Roman Collector Posted January 22 · Patron Share Posted January 22 (edited) Demeter (Roman Ceres) is first and foremost a goddess of grain. It is unsurprising, therefore, that grain ears are depicted on almost all coins depicting the goddess. However, Demeter is not infrequently depicted holding poppies along with the ears of grain, and sometimes even holding poppies alone. Why the poppy?The poppy is a flower commonly found growing amongst the grain of the wheat-fields. Red Poppy Flowers in Wheat Field, photo by Chris Sattlberger. It is no surprise, therefore, that the poppy became incorporated in the myths and iconography of Demeter. In Greek mythology, the gods gave Demeter a poppy to help her sleep after her daughter Persephone was abducted. Afterwards, poppies sprang from Demeter's footsteps. She also transformed her mortal lover, Mecon, into the sacred flower. The poppy was regarded as sacred to Demeter, and was worn by her priestesses. See, for example, the following ancient sources: Callimachus, Hymn 6 to Demeter 42 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet c. 3rd B.C.): "Nikippe, whom the city had appointed to be her [Demeter's] public priestess, and in her hand she grasped her fillets and her poppy, and from her shoulder hung her key [the temple key of the priestess]." Virgil, Georgics 1. 208 ff (trans. Fairclough) (Roman bucolic c. 1st B.C.): "When the Balance [Libra] makes the hours of daytime and sleep equal [in autumn], and now parts the world in twain . . . then is the time to hide in the ground your crop of flax and the poppy of Ceres [Demeter]." Here are some coins in my collection, including two recent acquisitions, depicting Demeter or Ceres holding poppies along with grain ears. Faustina II, 147-175 CE. Roman provincial Æ 20.1 mm, 4.91 g, 6 h. Lydia, Blaundus, c. 161-175 CE. Obv: ·I·ΑVϹΤЄΙΝΑ ϹЄΒΑϹΤΗ, bare-headed and draped bust of Faustina II, right. Rev: ΒΛΑVΝΔЄΩΝ, Demeter, veiled and wearing long chiton and peplos, standing left, holding two ears of corn and poppy in right hand and long torch in left. Refs: RPC IV.2, 1189 (temp); BMC 22.53,78; SNG Cop 93; SNG Munich 92; Lindgren I, 659. Faustina II, 147-175 CE. Roman provincial Æ 21.5 mm, 6.32 g, 6 h. Lydia, Maeonia; Magistrate Diodorus, 147-161 CE. Obv: ·I·ΑYϹΤЄΙΝΑ ϹЄΒΑϹΤΗ, bare-headed and draped bust of Faustina II, right. Rev: ЄΠΙ ΔΙOΔΩΡOΥ ΜΑΙOΝΩΝ, Demeter, veiled and wearing long chiton, standing left, holding two ears of corn and poppy in right hand and long torch in left. Refs: RPC IV.2, 10674 (temp); SNG Leypold 1070; GRPCL Maionia 106. Faustina II, AD 147-175. Roman orichalcum sestertius, 28.83 g, 32.5 mm, 12 h. Rome, AD 162-164. Obv: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, draped bust, right, wearing two strands of pearls (Beckmann Type 7 hairstyle). Rev: CERES S C, Ceres seated left on cista, holding corn-ears and poppy in raised right hand and short, transverse torch in left hand. Refs: RIC 1623; BMC 895n.; Cohen 39; MIR 2-6/10b; RCV –. And this interesting provincial doesn't depict Demeter herself, but has every attribute of hers imaginable: grain ears, poppies, a flaming torch, and a serpent. Faustina II, AD 147-175. Roman provincial Æ 20.1 mm, 5.09 gm, 12 h. Bithynia, Nicomedia, c. AD 148-150. Obv: ΦΑVСΤΕΙΝΑ ΝΕΑ СΕΒΑ, bare-headed and draped bust, right. Rev: ΝΕΩΚΟΡOV ΝΙΚΟΜΗΔEI, lighted torch entwined by serpent, surmounted by two ears of corn and decorated with two poppies. Refs: RPC IV, 6091,(temporary); RG 107, pl. XCI 24; Lindgren 166 (this coin). Let's see your coins that feature poppies! And here's some Nina Simone to start your day. It's a powerful song about the opioid problem. 1. "DEMETER GODDESS OF AGRICULTURE, GRAIN, AND BREAD." Theoi.com, www.theoi.com/Olympios/DemeterGoddess.html. 2. Chatfield, Stephanie. "Poppies: Sleep, Death, Remembrance." Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood, 22 Apr. 2019, preraphaelitesisterhood.com/poppies-sleep-death-remembrance/. 3. "DEMETER ESTATE & ATTRIBUTES." Theoi.com, www.theoi.com/Olympios/DemeterTreasures.html. Edited February 4 by Roman Collector Clarity; new photo 16 1 3 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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