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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.

The Magnetes, Thessaly, Greece, c. 47 - 46 B.C.

|Thessaly|, |The| |Magnetes,| |Thessaly,| |Greece,| |c.| |47| |-| |46| |B.C.||trichalkon|NEW
The Magnetes were an ancient Greek tribe living in Thessalian Magnesia who took part in the Trojan War. They later also contributed to the Greek colonization by founding two prosperous cities in Western Anatolia, Magnesia on the Maeander and Magnesia ad Sipylum. After the liberation of Thessaly in 197 B.C., the Magnetes struck federal coins for the whole of the Magnesian peninsula at Demerias, where their assemblies were held, and where the Magnetarchs resided. The head of Zeus was also used on contemporary coins of the Thessalian League. The Magnetes made sacrifices to the centaur Cheiron who lived on the nearby Mt. Pelion.
GB93814. Bronze trichalkon, BCD Thessaly I 1184; BCD Thessaly II 419.2; Rogers Thessaly 337 corr. (magistrate's name off flan, not described); HGC 4 66 (S), VF, dark brown patina, well centered and struck, rough, weight 5.971 g, maximum diameter 20.2 mm, die axis 0o, Demetrias (near Volos, Greece) mint, c. 47 - 46 B.C.; obverse ΛEONTOΣ (magistrate's name) upward behind, laureate head of Zeus right; reverse centaur Cheiron standing right, right hand extended, branch in left over shoulder; MAΓ-NH/T-Ω-N in two lines, above and below, star right; rare variety; $140.00 SALE |PRICE| $126.00
 


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

|Mesopotamia| |&| |Babylonia|, |Gordian| |III,| |29| |July| |238| |-| |25| |February| |244| |A.D.,| |Singara,| |Mesopotamia||AE| |26|
In 242 A.D., Gordian III, along with his praetorian prefect and father-in-law Timesitheus, began a campaign against the Sasanian king, Shahpur I. After freeing Syria, a decisive battle secured all of Mesopotamia, including Singara and Nisibis. But after Timesitheus died in 243 the Roman advance stalled and they suffered a major defeat. In February 244, Gordian died and Philip was proclaimed emperor. Philip negotiated a truce in order to return to Rome for his Senate confirmation.
RY93160. Bronze AE 26, RPC Online VII-2 U2186; SNG Cop 254; BMC Arabia p. 134, 1 - 2; Falghera 2235, aVF, earthen deposits, weight 11.921 g, maximum diameter 25.7 mm, die axis 0o, Singara (Sinjar, Iraq) mint, 243 - 25 Feb 244 A.D.; obverse AYTOK K M ANT ΓOP∆IANOC CEB, radiate bust right, drapery on left shoulder; reverse AYP CEΠ KOΛCINΓAPA, draped, veiled, and turreted bust of Tyche right, Centaur Sagittarius above; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $100.00 SALE |PRICE| $90.00
 


Kingdom of Bithynia, Prusias II Kynegos, 185 - 149 B.C.

|Kingdom| |of| |Bithynia|, |Kingdom| |of| |Bithynia,| |Prusias| |II| |Kynegos,| |185| |-| |149| |B.C.||AE| |23|
Prusias II, son of Prusias I, inherited his father's name but not his character. He first joined with Eumenes of Pergamon in war against Pontus, but later turned on Pergamon and invaded. He was defeated and Pergamon demanded heavy reparations. Prusias sent his son Nicomedes II to Rome to ask for aid in reducing the payments. When Nicomedes revolted, Prusias II was murdered in the temple of Zeus at Nikomedia.

Like satyrs, centaurs were notorious for being wild, lusty, overly indulgent drinkers and carousers, violent when intoxicated, and generally uncultured delinquents. Chiron, by contrast, was intelligent, civilized and kind. He was not related directly to the other centaurs. He was the son of the Titan Cronus and the Oceanid Philyr. The other centaurs were spawned by the cloud Nephele on the slopes of Mount Pelion. Apollo taught the young Chiron the art of medicine, herbs, music, archery, hunting, gymnastics and prophecy, and made him rise above his beastly nature. He became a renowned teacher who mentored many of the greatest heroes of myth including the Argonauts Jason and Peleus, the physician Asklepios, and Achilles of Troy.
GB93825. Bronze AE 23, SNG Cop 636; BMC Pontus p. 211 and pl. 38, 12; Rec Gen II.3 p. 225, 26; SNGvA 256 var. (monogram); HGC 7 629; SGCV II 7266, VF, dark patina, good centering, scrapes, scratches, and bumps, scattered slight porosity, reverse die wear, small edge cracks, weight 5.491 g, maximum diameter 23.1 mm, die axis 0o, Nikomedia (Izmit, Turkey) mint, c. 180 - 150 B.C.; obverse head of young Dionysos right, wreathed with ivy; reverse centaur Chiron standing right, playing lyre, his cloak flying behind, ΠY monogram inner right under raised foreleg, BAΣIΛEΩΣ (king) downward on right, ΠPOYΣIOY downward on left; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $80.00 SALE |PRICE| $72.00
 


Kingdom of Bithynia, Prusias II Kynegos, 185 - 149 B.C.

|Kingdom| |of| |Bithynia|, |Kingdom| |of| |Bithynia,| |Prusias| |II| |Kynegos,| |185| |-| |149| |B.C.||AE| |23|
Prusias II, son of Prusias I, inherited his father's name but not his character. He first joined with Eumenes of Pergamon in war against Pontus, but later turned on Pergamon and invaded. He was defeated and Pergamon demanded heavy reparations. Prusias sent his son Nicomedes II to Rome to ask for aid in reducing the payments. When Nicomedes revolted, Prusias II was murdered in the temple of Zeus at Nikomedia.

Chiron was immortal but sacrificed his immortality. Herakles and the centaur Pholus were dining in Pholus' cave when Pholus opened a bottle of sacred wine given to him by Dionysus. The smell attracted other centaurs who attacked to take the wine. Heracles killed many of them using arrows poisoned with Hydra-venom. One of those arrows hit Chiron by mistake. Chiron could not die, but the wound was incurable and caused unbearable pain. Chiron gave up his immortality in exchange for Prometheus' freedom, when suggested by Heracles. Zeus then placed him amongst the stars as the constellation Sagittarius or Centaurus.
GB93822. Bronze AE 23, SNG Cop 640; BMC Pontus p. 210, 8; Rec Gen II.3 p. 225, 26; SNGvA 256 var. (monogram); HGC 7 629; SGCV II 7266, F, brown patina, well centered, corrosion, rough, flan adjustment marks, flan crack, weight 6.157 g, maximum diameter 22.8 mm, die axis 0o, Nikomedia (Izmit, Turkey) mint, c. 180 - 150 B.C.; obverse head of young Dionysos right, wreathed with ivy; reverse centaur Chiron standing right, playing lyre, his cloak flying behind, BAΣIΛEΩΣ (king) downward on right, ΠPOUΣIOY downward on left, NΦ monogram inner right under raised foreleg; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $60.00 SALE |PRICE| $54.00
 







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