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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Themes & Provenance| ▸ |Mythology||View Options:  |  |  | 

Mythology and the Ancient Gods

Many ancient coins depict the gods and goddesses of the Greeks, Romans and other ancient cultures. Collecting as many different gods and goddesses as possible is a fun, educational and affordable collecting theme. Every ancient gods and goddesses has their mythical function, biography, lineage and other facts and fictions that make them interesting. Here we will present as many different gods and goddesses as we can and provide some of the stories about them that fascinate us. We hope they fascinate you too.

Apameia, Phrygia, c. 88 - 40 B.C.

|Apameia|, |Apameia,| |Phrygia,| |c.| |88| |-| |40| |B.C.||AE| |16|NEW
While playing the flute Athena saw her reflection in the water and disturbed by how her cheeks looked, puffed up while playing, threw away the instrument in disgust. The satyr Marsyas picked up the flute and since it had once been inspired by the breath of a goddess, it played beautifully on its own accord. Elated by his success, Marsyas challenged Apollo to a musical contest. For the prize, the victor could do what he pleased with the vanquished. The Muses were the umpires. Apollo played the cithara and Marsyas the flute. Only after Apollo added his voice to the music of his lyre was the contest decided in his favor. As a just punishment for the presumption of Marsyas, Apollo bound him to an evergreen tree and flayed him alive. His blood was the source of the river Marsyas, and Apollo hung up his skin, like a wine bag, in the cave out of which that river flows.
GB97286. Bronze AE 16, BMC Phrygia p. 77, 47; SNG Cop 191; SNGvA 3472; SNG Tübingen 3973; HGC 7 674; SNG Munchen -, gF, green patina, porosity, corrosion, weight 4.413 g, maximum diameter 16.3 mm, die axis 0o, Phrygia, Apameia (Dinar, Turkey) mint, c. 88 - 40 B.C.; obverse turreted head of Artemis right, bow and quiver on shoulder behind; reverse satyr Marsyas walking right on a meander pattern, nude but for nebris (skin of a fawn) tied on his neck and flying behind, playing Athena's double flute, AΠAMEΩN downward on right, APIΣT / KHΦIΣ (Aristo... and Kephis...) magistrates' names in two downward lines on left; $50.00 SALE PRICE $45.00
 


Trajan, 25 January 98 - 8 or 9 August 117 A.D.

|Trajan|, |Trajan,| |25| |January| |98| |-| |8| |or| |9| |August| |117| |A.D.||quadrans|
"The boar was a common design on the smallest regular denomination, the copper quadrans - notably those struck by the emperor Trajan (ruled 98-117 CE). The obverse of Trajan’s quadrans bears the bust of Hercules, so the reverse is surely the Erymanthian boar captured as the fourth labor of Hercules." -- "This Little Piggy Went to Market: Boars, Hogs, Sows and Piglets on Ancient Coins" by Mike Markowitz in CoinWeek
RB94983. Copper quadrans, RIC II 702, BMCRE III 1062, Cohen II 341, SRCV II 3248, Fair, dark patina, encrustations, weight 2.549 g, maximum diameter 15.2 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 98 - c. 106 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES TRAIAN AVG GERM, diademed bust of Hercules right, Nemean lion skin tied around his neck; reverse Erymanthian Boar walking right, S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; from the Ray Nouri Collection; $18.00 SALE PRICE $16.20
 


Rhegion, Bruttium, Italy, c. 470 - 425 B.C.

|Italy|, |Rhegion,| |Bruttium,| |Italy,| |c.| |470| |-| |425| |B.C.||tetradrachm|
Iokastos was the founder of Rhegion. He died of a snakebite. Iokastos was one of six sons of Aiolos, ruler of the Aeolian islands, all of whom secured their own realms in Italy and Sicily.

Of all the coins that have passed through my hands, this is one of my favorites - Joe Sermarini
SH33193. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Lockett 651; SNG ANS 640 var. (swan vice snake); BMC Italy p. 374, 14 (snake not mentioned); Pozzi -; SNG Cop -, Choice gVF, weight 17.312 g, maximum diameter 31.1 mm, die axis 150o, Rhegion mint, c. 470 - 425 B.C.; obverse facing lion's scalp, sprig with two olives right; reverse PHΓI−NOΣ (retrograde), Iokastos seated left, staff in right, left resting on seat, snake beneath seat, all within laurel wreath; toned, hairline crack, slightly bent, reverse lightly double struck; rare; SOLD


Roman Republic, Sextus Pompey, Imperator and Prefect of the Fleet, Executed 35 B.C., Portrait of Pompey the Great

|Pompeians|, |Roman| |Republic,| |Sextus| |Pompey,| |Imperator| |and| |Prefect| |of| |the| |Fleet,| |Executed| |35| |B.C.,| |Portrait| |of| |Pompey| |the| |Great||denarius|
The inscription PRAEF CLAS ET ORAE MARIT abbreviates Praefectus Classis et Orae Maritimae, which translates Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet and the Sea Coasts. This title was held by both Pompey the Great and his son Sextus Pompey. Although Sextus Pompey was the supreme naval commander, Octavian had the Senate declare him a public enemy. He turned to piracy and came close to defeating Octavian. He was defeated by Marcus Agrippa at the naval battle of Naulochus (3 September 36 B.C.) and was executed by order of Mark Antony in 35 B.C.
SH91677. Silver denarius, Crawford 511/3a, RSC I Pompey the Great 17, Sydenham 1344, BMCRR Sicily 7, Sear CRI 334, SRCV I 1392, VF, deep old-cabinet toning, slightly off center, banker's mark on cheek, weight 3.703 g, maximum diameter 17.7 mm, die axis 180o, Sicilian mint, 42 - 40 B.C.; obverse MAG PIVS IMP ITER, head of Pompey the Great right, between capis and lituus (augural symbols); reverse Neptune standing left, right foot on prow, nude but for chlamys on left arm, holding apluster, flanked by the Catanaean brothers, Anapias and Amphinomus, running in opposite directions with their parents on their shoulders, PRAEF above, CLAS ET ORAE / MARIT EX S C in two lines in exergue; from the Maxwell Hunt Collection; scarce; SOLD


Julius Caesar, Imperator and Dictator, October 49 - 15 March 44 B.C.

|Julius| |Caesar|, |Julius| |Caesar,| |Imperator| |and| |Dictator,| |October| |49| |-| |15| |March| |44| |B.C.||denarius|
This issue was minted to pay for Caesar's military operation against the Pompeians in North Africa. The campaign ended with the dictator's victory at Thapsus on 6 April 46 B.C. The reverse depicts Aeneas carrying his father and the palladium away from burning Troy and refers to the mythical descent of the Julia gens from Iulus, the son of Aeneas.
SH58585. Silver denarius, Crawford 458/1, RSC I 12, Sydenham 1013, BMCRR East 31, SRCV I 1402, gVF, light toning over luster, weight 3.761 g, maximum diameter 17.4 mm, die axis 180o, North Africa mint, 47 - 46 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Venus right, wearing necklace, hair rolled back, in a knot behind, two locks down neck; reverse CAESAR, Aeneas walking left, nude, carrying his father, Anchises, on his left shoulder, palladium in right hand; SOLD


Caracalla, 28 January 198 - 8 April 217 A.D.

|Caracalla|, |Caracalla,| |28| |January| |198| |-| |8| |April| |217| |A.D.||antoninianus|
Cerberus, a multi-headed (usually three-headed) hound, guards the gates of Hades to prevent those who have crossed the river Styx from ever escaping. Capturing Cerberus alive was the twelfth and final labor King Eurystheus assigned to Hercules. In the underworld, Hercules met Hades and asked his permission to bring Cerberus to the surface. Hades agreed to if Hercules could overpower the beast without using weapons. Hercules was able to overpower Cerberus, sling the beast over his back, and drag it out of Hades through a cavern entrance in the Peloponnese. Eurystheus was so frightened by the beast that, in return for releasing him from his labors, he asked Hercules to return it to the underworld.
SH34981. Silver antoninianus, RIC IV 261c; RSC III 299a; BMCRE V 124, Choice EF, well centered on a broad flan, weight 5.154 g, maximum diameter 24.4 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 215 A.D.; obverse ANTONINVS PIVS AVG GERM, radiate and cuirassed bust right; reverse P M TR P XVIII COS IIII P P (high priest, holder of Tribunitian power for 18 years, consul for the 4th time, father of the country), Pluto seated left, extending right hand, holding vertical scepter in left; at his feet to left, Cerberus seated left, turning his three heads right; unusual reverse type; rare; SOLD


Otho, 15 January 69 - 17 April 69 A.D.

|Otho|, |Otho,| |15| |January| |69| |-| |17| |April| |69| |A.D.||denarius|
Vesta was originally a household spirit but was later personified as the goddess of the hearth and given the stature of her Greek equivalent, Hestia. In the temple of Vesta her flame was kept alive by Vestal Virgins.
SH41731. Silver denarius, RIC I 24 (R3), RSC II 7, BMCRE I 11, BnF III 29, SRCV I 2161, Hunter I -, gF, weight 3.046 g, maximum diameter 19.2 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 9 Mar - 17 Apr 69 A.D.; obverse IMP OTHO CAESAR AVG TR P, bare head right; reverse PONT MAX (high priest), Vesta seated left, veiled, patera in right hand, scepter in left hand; very rare; SOLD


Julius Caesar, Imperator and Dictator, October 49 - 15 March 44 B.C.

|Julius| |Caesar|, |Julius| |Caesar,| |Imperator| |and| |Dictator,| |October| |49| |-| |15| |March| |44| |B.C.||denarius|
This issue was minted to pay for Caesar's military operation against the Pompeians in North Africa. The campaign ended with the dictator's victory at Thapsus on 6 April 46 B.C. The reverse depicts Aeneas carrying his father and the palladium away from burning Troy and refers to the mythical descent of the Julia gens from Iulus, the son of Aeneas.
SH20394. Silver denarius, Crawford 458/1, RSC I 12, Sydenham 1013, BMCRR East 31, SRCV I 1402, gVF, weight 3.623 g, maximum diameter 17.8 mm, die axis 180o, North Africa mint, 47 - 46 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Venus right, wearing necklace, hair rolled back, in a knot behind, two locks down neck; reverse CAESAR, Aeneas, naked walking left, palladium in right, in left carries his father, Anchises; toned; SOLD


Julian II "the Apostate," February 360 - 26 June 363 A.D.

|Julian| |II|, |Julian| |II| |"the| |Apostate,"| |February| |360| |-| |26| |June| |363| |A.D.||double| |maiorina|
The common belief which identifies the bull with the Apis bull is probably wrong. An interesting passage from Dio Chrysostom compares a good ruler to a bull. Also, Julian was most likely born in May, in the sign of Taurus. The stars are probably the two important star clusters in Taurus, Pleiades and Hyades. Taurus or Apis, this bull is pagan and this coin was the last pagan coin type issued by the Empire.
SH32850. Billon double maiorina, RIC VIII Constantinople 164 (S), SRCV V 19157, Cohen VIII 38, LRBC II 2059 var. (pellet at end of legend not noted), EF, weight 8.601 g, maximum diameter 28.7 mm, die axis 0o, 1st officina, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, 3 Nov 361 - 26 Jun 363 A.D.; obverse D N FL CL IVLIANVS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse SECVRITAS REIPVB• (security of the Republic), bull right, two stars above, CONSP flanked by branches in exergue; scarce; SOLD


Mopsion, Thessaly, c. 350 - 300 B.C.

|Thessaly|, |Mopsion,| |Thessaly,| |c.| |350| |-| |300| |B.C.||trichalkon|
Mopsion issued only bronze coins, and only c. 350 - 300 B.C. In Nomos 4, BCD notes, "The bronzes of Mopsion are practically impossible to find in nice condition and without flaws or corrosion. They are also very rare and desirable because of the their spectacularly eloquent reverse. The nicest one to come up for auction realized $18,000..."

Mopsion, in the Peneus valley half way between Larissa and Tempe, took its name from the Lapith Mopsos, a son of Ampyx. Mopsos learned augury from Apollo, understood the language of birds, and became an Argonaut seer. As depicted on this coin, he was one of the Lapiths who defeated the Centaurs. This battle was a favorite subject of Greek art. While fleeing across the Libyan desert from angry sisters of the slain Gorgon Medusa, Mopsos died from the bite of a viper that had grown from a drop of Medusa's blood. Medea was unable to save him, even by magical means. The Argonauts buried him with a monument by the sea, and a temple was later erected on the site.
GB85628. Bronze trichalkon, BCD Thessaly II 486 (same dies), BCD Thessaly I 1210 var. (MOΨEIΩN), Rogers 412 var. (same), McClean 4648 var. (same), SNG Cop -, BMC -, gVF, green patina, bold centered strike on a tight flan, small pits including one on tip of nose., weight 7.719 g, maximum diameter 20.9 mm, die axis 0o, Mopsion (Bakraina(?), Greece) mint, c. 350 - 300 B.C.; obverse head of Zeus facing slightly right, vertical thunderbolt to right; reverse MOΨEI-ATΩN, Lapith Mopsos standing facing, nude, his head turned right, raising club in right hand and extending his left hand, fighting centaur that is rearing left and raising a bolder over its head with both hands preparing to throw it; ex BCD with his round tag; very rare; SOLD







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