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

Cybele

Cybele, the Phrygian "Great Mother" earth goddess, was born a hermaphrodite, but castrated by the gods, she became female. Phrygia's only known goddess, she was probably its national deity. Greek colonists in Asia Minor adopted and adapted her Phrygian cult and spread it to mainland Greece and to the more distant western Greek colonies around the 6th century B.C.

In Greece, Cybele became partially assimilated to aspects of the Earth-goddess Gaia, of her possibly Minoan equivalent Rhea, and of the harvestmother goddess Demeter. Athens, evoked her as a protector, but her most celebrated Greek rites and processions show her as an essentially foreign, exotic mystery-goddess who arrives in a lion-drawn chariot to the accompaniment of wild music, wine, and a disorderly, ecstatic following.

After dire prodigies, including a meteor shower and a failed harvest, seemed to warn of Rome's imminent defeat to Hannibal, the Roman senate consulted the Sibylline oracle. Heeding the oracle's advice, the senate brought worship of Cybele to Rome in 204 B.C. as the first officially sanctioned Eastern cult. After approval, they were dismayed to learn that the priesthood required voluntary self-castration, which was abhorrent to the Romans. Romans were barred from entering the priesthood or even entering the priest's sanctuary. The eunuch priests, recruited from outside Rome, were confined to their sanctuary, leaving only to parade in the streets during festivals in April. Claudius removed the bans on Roman participation, making worship of Cybele and her consort Attis part of the state religion.
Cybele

Trapezopolis, Caria, c. 150 - 200 A.D.

|Other| |Caria|, |Trapezopolis,| |Caria,| |c.| |150| |-| |200| |A.D.||AE| |23|
In ancient Greece the chief magistrate in various Greek city states was called eponymous archon. Archon means "ruler" or "lord," frequently used as the title of a specific public office, while "eponymous" means that he gave his name to the year in which he held office, much like the Roman dating by consular years.
RP99558. Bronze AE 23, RPC Online IV.2 T2743.4 (this coin, 4 spec.); Kurth Demos 840; Weber 6596; Imhoof-Blumer GRMK p. 98, 1, Choice aF, nice green patina with light highlighting earthen deposits, scratches, weight 5.102 g, maximum diameter 23.1 mm, die axis 180o, Trapezopolis (near Boli, Turkey) mint, pseudo-autonomous, c. 150 - 200 A.D.; obverse ∆HMOC TPAΠEZOΠO (Z retrograde), laureate youthful head of the Demos right; reverse EΠI AP AI AΠOΛΛΩN (eponymous archon Ai. Apollonios), Cybele standing, facing, head, left, wearing kalathos, flanked on each side by a seated lion; from the M. Arslan Collection, one of four specimens in RPC Online, the first of the type handled by FORVM; very rare; $120.00 SALE PRICE $108.00


Titus and Domitian, 1 July 69 - 24 June 79 A.D., Claudiolaodicea Combusta, Lycaonia

|Lycaonia|, |Titus| |and| |Domitian,| |1| |July| |69| |-| |24| |June| |79| |A.D.,| |Claudiolaodicea| |Combusta,| |Lycaonia||AE| |19|
Claudiolaodicea, founded by Seleucus I Nicator, was one of five cities he named after his mother Laodice. Restored by Claudius in the 1st century A.D., it was renamed Claudiolaodicea in his honor. Its Latin epithet Combusta indicates it was once destroyed by fire. Located northwest of Iconium (now Konya), on the high road from the west coast to Melitene on the Euphrates, it is now Ladik, Konya Province, Turkey. Some ancient authors describe it as located in Lycaonia, others in Pisidia, and Ptolemy places it in Galatia. This discrepancy is easily explained because these territories were often extended or reduced and the city was likely in each of them at one time. The few imperial coins of Claudiolaodicea all belong to the reigns of Titus and Domitian.
RP97865. Bronze AE 19, SNGvA 152 (same dies), RPC Online II 1613 (14 spec.), vA Lykien 151 - 153, SNG BnF 2322, Waddington 4779, F, earthen adhesions, weight 6.794 g, maximum diameter 19.1 mm, die axis 0o, Laodicea Catacecaumene (Ladik, Turkey) mint, as caesars under Vespasian, 69 - 79 A.D.; obverse TITOC KAI ∆OMITIANOC KAICAPEC, confronted bare heads Titus (on left) and Domitian; reverse KΛAY∆IOΛAO∆IKEWN, Cybele seated left on high-backed throne, kalathos on head, patera in right hand, resting left arm on tympanum, lion couchant left on near side of throne; scarce; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00


Sala, Lydia, c. 139 - 146 A.D.

|Other| |Lydia|, |Sala,| |Lydia,| |c.| |139| |-| |146| |A.D.||AE| |18|NEW
The town of Sala is identifiable with Tepecik in today's west Asiatic Turkey, but in antiquity was in the Roman province of Lydia in Asia Minor.
RP110476. Bronze AE 18, GRPC Lydia 3 p. 288, 22; RPC Online IV.2 T1416; BMC Lydia p. 229, 18; SNG Cop 424; SNG Leypold I 1183 corr. (lion at feet); Walcher Collection 2813, aVF, near centered, brown tone, small earthen encrustations, scratches, weight 3.886 g, maximum diameter 17.8 mm, die axis 225o, Lydia, Sala (Tepecik, Turkey) mint, time of Antoninus Pius, c. 139 - 146 A.D.; obverse CAΛHNΩN, bust of Athena right, wearing crested Corinthian helmet and aegis; reverse EΠI AN∆PONEIKOY CAΛ (under Androneikos Salamonos), Cybele seated left, turreted, phiale in right hand, resting left arm on tympanum (drum), no lion; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00


Roman Republic, First Triumvirate, A. Plautius, c. 55 B.C.

|99-50| |B.C.|, |Roman| |Republic,| |First| |Triumvirate,| |A.| |Plautius,| |c.| |55| |B.C.||denarius|
In 67 B.C., Aristobulus II rebelled against his older brother Hyrcanus II, the king of Judaea. Both brothers appealed to Pompey's deputy Marcus Aemilius Scaurus, who, bribed by a gift of 400 talents, decided in favor of Aristobulus. When Pompey arrived in Syria in 63 B.C., both brothers sent delegates to Damascus, but Pompey did not make an immediate decision. Aristobulus' followers refused to open the gates of Jerusalem and Romans forces besieged and captured the city. Pompey deemed Hyrcanus II, the elder, weaker brother a more reliable ally. Hyrcanus was restored as high priest, but not as king. Aristobulus was taken to Rome as a prisoner. In 57 B.C. Aristobulus escaped to Judaea and instigated another rebellion. A young cavalry commander, Marc Antony, led several men to scale Aristobulus' fortifications leading to his recapture. At the time this coin was struck in 55 B.C., Aristobulus was a prisoner in Rome. Julius Caesar released him in 49 B.C., hoping to turn Judaea against Pompey, but on his way to Judaea he was poisoned by a Pompey supporter. With help from the Parthians, Aristobulus' son Antigonus rebelled against Rome and became king in 40 B.C. He was defeated by Rome and killed in 37 B.C.

This special issue was struck by an Aedile Curule. Aediles supervised public works and staged games. Since this issue bears turreted Cybele, we may speculate it was to finance a building project.
RR94469. Silver denarius, Crawford 431/1, Sydenham 932, RSC I Plautia 13, BMCRR Rome 3916, Russo RBW 1540, SRCV I 395, Choice gVF, well centered on a broad flan, light tone on mint luster, areas of weak strike, light marks, weight 3.867 g, maximum diameter 20.0 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 55 B.C.; obverse AED CVR S C downwards on left, A PLAVTIVS downwards on right, turreted head of Cybele right, wearing cruciform earring, hair rolled and in knot at the back, locks falling down neck; reverse Bacchius Judaeus (Aristobulus II High Priest and King of Judaea) kneeling right, with left hand holding reins of camel standing right on his far side, raising olive branch in right hand, IVDAEVS upward on right, BACCHIVS in exergue; from an Israeli collection, ex Mnzzentrum Rheinland, auction 177 (14 Sep 2016), lot 304; SOLD







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