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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Types ▸ MusicView Options:  |  |  |   

Music on Ancient Coins

Kolophon, Ionia, c. 490 - 400 B.C.

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The kithara (cithara) was an ancient stringed musical instrument resembling the lyre. The lyre was a simpler folk-instrument with two strings and tortoise shell body. The kithara had seven strings and a flat back. The kithara is a symbol of Apollo and he is credited with inventing it. Its true origins were likely Asiatic.. The kithara was primarily used by professional musicians, called kitharodes. In modern Greek, the word kithara has come to mean "guitar."
GS86610. Silver drachm, SNG Cop 135 (same dies), Milne Colophon 13b, SNGvA -, SNG Mn -, VF, centered on an irregularly shaped flan, toned, etched surfaces, die break on reverse , weight 5.341 g, maximum diameter 19.1 mm, die axis 270o, Kolophon (near Degirmendere Fev, Turkey) mint, c. 490 - 400 B.C.; obverse KOΛOΦΩN (retrograde, counterclockwise), laureate head of Artemis right, wearing earring and necklace, hair in a queue looped up and bound to wreath; reverse Kithara, in an incuse square; ex Savoca Numismatik, auction 1 (9 Apr 2015), lot 189; rare; $270.00 (229.50)


Leontini, Sicily, c. 405 - 402 B.C.

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Leontini was founded as by colonists from Naxos in 729 BC, itself a Chalcidian colony established five years earlier. It was the only significant Greek settlement in Sicily not located on the coast, being some 6 miles inland. The site, originally held by the Sicels, was seized by the Greeks owing to its command of the fertile plain to the north. The city was reduced to subject status in 498 BC by Hippocrates of Gela, and in 476 BC Hieron of Syracuse moved the inhabitants from Catania and Naxos to Leontini.
GI86576. Bronze tetras, Calciati III p. 77, 3/27 (this coin); SNG Cop 360; SNG ANS 270; SNG Morcom 606; SNG Lloyd 1070; BMC Sicily p. 92, 56; Laffaille 169; HGC 2 709 (R1), gVF, dark patina, well centered and struck, weight 2.165 g, maximum diameter 14.7 mm, Leontini mint, c. 405 - 402 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right, olive leaf and olive behind; reverse tripod lebes with loop handles, a barley kernel flanking on each side, kithara between legs of tripod, three pellets in exergue; ex Roma Numismatics e-sale 6 (22 Feb 2014), lot 45; Calciati III plate coin! ; $160.00 (136.00)


Macedonian Kingdom, Philip III Arrhidaeus and Alexander IV, 323 - 317 B.C., Struck in the Name of Philip

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Struck in the name of King Philip III Arrhidaeus, Alexander the Great's half-brother, under the regent Perdikkas. Philip III and Alexander's infant son, Alexander IV, were made joint kings after Alexander's death. Philip was the bastard son of Philip II and a dancer, Philinna of Larissa. Alexander the Great's mother, Olympias, allegedly poisoned her stepson Philip III as a child, leaving him mentally disabled, eliminating him as a rival to Alexander. Neither Philip III nor Alexander IV was capable of actual rule and both were selected only to serve as pawns. The regents held power, while Philip III was actually imprisoned. In 317, Philip was murdered by Olympias to ensure the succession of her grandson.
SH75320. Silver drachm, Price P43, Mller Alexander P50, SNG Mnchen 938, aEF, some die wear, weight 4.238 g, maximum diameter 18.1 mm, die axis 0o, Ionia, Kolophon (near Degirmendere Fev, Turkey) mint, c. 323 - c. 319 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean lion scalp headdress; reverse ΦIΛIΠΠOY, Zeus Atophoros seated left on throne without back, nude to the waist, himation around hips and legs, right foot drawn back, feet on footstool, eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left, lyre left; ex Forum (2005); $125.00 (106.25)


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

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In 243, Timesitheus, Gordian's father-in-law and praetorian prefect became ill and died under suspicious circumstances. Gordian III appointed Philip the Arab as his new praetorian prefect.
RB76166. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC IV 303a, Hunter III 117, Cohen V 262, SRCV III 8732, Choice VF, attractive green patina with red earthen fill, nice portrait, well centered, light marks, small edge cracks, weight 17.522 g, maximum diameter 30.5 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 4th issue, 242 - 243 A.D.; obverse IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse P M TR P V COS II P P, Apollo enthroned left, laurel-branch in right hand, left forearm resting on lyre on back of his seat, S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; $125.00 (106.25)


Tarentum, Southern Apulia, Italy, c. 275 - 200 B.C.

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Tarentum's independence and power ended when the Romans expanded across Italy. Tarentum was aided by Pyrrhus, who surprised and defeated Rome with the use of war elephants. However, after Pyrrhus departed, the city surrendered in 272 B.C. In 209 B.C., Tarentum would suffer for supporting Hannibal. The commander of a Bruttian force betrayed the city to the Romans. Indiscriminate slaughter ensued and among the victims were the Bruttians who had betrayed the city. Thirty thousand of the Greek inhabitants were sold as slaves and the city's art treasures, including the statue of Nike (Victory) were carried off to Rome.
GI85894. Brass AE 14, Vlasto 1850, HN Italy 1092, SNG Morcom 259, aVF, rough, weight 2.212 g, maximum diameter 13.8 mm, die axis 180o, Tarentum (Taranto, Italy) mint, c. 275 - 200 B.C.; obverse scallop shell; reverse kithara; very rare; $125.00 (106.25)


Septimius Severus, 9 April 193 - 4 February 211 A.D.

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In 194, Septimius Severus Augustus and Clodius Albinus Caesar were the two Roman Consuls. Septimius Severus marched with his army of 12 legions to Cilicia and defeated Pescennius Niger, the governor of Syria, at Battle of Issus. Pescennius retreated to Antioch but was executed by Severus' troops. For siding with Niger, Septimius Severus besieged Byzantium from 194 until 196; the city walls suffered extensive damage.
RS87230. Silver denarius, Bickford-Smith p. 56 & pl. I, 9; RIC IV 345 (R), BMCRE V W320, RSC III 42a; cf. SRCV II 6264 (Rome), F, light toning, tight flan, scratches, tiny edge cracks, weight 2.827 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, die axis 180o, Alexandria mint, Feb 194 - 195 A.D.; obverse IMP CAE L SEP SEV PERT AVG, laureate head right; reverse APOLLINI AVGVSTO, Apollo standing slightly left, head left, patera in extended right hand, kithara in left hand; rare; $120.00 (102.00)


Roman Republic, Lucius Scribonius Libo, 62 B.C.

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The ruins of the Puteal Scribonianum were discovered in the Forum in 1950's. The reverse is either a play on Scribonius' name or the origin of his family name and the Scribonianum were related. Perhaps he was also a music lover explaining the lyres. The same type was also minted with an anvil or tongs in place of the hammer. Sear indicates the tools are symbolic of the moneyer's position. -- Roman Coins and Their Values by David R. Sear

Crawford believes the lyres may be purely decorative and the tools, symbols of Vulcan, recall that the Puteal was located on a spot that was struck by lightning. -- Roman Republican Coinage by Michael H. Crawford
RR88399. Silver denarius, Crawford 416/1a, Sydenham 928, RSC I Scribonia 8a, BMCRR I Rome 3377, RBW Collection 1500, SRCV I 367, gVF, toned well centered and struck, porous, weight 3.940 g, maximum diameter 18.9 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 62 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Bonus Eventus right, BON EVENT downward before, LIBO downward behind; reverse Puteal Scribonianum, ornamented with garland and two lyres, hammer at base, PVTEAL above, SCRIBON in exergue; $120.00 (102.00)


Julia Domna, Augusta 194 - 8 April 217 A.D.

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Cybele was born a hermaphrodite, but castrated by the gods, she became female. Heeding the Sibylline oracle, the senate brought her worship 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.
RS89456. Silver denarius, RIC IV S564; RSC III 123; BMCRE V p. 163, S51; Hunter III p. 42, S11; SRCV II 6593, Choice VF, well centered and struck, a few light marks, small coppery spots, edge cracks, weight 3.380 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, c. 205 A.D.; obverse IVLIA AVGVSTA, draped bust right; reverse MATER DEVM (mother of the gods), Cybele seated left between two lions, wearing towered crown, branch in right hand, scepter in left hand, resting left arm on drum; scarce; $110.00 (93.50)


Pheneos, Arkadia, Peloponnesos, Greece, c. 300 - 240 B.C.

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Feneos lies at the foot of Mount Cyllene, mythical birthplace of the god Hermes. It therefore was an important cult center for the god, notably during the annual festival of the Hermaea. Catullus (Poem 68) mentions the seasonal flooding of the plain and says it was drained by an underground channel dug by Hercules during his Twelve Labors. According to Herodotus the river Styx originates near Feneos. In the Aeneid, Evander's fond memories of a visit by Aeneas' father Anchises to Feneos are one factor in his decision to ally his Arcadian colonists to the Trojans.
GB85884. Bronze chalkous, BCD Peloponnesos 1629; Imhoof-Blumer MG 257; Trait III 905 & pl. CCXXV, 13; HGC 5 995 (R2); SNG Cop -; BMC Peloponnesus -, F, dark olive green patina, reverse slightly off center, weight 2.693 g, maximum diameter 15.1 mm, die axis 0o, Pheneos (Feneos, Greece) mint, c. 300 - 240 B.C.; obverse head of Artemis Heurippa right, quiver behind; reverse hound running right, ΦE above, syrinx (Pan pipes) below; ex J. Cohen Collection; very rare; $100.00 (85.00)


Commodus, March or April 177 - 31 December 192 A.D.

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The Temple of Apollo Palatinus, on the Palatine Hill, was dedicated by Octavian on 9 October 28 B.C. in return for vows made for his victories over Sextus Pompeius at the Battle of Naulochus in 36 B.C. and over Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium 31 B.C. It was built on a site where a lightning bolt had struck. Augustus' private house was directly connected to the terrace of the sanctuary. Ancient sources state the temple had ivory doors and held numerous works of sculpture. The remains were excavated in the 1960s.
RS85050. Silver denarius, Szaivert MIR 18 p.165, 805; BMCRE IV 271, pl. 97, 17 (aureus); RIC III 197 (S) var. (obv. leg.), RSC II 30 var. (same), Hunter II - (clv), F, dark deposits, rough, lamination defects, edge cracks, weight 2.082 g, maximum diameter 17.4 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 189 A.D.; obverse M COMM ANT P FEL AVG BRIT P P, laureate head right; reverse APOLLINI PALATINO, Apollo Palatinus standing facing, head right, laureate and wearing long robe, plectrum in right hand, lyre resting on a column in left hand; there were only two specimens of this type in the Reka Devnia Hoard, and there are none on coin archives.; extremely rare; $100.00 (85.00)




  



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