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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Gods, Olympians ▸ Athena or MinervaView Options:  |  |  |   

Athena or Minerva on Ancient Coins

Athena was the virgin goddess of wisdom, crafts, and battle strategy. Her symbols are the olive tree and the owl. She is the daughter of Zeus, according to some traditions by Metis.


Pontic Kingdom, Mithradates VI, c. 120 - 63 B.C., Lysimachos Type

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Mithradates VI Eupator "the Great"expanded his Pontic Kingdom through conquest, which inevitably brought him into conflict with Rome. Mithradates regarded himself as the champion of the Greeks against Rome, however, after three years of war, he was defeated by Pompey the Great. The design of this coin is taken from a coin of Lysimachos, bodyguard of Alexander the Great, and King of Thrace 323 - 281 B.C. The Lysimachos coin depicted Alexander the Great on the obverse. The features of the obverse portrait on this type are those of Mithradates VI.
SH88831. Gold stater, Callata˙ p. 140, pl. XXXVII (D3/R1); AMNG I 263; HGC 3.2 1824; SNG Cop 1089 var. (control), VF, struck with worn dies, weight 8.206 g, maximum diameter 20.8 mm, die axis 0o, Kallatis mint, First Mithradatic War, c. 88 - 86 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Alexander the Great right wearing the horn of Ammon; reverse Athena seated left, Victory crowning name with wreath held in Athena's extended right hand, resting left elbow on round shield leaning on back of seat, A∆ monogram (control) inner left, KAΛ below seat, trident in exergue ornamented with two small dolphins, ΛYΣIMAXOY downward on left, BAΣIΛEΩΣ downward on right; Kirk Davis, catalog 70, lot 11; $2200.00 (€1870.00)
 


Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 454 - 404 B.C., Old Style Tetradrachm

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The old-style tetradrachm of Athens is famous for its almond shaped eye, archaic smile, and charming owl reverse. Around 480 B.C. a wreath of olive leaves and a decorative scroll were added to Athena's helmet. On the reverse, a crescent moon was added.

During the period 449 - 413 B.C. huge quantities of tetradrachms were minted to finance grandiose building projects such as the Parthenon and to cover the costs of the Peloponnesian War.
GS88879. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG München 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, Choice EF, well centered, some luster, light marks, small edge splits, weight 17.186 g, maximum diameter 24.9 mm, die axis 15o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 404 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves and floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair in parallel curves; reverse owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; $1000.00 (€850.00)
 


Lapethos, Cyprus, King Sidqmelek, c. 449 - 420 B.C.

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Excavation finds date Lapithos to as early as 3000 B.C. In the 4th century B.C., Lapithos was one of the nine kingdoms of Cyprus. During the Persian rule, Lapithos was settled by Phoenicians. After Peisistratos, king of Lapithos, along with Nicocreon of Salamis, and Stasanor of Curion helped Alexander the Great capture Tyre, Alexander declared Cyprus free. The last king of Lapethos, Praxippos, was subdued by Ptolemy I in 312 B.C. Under Roman rule, Lapethos had more than 10,000 inhabitants, produced copper, earthenware and produce, and was a port and a shipyard. Lapethos was given the name Lambousa ("shining") perhaps because of its beauty or perhaps because of its lighthouse. The apostles Paul, Barnabas, and Mark passed by Lapethos coming from Tarsus. According to Barnabas, during his second tour with Mark, they stayed outside the walls because they were denied access to the city. In late antiquity, Lapethos enjoyed great prosperity but was heavily damaged by Arab incursions. The population often had to flee and take refuge in the interior. After the Byzantine recovery of Cyprus from the Arabs in 965, Lapithos's refugees returned to rebuild, but chose to stay away from the sea, relocating it at the foot of mountain Pentadactylos.
GS87792. Silver stater, BMC Cyprus p. 30 f., 7-9, pl. VI, 6-8; Traité II p. 823, 1361-1363 and pl. CXXXVI; Bank of Cyprus p. 94 & pl. VII, 2; Tziambazis 48, F, struck with worn damaged dies, weight 10.789 g, maximum diameter 21.5 mm, die axis 180o, Lapethos (Lambousa, Cyprus) mint, c. 449 - 420 B.C.; obverse Phoenician legend: King of Lapethos, head of Athena left, wearing a crested Corinthian helmet; reverse Phoenician legend: of Sidqmelek, head of Athena facing, wearing a double-crested helmet with bull’s horn and ears, all within an incuse square; very rare; $650.00 (€552.50)
 


Clodius Albinus, Late 195 or Early 196 - 19 February 197 A.D.

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Minerva, equated with the Greek Athena, was the Roman virgin warrior goddess of poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, weaving, crafts, magic, and the inventor of music. She was worshiped on the Capitoline Hill as one of the Capitoline Triad along with Jupiter and Juno.
RS87640. Silver denarius, RIC IV 7 (R1), BMCRE V 98, Hunter III 6, RSC III 48, SRCV II 6144, gVF, nice portrait, well centered on a tight flan, light toning, flow lines, small edge crack, weight 3.497 g, maximum diameter 18.1 mm, die axis 135o, Rome mint, as caesar, 194 A.D.; obverse D CLOD SEPT ALBIN CAES, bare head right; reverse MINER PACIF COS II, Minerva, helmeted, standing left, olive branch in right hand, resting left on grounded shield, spear leans against arm; scarce (R1); $440.00 (€374.00)
 


Seleukid Kingdom, Seleukos VI Epiphanes Nikator, c. 96 - 94 B.C.

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Seleucia ad Calycadnum (Silifke, Turkey) is near the Mediterranean coast, a few miles inland from the mouth on the Göksu River. It was founded by Seleucus I Nicator in the early 3rd century B.C., one of several cities he named after himself. The towns Olbia (or Olba) and Hyria were probably united to populate the new city. The residents of the nearby Holmi moved to Seleucia because the coast was vulnerable to raiders and pirates. Seleucia achieved considerable commercial prosperity as a port for this corner of Cilicia (later named Isauria), and was even a rival of Tarsus. Cilicia thrived as a province of the Romans, and Seleucia became a religious center with a renowned Temple of Jupiter. It was also the site of a noted school of philosophy and literature, the birthplace of peripatetics Athenaeus and Xenarchus.
GS87612. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton-Lorber II 2405(9); SNG Spaer 2782, Kraay-Mřrkholm Essays p. 93, 59 ff.; HGC 9 2405, VF, toned, well centered on a tight flan, light scratches and marks, weight 14.620 g, maximum diameter 29.8 mm, die axis 0o, Seleukeia on the Kalykadnos mint, c. 96 - 94 B.C.; obverse diademed head of the Seleukos VI right, diadem ends falling straight behind, fillet border; reverse Athena standing left, Nike standing right offering wreath in Athena's right hand, left hand resting on grounded shield, grounded spear vertical behind, ANEIΣI (ANE ligate) downward inner left; $260.00 (€221.00)
 


Seleukid Kingdom, Antiochus VII Euergetes Sidetes, 138 - 129 B.C.

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Oliver Hoover, in Coins of the Seleucid Empire from the Collection of Arthur Houghton, attributes this type to the Cappadocian Kingdom, c. 130 - 80 B.C. The symbols were used on Cappadocian royal coinage, the coins are found in Cappadocian hoards and a tetradrachm naming the Cappadocian King Ariarathes VII Philometor (116 - 99 B.C.) bears the obverse portrait of Antiochus VII. He notes they may have been struck to pay foreign (Syrian?) mercenaries who preferred the types of Antiochus VII.
GS87618. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton-Lorber II 2061.1s, Newell SMA 280, SNG Spaer 1852, HGC 9 1067d, VF, well centered on a broad flan, light bumps and marks, small spots of light corrosion on the obverse, weight 16.109 g, maximum diameter 31.7 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 138 - 129 B.C.; obverse diademed head of the Seleukid King Antiochos VII right, fillet border; reverse Athena standing slightly left, head left, right hand extended through inscription to border holding Nike, grounded shield in left hand, spear leaning on left arm, BAΣIΛEΩΣ / ANTIOXOY in two downward lines on right, EYEPΓETOY downward on left, ligate ∆I over Λ outer left, laurel wreath border; $260.00 (€221.00)
 


Seleukid Kingdom, Antiochus VII Euergetes Sidetes, 138 - 129 B.C.

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Oliver Hoover, in Coins of the Seleucid Empire from the Collection of Arthur Houghton, attributes this type to the Cappadocian Kingdom, c. 130 - 80 B.C. The symbols were used on Cappadocian royal coinage, the coins are found in Cappadocian hoards and a tetradrachm naming the Cappadocian King Ariarathes VII Philometor (116 - 99 B.C.) bears the obverse portrait of Antiochus VII. He notes they may have been struck to pay foreign (Syrian?) mercenaries who preferred the types of Antiochus VII.
GS87616. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton-Lorber II 2061.1s, Newell SMA 280, SNG Spaer 1852, HGC 9 1067d, VF, slightly off center, corrosion, light scratches, weight 16.461 g, maximum diameter 31.6 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 138 - 129 B.C.; obverse diademed head of the Seleukid King Antiochos VII right, fillet border; reverse Athena standing slightly left, head left, right hand extended through inscription to border holding Nike, grounded shield in left hand, spear leaning on left arm, BAΣIΛEΩΣ / ANTIOXOY in two downward lines on right, EYEPΓETOY downward on left, ligate ∆I over Λ outer left, laurel wreath border; $240.00 (€204.00)
 


Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 393 - 297 B.C.

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GS86848. Silver obol, cf. Svoronos Athens pl. 22, 1 ff.; HGC 4 1666 (R1); Kroll -; SNG Cop -, gVF, toned, tight flan, weight 0.695 g, maximum diameter 8.7 mm, die axis 270o, Athens mint, c. 393 - 297 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet with three olive leaves over visor and a spiral palmette on the bowl, hair in parallel curves, eye in profile; reverse owl standing right, head facing, sprig of one olive and one large leaf behind, all in incuse square, AΘE downward on right; ex Beast Coins; rare; $215.00 (€182.75)
 


Kamarina, Sicily, 413 - 405 B.C.

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Kamarina was suffering a plague. A marsh north of the city was the suspected source. The town oracle advised them not to drain the marsh, but in 405 B.C., the leaders ignored the advice. Once the marsh was dry, there was nothing to stop the Carthaginian army. They marched across the newly drained marsh, razed the city, and killed every last inhabitant.
GI88919. Bronze tetras, Westermark-Jenkins 200; Calciati III pp. 63 - 65, 33; BMC Sicily p. 40; 40; SNG München 415; SNG ANS 1228; SNG Cop 169; HGC 2 548, VF, well centered, bold strike, brown patina, porous, weight 3.263 g, maximum diameter 15.0 mm, die axis 0o, Kamarina (near Scoglitti, Sicily, Italy) mint, 413 - 405 B.C.; obverse head of Athena left, wearing crested Attic helmet decorated with wing, dot border; reverse owl standing left on left leg, head facing, lizard in right talon, KAMA downward on right, three pellets (mark of value) in exergue; $200.00 (€170.00)
 


Kamarina, Sicily, 413 - 405 B.C.

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Kamarina was suffering a plague. A marsh north of the city was the suspected source. The town oracle advised them not to drain the marsh, but in 405 B.C., the leaders ignored the advice. Once the marsh was dry, there was nothing to stop the Carthaginian army. They marched across the newly drained marsh, razed the city, and killed every last inhabitant.
GI88921. Bronze tetras, Westermark-Jenkins 200; Calciati III pp. 63 - 65, 33; BMC Sicily p. 40; 40; SNG München 415; SNG ANS 1228; SNG Cop 169; HGC 2 548, VF, well centered, brown patina, scratches, earthen deposits, weight 2.925 g, maximum diameter 14.2 mm, die axis 0o, Kamarina (near Scoglitti, Sicily, Italy) mint, 413 - 405 B.C.; obverse head of Athena left, wearing crested Attic helmet decorated with wing, dot border; reverse KAMA (downward on right), owl standing left on left leg, head facing, lizard in right talon, three pellets (mark of value) in exergue; $200.00 (€170.00)
 




  



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REFERENCES

de Callata˙, F. "Le monnayage d'argent au type d'Athéna Parthénos émis au nom des Ainianes" in Obolos 7.
Houghton, A. "The Seleucid Mint of Mallus And the Cult Figure of Athena Magarsia" in Studies Mildenberg.
Imhoof-Blumer, F. "Die Flügelgestalten der Athena und Nike auf Münzen" in NZ III (1871)., pp. 1 - 50.

Catalog current as of Sunday, March 24, 2019.
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Athena or Minerva