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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Themes & Provenance| ▸ |Gods, Non-Olympian| ▸ |Medusa||View Options:  |  |  | 

Medusa, Gorgoneion & Perseus on Ancient Coins

Medusa, one of the Gorgons, was beheaded by Perseus. Medusa alone was mortal among the Gorgons, which made it possible for Perseus to come after her head. In order to kill her, he beheld the image of Medusa†on a brazen shield, so that he would not be turned into a stone for looking at her, and, his hand guided by Athena, he beheaded her. When her head was cut off, there sprang from her trunk Pegasus and Chrysaor. When Medusa as beheaded, the other GORGONS woke up and pursued Perseus†1, but they could not see him because he was wearing the helmet of Hades. According to late classical poets, Medousa was once a beautiful woman who was transformed into a monster by Athena as punishment for lying with Poseidon in her shrine. Earlier Greek writers and artists, however, simply portray her as a monster born into a large family of monsters. The three Gorgones were depicted in ancient Greek vase painting and sculpture as winged women with broad, round heads, serpentine locks of hair, large staring eyes, wide mouths, lolling tongues, the tusks of swine, flared nostrils, and sometimes short, coarse beards. Medousa was humanized in late classical art with the face of a beautiful woman. In mosaic art her round face was wreathed with coiling snakes and adorned with a pair of small wings on the brow.

Selinous, Sicily, 450 - 440 B.C.

|Other| |Sicily|, |Selinous,| |Sicily,| |450| |-| |440| |B.C.||cast| |trias|
Selinus was once one of the most important Greek colonies in Sicily. In 409 B.C., the Carthaginians attacked with a vast army believed to include at least 100,000 men. Selinus, with a population of about 30,000 excluding slaves, was unprepared and an auxiliary force promised by Syracuse, Agrigentum and Gela did not arrive. The Selinuntines defended themselves with courage, and after the walls were breached, continued to fight from house to house. After tens days the city fell. Of the citizens, 16,000 were slain and 5,000 made prisoners, but more than 2,600 escaped to Agrigento.
GA112251. Cast bronze cast trias, Calciati I p. 233, 2; SNG Morcom 666; HGC 2 1231 (R1); BMC Sicily -; SNG Cop -; SNG ANS -; SNG Munchen -; SNG TŁb -, VF, green patina, earthen deposits, light corrosion, weight 15.260 g, maximum diameter 21.9 mm, die axis 0o, Selinus mint, 450 - 440 B.C.; obverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion), with teeth displayed, four pellets (mark of value) in hair, anepigraphic; reverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion), with protruding tongue, four pellets (mark of value) in hair, anepigraphic; rare; $225.00 SALE PRICE $203.00


Selge, Pisidia, c. 250 - 190 B.C.

|Pisidia|, |Selge,| |Pisidia,| |c.| |250| |-| |190| |B.C.||hemiobol|
Selge, Pisidia on the southern slope of Mount Taurus where the river Eurymedon (KŲprŁcay) forces its way through the mountains, was once the most powerful and populous city of Pisidia. Protected by precipices, torrents, and an army of 20,000 regarded as worthy kinsmen of the Spartans, Selge was never subject to a foreign power until Rome. In the 5th century A.D., Zosimus calls it a little town, but it was still strong enough to repel a body of Goths. The remains of the city consist mainly of parts of the encircling wall and of the acropolis. A few traces have survived of the gymnasium, the stoa, the stadium and the basilica. There are also the outlines of two temples, but the best-conserved monument is the theater, restored in the 3rd century A.D.
GS112750. Silver hemiobol, Callataˇ & Doyen p. 67, J & pl. 10 (unlabeled); SNGvA -; SNG BnF -; BMC Lycia -; Klein -, EF, centered on a tight flan, flow lines, weight 0.464 g, maximum diameter 7.6 mm, die axis 45o, Selge (southern slope of Mount Taurus, Turkey) mint, c. 250 - 190 B.C.; obverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion); reverse head of roaring lion left; $150.00 SALE PRICE $135.00


Eusebeia (Caesarea), Cappadocian Kingdom, Reign of Archelaus, c. 36 B.C. - 17 A.D.

|Cappadocia|, |Eusebeia| |(Caesarea),| |Cappadocian| |Kingdom,| |Reign| |of| |Archelaus,| |c.| |36| |B.C.| |-| |17| |A.D.||AE| |16|
Mount Erciyes (Argaios to the Greeks, Argaeus to the Romans) is a massive stratovolcano 25 km to the south of Kayseri (ancient Caesarea) in Turkey. The highest mountain in central Anatolia, with its summit reaching 3,916 meters (12,848 ft). It may have erupted as recently as 253 B.C., as may be depicted on Roman era coins. Strabo wrote that the summit was never free from snow and that those few who ascended it reported seeing both the Black Sea to the north and the Mediterranean Sea to the south in days with a clear sky.
GB110053. Bronze AE 16, Sydenham Caesarea 5; BMC Galatia p. 45, 1; ; Lindgren III 945; SNGvA -; SNG Cop VII -; Imhoof MG -, F, green patina, earthen deposits, weight 3.729 g, maximum diameter 15.7 mm, die axis 0o, Cappadocia, Caesarea (Kayseri, Turkey) mint, c. 36 B.C. - 17 A.D.; obverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion) in aegis; reverse Mount Argaeus, EYΣEBEIAΣ in exergue ; $60.00 SALE PRICE $54.00


Kamarina, Sicily, c. 420 - 405 B.C.

|Kamarina|, |Kamarina,| |Sicily,| |c.| |420| |-| |405| |B.C.||onkia|
A Gorgoneion was a horror-creating apotropaic Gorgon head pendant. The name derives from the Greek word gorgůs, which means "dreadful." The Gorgons were three sisters who had hair of living, venomous snakes, and a horrifying face that turned those who saw it to stone. Stheno and Euryale were immortal, but their sister Medusa was not, and was slain by Perseus. Zeus, Athena, Hellenistic kings and Roman emperors wore Gorgoneion for protection. Images of the Gorgons were also put upon objects and buildings for protection. A Gorgon image is at the center of the pediment of the temple at Corfu, the oldest stone pediment in Greece from about 600 B.C.
GB69171. Bronze onkia, Calciati III, p. 47, 7 (same dies); Westermark-Jenkins, type A, 180; HGC 2 552 (R1); BMC Sicily -; SNG Cop -; SNG ANS -; SNG Munchen -, EF, light cleaning scratches, weight 1.295 g, maximum diameter 12.3 mm, die axis 270o, Kamarina (near Scoglitti, Sicily, Italy) mint, c. 420 - 405 B.C.; obverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion), smooth neat hair tied with ribbon, symmetrical locks on forehead, eyes looking left, tongue not protruding; reverse KAMA (upward on left), owl standing right on right leg, head facing, lizard with head down in left talon, pellet (mark of value) in exergue, barley kernel (control symbol) right; rare; SOLD


Himera, Sicily, c. 430 - 420 B.C.

|Himera|, |Himera,| |Sicily,| |c.| |430| |-| |420| |B.C.||hemilitron|
Himera was a Chalcidic colony founded from Zancle on the north coast of Sicily in mid-seventh century B.C. Carthage attacked in 409 B.C. At first Syracuse supported them with 4000 auxiliaries, but their general panicked for the safety of Syracuse itself abandoned Himera. The city was utterly destroyed, its buildings, even its temples, were razed to the ground. General Hannibal Mago executed more than 3000 prisoners as a human sacrifice to the memory of his grandfather General Hamilcar who had been defeated at Himera in 480 B.C. The site has been desolate ever since. The few surviving Greeks were settled by the Carthaginians eleven kilometers west of Himera at Thermae Himeraeae (Termini Imerese today). Thermae was taken by the Romans during the First Punic War.
SH73532. Bronze hemilitron, Calciati I Group III, Class 5, p. 32, 20; SNG ANS 179, VF, thick truncated-conic flan (usual for the type), smoothed, weight 26.468 g, maximum diameter 26.2 mm, die axis 0o, Himera (Termini, Sicily, Italy) mint, c. 430 - 420 B.C.; obverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion), hair in large curls, crude execution, dot border; reverse six pellets (mark of value), in two columns of three, within shallow round incuse; SOLD


Kamarina, Sicily, 420 - 405 B.C.

|Kamarina|, |Kamarina,| |Sicily,| |420| |-| |405| |B.C.||tetras|
Kamarina was suffering a plague. A marsh north of the city was the suspected source. The town oracle advised them not to drain the marsh, but in 405 B.C., the leaders ignored the advice. Once the marsh was dry, there was nothing to stop the Carthaginian army. They marched across the newly drained marsh, razed the city, and killed every last inhabitant.
GI76951. Bronze tetras, Westermark-Jenkins, type F, 195.12; BMC Sicily p. 40, 38; Calciati III p. 57, 24; SNG Cop 168; SNG Munchen V 410; HGC 2 547 (S), gVF, well centered, attractive dark brown surfaces, some light corrosion, weight 3.552 g, maximum diameter 14.8 mm, die axis 225o, Kamarina (near Scoglitti, Sicily, Italy) mint, 420 - 405 B.C.; obverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion) with neatly waved hair, pearled headband, smiling expression, dimpled cheeks; reverse KAMA (downward on right), owl standing left on left leg, head facing, lizard with head down in right talon, three pellets (mark of value) in exergue; scarce; SOLD


Apollonia Pontika, Thrace, 480 - 450 B.C.

|Apollonia| |Pontica|, |Apollonia| |Pontika,| |Thrace,| |480| |-| |450| || |B.C.||drachm|
Apollonia Pontica was founded as Antheia by Greek colonists from Miletus in the 7th century B.C. They soon changed its name to Apollonia after building a temple for Apollo. The temple contained a colossal statue of Apollo by Calamis, which was later taken to Rome and placed in the Capitol. The anchor on the coinage is evidence of the importance of its maritime trade.
GA33797. Silver drachm, Topalov Apollonia p. 586, 41; SNG BM 153; SNG Cop 454; SGCV I 1655; HGC 3.2 1323, VF, desirable early archaic type, typical ragged flan, weight 3.342 g, maximum diameter 16.1 mm, die axis 0o, Apollonia Pontica (Sozopol, Bulgaria) mint, 480/478 - 450 B.C.; obverse anchor flukes up, curved stock, crayfish left, A right; reverse archaic Ionian style gorgoneion (facing head of Medusa), snakes for hair, large open mouth, teeth and long protruding tongue, reverse is concave; SOLD







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REFERENCES

Karoglou, K. Dangerous Beauty: Medusa in Classical Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, v.75, no. 3 (Winter, 2017).

Catalog current as of Thursday, November 30, 2023.
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