ewomack Posted January 21 · Member Share Posted January 21 (edited) Nothing like starting out small. In my first foray into the Greek era, a tiny, tiny obol caught my eye. The obverse description says "gorgoneion," but does it actually show Helios? At 10mm, it ties for the smallest coin in my pile (a much, much thinner Half Penny of James I also measures an irregular 10mm) and it more than qualifies as my oldest coin. I first read about obols in the writings of the Cynic philosophers, which prompted me to research that once strange word and think "I'll have to get one of those someday." Turning that brief cognition into reality took a few years. The quoted passages below more than emphasize just how low in the monetary hierarchy obols sat, since they seem to appear in many insults. According to one quote below, I need two more obols to afford a philosopher. Having now held a Greek coin, I can certainly understand their appeal. Even this minuscule thing has me somewhat mesmerized by its hypnotic stare and incredible detail. As long as I don't sneeze while holding it in my palm, everything should be okay. In any case, what an amazing little thing. Pisidia; Seige; c. 250 - 190 BCE; AR Obol; 0.89 grams; Obv: Facing gorgeoneion; Rev: Helmented head of Athena right, astragalos to left; SNG Ashmolean 1546 - 50, SNG BN 1948-54 Some references to obols in Cynic philosophical texts: Antisthenes (445 - 365 BCE) -"One day upon seeing an adulterer running for his life he exclaimed, “Poor wretch, what peril you might have escaped at the price of an obol.”Diogenes (410 - 323 BCE) -“Lay your commands upon us, Diogenes,” he took him away and gave him a cheese to carry, which cost half an obol. The other declined; whereupon he remarked, “The friendship between you and me is broken by a little cheese worth half an obol.” -"And when the same man was discoursing, Diogenes distracted his audience by producing some salt fish. This annoyed the lecturer, and Diogenes said, “An obol’s worth of salt fish has broken up Anaximenes’ lecture-class.” -"The question being asked why footmen are so called, he replied, “Because they have the feet of men, but souls such as you, my questioner, have.” He asked a spendthrift for a mina. The man inquired why it was that he asked others for an obol but him for a mina. “Because,” said Diogenes, “I expect to receive from others again, but whether I shall ever get anything from you again lies on the knees of the gods.” Crates (365 - 285 BCE) "Set down for the chef ten minas, for the doctor One drachma, for a flatterer talents five, For counsel smoke, for mercenary beauty A talent, for a philosopher three obols." I should have added this earlier: please post your obols (I'd like to see more of them) Edited January 22 by ewomack 19 1 1 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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