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

Ancient Coins Depicting Centaurs

In Greek mythology, the centaurs are a composite race of creatures, part human and part horse. This half-human and half-animal composition has led many writers to treat them as liminal beings, caught between the two natures, embodied in contrasted myths, both as the embodiment of untamed nature, as in their battle with the Lapiths, or conversely as teachers, like Chiron. Centaurs were said to have inhabited the region of Magnesia and Mount Pelion in Thessaly, the Foloi oak forest in Elis, and the Malean peninsula in southern Laconia.

Mopsion, Thessaly, c. 350 - 300 B.C.

|Thessaly|, |Mopsion,| |Thessaly,| |c.| |350| |-| |300| |B.C.||trichalkon|
Mopsion issued only bronze coins, and only c. 350 - 300 B.C. In Nomos 4, BCD notes, "The bronzes of Mopsion are practically impossible to find in nice condition and without flaws or corrosion. They are also very rare and desirable because of the their spectacularly eloquent reverse. The nicest one to come up for auction realized $18,000..."

Mopsion, in the Peneus valley half way between Larissa and Tempe, took its name from the Lapith Mopsos, a son of Ampyx. Mopsos learned augury from Apollo, understood the language of birds, and became an Argonaut seer. As depicted on this coin, he was one of the Lapiths who defeated the Centaurs. This battle was a favorite subject of Greek art. While fleeing across the Libyan desert from angry sisters of the slain Gorgon Medusa, Mopsos died from the bite of a viper that had grown from a drop of Medusa's blood. Medea was unable to save him, even by magical means. The Argonauts buried him with a monument by the sea, and a temple was later erected on the site.
GB85628. Bronze trichalkon, BCD Thessaly II 486 (same dies), BCD Thessaly I 1210 var. (MOΨEIΩN), Rogers 412 var. (same), McClean 4648 var. (same), SNG Cop -, BMC -, gVF, green patina, bold centered strike on a tight flan, small pits including one on tip of nose., weight 7.719 g, maximum diameter 20.9 mm, die axis 0o, Mopsion (Bakraina(?), Greece) mint, c. 350 - 300 B.C.; obverse head of Zeus facing slightly right, vertical thunderbolt to right; reverse MOΨEI-ATΩN, Lapith Mopsos standing facing, nude, his head turned right, raising club in right hand and extending his left hand, fighting centaur that is rearing left and raising a bolder over its head with both hands preparing to throw it; ex BCD with his round tag; very rare; SOLD

Trajan Decius, September 249 - June or July 251 A.D., Rhesaena, Mesopotamia

|Roman| |Mesopotamia|, |Trajan| |Decius,| |September| |249| |-| |June| |or| |July| |251| |A.D.,| |Rhesaena,| |Mesopotamia||AE| |26|
Rhesaena (numerous other variations of the ancient name include Rhesaina, Resaena) in the Roman province of Mesopotamia Secunda, was an important town in the far north of Mesopotamia, was on the way from Carrhae to Nicephorium, about eighty miles from Nisibis and forty from Dara, near the sources of the Chaboras (Khabur) River. Today, it is Ra's al-'Ayn, Syria. Gordian III fought the Persians nearby in 243, at the battle of Resaena. The city's coins show that it was a Roman colony from the time of Septimius Severus. The Notitia dignitatum (ed. Boecking, I, 400) lists it under the jurisdiction of the Dux of Osrhoene. Hierocles (Synecdemus, 714, 3) also locates it in Osrhoene but it was renamed Theodosiopolis. It was fortified by Justinian. In 1393, it was nearly destroyed by Tamerlane's troops.
RB90731. Bronze AE 26, Castelin Rhesaena 87; SNG Cop 248; BMC Arabia p. 130, 30 var. (bust left), VF, attractive portrait, interesting reverse, porous, weight 12.10 g, maximum diameter 26.0 mm, die axis 180o, Rhesaena (Ra's al-'Ayn, Syria) mint, obverse AYT K Γ MΕKY ΔΕKIOC TPANTIANTNOC CΕB, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse XΕΠ KOΛ PHCAINHCIWN LIIIP, two Tyches clasping hands over lit altar; Aquarius on short column to left; centaur Sagittarius on right, advancing right, drawing bow; eagle above, open wings, head left, wreath in beak, river-god Chaboras swimming right in exergue; rare; SOLD


Catalog current as of Thursday, September 28, 2023.
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