Jump to content

Coins telling mythological tales: The Rape (and rescue) of Persephone


Ryro

Recommended Posts

bernini-the-rape-of-proserpina-3-1.jpg.1f38e501a7c98e91af9128ba3ab5622d.jpg

One of the most popular stories of ancient mythology to explain the reason for the seasons is that of Hades, God of the underworld, abduction and forced marriage of Persephone, daughter of Demeter goddess of the harvest. As well, the heart wrenching story has inspired some incredible art over the last 2,500 years or more. 

My coin is one of very few to feature Hades, led alone to show his abduction of Persephone:

4027616_1681751521.l-removebg-preview.png.5a9a6a76403540a49c37587f24677014.png

PHRYGIA, Hierapolis. Civic issue. Circa 2nd century AD. Æ 27mm (10.56 g). Head of youthful Dionysos right / Rape of Persephone: Hades in galloping quadriga right, carrying Persephone. SNG von Aulock -; SNG Copenhagen 428; BMC -. Fine, dark grey-brown patina. Rare. Purchased from Savoca April 2023

"Hades fell in love with Persephone, the daughter of Demeter, and asked Zeus for permission to marry her. Zeus feared to offend his eldest brother by a downright refusal, but knew also that Demeter would not forgive him if Persephone were committed to the underworld. Zeus "therefore answered politically that he could neither give nor withhold his consent." This emboldened Hades to abduct Persephone, as she was picking flowers in a meadow, and carry her away in his horse-drawn chariot to the underworld."

Please keep in mind that Zeus was Persephone's father after a trist with his sister Demeter!

512px-The_Rape_of_Proserpina_(Rome).jpg.f243609fa27d0fb303f7c89043fbf10c.jpg

(“The Rape of Proserpina” by Bernini, 1621-22)

But mother Demeter would search... and search and search. During this time she forbid the trees to bear fruit and the earth to nurture vegetables and herbs. Until one day she finally finds her young daughters torn dress in a pool and realizes what has transpired:

4027608_1681751513.l-removebg-preview.png.babf40fd008d5d6997e84721cd3c7ec6.png

Maximus

(Caesar, 235/6-238). PHRYGIA. Bruzus. Ae. 5.94 g. 24 mm.

Obv: Γ IOY OYH MAΞIMOC K.

Bareheaded and cuirassed bust right.

Rev: ΒΡΟVΖΗΝΩΝ.

Demeter, holding torch in each hand, in biga right drawn by winged serpents searching for daughter Persephone.

RPC 5626; SNG von Aulock 3526.

Very fine. From the Tareq Hani collection. Purchased from Savoca April 2023

01511001.jpg.06081494d45cf093127e4b9fe5ca5334.jpg

(Attic Red Figure, Shape Stamnos. Painter Attributed to the Syleus Painter, ca 470 - 460 B.C. Period Early Classical)

Pinturicchio-Chariot-of-Ceres-fresco-Palace-Pandolfo-Petrucci-Italy-circa-1509-MET.webp.6e49eef6edf2c14cd3352754d28d9241.webp

(The Chariot of Ceres: Pinturicchio (Italian, Perugia 1454–1513 Siena) ca. 1509)

Demeter, ready to let mankind (or unkind, as is our more natural state) perish of Zeus didn't rescue their daughter, forced the king of the gods to send Hermes to rescue Persephone. 

1598144_1608741539.l-removebg-preview(1).png.7524b8c7ea579769eca4cf6afffe2866.png

However, with a trick up his sleeve in the guise of a pomegranate, Hades made it impossible for Persephone to leave, at least permanently. 

So for four months each year Hades wife/niece comes home to Hades aaaand Demeter stops the harvest, the earth became colder and less fertile. That is until the re-emergence of her daughter months later.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading. Please post any coins that tell this or other mythological Stories, thoughts, laughs or anything related. 

NGS1959.jpg

  • Like 12
  • Thanks 1
  • Clap 1
  • Heart Eyes 5
  • Mind blown 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

An entertaining and informative write-up, as always, @Ryro! That's a coveted reverse type that was used on many Roman provincials. Here is my only such coin. It's not exactly FDC, if you get my drift. But it's quite scarce and I'm happy with it. I've had it for more than 25 years.

SoaemiasSebasteAbductionofPersephone.jpg.e525bf0de3a5f60dbbe2fe4acf7979ab.jpg

Julia Soaemias, 218-222.
Roman provincial Æ 21.4 mm, 10.97 g.
Samaria, Sebaste, 218-222 CE.
Obv: SVAMIAS AVGVSTA SEB, bare-headed and draped bust right.
Rev: COL L SEBAS-TE, Hades in galloping quadriga right abducting Persephone, Eros above.
Refs: RPC VI, 8902 (temporary); Rosenberger 34; BMC 27.81,18; Lindgren I, A2438A.

 

Edited by Roman Collector
  • Like 13
  • Clap 1
  • Heart Eyes 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In my opinion, coins telling myths are the most interesting and I also tried to buy as many as I could. And all the coins shown here describe one of the great myths!

I only have some common ones, such as Perseus killing Medusa 

image.png.c47b87e23ce734e5abfd11a3887fac8c.png

Herakles with the Naemean lion 

image.png.ac76e2192e3265917b20fada80175ef6.png

The Calydonian boar - hunted by Atalanta and most of the Greek male heroes 

image.png.a89fdbfc783e92481e34fefdca3838c3.png

Another similar theme, kidnap of the Sabine women 

image.png.8bb3ec814ed9fed8acf9ac2cacee3f97.png

Aeneas carrying his father 

image.png.1d8817f4a73f1265e8b294d1dafccf29.png

Edited by ambr0zie
  • Like 8
  • Clap 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

corinth0.jpg.0fa7edfb4d76f9709752a8d3fe669c05.jpg

Achaea. Corinthia, Corinth. Caracalla Æ24.

Obv: Laureate, draped bust of Caracalla left. Melikertes-Palaimon.
Rev: CLI COR / Melikertes-Palaimon reclining right on the back of a dolphin, pine tree in background.
24mm., 8.1 g.
BCD Corinth 930.

 

Ino, pursued by her husband, who had been driven mad by Hera because Ino had brought up the infant Dionysos,threw herself and Melicertes into the sea from a high rock between Megara and Corinth, both were changed into marine deities: Ino as Leucothera, noted by Homer, Melicertes as Palaemon. The body of the latter was carried by a dolphin to the Isthmus of Corinth and deposited under a pine tree. Here it was found by his uncle Sisyphus who had it removed to Corinth, and by command of the Nereids instituted the Isthmian Games and sacrifices in his honor. -Wiki

 

  • Like 6
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Antoninus Pius and the Great sow.
Often depicted on coins are celebrations of important events and, as this coin alludes to, the legendary founding of Rome. In this case these coins are intrinsically linked by images relating to the 900th year of the founding.
This from Virgil
The Aeneid Book VIII
It was night, and through all the land, deep sleep gripped weary creatures, bird and beast, when Aeneas, the leader, lay down on the river-bank, under the cold arch of the heavens, his heart troubled by war’s sadness, and at last allowed his body to rest.
Old Tiberinus himself, the god of the place, appeared to him, rising from his lovely stream, among the poplar leaves (fine linen cloaked him in a blue-grey mantle, and shadowy reeds hid his hair), Then he spoke, and with his words removed all cares: ‘O seed of the race of gods, who bring our Trojan city back from the enemy, and guard the eternal fortress, long looked-for on Laurentine soil, and in Latin fields, here is your house, and your house’s gods, for sure (do not desist), don’t fear the threat of war, the gods’ swollen anger has died away. And now, lest you think this sleep’s idle fancy, you’ll find a huge sow lying on the shore, under the oak trees, that has farrowed a litter of thirty young, a white sow, lying on the ground, with white piglets round her teats, That place shall be your city, there’s true rest from your labours. By this in a space of thirty years Ascanius will found the city of Alba.
Antoninus Pius AE As, RIC 733, Cohen 450, BMC 1624
143-144 AD. ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P TR P COS III, laureate head right / IMPERATOR II S-C, Sow facing right under helm-oak, suckling four young, another piglet in front. SC in ex. 25mm, 10.09gr Scarce

 

Qik2j9GbeTS5k6DyxE33Jq8Ft7ZNRH.jpg

  • Like 5
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

corinthMarcusBellerophon2.jpg.d83b1c1b65f3792da662844467be6eae.jpg

Achaea. Corinthia, Corinth. Marcus Aurelius Æ 26mm. Bellerophon.

Obv: Laureate head right.
Rev: CLI COR Bellerophon riding Pegasos flying right, attacking a chimaera, facing right.
BCD 706; SNG Copenhagen -.

Bellerophon in Greek mythology was "the greatest hero and slayer of monsters, alongside Cadmus and Perseus, before the days of Heracles", whose greatest feat was killing the Chimera, a monster that Homer depicted with a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail: "her breath came out in terrible blasts of burning flame.
The replacement of Bellerophon by the more familiar culture hero Perseus was a development of Classical times that was standardized during the Middle Ages and has been adopted by the European poets of the Renaissance and later.

  • Like 6
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mine:

The Abduction of Persephone. LYDIA, Nysa. After 133 BC. Æ (18mm, 5.78 gm, 10h). Obv: Head of Persephone right, poppy behind neck. Square countermark on nose. Rev: Hades in galloping quadriga right, carrying off struggling Persephone. Flower basket falling left from hands of Persephone. A valley near Nysa was the site where, according to the myth, the abduction  happened. SNG Copenhagen 306; BMC Lydia 16

Nysa.jpg

  • Like 5
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Julia Maesa, grandmother of Elagabalus and Severus Alexander. MOESIA INFERIOR, Odessus. Æ (24mm, 7.89 gm, 6h). Obv: Draped bust right, wearing stephane. Rev: Demeter to right, facing left, holding fruit or corn ears and long torch, facing Persephone on left, facing right holding long torch with right hand; left hand raised to shoulder of Demeter. Varbanov 4407 (R5). Varbanov says Persephone is also holding corn ears, but that is not apparent on this coin. The sole coin struck for her at Odessus. 

MaesaOdessos.jpg

  • Like 6
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have another coin with Persephone's portrait, but it doesn't say much of a story. 

image.png.98eea21b2cd4f93f9d21b065ba5baf53.png

17 mm, 2,91 g.

Phrygia, Aizanis. Agrippina II 50-59. Ӕ.

ΑΓΡΙΠΠΙΝΑΝ ϹƐΒΑϹΤΗΝ, draped bust of Agrippina II, right / ΑΙΖΑΝΙΤΩΝ,    draped bust of Persephone with ears of corn before.

RPC I, 3102; BMC 91; Cop 91.

  • Like 6
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

WoWiE! What an embarrassment of mythological riches! Thanks for all the replies and coins😁

I'm shocked to see a couple other examples with the Hades/Persephone reverse! And even more shocked that @Roman Collector's isn't a Faustina!? As well, very nice example with Persephone on the obverse as well @PeteB

Nice line up @ambr0zie! I'm a big fan of the psycho Perseus (I always thought he resembled Jason Voorhees on the reverse:

5c2ecf4bf0ac124522379c176887316f.jpg.36ac4072dbe0fbb5bb0facc1800f58b5.jpg

Mine is a triple studdered strike:

CollageMakerPlus_201846165739291.png.457921f28acc672dcc4b6aaf2288a8f1.png

Pontos. Amisos c 85-65 BC. Bronze Æ, 30mm., 18,18g. Helmeted head of Athena right, helmet decorated with griffin / AMIΣOY Perseus standing holding harpa and head of Medusa, at feet, body of Medusa, monograms to both sides.VF Sea 1166-76

Some other great stories being told on your coin @AncientOne Here is a coin of a mythological monster and Bellerophon nemesis, the chimera:

2288545_1635105376.l-removebg-preview.png.4d5c0b669f5db4d2b074b6e2e47ce777.png.44639cb7fede778775d7512c7e9d9436.png

Sikyonia. Sikyon circa 330-280 BC. Hemidrachm AR 17mm., 2,49g. Chimera advancing left, raising forepaw / Dove flying left, three pellets above tail feathers. very fine BCD Peloponnesos 294; HGC 5, 213. Toned.

Purchased from Savoca November 2021

Very cool great sow coin, @expat. A coin type that I want even aware of!

Here's a coin that is often described as Persephone (though, could just be a really beautiful nymph)

49E08591-EE30-4F06-B2C1-A5D078E82C2B.jpg.9361066787cb2aa02c81c9345849b235.jpg

Lokris Opuntia Hemidrachm around 350 BCE 2.60 g. Head of a nymph/Persephone with reed wreath, simple ear pendants and necklace to the right / Ajax in the Corinthian helmet with drawn short sword storming to the right, holding above the left arm oval shield with a lion as inner jewelry, spear lying on the ground. BMC 26 Very nice

Edited by Ryro
  • Like 5
  • Heart Eyes 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ah, remembered another  mythological story, but this does not involve fights, revenges, and in fact nothing extraordinary except faithfulness - but this is sometimes also a fantastic event...

image.png.873718457754896b2c577a363b69045d.png

20 mm, 3,75 g.
C. Mamilius Limetanus. AR serrate denarius. Rome. 82 BC.
Draped bust of Mercury to right, wearing winged petasus and with caduceus over his left shoulder; behind, S. / C·MAMIL LIMET􀺏AN, Ulysses advancing right, holding walking stick in his left hand and extending his right towards his dog Argus, on the right, standing left.
Babelon (Mamilia) 6; Crawford 362/1; RBW 1370 var. (differing control-letter on the obverse); Sydenham 741.

The Mamilia gens derived its origin from Mamilia, the daughter of Telegonus, the reputed son of Ulysses and Circe, and thus C. Mamilius, as monetal triumvir, caused this subject to be adopted on his coins. The reverse shows Ulysses, after an absence of many years, returning in a mean and humble dress to the island of Ithaca, where he was at once recognized by his old dog Argus, who died of joy at seeing his former master.

  • Like 4
  • Thanks 1
  • Clap 1
  • Heart Eyes 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is not just ancient coinage that portrays myths. This 2002 Greek 2 Euro is a representation of the myth of the Abduction of Europa, the daughter of the Phoenician King Agenor, by Zeus, who had taken the form of a bull, is accompanied with the legend "Ευρώπη" (Europa) and the face value and encircled by the twelve stars of Europe

 

20221113_111215 (2).jpg

20221113_111412 (2).jpg

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My wife's favorite myth, it played an unexpectedly large part in her funeral. As a result I have a place deep in my heart for Persephone.

It is hard to describe the myth without dreaming of the Eleusinian Mysteries, so i have a small sub-collection dedicated to it.

The first one is a lovely bronze from Syracuse...

Syracuse, Reign of Hiketas

287-283 BC
AE23 (23mm, 11.375g, 135o)
O: Head of Kore (Persephone) left, wreathed in grain; ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ before, pellet and stalk of grain behind.
R: Nike driving biga right, whip in right hand, reigns in left; star above, Σ in exergue.
HGC 2, 1446; Calciati II, p. 259, 123; SNG ANS 760 var. (no Σ in ex.); Sear 1209

Next is a rare silver fraction from Enna in Sicily, the location of Persephone's abduction... 

Enna, Sicily

450-440 BC
AR Litra (13mm, 0.69g)
O: Demeter driving slow biga right, holding grain ears.
R: Demeter standing facing, holding torch over altar to left; [HE]NNAI[ON] to right. 
HGC 2, 391; Sear 777
Very rare

Finally is an interesting coin from Eleusis (probably minted in Athens) depicting some scenes which may have been a part of the Mysteries...

Athens, Attica

Eleusinian Festival Coinage
340-335 BC
AE 16 (16mm, 3.65g)
O: Triptolemos seated left in winged chariot drawn by two serpents, holding grain ear in right hand.
R: Pig standing right on mystic staff; EΛEYΣI above, bucranium in ex.
SNG Cop 416; Sear 2586v

~ Peter Hope 

 

 

Kore_A.jpg

Enna_Litra.jpeg.jpg

Eleusis_AE.jpeg.jpg

Edited by Phil Anthos
  • Like 6
  • Thanks 1
  • Cry 1
  • Heart Eyes 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is another coin which I believe fits the theme. This is a common bronze in rough shape, but the forlorn look on Demeter's face perfectly depicts a mother's grief. And while the typical description of the reverse is 'Artemis Tauropolis', this strikes me more as Hekate, a goddess much more appropriate to the myth, imo.

~ Peter Hope 

 

Perinthos_Demeter_0.jpeg~2.jpg

  • Like 5
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Speaking of Hekate, one cannot fully tell the story of Persephone without mention of Her propolos and psychopomp...

Valerian / Hekate

Ephesus, Ionia
253-260 AD
AE26 (7.86g)
O: Laureate and draped bust of Valerian right; AYT K ΠO ΛIK BAΛEPIANOΣ.
R: Hekate standing facing, head left, wearing long chiton and holding two torches; EΦEΣIΩN Γ NEΩKOPΩN.
Lindgren 474; SNG Cop 499

ValerianProv_0.jpeg~2.jpg

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...