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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.

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 ∆HMHETPIANOY 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; $125.00 SALE PRICE $113.00


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-∆-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; $115.00 SALE PRICE $104.00


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

|Pisidia|, |Valerian| |I,| |October| |253| |-| |c.| |June| |260| |A.D.,| |Isinda,| |Pisidia||assarion|NEW
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-∆-EΩN, mother goddess seated right on a high backed throne, holding swaddled infant on her lap, coiled serpent rising up before her; $90.00 SALE PRICE $81.00


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|NEW
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; $90.00 SALE PRICE $81.00


Chalkis, Euboia, Greece, c. 338 - 196 B.C.

|Euboia|, |Chalkis,| |Euboia,| |Greece,| |c.| |338| |-| |196| |B.C.||AE| |13|
Ancient Chalkis (also Khalks or Chalcis), in eastern Greece on the strait of Evripos near Athens, is today the capital of Euboea. The ancient city, inhabited by Ionians, was an important commercial and industrial center. In the 8th and 7th centuries B.C., Chalkis established colonies in Macedonia (giving its name to the peninsula of Chalcidice) and in Sicily. It was successively thereafter an Athenian, a Macedonian, and a Roman possession.
GB68839. Bronze AE 13, cf. HGC 4 1487 ff., aF, green patina, weight 1.744 g, maximum diameter 12.6 mm, Chalkis mint, c. 338 - 196 B.C.; obverse diademed and draped bust of Hera facing slightly to right, diadem ornamented with discs and dangling fillets; reverse eagle flying right, carrying snake in its talons, XAΛ above, uncertain control symbol; ex BCD Collection with his hand-written tag; $28.00 SALE PRICE $25.20


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


Macedonian Kingdom, Alexander the Great, 336 - 323 B.C.

|Alexander| |the| |Great|, |Macedonian| |Kingdom,| |Alexander| |the| |Great,| |336| |-| |323| |B.C.||stater|
SH48869. Gold stater, Price 1568, Mller Alexander 373, gVF, weight 8.640 g, maximum diameter 17.7 mm, die axis 0o, Troas, Abydos (near Canakkale, Turkey) mint, posthumous, c. 310 - 297 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right wearing earring, necklace, and crested Corinthian helmet decorated with a coiled snake, hair in ringlets; reverse AΛEΞAN∆POY, Nike standing left, wreath in right hand, stylus in left, monogram and cornucopia left; high relief, well centered, mint luster, nice!; SOLD


Macedonian Kingdom, Philip III Arrhidaeus and Alexander IV, 323 - 317 B.C.

|Macedonian| |Kingdom|, |Macedonian| |Kingdom,| |Philip| |III| |Arrhidaeus| |and| |Alexander| |IV,| |323| |-| |317| |B.C.||stater|
Struck under Leonnatos, Arrhidaios, or Antigonos I Monophthalmos. Philip III Arrhidaeus, the bastard son of Philip II and a dancer, Philinna of Larissa, was Alexander the Great's half-brother. Alexander's mother, Olympias, allegedly poisoned him as a child, leaving him mentally disabled, eliminating him as a rival to Alexander. Incapable of actual rule, he was made king upon Alexander's death only to serve as a pawn for those who wished to grab power for themselves. Olympias had him imprisoned and then ordered his execution in 317 B.C.
SH86159. Gold stater, Price P38; ADM II Series XI, 159a; Mller Alexander P64, aEF, some luster, well centered, attractive style, edge bump, weight 8.519 g, maximum diameter 18.7 mm, die axis 0o, Troas, Abydos (near Canakkale, Turkey) mint, c. 323 - 317 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right in crested Corinthian helmet ornamented with a coiled snake, wearing necklace and long drop earring; reverse Nike standing slightly left, head left, wreath in extended right hand, grounded stylis in left hand at her side, MH monogram over pentagram outer left, coiled snake under left wing; ex CNG auction 108, lot 189; SOLD


Rhegion, Bruttium, Italy, c. 450 - 445 B.C.

|Italy|, |Rhegion,| |Bruttium,| |Italy,| |c.| |450| |-| |445| |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.
SH46848. Silver tetradrachm, SNG ANS 636, SNG Cop 1928, HN Italy 2477, VF/F, damaged reverse die, weight 16.915 g, maximum diameter 25.0 mm, Rhegion mint, 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; high relief sculptural obverse; SOLD


Vespasian, 1 July 69 - 24 June 79 A.D.

|Vespasian|, |Vespasian,| |1| |July| |69| |-| |24| |June| |79| |A.D.||aureus|
In 72 A.D. the Roman governor Lucius Flavius Silva laid siege to Masada, a desert fortress, the last outpost of Jewish rebels after the First Jewish Revolt ended in 70 A.D. Legio X Fretensis surrounded the mountain fortress with a 7-mile long siege wall and built a rampart of stones and beaten earth against the western approach. In the spring of 73 A.D., when defeat became imminent, 960 Zealots under the leadership of Eleazar ben Ya'ir committed mass suicide.
SH64148. Gold aureus, Calico I 656, RIC II 1180, BMCRE II 403, Cohen I 284, F, ding at 12 o, weight 7.128 g, maximum diameter 13.9 mm, die axis 270o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, c. 72 - 73 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES VESPAS AVG P M TR P IIII P P COS IIII, laureate head right; reverse PACI AVGVSTI, winged Pax-Nemesis advancing right, pulling out a fold of drapery below her neck with her right hand, holding caduceus downward in left over snake at feet; ex January 2013 N.Y.I.N.C Auction, lot 2033; SOLD







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