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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ MythologyView Options:  |  |  | 

Mythology and the Ancient Gods

Many ancient coins depict the gods and goddesses of the Greeks, Romans and other ancient cultures. Collecting as many different gods and goddesses as possible is a fun, educational and affordable collecting theme. Every ancient gods and goddesses has their mythical function, biography, lineage and other facts and fictions that make them interesting. Here we will present as many different gods and goddesses as we can and provide some of the stories about them that fascinate us. We hope they fascinate you too.


Roman Republic, C. Sulpicius C. f. Galba, 106 B.C.

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Crawford interprets this type as Aeneas landing in Lanuvium (home of Sulpicia gens) with the Penates and the subsequent miracle of the white sow that foretold the founding of Alba Longa.
RR88378. Silver denarius serratus, BMCRR I Rome 1319 (also L), Crawford 312/1, Sydenham 572, RSC I Sulpicia 1, RBW Collection 1155, SRCV I 189, VF, attractive toning, nice style, light marks, weight 3.643 g, maximum diameter 20.3 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 106 B.C.; obverse conjoined laureate heads of the Dei Penates left, DPP (Dei Penates Publici) downward on left; reverse the Dei Penates standing facing each other, heads bare, wearing military garb, each holding a spear in left hand, each pointing at a large sow which lies between them, L (control letter) above center, CSVLPICICF in exergue; ex Wayne G. Sayles; $290.00 (246.50)


Roman Republic, Marcus Herennius, 108 - 107 B.C.

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The Cantanaean brothers, Amphinomus and Anapias, saved their parents after an eruption of Mt. Etna, carrying them on their shoulders to safety. This was a favorite story among the Romans, for whom duty to family was among the most important virtues, fundamental to the Roman ideal of pietas. This moneyer had some connection to Sicily.
RR88377. Silver denarius, Crawford 308/1a, RSC I Herennia 1, Sydenham 567, SRCV I 185, BMCRR I Rome 1263 var. (control), RBW Collection 1149 var. (control), Choice gVF, well centered and struck, light marks, frosty surfaces with slightest porosity, weight 3.791 g, maximum diameter 17.8 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 108 - 107 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Pietas right, PIETAS (TA ligate) downward behind, (control symbol) below chin; reverse one of Cantanaean brothers running right, nude, bearing his father on his shoulders, his father looking back and raising right hand, MHERENNI (HE ligate) downward on left; $225.00 (191.25)


Roman Republic, Manius Fonteius C.f., c. 85 B.C.

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Vejovis is a little-known Italian deity. He was worshiped in a temple on the Capitol in Rome. The reverse most likely depicts a statue that was beside the statue of Vejovis in the temple. This statue may refer to the infancy of Jupiter who was suckled by the goat Amaltheia on Mount Ida.

The thyrsus is the staff carried by Bacchus and his associates; topped by a pine cone or a bunch of ivy leaves and wreathed with tendrils of vine or ivy.
RR88392. Silver denarius, Crawford 353/1a, Sydenham 724, RSC I Fonteia 9, BMCRR I Rome 2476, RBW Collection 1350, SRCV I 271, VF, elegant style, light toning, scratches, some porosity, slight crease from scrape on reverse, weight 3.662 g, maximum diameter 21.1 mm, die axis 150o, Rome mint, c. 85 B.C.; obverse MN FONTEI C F (MN and NT in monogram) downward behind, laureate head of Vejovis right, thunderbolt below neck truncation, Roma monogram below chin; reverse Cupid seated on goat right, caps of the Dioscuri above, thyrsus of Bacchus in exergue, all within laurel wreath; $160.00 (136.00)


Maionia, Lydia, c. 161 - 217 A.D.

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Omphale was queen of the Lydian Kingdom, the wife of Tmolus, the oak-clad mountain king. After he was gored to death by a bull, she continued to reign on her own. She bought Herakles from Hermes, who sold him after an oracle declared Hercules must be sold into slavery for three years. Hercules had sought the oracle to learn what he must do to purify himself, after he murdered his friend Iphitus and stole the Delphic tripod. As a slave, Herakles was forced to do women's work and even wear women's clothing and hold a basket of wool while Omphale and her maidens did their spinning. Meanwhile, Omphale wore the skin of the Nemean Lion and carried Herakles' olive-wood club. But it was also during his stay in Lydia that Herakles captured the city of the Itones and enslaved them, killed Syleus who forced passersby to hoe his vineyard, and captured the Cercopes. He buried the body of Icarus and took part in the Calydonian Boar Hunt and the Argonautica. After some time, Omphale freed Herakles and took him as her husband. The Greeks did not recognize Omphale as a goddess. Omphale's name, connected with omphalos, a Greek word meaning navel (or axis), may, however, represent a Lydian earth goddess. Herakles' servitude and marriage may represent the servitude of the sun to the axis of the celestial sphere, the spinners being Lydian versions of the Moirae. This myth may have been an attempt to explain why the priests of Herakles wore female clothing.
GB86735. Bronze AE 20, RPC Online 132; SNG Cop 222; SNGvA 3011; SNG Mnchen 302; BMC Lydia p. 129, 17, VF, rough, reverse scratches, weight 5.130 g, maximum diameter 19.6 mm, die axis 180o, Maeonia mint, c. 161 - 217 A.D.; obverse bearded head of Herakles left; reverse MAIONΩN, Omphale advancing right, draped in Hercules lion skin, carrying his club in her left hand over her left shoulder; $135.00 (114.75)


Taras, Calabria, Italy, c. 380 - 355 B.C.

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Taras, the only Spartan colony, was founded in 706 B.C. The founders were Partheniae ("sons of virgins"), sons of unmarried Spartan women and Perioeci (free men, but not citizens of Sparta). These out-of-wedlock unions were permitted to increase the prospective number of soldiers (only the citizens could be soldiers) during the bloody Messenian wars. Later, however, when they were no longer needed, their citizenship was retroactively nullified and the sons were obliged to leave Greece forever. Their leader, Phalanthus, consulted the oracle at Delphi and was told to make the harbor of Taranto their home. They named the city Taras after the son of Poseidon, and of a local nymph, Satyrion. The reverse depicts Taras being saved from a shipwreck by a dolphin sent to him by Poseidon. This symbol of the ancient Greek city is still the symbol of modern Taranto today.
GI85329. Silver nomos, Fischer-Bossert group 40, 607 (V239/R464); Vlasto 454 (same dies); HN Italy 879; SNG Cop 820 (same); SNG ANS 938; BMC Italy p. 174, 107, F, tight flan cutting off youth's head, minor die damage (raised lump) below Θ, weight 7.689 g, maximum diameter 18.5 mm, die axis 180o, Taras (Taranto, Italy) mint, c. 380 - 355 B.C.; obverse nude youth on horseback standing right, right hand lowered behind him on horse's side, reins in left hand, left foreleg raised, Θ below horse; reverse Taras astride a dolphin left, kantharos in extended right hand, left hand behind on dolphin, TAPAΣ below; $105.00 (89.25)


Volusian, c. November 251 - July or August 253 A.D., Damascus, Syria

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Telephus (or Telephos) was the son of Herakles and Auge, daughter of King Aleus of Tegea. An oracle told King Aleus that he would be overthrown by his grandson, so he forced his daughter Auge to become a virgin priestess. After she was violated by Herakles, their son, the infant Telephus, was hidden in the temple but his cries revealed him. Aleus ordered Telephus exposed on Mt. Parthenion. He was saved by a doe Herakles sent to suckle him.
RY86711. Bronze AE 26, RPC Online IX 1968 (11 spec.); SNG Hunter 3461; De Saulcy 7; Lindgren I 2153; Rosenberger 59 var. (ram running in ex.); SNG Mn 1025 var. (same), F, desert patina, parts of legends weak, porous, weight 10.109 g, maximum diameter 25.9 mm, die axis 0o, Damascus mint, c. Nov 251 - Jul/Aug 253 A.D.; obverse D VIB GALLO VOLOSSIANO AVG, laureate head right, traces of drapery; reverse COL ∆AMA METR, hind (antlered doe) standing right, suckling infant Telephos seated left, ram's head right in exergue; ex J.S. Wagner Collection; scarce; $80.00 (68.00)


Severus Alexander, 13 March 222 - March 235 A.D., Damascus, Coele-Syria

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While playing the flute Athena saw her reflection in the water and disturbed by how her cheeks looked, puffed up while playing, threw away the instrument in disgust. The satyr Marsyas picked up the flute and since it had once been inspired by the breath of a goddess, it played beautifully on its own accord. Elated by his success, Marsyas challenged Apollo to a musical contest. For the prize, the victor could do what he pleased with the vanquished. The Muses were the umpires. Apollo played the cithara and Marsyas the flute. Only after Apollo added his voice to the music of his lyre was the contest decided in his favor. As a just punishment for the presumption of Marsyas, Apollo bound him to an evergreen tree and flayed him alive. His blood was the source of the river Marsyas, and Apollo hung up his skin, like a wine bag, in the cave out of which that river flows.
RP88149. Bronze AE 27, Mionnet V p. 292, 61; SNG Cop -; SNG Mnchen -; SNG Hunterian -; BMC Galatia -; Rosenberger IV -, Butcher -, aF, legends illegible, bumps and marks, porosity, weight 18.663 g, maximum diameter 27.2 mm, die axis 0o, Damascus mint, 13 Mar 222 - Mar 235 A.D.; obverse M AVP AΛEXAN∆ER CAICA, laureate and draped bust right, from the front; reverse COL ∆AMAC MET, satyr Marsyas, on left, standing half left before a cypress tree, raising right hand, wineskin on left shoulder; ex J.S. Wagner Collection; extremely rare; $70.00 (59.50)







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Mythology