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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Types ▸ Love & BeautyView Options:  |  |  | 

Love & Beauty on Ancient Coins

Venus is the Roman goddess principally associated with love and beauty, the rough equivalent of the Greek goddess Aphrodite. The son of Venus and Mars, Cupid to the Romans, Eros to the Greeks, is the god of desire, affection and erotic love.


Severus Alexander, 13 March 222 - March 235 A.D., Parium, Mysia

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Eros was the Greek god of love. His Roman counterpart was Cupid ("desire"). According to Hesiod (c. 700 B.C.), one of the most ancient of all Greek sources, Eros was the fourth god to come into existence, coming after Chaos, Gaia (the Earth), and Tartarus (the Abyss or the Underworld). Parmenides (c. 400 B.C.), one of the pre-Socratic philosophers, makes Eros the first of all the gods to come into existence. In early Greek poetry and art, Eros was depicted as an adult male who embodies sexual power. But in later sources, Eros is represented as the son of Aphrodite, whose mischievous interventions in the affairs of gods and mortals cause bonds of love to form, often illicitly. Ultimately, by the later satirical poets, he is represented as a child, the precursor to the chubby Renaissance Cupid.
GB84659. Bronze AE 21, RPC Online VI temp 3873 (4 spec.), BMC Mysia -, SNG anakkale -, SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, SNG BnF -, SNG Tb -, SNG Hunterian -, SNG Leypold -, F, well centered, small centration dimples, weight 6.202 g, maximum diameter 20.9 mm, die axis 45o, Parium (Kemer, Canakkale, Turkey) mint, 13 Mar 222 - Mar 235 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES L SEP SEV ALEXANDER (many letters blundered or retrograde), laureate and cuirassed bust right, from the front; reverse DEO CVPIDI-NI C G I H PAR (D and H blundered, god Cupid, Colonia Gemella Julia Hadriana Pariana), Cupid standing slightly left, head right, nude but for drapery over left arm, herm at feet on left; extremely rare; $140.00 (119.00)


Soloi, Cilicia, c. 100 - 30 B.C.

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Soli (or Soloi) was a colony of Rhodes, founded c. 700 B.C. southwest of Tarsus, in Cilicia. It was destroyed in the 1st century B.C., and refounded by Pompey the Great as Pompeiopolis (not to be confused with the Pompeiopolis in Paphlagonia).
GB57540. Bronze AE 26, cf. SNG BnF 1197, SNG Levante 872, SNG Cop -, aVF, weight 9.225 g, maximum diameter 24.1 mm, die axis 0o, Cilicia, Olba mint, c. 100 - 30 B.C.; obverse aegis with winged gorgoneion in center; reverse ΣOΛEΩN (below), Aphrodite riding bull right, owl before, monogram above left; rare; $90.00 (76.50)


Ptolemaic Kingdom, Ptolemy I Soter, 305 - 282 B.C.

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Ptolemy was satrap (governor) of Egypt from 323 B.C., effectively king after the murder of Alexander IV in 309 B.C., and assumed the tile of king early in 304 B.C., but back-dated the start of his reign to 7 Nov 305 B.C. This coin was struck while he was still a Macedonian satrap, before he declared himself king.
GP85879. Bronze dichalkon, Svoronos 79 (1 spec. = BMC 61); BMC Ptolemies p. 7, 61; SNG Milan 28; SNG Cop 643; Weiser 3; Noeske -; Malter -, F, tight flan, rough corrosion, weight 3.046 g, maximum diameter 17.1 mm, die axis 0o, Paphos mint, as Macedonian satrap, 310 - 306 B.C.; obverse head of Aphrodite Paphia right, wearing tainia; reverse eagle standing left on thunderbolt, wings open, head left, ΠTOΛE (upward on left); rare; $90.00 (76.50)


Katane, Sicily, c. 212 - 50 B.C.

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In 212 B.C., after a two-year siege, despite defenses designed by the Greek mathematician and scientist Archimedes, the Roman general Marcus Claudius Marcellus forced his way into Syracuse. Although Marcellus wished to spare the Syracusans, he was unable to stop his soldiers from sacking the city. Archimedes was killed. Marcellus carried off the art treasures of Syracuse to Rome, the first recorded instance of a practice which was to become common.
GB82650. Bronze two chalkoi, Calciati III p. 110, 25; SNG ANS 1278; SNG Morcom 563; HGC 2 612 (R1); BMC Sicily p. 51, 65 corr.; SNG Cop -, aVF, green patina, scratches, porous, weight 3.768 g, maximum diameter 16.8 mm, die axis 0o, Katane (Catania, Sicily, Italy) mint, c. 212 - 50 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right; reverse KATA/NAIΩN, Aphrodite Hyblaia (or Isis?) standing right, wearing kalathos on head, holding dove in extended right, II (2 chalkoi) right; $90.00 (76.50)


Julia Mamaea, Augusta 13 March 222 - February or March 235 A.D.

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Felix (Lucky) was a traditional epithet for Venus. Venus Felix was her cult title at Hadrian's temple to Venus Felix and Roma Aeterna on the Via Sacra. In dice-games, a popular pastime among Romans of all classes, the luckiest, best possible roll was known as "Venus."
RS87239. Silver denarius, RIC IV 351, RSC II 60, BMCRE III 189, SRCV II 8214, Hunter - (p. lxxvi), Choice VF, excellent centering and strike, light toning, some luster, radiating flow lines, frosty areas, tiny edge cracks, weight 2.595 g, maximum diameter 20.0 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, c. 224 A.D.; obverse IVLIA MAMAEA AVG, draped bust right, wearing stephane, hair in horizontal ridges, with looped plait at the back of neck; reverse VENERI FELICI, Venus standing facing, head right, long scepter vertical in right hand, Cupid seated in her extended left hand; $90.00 (76.50)


Julia Mamaea, Augusta 13 March 222 - February or March 235 A.D.

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After Apollo insulted him, Eros (cupid) shot Apollo with an arrow that caused him to fall in hopeless love with Daphne, a mortal woman. Eros shot Daphne with an arrow which made her incapable of loving Apollo. Nevertheless Apollo pursued her, and out of desperation Daphne escaped by having herself turned into a laurel. Ever after, winners of the games to honor Apollo wore wreaths of laurel in honor of Apollo's Daphne.
RB55439. Bronze sestertius, RIC IV SA694, BMCRE VI SA190, Cohen IV 62, SRCV II 8232, aVF, weight 20.624 g, maximum diameter 31.1 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 224 A.D.; obverse IVLIA MAMAEA AVGVSTA, diademed and draped bust right; reverse VENERI FELICI, Venus standing facing, head right, long scepter vertical in right hand, cupid seated facing her in her left hand, cupid is naked, winged and extends his hands toward her, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field; $45.00 (38.25)


Tarsos, Cilicia, c. 380 - 360 B.C.

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In historical times, Tarsos was first ruled by the Hittites, followed by Assyria, and then the Persian Empire. Tarsus, as the principal town of Cilicia, was the seat of a Persian satrapy from 400 B.C. onward. Indeed, Xenophon records that in 401 B.C., when Cyrus the Younger marched against Babylon, the city was governed by King Syennesis in the name of the Persian monarch. Alexander the Great passed through with his armies in 333 B.C. and nearly met his death here after a bath in the Cydnus. By this time Tarsus was already largely influenced by Greek language and culture, and as part of the Seleucid Empire it became more and more Hellenized. Strabo praises the cultural level of Tarsus in this period with its philosophers, poets and linguists. The schools of Tarsus rivaled those of Athens and Alexandria.
GS58069. Silver obol, SNG BnF 310 - 311, SNG Levante 217 - 218, F, weight 0.458 g, maximum diameter 10.0 mm, Tarsos (Tarsus, Mersin, Turkey) mint, obverse uncertain female head facing slightly left; reverse bust of Aphrodite right, wearing tainia; $40.00 (34.00)







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Catalog current as of Friday, September 21, 2018.
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Love & Beauty