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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Gods, Non-Olympian ▸ Muses & GracesView Options:  |  |  | 


Severus Alexander, 13 March 222 - March 235 A.D., Damascus, Coele-Syria

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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.
RP88149. Bronze AE 27, Mionnet V p. 292, 61; SNG Cop -; SNG MŁnchen -; SNG Hunterian -; BMC Galatia -; Rosenberger IV -, Butcher -, aF, legends illegible, bumps and marks, porosity, weight 18.663 g, maximum diameter 27.2 mm, die axis 0o, Damascus mint, 13 Mar 222 - Mar 235 A.D.; obverse M AVP AΛEXAN∆ER CAICA, laureate and draped bust right, from the front; reverse COL ∆AMAC MET, satyr Marsyas, on left, standing half left before a cypress tree, raising right hand, wineskin on left shoulder; ex J.S. Wagner Collection; extremely rare; $70.00 (Ä59.50)


Roman Republic, Q. Pomponius Musa, 66 B.C.

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Many of the Roman moneyers had a solid sense of humor and word play with homonyms was very popular. Pomponius Musa, playing on his name, issued ten types each depicting Hercules Musagetes (Conductor of the Muses) or one of nine different Muses, creating one of the most interesting and sought after series of the Republican coinage. This coin depicts Thalia, the Muse of Comedy.
SH90309. Silver denarius, RSC I Pomponia 19, Crawford 410/9b, Sydenham 821, SRCV I 360, F, bankerís mark on obverse, weight 3.486 g, maximum diameter 18.7 mm, die axis 90o, Rome mint, 66 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right, sandal behind; reverse MVSA on left, Q POMPONI on right, Thalia, the Muse of comedy, standing left, holding comic mask in right, leaning left arm on column behind; ex CNG auction 233 (26 May 2010), lot 316; SOLD


Roman Republic, Q. Pomponius Musa, c. 66 B.C., Eroto, the Muse of Erotic Poetry on Reverse

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The reverse is a punning reference to the name of the moneyer. He struck coins for each of the nine muses, and Hercules, as their leader, presumably modeled after a group of statues. Each of the muses is indicated by a different obverse symbol. Eroto was not the "Muse of Pornography." She was rather the inspiration of poets such as Ovid. His poetry has literary value, but he was banished by Augustus, partly because of his smutty poetry, but also because of his adultery with the Emperor's daughter Julia. In Victorian England, this type was attributed to Terpsichore, the Muse of Dance. They assigned the tortoise symbol to Terpsichore. They assigned the flower stalk found on this coin to both Eroto and to Terpsichore, depending on the reverse. Under this scheme only the Muse of Dance had two obverse symbols and only Eroto shared her symbol with another muse. Seven of the muses were about equally distributed, but Eroto was considerably rarer, and Terpsichore about twice as common as any other Muse. Victorian sensibilities about sex may have allowed numismatists to decide that Erotic Poetry should be very, very rare. By comparison, the Romans saw Eroto as "just another Muse." Her coins should be about as common as the others. Today we are convinced each of the nine obverse symbols represents only one muse.
RS77485. Silver denarius, Sydenham 820a, RSC I Pomponia 17a, Crawford 410/7b, SRCV I 358, F, toned, weight 3.597 g, maximum diameter 16.95 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 66 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right, flower stalk behind; reverse Q POMPONI MVSA, Eroto, the Muse of Erotic Poetry (previously described as Terpsichore), standing right, plectrum in right hand, lyre in left hand; SOLD







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