myths on ancient coins - ma-shops

By Joël van DamOwner, Joëlnumismatics, for MA-Shops.com ……
 

A Theoretical Context

In this blog I will talk about an iconographic theme on coins that was very popular in ancient times: mythology. Yet it is very hard to give the exact definition on what mythology/myth exactly is.

But I know for sure that when you start thinking about it, right now, you will already have some ideas about it. You probably know more than a little if you already collect ancient coins, but if not, then I think you still have some sense of the subject. You maybe now think of old stories about Hercules or Zeus. Or, you maybe have seen some movies about famous myths. For example the last movie of Wonder Woman the Amazon, or one of the many sword and sandal epics about Hercules. What I think is very special about these movies is that we enjoy the same stories people enjoyed 2,000 ago.

For the next blogs I will work with a so-called “working definition” of myths – otherwise it would be impossible to discuss this subject. The working definition that I will use is created by a scholar named Lauri Honko. He said:

A myth expresses and confirms society’s religious values and norms, it provides a pattern of behaviour to be imitated, testifies to the efficacy of ritual with its practical ends and establishes the sanctity of cult.

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Silver Didrachm from Taras
Silver Didrachm from Taras

Silver Didrachm from Taras

33,750.00 US$

  • Weight 7,89 g
  • Diameter 21 mm

Signed by the “KAL…” engraver, maker of some of the finest dies ever produced in Magna Graecia.

Obverse: Naked horseman on prancing horse right, lancing downwards with right hand, behind large round shield and two more lances.

Reverse: Phalanthos on dolphin right, holding crested helmet between his hands, with his head slightly bowed towards it, on either side an eight-rayed star.

This didrachm is regarded as one of the most artistically masterful and beautiful of all Tarentine didrachms, of spendid late classical style.

Demetrius I Poliorcetes Silver Tetradrachm
Demetrius I Poliorcetes Silver Tetradrachm

Demetrius I Poliorcetes Silver Tetradrachm

8,400.00 US$

  • Weight: 17.08 g
  • Diameter: 31.05 mm

Ancient Kingdom of Macedonia (Macedon), Demetrius I Poliorcetes, 306–283/2 BCE, SILVER TETRADRACHM, Issue: 289-288 BCE.

Obverse: Diademed head of Demetrius r.

Reverse: Poseidon standing l., r. foot on rock, holding trident with l. hand.

Mint of Amphipolis. References: Coll. Weber, 2174; Metal: SILVER. Good VF / EF (48/70). RR.

PROVENANCE: Ex Glendining & Co. Auction Sale 10/4/57 Greek & Roman Coins The Property of a Foreign Collector.

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The Nature of Myths

About the nature of myths, many books can be written. Myths are a reflection of what people are as a society, a group, or sometimes an individual. This reflection is displayed in the form of a narrative. Myths were a part of religion in ancient times and they cannot be seen without each other. Religion and myths were everywhere in ancient times. It is stated by several scholars that everything was religion in ancient times and myths played an important role in religion. It is in the nature of human beings to find answers for everything we don’t understand. Life in ancient times could be hard; religion, including the myths, gave hope.

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Gold Aureus of Domitian
Gold Aureus of Domitian

Gold Aureus of Domitian

6,100.00 US$

  • Weight: 7.09 g
  • Diameter: 19 mm
  • Catalog: Calicó 820; RIC II 960; Biaggi 398

Rome. CAES AVG F DOMITIANVS, Laureate head of Domitian to right (COS V, she-wolf left, suckling the twins Remus and Romulus; boat in exergue. 7,09 gram, 19 mm. Attractively struck, with good relief, fine toning and traces of underlying lustre.

Tarsus Silver Stater
Tarsus Silver Stater

Tarsus Silver Stater

5,800.00 US$

  • Catalog: SNG CH Suppl. 21

Satrap Balakros, 333-323 BCE Chr. Stater, Tarsus. Bust of Athena from the front / Baal Tars with scepter on throne, in the field spike, grape and ivy leaf. SNG CH Suppl. 21 10.94 g. Superb specimen in fine, shimmering golden Cabinet tinting excellent.

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