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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Types ▸ Medical & HealthView Options:  |  |  |   

Medical & Health on Ancient Coins

Caracalla, 28 January 198 - 8 April 217 A.D., Serdica, Thrace

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Asklepios was the son of Apollo and a mortal woman named Coronis. Apollo killed Coronis for being unfaithful but rescued the unborn Asklepios from her womb. Apollo carried the baby to the centaur Chiron who raised Asclepius and instructed him in the art of medicine. In return for some kindness, a snake taught him secret knowledge of healing. Asclepius became so proficient as a healer that he surpassed both Chiron and his father, Apollo. Asclepius was even able to evade death and to bring the dead back to life. Zeus killed him to restore balance to the human population but later resurrected Asclepios as a god to prevent a feud with Apollo. Zeus instructed Asclepios to never revive the dead without his approval.
RP84488. Bronze AE 30, H-J Serdica 12.18.20.13 (R5), Varbanov III 2204 var. (obv. leg.), Moushmov 154 var. (same), SNG Cop -, BMC Thrace -, VF, nice green patina, smoothing, some light corrosion, centration dimples, weight 14.349 g, maximum diameter 30.1 mm, die axis 180o, Serdica (Sofia, Bulgaria) mint, obverse AVK M AVPH ANTΩNINOC, laureate head right; reverse OVΛΠIAC CEP∆IKHC, Asclepius seated left on throne without back, torso bare, himation around hips and leges and over left shoulder, patera in right hand, snake-coiled staff in left hand; from the Dr. Sam Mansourati Collection, ex CNG e-auction 320 (12 Feb 2014), lot 281; this coin is the only example of the type on Coin Archives; very rare; $285.00 (253.65)


Romano-British Empire, Carausius, Mid 286 - Spring or Early Summer 293 A.D.

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References list numerous Carausius varieties with Pax reverse legends but depicting Salus and also types with Salus reverse legends but depicting Pax. The references provided for comparison list a PAX AVG, with Salus type, without controls or a mintmark; David Sear attributes to London, 286 - 287 A.D. References do not list our variety but other types with F - O across the field and ML in the exergue are attributed to London, c. 289 - 290 A.D. This is the only example of this variant known to Forum.
RA73904. Billon antoninianus, Apparently unpublished; cf. RIC V, part 2, 930 ff. (no mintmarks); Webb Carausius 1031 ff. (same); SRCV IV 13661 (same, London, 286 - 287), aVF, nice green patina, overstruck or double-struck, tight flan cutting off parts of legends and mintmark, weight 2.615 g, maximum diameter 20.3 mm, die axis 315o, Londinium(?) or unofficial(?) mint, 289 - 290 A.D.; obverse IMP CARAVS[IVS P AVG] (or similar), radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse PAX AVG[GG?], Salus standing half left, head left, feeding snake rising from altar at left from patera in her right hand, vertical scepter in left hand, [F?] - O flanking across the field, M[L?] in exergue; from the Charles Peters Carausius Collection; possibly unique!; $200.00 (178.00)


Magnia Urbica, Augusta middle 283 - middle 285 A.D.

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Salus was the Roman goddess of health. She was Hygieia to the Greeks, who believed her to be the daughter of Aesculapius, the god of medicine and healing, and Epione, the goddess of soothing of pain. Her father Asclepius learned the secrets of keeping death at bay after observing one snake bringing another snake healing herbs. Woman seeking fertility, the sick, and the injured slept in his temples in chambers where non-poisonous snakes were left to crawl on the floor and provide healing.
RA84361. Billon antoninianus, RIC V, part 2, 349 (R2); Cohen VI 7; SRCV III 12419; Hunter IV - (p. clxviii), F, well centered, porous, rough, edge chip, weight 3.044 g, maximum diameter 22.4 mm, die axis 0o, 1st officina, Siscia (Sisak, Croatia) mint, 284 A.D.; obverse MAGNIAE VRBICAE AVG, diademed and draped bust right, crescent behind shoulders; reverse SALVS PVBLICA (health of the public), Salus enthroned left, from patera in right hand, feeding snake rising up from altar on left, A (1st officina) right, SMSXXI in exergue; very rare; $170.00 (151.30)


Ptolemaic Kingdom, Kyrene, c. 322 - 313 B.C.

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Silphium grew only in Kyrenaica and most coins of the region, including this one, depict it. The stalk was eaten as a vegetable. Parts of the plant were used to treat all kinds of maladies including cough, sore throat, fever, indigestion, pain, and warts. The fruit was considered both an aphrodisiac and a contraceptive, and was worth its weight in denarii. Unfortunately, we will never know if its medicinal properties were real or imagined because the plant became extinct in the first century A.D. It's said that Nero ate the last plant.
GB84582. Bronze AE 14, Asolati 9, Mller Afrique 84, BMC Cyrenaica 199, SGCV II 6342, F, weight 3.923 g, maximum diameter 14.3 mm, die axis 270o, Kyrene mint, governor Ophellas, c. 322 - 313 B.C.; obverse head of Karneios right, [AN∆P]; reverse silphium plant, K-Y flanking across field; rare; $125.00 (111.25)


Claudius II Gothicus, September 268 - August or September 270 A.D.

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This coin, dedicated by the reverse legend to the health of the emperor, indicates Claudius was ill and vows had been made to Apollo, the god of medicine, for his recovery. Apollo and Diana were fraternal twins, and had a good sibling relationship. Perhaps she was also asked to help the emperor. Unfortunately, Apollo and Diane could not help Claudius. He died of the plague soon after this coin was struck.
RA77133. Billon antoninianus, MER-RIC 1088 (7 spec.), Huvelin NAC XIX 62, RIC V 219, Cohen VI 260, SRCV III 11369 var., F, well centered, highlighting earthen fill, cleaning scratches, weight 3.915 g, maximum diameter 20.8 mm, die axis 180o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, issue 4, c. mid 270; obverse IMP C CLAVDIVS AVG, radiate head left; reverse SALVS AVG (the health of the Emperor), Diana on left, standing right, drawing arrow from quiver with right hand, bow in left hand, facing Apollo, on right, standing left, olive branch in right hand, lyre resting on rock behind in left hand; rare; $110.00 (97.90)


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

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Tribal peoples outside the Empire struck coinage imitative of Roman types beginning in the second century B.C. and continued to strike imitative types even after the Western Empire ceased to exist. Several official issues used this reverse type, but the style is exotic and crude. These legends were never used on any official issues.
RS90412. Silver denarius, for possible prototype: cf. RIC IV 497a, RSC III 642 (Roman official, Laodicea ad Mare mint, 198 A.D.), VF, double struck, reverse off-center, weight 2.603 g, maximum diameter 18.1 mm, die axis 180o, unofficial mint, obverse [...] CAE L SEP SEV PERP IWC (or similar, blundered), laureate head right; reverse [...]TAS AVG P P (blundered, S reversed), Salus seated left, with patera in her right hand feeding snake rising from altar at her feet, cornucopia in left; $100.00 (89.00)


Philip I the Arab, February 244 - End of September 249 A.D.

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Salus was the Roman goddess of health. According to Strack III, p. 129, the idea behind the type is that the safety of the state is dependent on the health of the emperor. "For that reason Salus holds the rudder of Fortuna in some of these types, as an indication that the fate of the empire rests in her hands."
RB73723. Orichalcum sestertius, SRCV III 9016, Hunter III 76, Cohen V 206, RIC IV 187(a) var. (scepter vice rudder), VF/F, excellent portrait, grainy surfaces, light corrosion, weight 18.695 g, maximum diameter 30.1 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 244 - 245 A.D.; obverse IMP M IVL PHILIPPVS AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, seen from behind; reverse SALVS AVG (the health of the Emperor), Salus standing facing, head left, feeding snake coiled around altar, rudder vertical vertical behind in left, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking low across field; $100.00 (89.00)


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

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Akrasa is not the same as Nakrasa. The cities were near each other, along with Germe and Stratonicea in northern Lydia.
RP84689. Bronze AE 18, Weber III 6777; Hunterian II p. 447, 2; SNG Cop 8 var. (obv. leg.); SNGvA 2886 var. (same); BMC Lydia p. 13, 22 var. (same); SNG Mn 22 var. (same), F, well centered, dark green patina, weight 3.169 g, maximum diameter 18.3 mm, die axis 180o, Akrasos mint, obverse AV KA Λ C CEOVHPOC, laureate head of Septimius Severus right; reverse AKPCIΩTΩN, Asklepios standing slightly right, head turned back left, snake entwined staff in right hand; rare; $100.00 (89.00)


Antoninus Pius, August 138 - 7 March 161 A.D.

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Salus was the Roman goddess of health. She was Hygieia to the Greeks, who believed her to be the daughter of Aesculapius, the god of medicine and healing, and Epione, the goddess of soothing of pain. This coin, dedicated to the health of the emperor, probably indicates the emperor was at the time suffering from some disease, and sacred rites had been performed for his recovery.
RS71509. Silver denarius, RIC III 305, RSC II 741, BMCRE IV 988, SRCV II 4106, VF, nice portrait, toned, weight 3.372 g, maximum diameter 17.7 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 159 - 160 A.D.; obverse ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P TR P XXIII, laureate head right; reverse SALVTI AVG COS IIII, Salus standing left, from patera in right hand, feeding snake coiled around altar at feet on left, long scepter vertical behind in left; $90.00 (80.10)


Hierapolis, Phrygia, c. 218 - 268 A.D.

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Telesphorus was a son of Asclepius. He frequently accompanied his sister, Hygieia. He was a dwarf whose head was always covered with a cowl hood or cap. He symbolized recovery from illness, as his name means "the accomplisher" or "bringer of completion" in Greek. Representations of him are found mainly in Anatolia and along the Danube. Telesphorus is assumed to have been a Celtic god in origin, who was taken to Anatolia by the Galatians in the 3rd century B.C., where he would have become associated with the Greek god of medicine, Asclepius, perhaps in Pergamon (an Asclepian cult center) and spread again to the West due to the rise of the Roman Empire, in particular during the 2nd century A.D., from the reign of Hadrian.
RP77250. Bronze AE 23, Johnson Hierapolis 70 (3 spec.); BMC Phrygia p. 242, 86; SNG Cop 445; SNGvA -; SNG Tub -; SNG Mun -; SNG Hunt -; et al. -; c/m Howegego 278, aF, attractive for grade, weight 6.085 g, maximum diameter 23.4 mm, die axis 180o, Phrygia, Hierapolis (near Pamukkale, Turkey) mint, pseudo-autonomous, c. 218 - 268 A.D.; obverse IEPA CY-NKΛHTO-C, draped bust of the senate right; countermark: male figure standing, an uncertain object in right hand, scepter or spear in left hand, letter(s) in field, irregularly shaped punch; reverse IEPAΠOΛEITΩN NEΩKOP,ΩN (last two letters in left field), Hygieia seated left, kalathos on head, from phiale in her right hand, feeding snake rising before her, resting left elbow on cushion(?), small Telesphoros behind; very rare; $90.00 (80.10)




  



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Medical & Health