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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Military ▸ CombatView Options:  |  |  |   

Ancient Coins Depicting Combat

Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 140 - 175 A.D.

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King Minos demanded that, every ninth year, Athens send seven boys and seven girls to Crete to be devoured by the Minotaur, a half-man, half-bull monster that lived in the Labyrinth. Theseus, son of Aigeus, the king of Athens, volunteered to take the place of one of the youths and slay the monster to stop this horror. Upon his arrival to Crete, Ariadne, King Minos' daughter, fell in love with him and gave him a ball of thread to help him find his way out of the Labyrinth. Theseus promised Ariadne that if he escaped he would take her with him. Using the string to mark his path, he made his way to the heart of the Labyrinth, slew the Minotaur, followed the string out, and then rescued the Athenian boys and girls. Athena told Theseus to leave Ariadne and Phaedra behind on the beach. Distressed by his broken heart, Theseus forgot to put up the white sails that were to signal his success. Upon seeing black sails, his father committed suicide, throwing himself off a cliff into the sea, causing this body of water to be named the Aegean.
GB77873. Bronze drachm, BMC Attica p. 105, 764; SNG Cop 341; Svoronos Athens, pl. 96, 1; Kroll 276, aF, corrosion, weight 7.132 g, maximum diameter 23.7 mm, die axis 180o, Athens mint, pseudo-autonomous under Rome, c. 140 - 175 A.D.; obverse helmeted head of Athena right, wearing crested Corinthian helmet; reverse AΘHNAIΩN, Theseus right, preparing to slay the Minotaur, nude, planting knee on the back of Minotaur, raising club in his right hand, a horn of the Minotaur in his left hand, the Minotaur falling right on left knee; from the Butte College Foundation, ex Lindgren (Antioch Associates); very rare; $450.00 (400.50)


Lokris Opuntia, Lokris, Greece, c. 340 - 330 B.C.

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Lokrian Ajax (the Lesser) was a Greek mythological hero, son of Oileus, the king of Locris. Locrians are mentioned by Homer in the Iliad as following Ajax, the son of Oleus, to the Trojan War in forty ships, and as inhabiting the towns of Kynos, Opus, Calliarus, Besa, Scarphe, Augeiae, Tarphe, and Thronium. Lokrian Ajax was called the "lesser" or "Lokrian" Ajax, to distinguish him from Ajax the Great, son of Telamon. He is also mentioned in the Odyssey and Virgil's Aeneid.
GS83462. Silver triobol, BCD Lokris 98; BMC Central p. 2, 9; SNG Cop 50; SNG Lockett 1700; de Luynes 1958; Pozzi 1339; SGCV I 2330; HGC 4 997, aVF, attractive style, tight flan, etched surfaces, weight 2.385 g, maximum diameter 15.3 mm, die axis 0o, Lokris Opuntia mint, c. 340 - 330 B.C.; obverse head of Persephone right, wearing wreath of grain, single-pendant earring, and pearl necklace; reverse OΠONTIΩN, Ajax son of Oileus, advancing right in fighting attitude, nude but for crested Corinthian helmet, short sword in right hand, shield on left arm ornamented inside with coiled snake (control symbol), kantharos (control symbol) below; scarce; $270.00 (240.30)


Pharsalos, Thessaly, 3rd Century B.C.

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Pharsalos, built on a hillside of the Narthacius Mountains, was one of the main cities in Thessaly. In the Persian Wars, Pharsalos sided with the Athenians. In the early 4th century B.C., the city was a part of the Thessalian League. Later, it joined the Macedonian Kingdom under Philip II. The area became a theater of war where the Aetolians and the Thessalians clashed with the Macedonians, especially during the Second and the Third Macedonian Wars. After the defeat of the Macedonian Kingdom, Pharsalos and the whole area became a part of the Roman Republic. Pharsalos is famous for being the scene of the final battle between Caesar and Pompey.
GB73546. Bronze tetrachalkon, Lavva 326 (V170/R234), cf. BCD Thessaly 1299, BCD Thessaly II 674.6, HGC 4 649 (S), Rogers 505 (none with full reverse inscription), gF, green patina, strike a little weak in centers, weight 7.518 g, maximum diameter 21.1 mm, die axis 0o, Pharsalos (Farsala, Greece) mint, 3rd Century B.C.; obverse head of Athena Parthenos turned slightly to the left, wearing triple-crested Corinthian helmet, shield over her left shoulder, spear over her right shoulder; dot within Π left, dot border; reverse armored Thessalian horseman riding right, wielding flail overhead in right hand, reins in left hand; on far side at rear of horse, attendant walking right with spare flail in right hand over right shoulder, ΦAP-[ΣA?] above left, AΛN (sic) below; scarce; $240.00 (213.60)


Trajan, 25 January 98 - 8 or 9 August 117 A.D., Amphipolis, Macedonia

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Amphipolis was home to an imperial cult, worshiping the living emperor, and to a cult dedicated to Artemis Tauropolos. The obverse depicts Trajan as a military victor and probably copies an imperial statue. The reverse may depict a local statue of Artemis Tauropolos.
GB90406. Bronze AE 20, Lindgren II 978 (same dies), Varbanov 7179 (R7), AMNG III 79, Hunterian I 37, Moushmov 6068, SNG ANS -, SNG Cop -, SNG Tb, BMC Macedonia -, gF, centered, some porosity, weight 5.099 g, maximum diameter 20.4 mm, die axis 180o, Amphipolis mint, 25 Jan 98 - 8/9 Aug 117 A.D.; obverse KAICAP TPAIANOC, emperor on horseback galloping right, brandishing spear to strike a prostrate foe below; reverse AMΦIΠOΛEITWN, Artemis Tauropolos standing left, kalathos on head, long torch before her in right hand, small branch in left hand downward at side, grounded shield behind; rare; $160.00 (142.40)


Trajan, 25 January 98 - 8 or 9 August 117 A.D., Amphipolis, Macedonia

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Amphipolis was home to an imperial cult, worshiping the living emperor, and to a cult dedicated to Artemis Tauropolos. The obverse depicts Trajan as a military victor and probably copies an imperial statue. The reverse may depict a local statue of Artemis Tauropolos.
GB90707. Bronze AE 20, Lindgren II 978 (same dies), Varbanov 7179 (R7), AMNG III 79, Hunterian I 37, Moushmov 6068, SNG ANS -, SNG Cop -, SNG Tb, BMC Macedonia -, F, weight 6.620 g, maximum diameter 20.2 mm, die axis 180o, Amphipolis mint, 25 Jan 98 - 8/9 Aug 117 A.D.; obverse KAICAP TPAIANOC, emperor on horseback galloping right, brandishing spear to strike a prostrate foe below; reverse AMΦIΠOΛEITWN, Artemis Tauropolos standing left, kalathos on head, long torch before her in right hand, small branch in left hand downward at side, grounded shield behind; rare; $155.00 (137.95)


Constantius II, 22 May 337 - 3 November 361 A.D.

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Constantius II, unlike his father, allowed Christians to persecute pagans and Jews. Christian clergy inspired angry crowds, which attacked and destroyed synagogues and temples. On 7 May 351, a Jewish revolt broke out in Palestine. The rebels destroyed the Roman garrison in a surprise night attack and acquired the garrison's weapons. The rebels destroyed Diopolis and Tiberias and killed the people of different ethnicities, including Greeks and Samaritans. In 352, Constantius Gallus sent his general (magister equitum) Ursicinus to put down the revolt. Diocesarea, the epicenter of the revolt, was razed to the ground. Ursicinus ordered the execution of thousands of Jews, even children. After the revolt, a permanent garrison was stationed in Galilee.
RL90420. Billon heavy maiorina, RIC VIII Constantinople 82, LRBC II 2026, Voetter 28, SRCV V 18148, Cohen VII 44 var., gVF, excellent centering and bold strike, edge split, weight 6.037 g, maximum diameter 23.9 mm, die axis 180o, 1st officina, Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, 348 - 351 A.D.; obverse D N CONSTANTIVS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse FEL TEMP REPARATIO (happy times restored), soldier advancing left, in military garb, shield on his left arm, spearing a fallen enemy horseman, who is turned toward the soldier and raising his left hand, horseman's shield on the ground to right, Γ left, CONSA* in exergue; $125.00 (111.25)


Probus, Summer 276 - September 282 A.D.

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Forum attempts to list references from the most exact match to the least exact match. Cohen is rarely the first reference listed, but in this case it assigns a specific number to this type with this obverse legend and bust; RIC does not. Hunter could be listed first, but since it is specific even to the officina and not an exact match, it must be listed as a variation.
RA72853. Billon antoninianus, Cohen VI 912; Hunter IV 301 var. (4th officina); RIC V, part 2, 878; Pink VI-1, p. 63; SRCV III -, VF, full circles centering, excellent bust, much silvering, weight 3.761 g, maximum diameter 23.7 mm, die axis 0o, 1st officina, Serdica (Sofia, Bulgaria) mint, emission 4, 277 A.D.; obverse IMP C M AVR PROBVS AVG, radiate, helmeted and cuirassed bust left, spear in right hand over right shoulder, shield on left arm; reverse VIRTVS PROBI AVG (the valor of Emperor Probus), Probus on horseback prancing right, bare-headed, wearing military attire, shield on left arm, with right hand spearing barbarian who is before horse on one knee and raising his arms, shield on the ground under horse, KAA in exergue; $110.00 (97.90)


Smyrna, Ionia, c. 190 - 170 B.C.

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Apparently unpublished. The magistrate Pytheos is known at Smyrna but the type is not listed for Pytheos in the many references examined. We did find a couple of misdescribed examples online.

A cestus or caestus is an ancient battle glove, sometimes used in pankration. They were worn like today's boxing gloves but were made with leather strips and sometimes filled with iron plates or fitted with blades or spikes, and used as weapons.
GB84111. Bronze AE 13, cf. Milne Smyrna 1927, type L, 86; BMC Ionia p. 243, 61 ff.; SNG Cop 1166 f.; SNG Tb -; SNGvA -; Lindgren - (none by Pytheos), VF, attractive style, reverse off center, scratches, inscription weak, edge chip, weight 1.504 g, maximum diameter 13.2 mm, die axis 0o, Smyrna mint, magistrate Pytheos, c. 190 - 170 B.C.; obverse classical style laureate head of Apollo right, hair bunched in the back, loosely waved locks falling down neck; reverse two hands in caestus (fighting gloves) downward, the right hand is nearer with back of hand visible, the left hand is farther and clenched with palm facing, two palm fronds flanking forming arch above, ΠYΘEOΣ (magistrate name) downward on left, ZMYPNAIΩN downward on right; very rare; $100.00 (89.00)


Magnentius, 18 January 350 - 10 August 353 A.D.

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On 3 June 350, Iulius Nepotianus proclaimed himself emperor and entered Rome with a group of gladiators. On 30 June, Marcellinus, a trusted general of Magnentius, defeated and killed Nepotian. Nepotian's head was put on a lance and paraded around Rome.
RL84368. Billon heavy maiorina, Hunter V 51 (also 2nd officina), RIC VIII Arles 150, LRBC II 421, SRCV V 18800, Cohen VIII 20, VF, rough surfaces from light corrosion, tight flan, weight 5.061 g, maximum diameter 22.9 mm, die axis 0o, 2nd officina, Arletum (Arles, France) mint, 19 Jan 350 - 18 Aug 351 A.D.; obverse D N MAGNENTIVS P F AVG, bare-headed, draped, and cuirassed bust right, A behind; reverse GLORIA ROMANORVM (glory of the Romans), Magnentius on horse galloping right, wearing military dress, not holding shield, spearing a barbarian on right before horse who is kneeling left with outstretched hands, shield and broken spear on the ground below horse, star upper right, SAR in exergue; $95.00 (84.55)


Magnesia ad Maeandrum, Ionia, 350 - 300 B.C.

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Magnesia ad Maeandrum was an inland city of Ionia, located on a small tributary of the Maeander River about 12 miles southeast of Ephesus.
GB72671. Brass AE 28, Imhoof MG p. 291, 89; Mionnet III p. 145, 620; SNG Cop -; SNGvA -; BMC Ionia -, VF/F, some corrosion, weight 14.368 g, maximum diameter 27.5 mm, die axis 0o, Magnesia ad Maeandrum mint, Pausanias and Metrodoros, magistrates; obverse rider on horseback right, holding lance; reverse tripod lebes with dome cover tied with fillets, MAΓNHTΩN above, ΠAYΣANIAΣ to right, MHTPO∆OPOΣ to left, monogram in exergue; ex Roger Liles Collection; very rare; $80.00 (71.20)




  



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