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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Themes & Provenance| ▸ |Gods, Olympians||View Options:  |  |  |   

The Twelve Olympians on Ancient Coins

The Twelve Olympians, the principal gods of the Greek pantheon, residing atop Mount Olympus, included the following gods:

Greek

Roman

Zeus

Jupiter

Hera

Juno

Poseidon

Neptune

Demeter

Ceres

Ares

Mars

Hermes

Mercury

Hephaestus

Vulcan

Aphrodite

Venus

Athena

Minerva

Apollo

Apollo

Artemis

Diana

Hestia

Vesta


Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, Ptolemy IV Philopator, 221 - 204 B.C.

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Ptolemy IV's surname, Philopator, means father lover, ironic since according to some authorities he poisoned his father. Ptolemy IV is a major protagonist of the apocryphal 3 Maccabees, which describes events following the Battle of Raphia, in both Jerusalem and Alexandria. He was a cruel and evil monarch.
SH93419. Bronze drachm, Lorber CPE B495; Svoronos 1125; Noeske 140 ff.; SNG Cop 199; Weiser 49; BMC Ptolemies p. 57, 106 ff.; Hosking -, Choice EF, beautiful depiction of Zeus, perfect centering, slight weakness in hair, light deposits, central depressions, beveled obverse edge, weight 68.235 g, maximum diameter 41.7 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, c. 219 - 204 B.C.; obverse horned head of Zeus Ammon right, wearing taenia; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ (King Ptolemy), eagle standing left on thunderbolt, wings closed, filleted cornucopia left, ∆I between eagle's legs; from the Errett Bishop Collection, a superb and massive 68g Ptolemaic bronze!; $1100.00 (€968.00)


Britannicus, Son of Claudius and Messalina, b. 12 February 41 - d. 11 February 55 A.D., Alabanda, Caria

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Of this type, RPC I notes, "Uncertain. This coin was published by Mi 3.307.22, and is known from a Mionnet cast. The coin [the Mionnet specimen] has been tooled ('médaille retourchée') but may perhaps represent a genuine denomination." Our coin allays the RPC I doubts. The denomination is 1/3 of 18.5g RPC I 2818.
SH88430. Orichalcum AE 23, RPC I 2821 (= Mionnet III, p. 307, 22), F, porous, weight 6.496 g, maximum diameter 23.3 mm, die axis 0o, Alabanda (Doganyurt, Aydin, Turkey) mint, 50 - 54 A.D.; obverse KΛAV∆IOC BPETANNIKOC KAIΣAP, bare-headed and draped bust right; reverse AΛABAN∆EΩN, Apollo Kissios standing left, nude, bow in right hand with raven on top, sheep standing left at feet on left ; ex Forum (2013), ex J. S. Wagner Collection; of greatest rarity; $990.00 (€871.20)


Macedonian Kingdom, Philip III Arrhidaeus, 323 - 317 B.C.

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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.
SL89735. Silver drachm, Price P56, SNG München 947, SNG Cop 1105, HGC 3.1, 974e (S), Müller Alexander -, SNG Alpha Bank -, NGC MS, 5/5 strike, 5/5 surface, fine style (4629644-013), weight 4.26 g, maximum diameter 15.6 mm, die axis 0o, Ionia, Magnesia ad Maeandrum (near Tekin, Turkey) mint, struck under Menander or Kleito, c. 323 - 319 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean lion scalp headdress; reverse Zeus seated left on throne without back, nude to waist, himation around hips and legs, feet on footstool, right leg drawn back, eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, IAT monogram left, ΦIΛIΠΠOY downward on right; ex Giessener Munzhandlung D. Gorny GmbH; $750.00 (€660.00)


Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, Ptolemy III Euergetes, 246 - 222 B.C.

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Ptolemy III Euergetes was the third ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt. He promoted the translation of Jewish scriptures into Greek as the Septuagint. Due to a falling out at the Seleucid court, his eldest sister Berenice Phernophorus was murdered along with her infant son. In response, he invaded Syria, occupied Antioch, and even reached Babylon. This war, the Third Syrian War, is cryptically alluded to in Daniel XI 7-9. The Ptolemaic kingdom reached the height of its power during his reign.
GP93402. Bronze hemidrachm, Lorber CPE B936; Svoronos 965; SNG Cop 173; Weiser 72; BMC Ptolemies p. 55, 89; SNG Milan 166; SNG Blackburn 1165; Noeske 120; Hosking 31; Weber 8259, Choice EF, attractive style, well centered, mottled burgundy, red, brown and olive patina, ares of light corrosion, central depressions,, weight 30.905 g, maximum diameter 35.7 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 246 - 222 B.C.; obverse horned head of Zeus Ammon right, wearing taenia; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ (King Ptolemy), eagle standing left on thunderbolt, head left, wings closed, filleted cornucopia left, chi-rho monogram between eagle's legs; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $700.00 (€616.00)


Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, Ptolemy II Philadelphos, 285 - 246 B.C.

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Huge 71.416 g, 46.8 mm bronze! The largest of all Ptolemaic bronze coin types.
GP92402. Bronze octobol, Lorber CPE B365; Svoronos 446; Weiser 19; BMC Ptolemies p. 37, 158; SNG Cop 142; Noeske 64; Hosking 13; Malter 67, gVF, well centered on a broad flan, partial red encrustation/patina, light double strike on reverse, central depressions, beveled obverse edge, weight 71.416 g, maximum diameter 46.8 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 285 - 246 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Zeus-Ammon right; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ (King Ptolemy), eagle standing left on thunderbolt, wings open, head turned back right, E between legs; from a New England Collector; scarce; $630.00 (€554.40)


Eastern Celts, Imitative of Philip II of Macedonia, "Dachreiter" Type, 2nd - 1st Century B.C.

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Although the body and head of the horseman on the prototype drachm of Philip III of Macedonia have been replaced by an S-shaped line over three pellets, the horseman's leg can still be found on the side of the horse!
SH89462. Silver tetradrachm, Göbl OTA tf. 15, 170/4; Lanz 448, aVF, light toning, reverse slightly off center, light marks, weight 11.953 g, maximum diameter 21.7 mm, die axis 0o, tribal mint, 2nd - 1st century B.C.; obverse laureate and bearded head of Zeus right; reverse stylized horseman prancing left, rider's head and body reduced to an S-shaped line over three pellets, leg of horseman on side of the horse; $600.00 (€528.00)


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

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The use of perspective is rare on ancient coins!

Heliopolis in Coele-Syria was made a colonia with the rights of the ius Italicum by Septimius Severus in 193. Work on the religious complex at Heliopolis lasted over a century and a half and was never completed. The Temple of Jupiter, the largest religious building in the entire Roman Empire, was dedicated during the reign of Septimius Severus. Today, only six Corinthian columns remain standing. Eight more were shipped to Constantinople under Justinian's orders c. 532 - 537, for his basilica of Hagia Sophia.
RY89044. Bronze AE 25, Sawaya series 22, 294 - 295 (D56/R118); Lindgren III 1271 (same dies); SNG Cop 429; BMC Galatia p. 290, 2; Price-Trell 702, VF, green patina, earthen deposits, weight 11.386 g, maximum diameter 25.3 mm, die axis 180o, Heliopolis (Baalbek, Lebanon) mint, emission 5, 209 - 210 A.D.; obverse L SEPTIMIVS SEVERVS AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse decastyle temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus Heliopolitanus, on a high podium, with steps in front, aerial view in perspective from above the left front corner, I O M H (Iovi Optimo Maximo Heliopolitano) above, COL HEL (Colonia Heliopolitana) below; ex John Jencek; $550.00 (€484.00)


Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, Ptolemy III Euergetes, 246 - 222 B.C.

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Ptolemy III Euergetes promoted the translation of Jewish scriptures into Greek as the Septuagint. Due to a falling out at the Seleucid court, his eldest sister Berenice Phernophorus was murdered along with her infant son. In response, he invaded Syria, occupied Antioch, and even reached Babylon. This war, the Third Syrian War, is cryptically alluded to in Daniel XI 7-9. The Ptolemaic kingdom reached the height of its power during his reign.
GP93422. Bronze drachm, Lorber CPE B395, Svoronos 964; Weiser 71; SNG Cop 171; SNG Milan 155; Hosking 30; BMC Ptolemies p. 55, 87, Choice aEF, attractive very unusual multicolored patina, well centered and struck, central depressions, weight 70.142 g, maximum diameter 42.8 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 246 - 222 B.C.; obverse horned head of Zeus Ammon right, wearing taenia; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ (King Ptolemy), eagle standing left on thunderbolt, wings closed, filleted cornucopia left, chi-rho monogram between eagle's legs; from the Errett Bishop Collection, ex Numismatic Art and Ancient Coins (Zurich); a massive 70 gram Ptolemaic bronze!; $550.00 (€484.00)


Macedonian Kingdom, Antigonus II Gonatas, 277 - 239 B.C.

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Antigonus II Gonatas was a powerful ruler who solidified the position of the Antigonid dynasty in Macedon after a long period defined by anarchy and chaos and acquired fame for his victory over the Gauls who had invaded the Balkans. He was the grandson of Antigonus I Monophthalmus, who then controlled much of Asia. His maternal grandfather was Antipater. who controlled Macedonia and the rest of Greece and was recognized as regent of the empire, which in theory remained united.
SL89733. Silver drachm, Panagopoulou 152; AMNG III-2 p. 187, 5; SNG Cop 1203; SNG Mün 1079; SNG Alpha Bank 984; SNG Lockett 1526; SNG Berry 360; HGC 3.1 1044 (R3), NGC Ch VF, strike 4/5, surface 3/5 (4629570-003), weight 3.59 g, maximum diameter 15.9 mm, die axis 0o, Pella mint, 272 - 239 B.C.; obverse wreathed head of Poseidon right; reverse Athena Alkidemos advancing left, brandishing thunderbolt in right hand, shield decorated with aegis on left arm, Macedonian helmet inner left, TI inner right, BAΣIΛEΩΣ (Greek: king) downward on right, ANTIΓONOY downward on left; ex CNG Triton IX (10 Jan 2006), lot 829 (realized $600 plus fees); ex Robert Weimer Collection; very rare; $540.00 (€475.20)


Alabanda, Caria, c. 162 - 161 B.C., Civic Coinage in the Types and Name of Alexander the Great

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Alabanda was on the river Marsyas, about twenty miles south of its confluence with the Maeander. It allied with Rome in the war against Philip V of Macedon, c. 197 B.C. Antiochus III took it soon after and renamed it Antiocheia until his defeat in 190 B.C. at the battle of Magnesia. Price dated this series of Alexandrine tetradrachms beginning in 173 B.C. and ending in 167 B.C., when Alabanda was defeated after invading Rhodian territory. Cohen begins the era in 167 B.C., after Caria and Lycia were declared free by the Roman Senate.
SH91501. Silver tetradrachm, Price 2466, Müller Alexander 1148, SNG Cop 757, Cohen DCA 311, Choice VF, centered on a very broad flan, toned, light graffiti (MENA?) in obverse right field, weight 16.484 g, maximum diameter 33.1 mm, die axis 0o, Alabanda (Doganyurt, Aydin, Turkey) mint, c. 162 - 161 B.C.; obverse head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean Lion skin, scalp over head, forepaws tied at neck; reverse Zeus Aëtophoros seated left, nude to waist, himation around hips and legs, right leg drawn back, eagle in extended right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand, Pegasos flying left in lower left field, AΛEΞAN∆POY downward behind, (year 6) under throne; from the Maxwell Hunt Collection; $500.00 (€440.00)




  



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The first ancient reference of religious ceremonies for the 12 Olympians is found in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes.

There was a great deal of fluidity when it came to who was counted among their number in antiquity. Around 400 B.C. Herodorus included in his Dodekatheon the following deities: Zeus, Poseidon, Hera, Athena, Hermes, Apollo, Alpheus, Cronus, Rhea and the Charites. Herodotus includes Heracles as one of the Twelve.

Lucian also includes Heracles, and also includes Asklepios, as members of the Twelve, without explaining which two had to give way for them. At Kos, Heracles and Dionysus are added to the Twelve, and Ares and Hephaestus are left behind. However, Pindar, Apollodorus, and Herodorus disagree with this. For them Heracles is not one of the Twelve Gods, but the one who established their cult.

Plato connected the Twelve Olympians with the twelve months, and proposed that the final month be devoted to rites in honor of Pluto and the spirits of the dead, implying that he considered Hades, one of the basic chthonic deities, to be one of the Twelve. Hades is phased out in later groupings due to his chthonic associations. In Phaedrus Plato aligns the Twelve with the Zodiac and would exclude Hestia from their rank.

Hestia is sometimes displaced by Dionysus. Hebe, Helios and Persephone are other important gods, goddesses, which are sometimes included in a group of twelve.

The Twelve Olympians gained their supremacy in the world of gods after Zeus led his siblings to victory in war with the Titans. Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Hestia, and Hades were siblings. Ares, Hermes, Hephaestus, Aphrodite, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, the Charites, Heracles, Dionysus, Hebe, and Persephone were children of Zeus. Although some versions of the myth state that Hephaestus was born of Hera alone.


Catalog current as of Tuesday, November 12, 2019.
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Olympians