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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Animals ▸ CentaurView 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.


Antoninus Pius, August 138 - 7 March 161 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt, Zodiac Type - Jupiter in Sagittarius

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This coin is from the Zodiac series issued during year eight of the reign of Antoninus Pius, described by Emmett as "one of the more remarkable iconographic programs in the entire scope of Greek or Roman coinage. Jupiter is associated with luck and good fortune. According to alwaysastrology.com, those born with Jupiter in Sagittarius attract good luck as long as they are generous, tolerant and practice what they preach. If you would like to see if you were born with Jupiter in Sagittarius (or another sign), click here to visit alwaysastrology.com.
RP72129. Bronze drachm, cf. RPC Online IV 14873; Dattari 2972; Dattari-Savio Suppl. pl. 19, 148; Geissen 1502; Milne 1822; BMC Alexandria p. 128, 1087; Emmett 1692/8, aF, nice reverse, obverse rough, weight 20.668 g, maximum diameter 33.5 mm, die axis 315o, Alexandria mint, 29 Aug 144 - 28 Aug 145 A.D.; obverse AUT K T AIΛ A∆P ANTWNEINOC CEB EVC, laureate (and draped?) bust right; reverse Zodiac type - Jupiter in Sagittarius: laureate bust of Zeus (Jupiter) right above a centaur (Sagittarius) leaping right and drawing bow, a star above centaur's head, L H (year 8) below; last sale for this type on Coin Archives was in 2010; very rare; SOLD


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

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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.
SH71000. Bronze AE 22, 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, Choice VF, nice style, weight 6.393 g, maximum diameter 22.3 mm, die axis 0o, Nikomedia (Izmit, Turkey) mint, c. 180 - 150 B.C.; obverse head of young Dionysos right, wreathed with ivy; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΠPOYΣIOY, centaur Chiron standing right, playing lyre, his cloak flying behind, NΦ monogram inner right under raised foreleg; SOLD


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

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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


The Magnetes, Thessaly, Greece, c. 140 - 130 B.C.

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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.
SH67647. Bronze tetrachalkon, cf. Rogers Thessaly 342; BCD Thessaly II 418.5; Lindgren II 1402; SNG Cop 159, VF, some legend unstruck, well centered, nice green patina, weight 8.242 g, maximum diameter 21.4 mm, die axis 45o, Magnetes' mint, 140 - 130 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus; reverse MAΓNHTON, centaur Cheiron standing right, right hand extended, branch in left over shoulder; SOLD


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

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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.
GB83585. Bronze AE 21, 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, aEF, nice green patina with a few tiny edge chips, pre-strike flan adjustment marks, weight 4.496 g, maximum diameter 21.1 mm, die axis 0o, Nikomedia (Izmit, Turkey) mint, c. 180 - 150 B.C.; obverse head of young Dionysos right, wreathed with ivy; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΠPOYΣIOY, centaur Chiron standing right, playing lyre, his cloak flying behind, NΦ monogram inner right under raised foreleg; SOLD


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

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BCD noted, "The Greek Imperials (or Roman Provincials) of Magnetes have been own of the most challenging areas in the collector's quest for completion. They are seldom encountered in any condition and the unworn and attractive specimens are real rarities."

The centaur Cheiron lived nearby on Mt. Pelion.
RP24148. Bronze diassarion, apparently unpublished; cf. BCD Thessaly 1194 (Elagabalus), BCD Thessaly 2012 437 (same), aVF, weight 4.466 g, maximum diameter 19.2 mm, die axis 0o, Magnetes mint, obverse M AVP CEVHR [AΛEΞAN∆POC](?), laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse [MAΓNHTΩN XEIPΩN](?), centaur Chiron standing right, palm branch over shoulder in right, lyre in left; extremely rare; SOLD


The Magnetes, Thessaly, Greece, c. 140 - 130 B.C.

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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.
SH66065. Bronze tetrachalkon, cf. Rogers Thessaly 342; BCD Thessaly II 418.5; Lindgren II 1402; SNG Cop 159, VF, weight 8.370 g, maximum diameter 20.8 mm, die axis 270o, Magnetes' mint, 140 - 130 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus; reverse MAΓNHTON, centaur Cheiron standing right, right hand extended, branch in left over shoulder; SOLD


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

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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.
SH71012. Bronze AE 21, 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, flan adjustment marks, weight 5.468 g, maximum diameter 20.7 mm, die axis 45o, Nikomedia (Izmit, Turkey) mint, c. 180 - 150 B.C.; obverse head of young Dionysos right, wreathed with ivy; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΠPOYΣIOY, centaur Chiron standing right, playing lyre, his cloak floating behind, ΠM monogram inner right under raised foreleg; SOLD


Gallienus, August 253 - September 268 A.D.

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This type commemorates vows made to Apollo invoking his protection against the revolt of Aureolus. During the siege of Milan, at a late hour but while he was still lingering with pleasures of the table, a false alarm was suddenly given, reporting that Aureolus, at the head of all his forces, had made a desperate sally from the town. Gallienus, who was never deficient in personal bravery, started from his silken couch, and without allowing himself time either to put on his armor or to assemble his guards, he mounted on horseback and rode full speed towards the supposed place of the attack. There he was ambushed by enemies from among his own officers. Amidst the nocturnal tumult, he received a mortal wound from an uncertain hand. Perhaps his request to Apollo was too specific and asked only for protection from Aureolus?

The centaur Chiron as the tutor of Apollo and the first to teach him the medicinal use of herbs.
RA76507. Billon antoninianus, GŲbl MIR 735b(1), RIC V-1 S163, RSC IV 72, Hunter IV S95, SRCV III 10177, Choice aEF, well centered on a broad round flan, flan crack, porosity, weight 3.715 g, maximum diameter 21.4 mm, 7th officina, Rome mint, 267 - Sep 268 A.D.; obverse GALLIENVS AVG, radiate head right; reverse APOLLINI CONS AVG (to Apollo the preserver of the Emperor), centaur Chiron walking right drawing bow, Z in exergue; ex Forum (2007); SOLD


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

Click for a larger photo
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.
BB71018. Bronze AE 20, SNG Cop 635; SNGvA 255; BMC Pontus p. 211, 15; Rec Gen II.3 p. 225, 26; HGC 7 629; SGCV II 7266, VF, well centered, nice patina, upper reverse a little weak, weight 5.395 g, maximum diameter 19.9 mm, die axis 0o, Nikomedia (Izmit, Turkey) mint, c. 180 - 150 B.C.; obverse head of Dionysos right, wreathed with ivy; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΠPOYΣIOY, centaur Chiron standing right playing lyre, cloak on shoulders flying behind, right foreleg raised, no monogram or control symbols; SOLD




  




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Centaurs