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Herakles 7th labor: The Cretan Bulls-hit hard. Well, so does our square shaped hero of heroes


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(Hercules easily ropes the Cretan Bull, Attic black figure neck amphora, ca. 530-520 B.C.)

I'll start off with the latest acquisition in my attempt to portray the twelve (should've been ten, but like most of Herk's life the cards were stacked against him as his evil cousin refused to count two on nitpicky reasons) labors of Herakles:


Thrace, Hadrianopolis, Gordian III (238-244 AD), AE26, Herakles capturing Cretan Bull. 

A rare mythological subject, the seventh labour of Herakles. The Cretan Bull was the same bull which Pasiphaë fell in love with, and it became the father of the Minotaur. 

VF, somewhat rough surfaces with irregular patination. Rare. 

Varbanov 3706

Purchased from Bermonsey Coins Ltd Oct 2023


The labor was one of Herakles easiest. But the mythology of this particular Bull is heavy. This is the Bull that was the father of the Minotaur of the labyrinth of Crete!?


(Who knew he could eat Athenian youth and also boogie so hard?)

That's right. A queen fell in love with this bull and bore it a child. Later, Herakles would kick its ass (as portrayed on my rad new coin). Inspiring many a legend.


Cut to: much earlier; Of course, the Greeks coming across Crete in ruins a half a millenia after it's collapse would misinterpret the toppled massive castle as a maze. And with Labyrs, double axes, all along the walls, we get the word labyrinth. 

1645638_1611569933.l-removebg-preview.png.4d5a2ad757dafef165bbe0ec9852546d.pngCRETE, KNOSSOS.

AE (2.54 g), approx. 200-67 BC BC: head of the bearded Zeus to the right. Back: Labyrinth between ΚΝΩΣΙ / ΩΝ. Svoronos, Crete 116.2.00, Lindgren. Nice. Ex BAC Numismatics 2/9/20201

And those bulls love a parade:


Pylaimenes II/III Euergetes(Circa 133-103 BC). AE. (4.18g 18mm) KINGS OF PAPHLAGONIA.
Facinghead of a bull.
SNG BM 1555. SNG vonAulock150

Don't bulls even have faces?!


and Herakles want the only one to beat a bull, Thessalos did his part:


Thessaly, Trikka, c. 440-400, Hemidrachm AR

Thessalos, petasos and cloak tied at neck, holding band and head of forepart of bull right / TPIKKAION, Forepart of bridled horse right within incuse square

17 mm, 2,70 g

BCD Thessaly 767. Purchased from Elkowicz Sept 2021


So please, post those coins of Herakles, bulls, Crete, the Minotaur, more bulls, labors and or your thoughts. 

Edited by Ryro
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Another gorgeous pickup! Did Gordian III mint coins for all the labors?

Here's my most on-topic coin, being from Crete, with Herakles, and a bull. I assume it's alluding to the same labor?


Crete, Phaistos
Circa 330-320 BCE
AR Stater 23 mm, 11.84 g, 11 h
Herakles standing front, head to right, resting his right hand on club set on ground and holding bow in his left; to left, lion's skin hanging from tree; to right, coiled serpent above laurel branch.
Rev. Bull walking to left; all within laurel wreath.
Le Rider, Crétoises, pl. III, 22 (same obverse die). Svoronos, Numismatique, 17. SNG Copenhagen 512
Ex CNG 2022
Ex Trausnitz Collection
Ex Obolos 2021
Ex Künker 2005
Ex Künker October 2001


Here's another from Crete with a bull.


Crete, Polyrhenion
circa 330-280 BCE
AE 11mm, 1.14g
Round shield; in center, bull's head facing
Π-O/Λ-V; spear point
SNG Copenhagen 534
Ex Chistopher Morcom collection
Ex Edward P. Warren collection
Ex CNG 2007


Here's my Knossos, though my budget didn't allow for a labyrinth from this time period. 🙂


Crete, Knossos
Circa 300-270 BCE
Æ 13.5mm, 3.35 g, 12h
Head of female right /
Head of Zeus right.
Svoronos, Numismatique 80; SNG Copenhagen 371


Here's another Crete coin with a bull, though I believe from a different story.


Crete, Gortyna
Circa 250-221 BCE
Æ 17mm 4.1g
Europa seated right in tree, lifting her drapery; to left, eagle standing left, head right; border of rays /
Europa seated right, lifting her drapery, on bull running left; all within wreath.
Jackson pl. 12, 2; Svoronos, Numismatique 109; Joy 466; SNG Copenhagen 447; BMC 45



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What a cool reverse type, @Ryro! And a fun and informative multi-media presentation! I have but one coin from Crete -- and it's from Cnossos, even -- this barely identifiable provincial of Nero and poor ol' Claudia Octavia.

Nero, Augustus 54-68 CE and Claudia Octavia, Augusta 54-62 CE.
Roman provincial Æ 24.6 mm, 8.60 g, 1 h.
Crete, Cnossus, 54-62 CE.
Obv: NERO CLAV CAES AVG IMP LVPINO VOLVMINIO II, bare head of Nero right, scepter over left shoulder.
Rev: NERO CLAV CAES AVG IMP ET OCTAVIA AVGVSTI, bare head of Nero, left, star above, facing draped bust of Octavia, right, crescent above.
Refs: SGI 655; RPC 1005-6; Svoronos 95, 217 var; Cohen 313, 1-2.

And here's a bull for good measure.

Macedonia, Amphipolis, ca. 187-131 BCE.
Æ 21.4 mm 7.57 gm.
Obv: Head of Artemis Tauropolis, r.
Rev: ΑΜΦΙΠΟ-ΛΙΤΩΝ, bull bounding r.
SNG ANS-113; Lindgren Europe-933; BMC-35; SNG Cop-72.

The only labor of Hercules I have is wrestling with the Nemian lion.

Septimius Severus, AD 193-211.
Roman provincial Æ 18.6 mm, 4.37 g, 7 h.
Moesia Inferior, Marcianopolis, AD 193-211.
Obv: ΑV Κ CΕΠΤΙ CΕΥΗΡΟC Π, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right.
Rev: MAPKIA-NOΠOΛITΩ-N, Herakles standing left, wrestling the Nemean lion.
Refs: AMNG I 585 v.; Varbanov 710; Moushmov 397; H&J; Mionnet Suppl. 2, 126.


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Another Herculean winner Ryan! How many of the Labors do you have now?

Here is a Cretan bull stealing Europa and another bull that is getting its butt whipped.

Crete, Gortyna
AR stater, struck ca. 330-270 BC
(27.5 mm, 11.58 g)
Obv.: Europa seated right in lefeless plane-tree, holding branches of tree with both hands
Rev.: Bull standing right, head turned back, scratching muzzle with hoof.
Ex Karl Kress (d. 1969), inventory from 1950s - 1960s with original envelope; Ex Gorney & Mosch Auction 241, lot 2989 (part of)(Oct. 9, 2016); Ex Minotaur Coins

Issued under the Persian Satrap Mazaios
AR stater, Tarsus mint, struck ca. 361-334 BC
(23.00 mm, 10.39 g)
Obv.: (“Ba’altarz” written in Aramaic) Ba’altarz seated l., holding eagle-tipped scepter in extended r. hand; to l., grain ear and grape bunch above L; below throne, M. 
Rev.: (“Mazaios who is over Beyond the River and Cilicia” written in Aramaic) Lion pouncing l., attacking a bull collapsing to r.; below, above crenellated walls. 
Ref.: Hendin GBC6 6658; Casabonne Series 4, Group A. SNG France 360. SNG Levante 113. 
Ex W. M. Stoecklin, Winterthur, Switzerland, acquired prior to 1981; Ex Obolos 8, lot 318; Formerly slabbed by NGC graded Choice VF, strike 4/5, surface 3/5, NGC n. 6376589-009.

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As always, thanks for all of the warm responses, thoughts and most importantly, sharing your coins!

Thanks @Nerosmyfavorite68! I am happy with it as well.

Some stunning coins, per usual, @kirispupis! That Cretan coin certainly is alluding to the 7th labor, and what a stunner it is! As I PM'd you, that bull head boss is a stunning shield coin that I yet don't own😊but must have!

Exellent coin of Cnossos @Roman Collector! I wasn't aware that they made coins into the imperial period!? And no kidding about poor Claudia Octavia. Life was not good for the Julio-Claudian women. After Livia I am not sure if any of them lived "good" lives.

Thanks @Curtisimo! Man, I love that coin of Europa of yours. As well, those Cilician bull and lion fighting over the city are saweeeeet! To answer your question, I am just over half way to the 12:


Cool bulls @JayAg47. Very cool artistry on your eastern type on the bottom. And I really love the Thessalos types! Here's mine:


Thessaly, Trikka, c. 440-400, Hemidrachm AR
Thessalos, petasos and cloak tied at neck, holding band around head of forepart of bull right / TPIKKAION, Forepart of bridled horse right within incuse square
17 mm, 2,70 g
BCD Thessaly 767
. Purchased from Elkowicz Sept 2021


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