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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Themes & Provenance| ▸ |Animals| ▸ |Snake||View Options:  |  |  |   

Snakes on Ancient Coins

The Greeks and Romans did not view snakes as evil creatures but rather as symbols and tools for healing and fertility. Asclepius, the son of Apollo and Koronis, learned the secrets of keeping death at bay after observing one serpent bringing another healing herbs. Woman seeking fertility, the sick, and the injured slept in his temples in chambers where non-poisonous snakes were left to crawl on the floor and provide healing.

Some ancient dignitaries were rumored to have been fathered by a god in serpent form. A serpent, said to have been Zeus, was found beside the sleeping Olympias, mother of Alexander the Great. Her husband, Philip of Macedon, is reputed never to have coupled with the 'Bride of the Serpent' again. Augustus was said to have been fathered by a snake, and his mother never afterwards lost the marks of its embrace.

Gordian III, 29 July 238 - 25 February 244 A.D.

|Gordian| |III|, |Gordian| |III,| |29| |July| |238| |-| |25| |February| |244| |A.D.||denarius|
In Roman Coins and Their Values, Volume III, David Sear notes this type was issued for the wedding of Gordian and Tranquillina.
RS112530. Silver denarius, RIC IV 129A (R), RSC IV 325, Hunter III 62, SRCV III 8681, Choice EF, full borders on a broad flan, flow lines, dark black toning, weight 3.462 g, maximum diameter 21.1 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 241 A.D.; obverse IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind; reverse SALVS AVGVSTI (to the health of the Emperor), Salus standing right, draped, from patera held in left hand, feeding snake held in right hand; ex Numismatik Naumann auction 129 (4 Jun 2023), lot 607; $200.00 SALE PRICE $180.00


Maximinus I Thrax, 20 March 235 - Late May 238 A.D.

|Maximinus| |I|, |Maximinus| |I| |Thrax,| |20| |March| |235| |-| |Late| |May| |238| |A.D.||denarius|
Salus was the Roman goddess of health. She was Hygieia to the Greeks, who believed her to be the daughter of Aesculapius, the god of medicine and healing, and Epione, the goddess of soothing of pain. Her father Asclepius learned the secrets of keeping death at bay after observing one snake bringing another snake healing herbs. Woman seeking fertility, the sick, and the injured slept in his temples in chambers where non-poisonous snakes were left to crawl on the floor and provide healing.
RS112632. Silver denarius, RSC III 85, RIC IV 14, BMCRE VI 21, SRCV III 8304, Choice EF, mint luster, flow lines, well centered, edge ragged (as usual for the issue), weight 3.326 g, maximum diameter 20.1 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, Mar 235 - Jan 236 A.D.; obverse IMP MAXIMINVS PIVS AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind; reverse SALVS AVGVSTI (to the health of the Emperor), Salus seated left, from patera feeding snake coiled around altar, left elbow resting on back of throne; from the Collection of Dr. Jregen Buschek; $200.00 SALE PRICE $180.00


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

|Severus| |Alexander|, |Severus| |Alexander,| |13| |March| |222| |-| |March| |235| |A.D.||denarius|
Salus was the Roman goddess of health. She was Hygieia to the Greeks, who believed her to be the daughter of Aesculapius, the god of medicine and healing, and Epione, the goddess of soothing of pain. Her father Asclepius learned the secrets of keeping death at bay after observing one snake bringing another snake healing herbs. Woman seeking fertility, the sick, and the injured slept in his temples in chambers where non-poisonous snakes were left to crawl on the floor and provide healing.
RS112400. Silver denarius, RIC IV 32, RSC III 239, BMCRE VI 117, cf. SRCV II 7894 (TR P COS, 222 A.D.), aEF, well centered, weight 2.723 g, maximum diameter 19.20 mm, Rome mint, 223 A.D.; obverse IMP C M AVR SEV ALEXAND AVG, laureate and draped bust right, seen from behind; reverse P M TR P II COS P P (high priest, holder of Tribunitian power for two years, consul, father of the country), Salus seated left, with right hand feeding snake coiled around altar, left elbow resting on chair; $160.00 SALE PRICE $144.00


Valerian I, October 253 - c. June 260 A.D., Cotiaeum, Phrygia

|Other| |Phrygia|, |Valerian| |I,| |October| |253| |-| |c.| |June| |260| |A.D.,| |Cotiaeum,| |Phrygia||tetrassarion|
Asklepios is the Greek god of medicine. Hygieia is the goddess of health and Asklepios' daughter. Telesphoros is Asklepios' assistant. Asklepios learned the secrets of keeping death at bay after observing one snake bringing another snake healing herbs. Woman seeking fertility, the sick, and the injured slept in his temples in chambers where non-poisonous snakes were left to crawl on the floor and provide healing.
RP110209. Bronze tetrassarion, SNG Hunt 2048; SNG Mu 333 var. (rev. leg.); SNG Cop 337 var. (same) BMC Phrygia p. 177, 94 var. (bust); SNGvA 3791 var. (Telesphoros in center), VF, dark near black patina, light deposits, near centered, die wear, small rev. die crack/breaks, weight 7.089 g, maximum diameter 25.1 mm, die axis 195o, Cotiaeum (Kutahya, Turkey) mint, Oct 253 - c. Jun 260 A.D.; obverse AVT K Π ΛIK OVAΛEPIANON, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind; reverse EΠ Π AIΛ ΔHMHETPIANOY IΠ (P. Ailios Demetrios hipparchos, HM ligate), Hygieia, on left, standing right, feeding serpent in right hand from patera in left hand; Asklepios, on right, standing facing, head left, leaning with right hand on serpent-entwined staff; AP/X (archon) in two lines above center, KOTIAEΩN (ΩN ligate) in exergue; $110.00 SALE PRICE $99.00


Valerian I, October 253 - c. June 260 A.D., Isinda, Pisidia

|Pisidia|, |Valerian| |I,| |October| |253| |-| |c.| |June| |260| |A.D.,| |Isinda,| |Pisidia||assarion|
Isinda stood in a strategic position at the western end of the pass leading from Pamphylia by Termessus to Pisidia. The coinage of Isinda indicates the city considered itself an Ionian colony.
RP97734. Bronze assarion, SNG BnF 1622; SNG Pfalz 234; BMC Lycia p. 227, 21; SNG Hunterian -; SNGvA -; SNG Cop -, aVF, dark brown patina, weight 8.444 g, maximum diameter 24.3 mm, die axis 180o, Isinda (Kisla, Turkey) mint, Oct 253 - c. Jun 260 A.D.; obverse AK ΠΛ OVAΛEPIANON CEB, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind; reverse ICIN-Δ-EΩN, mother goddess seated right on a high backed throne, holding swaddled infant on her lap, coiled serpent rising up before her; ex Numismatica Ars Classica Auction 100 (29 May 2017), lot 1320; $90.00 SALE PRICE $81.00


Valerian I, October 253 - c. June 260 A.D., Isinda, Pisidia

|Pisidia|, |Valerian| |I,| |October| |253| |-| |c.| |June| |260| |A.D.,| |Isinda,| |Pisidia||assarion|
Isinda stood in a strategic position at the western end of the pass leading from Pamphylia by Termessus to Pisidia. The coinage of Isinda indicates the city considered itself an Ionian colony.
RP110212. Bronze assarion, SNG BnF 1622; VA Pisidiens 940; SNG Pfalz 234; BMC Lycia p. 227, 21; SNG Hunterian -; SNGvA -; SNG Cop -, Choice aVF, well centered, green patina, light earthen deposits, reverse struck a little flat, weight 10.475 g, maximum diameter 25.8 mm, die axis 180o, Isinda (Kisla, Turkey) mint, Oct 253 - c. Jun 260 A.D.; obverse AK ΠΛ OVAΛEPIANON - CEB, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind; reverse ICIN-Δ-EΩN, mother goddess seated right on a high backed throne, holding swaddled infant on her lap, coiled serpent rising up before her; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00


Septimius Severus, 9 April 193 - 4 February 211 A.D., Akrasos, Lydia

|Other| |Lydia|, |Septimius| |Severus,| |9| |April| |193| |-| |4| |February| |211| |A.D.,| |Akrasos,| |Lydia||AE| |19|
Akrasos was probably located on the upper course of the Caicus River. The site remains unknown. Even which river was once called the Caicus is uncertain. It is believed to be the modern Bakircay River in Turkey. Nothing is known of the city beyond its coinage.
RP110214. Bronze AE 19, GRPC Lydia 60 (same dies), SNG Mn 22, Winterthur 3678, SNG Tire 320, Lindgren I 709 corr. (obv. leg.), BMC Lydia -, SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, Choice VF, well centered, dark patina with attractive highlighting earthen deposits, weight 3.240 g, maximum diameter 19.3 mm, die axis 180o, Acrasus mint, 9 Apr 193 - 4 Feb 211 A.D.; obverse AV K Λ CEP CEOVHPO-C, laureate head right; reverse AKPACIΩTΩN, Asklepios standing facing, head left, wearing himation, right hand on serpent-entwined staff; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00


Pergamon, Mysia, c. 133 - 16 B.C.

|Pergamon|, |Pergamon,| |Mysia,| |c.| |133| |-| |16| |B.C.||AE| |19|
When the Pergamene king Attalus III died without an heir in 133 B.C., to prevent a civil war, he bequeathed the kingdom to the Roman Republic. The Greeks and Romans did not view snakes as evil creatures but rather as symbols and tools for healing and fertility. Asclepius, the son of Apollo and Koronis, learned the secrets of keeping death at bay after observing one snake bringing another snake healing herbs. Woman seeking fertility, the sick, and the injured slept in his temples in chambers where non-poisonous snakes were left to crawl on the floor and provide healing.
GB111742. Bronze AE 19, SNG BnF 1808 (no rev. X); SNG Tb 2415 var. (same); BMC Mysia p. 129, 158 var. (same); SNGvA 1371 var. (same); SNG Cop -, aVF, obv. a little off center, green patina, weight 7.793 g, maximum diameter 19.3 mm, die axis 0o, Pergamon (Bergama, Turkey) mint, c. 133 - 16 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Asklepios right; reverse Asklepian snake coiled around omphalos, head right, X inner right field, AΣKΛHΠIOY downward on right, ΣΩTHPOΣ downward on left (of the savior Asklepios); rare variation; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00


Domitian, 13 September 81 - 18 September 96 A.D., Side, Pamphylia

|Side|, |Domitian,| |13| |September| |81| |-| |18| |September| |96| |A.D.,| |Side,| |Pamphylia||AE| |18|
Athena is the Greek goddess of wisdom, war, the arts, industry, justice, and skill. Her usual attribute is the owl and Nike is her frequent companion.
RP112716. Bronze AE 18, RPC II 1528, SNG Pflzer 625, SNGvA 4811 var. (ethnic divided across field), SNG Cop 415 var. (same), BMC Lycia -, F, dark patina, spots of corrosion, edge crack, weight 4.081 g, maximum diameter 17.7 mm, die axis 0o, Side (near Selimiye, Antalya Province, Turkey) mint, 13 Sep 81 - 18 Sep 96 A.D.; obverse ΔOMITIANOC KAICAP (counterclockwise from upper left), laureate head right; reverse CIΔHT (counterclockwise from upper left), Athena advancing left, wearing crested helmet, long chiton, and peplos, transverse spear and pomegranate in right hand, round shield in left hand, snake right at feet on left; scarce variant; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00


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

|Cyzicus|, |Severus| |Alexander,| |13| |March| |222| |-| |March| |235| |A.D.,| |Kyzikos,| |Mysia||AE| |28|NEW
Colossal foundations of the Temple of Hadrian, sometimes ranked among the Seven Wonders of the World, are still visible at Cyzicus. The columns were 21.35 meters high (about 70 feet), the highest known in the Roman Empire. Those at Baalbek in Syria, the next highest, are only 19.35 meters (about 63 feet). Columns from both structures were recycled under Justinian I for the Hagia Sophia.
RP112741. Bronze AE 28, RPC Online VI T3777 (6 spec.), SNG BnF 818, SNG Tb 2285 , F, well centered, dark patina, scratches, small edge chips, center dimple on rev., weight 13.074 g, maximum diameter 28.0 mm, die axis 105o, Cyzicus (Kapu Dagh, Turkey) mint, 13 Mar 222 - Mar 235 A.D.; obverse AY KAI MAY CEBH AΛEXANΔPOC AYΓ, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind; reverse KYZIKH-N-ΩN NEΩ/KOPΩ (last four letters in exergue), two burning torches, serpent coiled around each, flaming altar between; first example of this type handled by Forum; rare; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00




  



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