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Dionysus on Ancient Coins

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Mike Markowitz has published a nice article in CoinWeek about the God of Wine - Dionysus. Here are some illustrations from the article.

Dionysus God of Wine on Ancient Coins

Dionysus God of Wine on Ancient Coins

And one from my collection.

Phrygia, Eumeneia, c. 133-130 BC.
Greek Æ 21.1 mm, 6.66 g, 1 h.
Menekrates, son of Askle-, magistrate.
Obv: Head of young Dionysus wreathed with ivy, right.
Rev: Tripod-lebes with three handles surmounted by flat cover fringed with spikes, star above and on either side; to right, EYMENE and filleted laurel branch (thyrsus?); to left, MENEKΡA/AΣKΛH and labrys (double axe) with serpent-entwined handle.
Refs: BMC 25.212,14; SNG Copenhagen 382; SNG Tübingen 4008; Paris 1095; Mionnet IV, 563; SNG Oxford 1024-1025; Lindgren I 950; Istanbul 14718; Afyon 2973.

Let's see  your coins of Dionysus!

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Here is one example:



LYDIA. Thyateira.
2nd century AD
Obv: head of young Dionysus, r., wearing ivy wreath
Rev: ΘΥΑΤƐΙΡΗΝΩΝ, Pan advancing, l., holding bunch of grapes and pedum
AE,17.5mm, 3.8 g
Ref.: RPC VI, 4306 (temporary), GRPCL 94, Hochard 2661 (Apollo)

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A small and somewhat worn bronze with a Dionysos portrait from Cappadocia, just before it was incorporated into the Roman Empire:


Kingdom of Cappadocia, under Archelaus, Æ18, 24/23 BC (?), Eusebeia mint. Obv: Head Dionysos right, wearing ivy wreath. Rev: EVΣΕ – ΒΕΙΑΣ, eagle over Mount Argaios. 18mm, 5.02g. Ref: RPC I, 3610.

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Wow beautiful coins in the article!

I've always liked this youthful interpretation from my collection..


Pontos, Amisos. temp. Mithradates VI, c. 105-85 or 85-65 BC. Æ (16mm, 3.98g, 12h). Struck under Mithradates VI.
Obverse..Ivy wreathed head of Dionysos right.
Reverse..Filleted thyrsos, bell attached with fillet, AMI-ΣOY flanking across field, monogram lower right.
Mint..Amisos (Samsun, Turkey)
SNG Black Sea 1192-5; HGC 7, 251. Good VF

Also have two coin reverses of Antoninus Pius from Philippopolis both showing Dionysos holding Thyrsos one with panther.


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Aiolis. Autokane
AE 10 mm, 1,36 g
Laureate head of Zeus right
AYTOKA[..], head of Dionysos right
SNG Ashmolean 1259.
Ex Savoca



Troas, Lamponeia
4th century BCE
AE 13mm 1.89g
Obv: head of Dionysos right, wearing ivy wreath
Rev: ΛΑΜ, Facing bull's head; kantharos above
SNG Copenhagen 445
Ex Vossen



Kings of Bithynia. Prusias II
AE Unit 20.5mm 6.41g 12h
c. 180-150 BCE
Laffaille430 var. - Cop.- - Aulock6886 var. - RG.26 - BMC.- - HGCS. 7/629
0avers : Buste imberbe, juvénile et drapé de Dionysos (Bacchus) à droite, couronné de feuilles de vigne.
0revers : Le Centaure Chiron à droite, la tête de face, jouant de la lyre, sa tunique flottant derrière.

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The only coin I have specifically depicting Dionysos -- not counting the tiny figure on the reverse of my Tralleis cistophorus -- shows him in his youthful manifestation, as most of the later portrayals appear to do. Out of the more than 400 ancient coins I own, it's the only one for which my description cites a catalog reference as old as Mionnet back in 1809:

Lydia, Philadelphia, AE 17, Late 2nd/Early 1st Centuries BCE, Hermippos, son of Hermogenes,* archiereus [magistrate]. Obv. Head of young Dionysos right, wearing ivy-wreath and band across forehead, [Φ]ΙΛΑΔΕΛΦΕ[ΩΝ] vertically behind / Rev. Spotted pantheress [leopard] walking left, with head turned back to right, cradling thyrsos bound with fillet (ribbon) against left shoulder, right foreleg raised; ΑΡΧΙΕΡ-ΕΥΣ above, ΕΡΜΙΠΠΟΣ in exergue. Seaby II 4720 [Sear, D., Greek Coins and their Values, Vol. II, Asia & Africa (Seaby 1979), at p. 430 (ill.)]; BMC 22 Lydia 16 [Head, B.V. A Catalogue of Greek Coins in the British Museum, Lydia (London 1901) at p. 189]; SNG Von Aulock II 3057 [Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Deutschland, Sammlung Hans Von Aulock, Vol. 2: Caria, Lydia, Phrygia, Lycia, Pamphylia  (Berlin 1962)]; SNG Copenhagen 340 [Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Copenhagen, The Royal Collection of Coins and Medals, Danish National Museum, Part 27, Lydia Part 1 (Copenhagen 1947)]; Imhoof-Blumer 8 [Imhoof-Blumer, Friedrich, Lydische Stadtmünzen, neue Untersuchungen (Leipzig 1897) at pp. 114-115]; Mionnet IV No. 536 [Mionnet, Théodore E., Description de Médailles antiques grecques et romaines, Vol. IV, Lydie (Paris 1809) at p. 98]. 17 mm., 5.02 g.  [With old collector’s envelope.]


Here, though, are a few equally youthful portrayals of his equivalent, Liber/Bacchus:





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