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

Medusa, Gorgoneion & Perseus on Ancient Coins
Seleukid Kingdom, Alexander I Balas, 152 - 145 B.C.

|Seleucid| |Kingdom|, |Seleukid| |Kingdom,| |Alexander| |I| |Balas,| |152| |-| |145| |B.C.||AE| |13|
The aegis was a well-known symbol of Alexander the Great. After his death, the body of Alexander and his aegis wound up in the hands of the Ptolemies. At the time this coin was struck, Alexander Balas was the son in law of Ptolemy VI and the Ptolemaic candidate for the Seleucid throne. After the break between them, Ptolemy VI dissolved his daughter's first marriage and married her to Demetrius II, “as if she were a piece of furniture.” (J.P. Mahaffy). Alexander Balas fell at the 145 BC Battle of Oenoparas. Though the Battle was a Ptolemaic victory, Ptolemy VI died of battle wounds a few days later. Alexander Balas, of humble origin, claimed to be Antiochus IV's son and heir to the Seleukid throne. Rome and Egypt accepted his claims. He married Cleopatra Thea, daughter of King Ptolemy Philometor of Egypt. With his father-in-law's help, he defeated Demetrius Soter and became the Seleukid king. After he abandoned himself to debauchery, his father-in-law shifted his support to Demetrius II, the son of Demetrius Soter. Balas was defeated and fled to Nabataea where he was murdered. Apamea, on the right bank of the Orontes River, was an ancient Greek and Roman city. It was located at a strategic crossroads for Eastern commerce and became one of the four cities of the Syrian tetrapolis. Seleucus also made it a military base with 500 elephants, and an equestrian stud with 30,000 mares and 300 stallions.
GB97972. Bronze AE 13, Houghton-Lorber II 1792.2b; SNG Spaer 1480; Houghton CSE 207, VF, rough, weight 1.63 g, maximum diameter 13.1 mm, die axis 0o, Antiochia on the Orontes mint, 150 - 146 B.C.; obverse aegis with facing head of Medusa at center; reverse Pegasos flying right right, A (control) below, BAΣIΛEΩΣ (king) above, AΛEΞAN∆POY below; from a New England collector; rare; $125.00 (€102.50)
 


Seleukid Kingdom, Seleukos I Nikator, 312 - 281 B.C., Sardes, Lydia

|Seleucid| |Kingdom|, |Seleukid| |Kingdom,| |Seleukos| |I| |Nikator,| |312| |-| |281| |B.C.,| |Sardes,| |Lydia||AE| |14|
The Indian humped bull type, along with his well-known anchor symbol, was used only by Nikator. The Indian humped bull on the reverse recalls when Nikator, with only his bare-hands, stopped a similar bull that had broken free while Alexander the Great was sacrificing it at the altar. Seleucus captured Sardes from Lysimachus in 282 B.C. This type has been attributed to Sardes based on find locations.
GY97882. Bronze AE 14, Houghton-Lorber I 6(2)b, Newell WSM 1628, HGC 9 107a (S), SNG Spaer 69 var. (monogram behind bull), SNG Cop 45 var. (same), aVF, green patina, slight porosity, tight flan, weight 2.293 g, maximum diameter 14.3 mm, die axis 270o, Sardes (Sart, Turkey) mint, 282 - 281 B.C.; obverse winged head of Medusa right; reverse humped bull butting right, BAΣIΛEΩΣ (king) above, ΣEΛEYKOY in exergue, monogram between hind legs; scarce; $80.00 (€65.60)
 


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 gorgós, 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







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