.00 SALE PRICE $1710.00


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 BAΣIΛEΩΣ / 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; $800.00 SALE PRICE $720.00


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 (Dzici, 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; $720.00 SALE PRICE $648.00


Poseidonia, Lucania, Italy, 420 - 410 B.C.

|Italy|, |Poseidonia,| |Lucania,| |Italy,| |420| |-| |410| |B.C.||nomos|
Poseidonia was founded around the end of the 7th century B.C. by Greek colonists from Sybaris. In the fifth century B.C., Poseidonia was conquered by the Lucani. Archaeological evidence indicates Greek and Oscan cultures thrived together. In 273 B.C., after the Poseidonians had sided with Pyrrhus against Rome, Poseidonia was refounded as the Roman city of Paestum.
GS98741. Silver nomos, Noe Poseidoni 11 (O10/R11); SNG Lloyd 473 (same dies); SNG ANS 669; BMC Italy p. 269, 34; SNG Cop 1287 var. (Γ obv. lower left), VF, toning, flow lines, light marks, die wear, small die cracks, weight 7.723 g, maximum diameter 22.1 mm, die axis 180o, Poseidonia (Paestum, Italy) mint, 420 - 410 B.C.; obverse ΠOMEΣ (downward on right), Poseidon striding right, beardless, nude but for chlamys falling over his shoulders, extending his left arm before him, brandishing a trident overhead in right hand, no series letter, three row dot border; reverse bull standing left, ΠOΣEI∆A (retrograde) above, cockle shell below bull and above exergue line, exergue line comprised of a line a dots between two solid lines, all within a round incuse; ex Numismatic Fine Arts (Beverly Hills, CA); $600.00 SALE PRICE $540.00


Eastern Danubian Celts, 306 - 281 B.C.

|Celtic| |&| |Tribal|, |Eastern| |Danubian| |Celts,| |306| |-| |281| |B.C.||tetradrachm|
The earliest Celtic imitations of Philip II tetradrachms are very similar to the Macedonian originals. It isn't always completely clear if a coin is a Celtic imitative or an oddly engraved Macedonian original. Fairly quickly the imitative inscriptions were shortened and then blundered. Over time the head of Zeus was increasingly "Celticized" and eventually both the head of Zeus and the horseman devolved into barely recognizable abstract forms. This coin with a rather exotic head of Zeus and odd (female?) rider on the reverse, could never be confused with the Macedonian prototype.
CE98735. Silver tetradrachm, Lanz 590 (same dies); CCCBM I 28 and pl. XVIII S26; Pink 296 ff.; Gbl OTA 296, De la Tour 9870, VF, centered, radiating flow lines, toned, die wear, small cut above eye, weight 11.808 g, maximum diameter 24.1 mm, die axis 0o, tribal mint, 306 - 281 B.C.; obverse Celticized head of Zeus right; reverse naked youth (female?) on horse pacing left, vertical branch in left hand; derived from the Macedonian Kingdom tetradrachms of Philip II; from the CEB Collection; ex Numismatic Fine Arts (NFA) Winter Bid Sale (18 Dec 1987), lot 147; $450.00 SALE PRICE $405.00


Vitellius, 2 January - 20 December 69 A.D., Ancient Counterfeit

|Vitellius|, |Vitellius,| |2| |January| |-| |20| |December| |69| |A.D.,| |Ancient| |Counterfeit||denarius|
"This refers to Vitellius' membership in the priestly college of the quindecimviri Sacris Faciundis, 'fifteen men for the conduct of sacred matters.' This body had care of the Sibylline prophecies and were famous for the opulence of their banquets, a feature of the priesthood which particularly appealed to the gluttonous emperor." -- David R. Sear, Roman Coins and Their Values
RS99193. Fouree silver plated denarius, cf. RIC I 109, RSC II 111, BMCRE I 39, BnF III 77, Hunter I 18, SRCV I 2201 (official, solid silver, Rome mint, legend variations), VF, toned, small plating breaks, tiny edge splits, weight 2.984 g, maximum diameter 18.1 mm, die axis 255o, unofficial, counterfeiter's mint, c. 69 A.D.; obverse A VITELLIVG GERM IMP AVO TR P (sic), laureate head right; reverse XV VIR CICR FAC (sic) (fifteen men for the conduct of sacred matters), tripod-lebes of Apollo, dolphin right on top, raven standing right on strut below lebes; ex CNG e-auction 500 (22 Sep 2021), 735 (part of); ex Mercury Group Collection, ex Mike Vosper (25 Jan 2005); $350.00 SALE PRICE $315.00


Hadrian, 11 August 117 - 10 July 138 A.D., Amisos, Pontos

|Pontos|, |Hadrian,| |11| |August| |117| |-| |10| |July| |138| |A.D.,| |Amisos,| |Pontos||drachm|
The Romans conquered Amisus in 71 B.C. during the Third Mithridatic War and Amisus became part of Bithynia et Pontus province. Around 46 B.C., during the reign of Julius Caesar, Amisus became the capital of Roman Pontus. From the period of the Second Triumvirate up to Nero, Pontus was ruled by several client kings, as well as a queen, Pythodorida of Pontus, a granddaughter of Mark Antony. From 62 A.D. it was directly ruled by Roman governors, most famously by Trajan's appointee Pliny the Younger. The estimated population of the city around 150 A.D. was between 20,000 and 25,000, a large city for that time. The city functioned as the commercial capital for the province of Pontus; beating its rival Sinope due to its position at the head of the trans-Anatolia highway.
RS99248. Silver drachm, RPC III 1279 (5 spec.), Recueil Gnral 91, Nordb Amisus 5b, BMC Pontus -, gF, dark spots, part of obv. legend unstruck, tiny edge cracks, weight 2.699 g, maximum diameter 19.2 mm, die axis 210o, Amisos (Samsun, Turkey) mint, year 167, 135 - 136 A.D.; obverse AYT KAI TPA A∆PI-ANOC CEB Π Π YΠ Γ, laureate head right; reverse AMICOV EΛEVΘEPAC ETOVC PΞZ (Amisos, free city, [year] 167), Hera standing left, wearing diadem, apple in right hand, scepter in left hand; first example of this type handled by Forum, zero sales of this type listed on Coin Archives in the last two decades; very rare; $300.00 SALE PRICE $270.00


Severus Alexander, 13 March 222 - March 235 A.D., Apollonia Salbace, Caria

|Other| |Caria|, |Severus| |Alexander,| |13| |March| |222| |-| |March| |235| |A.D.,| |Apollonia| |Salbace,| |Caria||AE| |30|
This coin is an obverse die match to a coin struck by the neighboring city, Alabanda, Caria, SNG Mnchen 464, RPC Online VI T5384. Dies shared by more than one city in the region were first discovered by Konrad Kraft in 1972. Groups of smaller cities in Anatolia shared traveling mints, which would sometimes use the same obverse dies for more than one city.
RP92646. Bronze AE 30, Apparently unpublished; RPC Online -, SNG BnF -, SNGvA -, SNG Cop -, BMC Caria -, F, porous, turquoise and earthen adhesions, reverse flatly struck, weight 11.787 g, maximum diameter 29.7 mm, die axis 180o, Apollonia Salbace (Edremit, Turkey) mint, 13 Mar 222 - Mar 235 A.D.; obverse AYT K M AYP CEY AΛEΞAN∆PO-C, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind; reverse CTPA AΓAΘEINOY TOY IH AΠOΛΛΩNIATΩN (strategos Agathinos, son of Hie.(?), Apollonia), Zeus standing slightly left, head left, wearing himation and chlamys, eagle in right hand, long scepter vertical in left hand; from the Errett Bishop Collection; extremely rare, this is the only specimen of the type known to FORVM; $250.00 SALE PRICE $225.00


Persian Empire, Gaza, Philistia, c. 375 - 333 B.C., Imitative of Athens

|Judaea| |&| |Palestine|, |Persian| |Empire,| |Gaza,| |Philistia,| |c.| |375| |-| |333| |B.C.,| |Imitative| |of| |Athens||hemiobol|
A Persian Period imitation of Athenian types from the Holy Land. In the past these coins were all attributed to Gaza, however, recent hoard finds indicate a mint at Ashkelon probably also struck this type. It is likely that at least several small mints struck these imitative types.
JD97404. Silver hemiobol, Gitler-Tal 4.3.V.10HO; SNG ANS 21, cf. Sofaer Gaza 7 (obol), Samaria Hoard 324 - 328 (no Θ left), VF, dark tone, die wear, weight 0.263 g, maximum diameter 6.2 mm, die axis 0o, Gaza mint, c. 375 - 333 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet with three olive leaves over visor and a spiral palmette on the bowl, hair in parallel bands, eye in profile; reverse owl standing right, wings closed, head facing, olive spray above Θ on left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; more attractive in hand than in the greatly enlarged photos, ex Goldberg Coins; 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.


Catalog current as of Monday, July 4, 2022.
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