In this blog I will talk about an iconographic theme on coins which was very popular in ancient times. I will discuss ancient coins with a mythological theme on it. It is very hard to give the exact definition on what mythology/myth exactly is.
But I know for sure that when you start thinking about it, right now, you will have some ideas of it. You probably know more about it, then only some ideas, if you already collect ancient coins but if not I think you still have some abstract thoughts about it. You maybe now think of old stories about Hercules or Zeus. Or, you maybe have seen some movies about famous myths. For example the last movie of Wonder Woman the Amazon or one of the many movies of Hercules. What I think what is very special about these movies is that we enjoy the same stories people enjoyed 2000 ago.
For the next blogs I will work with a so called ‘’working definition’’ of myths otherwise it would be impossible to discuss this subject. The working definition that I will use is created by a scholar called Lauri Honko. He said:
A myth expresses and confirms society’s religious values and norms, it provides a pattern of behaviour to be imitated, testifies to the efficacy of ritual with its practical ends and establishes the sanctity of cult.1
Catalog: SNG.Paris 1770
Weight 7,89gr. – Diameter 21 mm.
Signed by thet “KAL…” engraver. He made some of the finest dies ever produced in Magna Graecia.
obv. Naked horseman on prancing horse right, lancing downwards with right hand, behind large round shield and two more lances
rev. Phalanthos on dolphin right, holding crested helmet between his hands, with his head slightly bowed towards it, on either side an eight rayed star.
This didrachme is regarded as one of the most artistically masterful and beautiful of all Tarentine didrachms, of spendid late classical style.
Weight: 17.08 g – Diameter: 31.05 mm
Catalog: Coll. Weber 2174
Ancient Kingdom of Macedonia
Nature of Myths
About the nature of myths, books can be written. Myths are a reflection of what people as a society, a group, or sometimes an individual are. This reflection is displayed in the form of a narrative. Myths are a part of religion in ancient times and they cannot be seen without each other. Religion and myths were everywhere in ancient times. It is stated by several scholars that everything was religion in ancient times and myths played an important role in religion. It is in the nature of human beings to find answers for everything we don’t understand. Life in ancient times was really hard. Religion, including the myths gave hope.
In the next blog I will discuss two myths that can be seen on ancient coins often.
1 Honko, Lauri. 1984. “The Problem of Defining Myth” in Alan Dundes (Editor). Sacred Narrative: Reading in the Theory of Myth. 49
Weight 7,09 g – Diameter 19 mm.
Catalog: Calicó 820
Rome. CAES AVG F DOMITIANVS, Laureate head of Domitian to right)(COS V, she-wolf left, suckling the twins Remus and Romulus; boat in exergue.
SNG CH Suppl. 21
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Written by Joël van Dam, Owner of Joëlnumismatics.
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