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12 Olympian Portraits: Athena


Curtisimo

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Athens_AR_Tet_New_Style_CSH.jpeg.c8103704fb95f713e09b0e98128daf2f.jpeg
Attica. Athens
AR Tetradrachm, struck ca. 137/6
Dia.: 30 mm
Wt.: 16.78
Obv.:Head of Athena right wearing triple crested attic helmet adorned with Pegasos
Rev.: Α-ΘΕ above MI / KI and ΘΕΟ / ΦΡΑ (Miki[on] and Theophra[stos]) Owl standing facing on amphora Θ, Nike driving quadriga in right field, AP below.
Ref.: Thompson 320g
Ex Obolos Web Auction 8, lot 513 (Dec. 2, 2017)

I have been working on a project to collect interesting Greek portrait coins of the 12 Olympian Gods. For this sub-collection I’ve set myself a few parameters:

  1. Coin must represent the Greek god or goddess (not the Roman equivalent)
  2. Coin must be a portrait coin of the god or goddess (as opposed to a full figure)
  3. The coin must have an exceptional portrait or be interesting in some other meaningful way

You can track my progress on write ups for this sub-collection below:

Curtisimo’s 12 Olympian Portraits 

A Most Ancient Goddess
The goddess Athena is incredibly ancient. So ancient, in fact, that her origins are shrouded in mystery. Martin Nilsson suggested in his classic work on Minoan and Mycenaean religion that aspects of Athena go back to a domestic Minoan goddess of the home [1]. This goddess is famously associated with snakes and Nilsson asserts that this is due to the snake’s role as a guardian of the house in Minoan culture. This is not as far fetched as it might seem to modern sensibilities. In pre-industrial societies snakes would very likely have lived in the foundations and even the walls of rustic houses. For non-venomous species this could have had some major benefits, such as to reduce the number of rodents that would bring diseases or would have otherwise fed off of stored food. These harmless snakes would also have helped to ward off venomous snakes.

In the classical period, the Athenians offered cakes to a snake that guarded the Acropolis. Herodotus says that when the cakes went uneaten during the Persian invasion the Athenians were more willing to evacuate because Athena had abandoned the city. In the comedy Lysistrata (411 BC), one of the women fortified on the Acropolis says:

“And I can't sleep a wink. My nerve is gone Since I saw that snake-sentinel of the shrine.” [5]

Nilsson also emphasizes the Minoan practice of associating birds with divinity and makes some parallels to the Greek gods transforming into birds in Homer. Athena famously became associated with the owl. Owls were a common feature of the Athenian Acropolis. Also from Lysistrata:

“And all those dreadful owls [26] with their weird hooting! Though I'm wearied out, I can't close an eye.” [5]

IMG_5649.jpeg.dc076d5560a4daa666cd5072bd5fbd4d.jpeg
Left: Minoan Snake Goddess figurines (ca. 1600 BC). Right: Depiction of Athena with snakes on her aegis and shield (ca. 500 BC)

During the Mycenaean period, this domestic goddess becomes associated more specifically with the palace and the wanax. The Mycenaean era goddess has a more martial aspect as the defender of the palace. An imperfect analogy might be how the personification of Roma was influenced by Greek Tyche but began to take on military iconography to reflect the attitude of the Roman state.

If this hypothesis is accurate we can start to see a recognizable prototype of the classical Athena by at least 1200 BC and probably much earlier. Athena may be the “Shield Goddess” seen on a tablet found at Mycenae.

IMG_5659.jpeg.162576dfb144fdc6401968ae85a5e452.jpeg
This tablet discovered on the Acropolis at Mycenae and dated to between 1300-1200 BC may be one of the earliest depictions of Athena or her Mycenaean equivalent (Mykene?). The female goddess stands behind a great shield and is attended by two worshippers on either side.

Which Came First: Goddess or City?
The first written evidence we have of a goddess called Athena is from a tablet found at Knossos dated between 1470-1330 BC during the time of Mycenaean influence on Crete. The tablet, known as KN V 52, is fascinating because it lists four well known Greek deities: Poseidon, Ares, Paeon (later associated with Apollo) and… Athena. The contents of the tablet itself aren’t that interesting, it simply specifies that Athena is to receive “1” of some unlisted commodity.

IMG_5666.jpeg.682ebe0dde360ad0103dcb0d41291cdd.jpeg
KN V 52

The top line reads a-ta-na-po-ti-ni-ja (Athena Potnia) in Linear B. This can be read in two different ways that have huge implications for the origin of the name. 

The first option is to read it as “Mistress Athena.” This leaves open the possibility that the city of Athens took its name from the goddess. I have also read a suggestion that a separate tablet written in Linear A contains the inscription a-ta-no-dju-wa-ja which could be read as “Athena of Zeus.” [3] However, Linear A has never been deciphered and what little can be guessed at is based on assuming a correlation to similar characters from Linear B. Even if this reading of Linear A is correct there are other interpretations for what it could mean.

The second option is to read the tablet as “Mistress of Athens.” This would suggest that Athena was originally the protector goddess of the Mycenaean palace of Athens. The placement of Potnia as the second word suggests a genitive reading of Athene as a toponym based on comparisons with other Linear B texts [4]. Further, it has been noted that Αθηνη and particularly the ending ηνη is suggestive of a place name and not a personal name [1]. It may have been that many palaces had local palace goddesses that took their name from the place and not the other way around. Homer may preserve a dim memory of this when he mentions Μυκηνη (Mykene) in passing in book II of the Odyssey. Therefore, Athena could have taken her name from Athens and grown in popularity until she subsumed all other palace (and later polis) protector goddesses in to her cult. In fact, there are several instances where this is definitely the case. One example is the Peloponnesian town of Alea. The town and its surrounding region worshiped a goddess called Alea who was syncretized with Athena to become Athena Alea. Another example would be Athena Itonia.

Athena in the Historical Period
By the time Hesiod wrote Theogony (ca. 750-650 BC) we see that the stories about Athena have mostly taken on their familiar form. He provides the earliest example of Athena’s origin myth which is worth quoting in full here:

“Zeus lay with the fair-cheeked daughter of Ocean and Tethys apart from Hera... deceiving Metis, although she was full wise. But he seized her with his hands and put her in his belly, for fear that she might bring forth something stronger than his thunderbolt: [929j] therefore did Zeus, who sits on high and dwells in the aether, swallow her down suddenly. But she straightway conceived Pallas Athena: and the father of men and gods gave her birth by way of his head on the banks of the river Trito.” [2]

IMG_5668.jpeg.ac5c0dcda06bb973bdf9a204cdf50ca8.jpeg
Athena emerges full grown from the head of Zues. In most versions Hephaestus splits the head of Zeus with an axe.

Other early mentions of Athena come from the Homeric Hymns, written from the 7th to 4th centuries BC, where she is described as “Pallas Athena, guardian of the city” and “pure virgin, saviour of cities” [6]. This accords well with her speculative role as an early palace protector goddess.

The stories of Athena in the archaic and classical ages are too numerous and well known to outline here. Athena was a prominent goddess in Greek myths and can most often be seen as a patron of heroes such as Achilles, Odysseus, Perseus, Bellerophon, Theseus and many others.

IMG_3665.jpeg.c0188602225b5a069fa459fc51e77534.jpeg
The world famous Parthenon is built over the ruins of the Mycenaean era palace as was an Archaic temple to Athena at Mycenae. (Author’s photo)

Why I Chose this Coin to Represent Athena
The fact that Athena is so closely tied with Athens, and may have even taken her name from the city, meant that a coin from Athens was a must for this sub-collection. I was initially tempted to go with my classical owl. These coins are admittedly the most interesting option historically, due to their association with the Peloponnesian War. However, I decided on this new style because I think it is the most artistically beautiful rendering of Athena on the coinage of Athens. I am particularly fond of this obverse die.

I also like the Pegasus on Athena’s helmet that serves to highlight her role as patron of heroes. I probably prefer the high relief owl on the classical examples but this coin still has a great owl with some additional interesting visual elements.

References
[1] Nilsson, Martin P., Minoan Mycenaean Religion And Its Survival In Greek Religion, Oxford University Press, 1927

[2] https://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0130%3Acard%3D901

[3] http://www.anistor.gr/english/enback/e023.htm

[4] https://sites.utexas.edu/scripts/files/2020/06/2001-TGP-ReligionInTheRoomOfTheChariotTablets.pdf

[5] https://human.libretexts.org/Courses/Saint_Mary's_College_(Notre_Dame_IN)/Humanistic_Studies/Revised_Annotated_Lysistrata_with_Guide_to_Spike_Lee's_Chiraq/02%3A_Translation_of_Lysistrata/2.03%3A_Section_3

[6] https://www.theoi.com/Olympios/Athena.html

So which Athena from your collection would you choose as your representative portrait coin?

…………

Also, let’s see your other favorite Athenas!!!

Edited by Curtisimo
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A true stunner and showstopper my friend! MASSIVE coingrats!!! As well, wonderful and exciting to read write up ta boot!

When it comes to favorite Athena portraits of mine, here's one I stole thanks to damage that endears her to me... and into my collection.

I hope she fits your parameters, "Greek god or goddess (not the Roman equivalent)
Coins must be a portrait coin of the god or goddess (as opposed to a full figure)
The coin must have an exceptional portrait or be interesting in some other meaningful way." She sure does for me:

3830022_1677253317.l-removebg-preview.png.a24ebf8f525b37839d9dcb79765b08b0.png.3dc0eeaafdbcdcf4ea92de210e6a5176.png

IONIA, Herakleia ad Latmon. Circa 140-135 BC. AR Tetradrachm (33mm, 11.50 g, 12h). Stephanophoric type. Helmeted head of Athena right / Club; below, Nike advancing left, holding wreath, flanked by two monograms; all within oak wreath. Lavva, Silberprägung, Group III (unlisted dies); SNG Copenhagen 781; SNG von Aulock 1978. Chipped.very fine

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Cheating a bit here, I'd say this chunky 2 Oz bullion from Intaglio Mint would be my best Athena. In fact this is the best reproduction I've ever seen, copying 99% of the elements. The blanks were actually struck rather than cast!

2ozowl.jpg.a2107a4ffeca635de330c30891d09ff5.jpg

Coming back to ancient, although worn, definitely one of the favourite coin in my collection. 

Untitled.png.56502864d84dae32305c7a71818049c2.png

 

 

Edited by JayAg47
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An article that should be "featured" 🙂  and that seems to me to be quite a nice New Style.  I have two variants on the 12 Olympians - Roman (Republican, of course) & Greek.

I am still looking for a Hephaestus, for which I currently substitute a Vulcan.  Which 12 do you shoose as Olympians is a fair question - but Hestia is no easier than Hephestus (although Vesta is easy to find in the Roman set)

Greek: https://www.sullacoins.com/post/12-olympians-greek-edition

Roman: https://www.sullacoins.com/post/12-olympians

In the Greek set - This coin represents Athena...
image.png.e690314cfba6c1dc17f5c0f9a8c6e4de.png

 Athena

Akarnania, Anaktorion, circa 350-300 BC, AR Stater

Obv: Pegasos flying left

Rev: Helmeted head of Athena left; KΛE above, monogram below, monogram and filleted bucranium behind

1 hour ago, Ryro said:

A true stunner and showstopper my friend! MASSIVE coingrats!!! As well, wonderful and exciting to read write up ta boot!

When it comes to favorite Athena portraits of mine, here's one I stole thanks to damage that endears her to me... and into my collection.

I hope she fits your parameters, "Greek god or goddess (not the Roman equivalent)
Coins must be a portrait coin of the god or goddess (as opposed to a full figure)
The coin must have an exceptional portrait or be interesting in some other meaningful way." She sure does for me:

3830022_1677253317.l-removebg-preview.png.a24ebf8f525b37839d9dcb79765b08b0.png.3dc0eeaafdbcdcf4ea92de210e6a5176.png

IONIA, Herakleia ad Latmon. Circa 140-135 BC. AR Tetradrachm (33mm, 11.50 g, 12h). Stephanophoric type. Helmeted head of Athena right / Club; below, Nike advancing left, holding wreath, flanked by two monograms; all within oak wreath. Lavva, Silberprägung, Group III (unlisted dies); SNG Copenhagen 781; SNG von Aulock 1978. Chipped.very fine

That is an exceptional portrait by my standards, @Ryro!

Edited by Sulla80
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Another amazing post!

For my Athena, I'd still have to give one of the first ancients I purchased first place.

331A2479-Edit.jpg.04f7152301f1b72d873e70ec5dd04620.jpg

ATTICA, Athens
AR Tetradrachm 22.5mm, 17.18g, 1h
Circa 454-404 BCE
Kroll 8; HGC 4, 1597
Ex CNG inventory June 2004
Ex CNG January 2021

 

I also rather like these bronzes.

331A9403-Edit.jpg.7de60ca5fa76d37b18dad03dd03400a4.jpg

Aiolis. Neonteichos
circa 300-100 BCE
Æ 13 mm, 1,30 g
Head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet decorated with griffin
Owl standing right, head facing; NE monogram below
SNG Copenhagen 244; SNG von Aulock 1670

 

331A6020-Edit.jpg.c4ca0d5446dfe2c924a5ab77b109dd5b.jpg

Attica, Athens
circa 340-322 BCE
Æ 14 mm, 2,19 g
Obv: Head of Athena r., wearing Attic helmet.
Rev: OE. Double-bodied owl stg. on Eleusis ring; in each upper corner, olive spray
Sv. 22.37; Kroll 43c

 

And, of course, here are some photos I took of the Parthenon earlier this year.

331A5962.jpg.b6b0fe3ea14aacdc1ce7cb2a6b42ba5d.jpg

 

331A8266-Edit.jpg.0f7c1805dd4626bd6323cfcb842eb33c.jpg

 

331A8279-Edit.jpg.2ea8918023902a5d2623109ad2cbca68.jpg

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2 hours ago, Ryro said:

A true stunner and showstopper my friend! MASSIVE coingrats!!! As well, wonderful and exciting to read write up ta boot!

When it comes to favorite Athena portraits of mine, here's one I stole thanks to damage that endears her to me... and into my collection.

I hope she fits your parameters, "Greek god or goddess (not the Roman equivalent)
Coins must be a portrait coin of the god or goddess (as opposed to a full figure)
The coin must have an exceptional portrait or be interesting in some other meaningful way." She sure does for me:

3830022_1677253317.l-removebg-preview.png.a24ebf8f525b37839d9dcb79765b08b0.png.3dc0eeaafdbcdcf4ea92de210e6a5176.png

IONIA, Herakleia ad Latmon. Circa 140-135 BC. AR Tetradrachm (33mm, 11.50 g, 12h). Stephanophoric type. Helmeted head of Athena right / Club; below, Nike advancing left, holding wreath, flanked by two monograms; all within oak wreath. Lavva, Silberprägung, Group III (unlisted dies); SNG Copenhagen 781; SNG von Aulock 1978. Chipped.very fine

That is honestly one of the best portraits of Athena I have ever seen. That is a wonderful coin! I love the toning as well. Stunner.

2 hours ago, JayAg47 said:

Cheating a bit here, I'd say this chunky 2 Oz bullion from Intaglio Mint would be my best Athena. In fact this is the best reproduction I've ever seen, copying 99% of the elements. The blanks were actually struck rather than cast!

2ozowl.jpg.a2107a4ffeca635de330c30891d09ff5.jpg

Coming back to ancient, although worn, definitely one of the favourite coin in my collection. 

Untitled.png.56502864d84dae32305c7a71818049c2.png

 

 

That bullion piece is super cool. I agree the style is very well done.

I like your classical owl as well. These coins are iconic and super interesting historical artifacts.

Thank you for sharing these!

1 hour ago, Sulla80 said:

An article that should be "featured" 🙂  and that seems to me to be quite a nice New Style.  I have two variants on the 12 Olympians - Roman (Republican, of course) & Greek.

I am still looking for a Hephaestus, for which I currently substitute a Vulcan.  Which 12 do you shoose as Olympians is a fair question - but Hestia is no easier than Hephestus (although Vesta is easy to find in the Roman set)

Greek: https://www.sullacoins.com/post/12-olympians-greek-edition

Roman: https://www.sullacoins.com/post/12-olympians

In the Greek set - This coin represents Athena...
image.png.e690314cfba6c1dc17f5c0f9a8c6e4de.png

 Athena

Akarnania, Anaktorion, circa 350-300 BC, AR Stater

Obv: Pegasos flying left

Rev: Helmeted head of Athena left; KΛE above, monogram below, monogram and filleted bucranium behind

That is an exceptional portrait by my standards, @Ryro!

Thanks for the kind words my friend. Also thank you for the links to your sub-collections. I just looked through your Greek examples and I like them all. I chose the same type for Zeus that you did (write up pending). I am also on the lookout for the same Hera. Those are fascinating coins on a number of levels.

I’ll have to check out your Roman collection next.

Great Athena / Pegasus as also!

1 hour ago, kirispupis said:

Another amazing post!

For my Athena, I'd still have to give one of the first ancients I purchased first place.

331A2479-Edit.jpg.04f7152301f1b72d873e70ec5dd04620.jpg

ATTICA, Athens
AR Tetradrachm 22.5mm, 17.18g, 1h
Circa 454-404 BCE
Kroll 8; HGC 4, 1597
Ex CNG inventory June 2004
Ex CNG January 2021

 

I also rather like these bronzes.

331A9403-Edit.jpg.7de60ca5fa76d37b18dad03dd03400a4.jpg

Aiolis. Neonteichos
circa 300-100 BCE
Æ 13 mm, 1,30 g
Head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet decorated with griffin
Owl standing right, head facing; NE monogram below
SNG Copenhagen 244; SNG von Aulock 1670

 

331A6020-Edit.jpg.c4ca0d5446dfe2c924a5ab77b109dd5b.jpg

Attica, Athens
circa 340-322 BCE
Æ 14 mm, 2,19 g
Obv: Head of Athena r., wearing Attic helmet.
Rev: OE. Double-bodied owl stg. on Eleusis ring; in each upper corner, olive spray
Sv. 22.37; Kroll 43c

 

And, of course, here are some photos I took of the Parthenon earlier this year.

331A5962.jpg.b6b0fe3ea14aacdc1ce7cb2a6b42ba5d.jpg

 

331A8266-Edit.jpg.0f7c1805dd4626bd6323cfcb842eb33c.jpg

 

331A8279-Edit.jpg.2ea8918023902a5d2623109ad2cbca68.jpg

Your photos are beautiful. I’m hopeful that someday the scaffolding will come down and then the Parthenon will become really photogenic. There was scaffolding up when I visited 8 years ago so it may well just be a part of the building at this point. 😉 

Your classical example is a real stunner. Definitely a top shelf example.

I also like your bronze example. The cool thing about some of the later bronzes is that you can identify the building that they were struck in. The site is partially covered by the Church of the Apostles built ca. AD 1000 (my photo below).

Writing all this has reminded me that it has been too long since I’ve been to Greece and I should fix that!

IMG_5671.jpeg.883351732fea4798f705913a58981129.jpeg

Edited by Curtisimo
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Interesting topic. This first one is the coin that set me off on a 35 year spending spree, and the first coin I ever spent more than $20 on. It is still one of my favorites...

Velia, Lucania

350-310 BC (Period VI: Kleudoros Group)
AR Didrachm (21mm, 7.50g)
O: Head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet ornamented with griffin, swan's head at front of visor.
R: Lion prowling left; Φ above, >E monogram (Kleudoros) below, YEΛHTΩN in ex, all within linear circle.
Williams 297; SNG ANS 1312; SNG Ashmolean 1233; HGC I, 1311; HN Italy 1289; Sear 460v
ex Jack H. Beymer

And the second is one of the final entries into my collection. I always wanted a classic depiction of the Goddess and this archaic image really does it for me... so much more artistic style than the overly Roman-ized later tets, imo.

Athens, Attica

454-431 BC
AR Tetradrachm (24mm, 16.95g)
O: Head of Athena with archaic eye right, wearing Attic helmet decorated with palmette and olive leaves.
R: Owl standing right, head facing; olive sprig and cresent moon above, AΘE to right, all within incuse square.
SNG Cop 31; Kroll 8; Sear 2526
ex Steven Battelle

With her almond eye and Mona Lisa-like grin, along with her companion owl (Athene Noctua), these classic 5th century tetradrachms from Athens are truly THE iconic ancient coin.

~ Peter 

Velia_Kleudoros~2.jpg

CEd43aNsiB57M6SzEkj2qA9qTjg85c_8~2.jpg

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11 hours ago, ambr0zie said:

Although this is an unpopular opinion, my favorite Athena portrait is this archaic depiction 

image.png.2af4b5f4b0493cf0e792e69ceb630214.png

Same style 

image.png.bd4345c88de0e35f2298f83af0ad8924.png

I also like the artistry on the Lysimachus drachm from Ephesos - although not a portrait.

image.png.084f384f609a1934eea1dcc8c0839c98.png

I think it is perfectly reasonable to favor archaic style portraits. In fact, I vacillated between an archaic or a classical style portrait for my example of Aphrodite for quite some time.

Both great portraits and all three are great coins. Thank you for sharing them.

8 hours ago, panzerman said:

Beaautifull coins/ excellent writeup Curtis!

 

I have a few with Athena.....but I will post them later. I have to go out and do battle with leaves/ which is fun when useing a Stihl Magum Leaf Blowers/ beats raking by hand🤗

IMG_1215.JPG

Thanks Pman! I am looking forward to seeing what Athena coins you come up with from your wonderful collection!

Im also rooting on you against those leaves. I think you can take ‘em. 😉 

3 hours ago, Phil Anthos said:

Interesting topic. This first one is the coin that set me off on a 35 year spending spree, and the first coin I ever spent more than $20 on. It is still one of my favorites...

Velia, Lucania

350-310 BC (Period VI: Kleudoros Group)
AR Didrachm (21mm, 7.50g)
O: Head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet ornamented with griffin, swan's head at front of visor.
R: Lion prowling left; Φ above, >E monogram (Kleudoros) below, YEΛHTΩN in ex, all within linear circle.
Williams 297; SNG ANS 1312; SNG Ashmolean 1233; HGC I, 1311; HN Italy 1289; Sear 460v
ex Jack H. Beymer

And the second is one of the final entries into my collection. I always wanted a classic depiction of the Goddess and this archaic image really does it for me... so much more artistic style than the overly Roman-ized later tets, imo.

Athens, Attica

454-431 BC
AR Tetradrachm (24mm, 16.95g)
O: Head of Athena with archaic eye right, wearing Attic helmet decorated with palmette and olive leaves.
R: Owl standing right, head facing; olive sprig and cresent moon above, AΘE to right, all within incuse square.
SNG Cop 31; Kroll 8; Sear 2526
ex Steven Battelle

With her almond eye and Mona Lisa-like grin, along with her companion owl (Athene Noctua), these classic 5th century tetradrachms from Athens are truly THE iconic ancient coin.

~ Peter 

Velia_Kleudoros~2.jpg

CEd43aNsiB57M6SzEkj2qA9qTjg85c_8~2.jpg

Great examples Peter. I especially like your Magna Graecia didrachm.

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Loving your thread Curtisimo! Got some wonderful coins going on here 🤩

Please don't mind my double dipping...

giphy.gif.a44cee64e96a1719738fea63dd45f6c3.gif

Here are a couple more to add to the fun!

I didn't see anyone drop an incuse archaic Athena:

IMG_4412.JPG.f9e7b84c4ecdda7e3a29587e0eacde52.jpeg.fc2618f36fefc032122065a2e53065e5.jpeg

IONIA. Phokaia. Diobol (Circa 521-478 BC).
Obv: Archaic head of Athena left.
Rev: Quadripartite incuse square.
SNG Kayhan 522.
Condition: Good very fine; nicely centered.
Weight: 1.29 g.
Diameter: 9 mm.

Purchased from Savoca

And how about a double Athena portrait???

2367066_1637160945.l-removebg-preview.png.3db1aa83fa494cdcd5a206a3a4f4e190.png.decca9ad1532b70c55c0f35c6e94855f.png

LYCIA. Xanthos. Hemiobol or Tetartemorion (0.6 g. 10 mm.) (Circa 410-400 BC).

Obv: Helmeted head of Athena right within dotted border.

Rev: Helmeted head of Athena left within dotted border.

SNG von Aulock -; cf. BMC 109 (Obol). Toned.

Edited by Ryro
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9 minutes ago, Ryro said:

I didn't see anyone drop an incuse archaic Athena:

IMG_4412.JPG.f9e7b84c4ecdda7e3a29587e0eacde52.jpeg.fc2618f36fefc032122065a2e53065e5.jpeg

IONIA. Phokaia. Diobol (Circa 521-478 BC).
Obv: Archaic head of Athena left.
Rev: Quadripartite incuse square.
SNG Kayhan 522.
Condition: Good very fine; nicely centered.
Weight: 1.29 g.
Diameter: 9 mm.

Are you sure that's Athena? I know in some auctions it is described as Athena but I preferred to keep my attribution as head of nymph / female head wearing sakkos or close fitting helmet. 

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38 minutes ago, ambr0zie said:

Are you sure that's Athena? I know in some auctions it is described as Athena but I preferred to keep my attribution as head of nymph / female head wearing sakkos or close fitting helmet. 

Fair point. Only as sure if that as that this is Apollo:

 

1266142_1593782816.l-removebg-preview.png.3bf084e415d1a93c2ea6c46035af0a4c.png

But they do look like the archaic statuary.

Here is a statue that looks a lot like the coin of Athena, central figure of the pediment of the temple, Acropolis Museum, Akr. 631.

Athena-athena-polias.jpg.1e5675caf72b51a4c76e14bd2a2176ee.jpg

Edited by Ryro
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12 minutes ago, Ryro said:

Here is a statue that looks a lot like the coin of Athena, central figure of the pediment of the temple, Acropolis Museum, Akr. 631.

On a note related to my write up, Athena sure does look pretty “snake-goddess-y” in some of these archaic statues and paintings doesn’t she?

58 minutes ago, Ryro said:

didn't see anyone drop an incuse archaic Athena:

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IONIA. Phokaia. Diobol (Circa 521-478 BC).
Obv: Archaic head of Athena left.
Rev: Quadripartite incuse square.
SNG Kayhan 522.
Condition: Good very fine; nicely centered.
Weight: 1.29 g.
Diameter: 9 mm.

48 minutes ago, ambr0zie said:

Are you sure that's Athena? I know in some auctions it is described as Athena but I preferred to keep my attribution as head of nymph / female head wearing sakkos or close fitting helmet. 

I have not read any of the arguments for or against but it looks to me like the figure is wearing a helmet and I don’t recall if I’ve seen a nymph wearing a helmet on a coin or statue before. My guess would be Athena as well.

 

Edited by Curtisimo
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I have 2 coins with a full portrait of Athena. Sadly they are nowhere near the quality of those shown above.

 

 

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Lysimachos, Kingdom of Thrace, AE 20mm, 5.20 gr. Generous flan. Lysimachia mint. 305-281 BC. Helmeted head of Athena right / BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΛYΣIMAXOY, above and beneath lion leaping right, spearhead and M on O monogram below. Mueller 74.

bk6X4T8zc7BgQw23nm5EB2WfZaa8w9.jpg.87e2cbfc2f77451b75f544069ea586fe.jpg

PERGAMON (Mysia) AE16.
Obverse: Head of Athena right, wearing helmet decorated with 8 pointed star.
Reverse: AΘHNAΣ / NIKHΦOPOY. Owl standing facing on palm frond right, with wings spread. Monograms ΓΑ and ΑΡ either sides of owl in fields.
Leipzig 1102-1103. Pergamon mint, ca. 200-133 BC.  2,9 g - 16 mm

 

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Not a portrait either, but a proud Athena Alkidemos (defender of the people) on this Ptolemy I Soter tetradrachm in the name of Alexander.

AlexandreElephant.jpg.77aa8e35eb0757d33ea6254b0b3531dc.jpg

For portrait, Syracuse, once again, gave wonderful specimens. eg this bronze of Agathocles

SyraBronze.jpg.f5a046abc73fee517bda41b5e1d57525.jpg

 

 

Edited by Brennos
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as promised here are three of my Athenas....

1/ Cyprus/ Salamis

AV Stater ND 

Salamis Mint circa 313/12BC

Nikokreon I King of Salamis/ vassal of Ptolemy I 330-310BC

2/ Thrace

AV Stater ND 88-78BC

Kallistis Mint

Mithridates VI 120-66BC

3/ see data label

4/ New Rottie named her Athena

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da9ca7f283e1ee88f2b48c390a76b771.jpg

IMG_0696.JPG

IMG_0698.JPG

IMG_1577.JPG

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What a wonderful thread, @Curtisimo

Considering that out of the 447 ancient coins I currently own only 22 are Greek, with the rest Roman -- and that even if I counted Roman Provincials as "Greek," not many of them have a portrait of anyone but the emperor or empress or perhaps a provincial deity like Nilus or Serapis or Tyche -- it shouldn't be a surprise that I'm going to be able to come up with only three of the 12 Greek Olympians, namely Athena, Zeus, and Dionysos. (Although I could probably come up with my own set of Roman Republican portraits of Olympians, something like @Sulla80's fantastic group.) 

Here's Athena:

Corinth AR Stater. Circa 375-345 BC. Obv: Pegasos flying left, Q below / Rev: Helmeted head of Athena left. Control-symbols behind head: Retrograde N and Ares standing left holding shield and spear. Pegasi 376 var. [“N” not retrograde] [Calciati, R., Pegasi Vol. I (Mortara, 1990)]; Ravel 1056 var. [“N” not retrograde] [Ravel, O.E., Les "Poulains" de Corinthe, I - II (Basel, 1936; London, 1948)]; BCD Corinth 121 [Numismatik Lanz, Münzen von Korinth: Sammlung B, Auction 105 (Munich, 26 Nov. 2001)]; SNG Copenhagen 121 [Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Copenhagen, The Royal Collection of Coins and Medals, Danish National Museum, Part 15, Corinth (Copenhagen 1944)]. 21mm, 8.46 g., 6h. Ex Roma Numismatics Ltd. Auction IX, 22 March 2015, Lot 168.

Corinth AR Stater jpg version.jpg

Even though he's right next to Athena, I suppose Ares doesn't count!

Edited by DonnaML
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That's a truly beautiful portrait of Athena, @Curtisimo, and what a fascinating writeup!  I'm particularly interested in the early history of the Olympians even though it's hard to conclude much with any certainty. (Maybe that's why I find the subject so fascinating!)

I think my two favourite portraits of Athena are on this diobol from Thurium:

image.jpeg.cae5fcf1e5b050ec4a931810dfb4100d.jpeg

and on this Leukas stater (which I don't have in hand yet):

image.jpeg.e5b37946c3738022d7b82d06beca7a8f.jpeg

I like these facing portraits issued by Antiochos I too:

image.jpeg.feeaf8a13c5e3748122d2a6541b7b36c.jpeg

(@Ryro, let's see that awesome animation again!!)

For full-length depictions, maybe I'd pick this Bactrian drachm:

image.jpeg.ee8e7f8ffc0469ffc1c48f4dc31ba196.jpeg

or this Gigantomachy depiction on a big provincial of Gordian III from Seleukeia ad Kalykadnon:

image.jpeg.ba0987e8167f67ecabce430215347be1.jpeg

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On 10/11/2023 at 1:57 AM, Curtisimo said:

So which Athena from your collection would you choose as your representative portrait coin?

I like this portrait:

normal_Pergamon_05.jpg.325ee2ad7794b34946dffad4fe17977d.jpg

Mysia, Pergamon
AE17, 310-282 BC
Obv.: Helmeted and laureate head of Athena left
Rev.: ΠΕΡΓΑ, Confronted bull heads.
AE, 4.01g, 16.8mm
Ref.: SNG France 1577 ff.
Ex Pecunem 20, Lot 212

 

 

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Another excellent writeup from our own @Curtisimo well illustrated with an astounding coin and great pictures

My preferred Athena is the one my dear wife gifted me with a few years ago on the occasion of my birthday. The second one is featured an a Syracuse bronze

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ATTICA, Athens. Circa 454-404 BC. AR Tetradrachm
Helmeted head of Athena right, with frontal eye
Owl standing right, head facing, olive sprig and crescent behind, all within incuse square. ΑΘΕ in the right field
24mm, 17.08 g, 8h
Ref : Kroll # 8; HGC # 4,1597

 

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Sicily, Syracuse - Bronze litra, circa 375-344 BCE,
[ΣYPA] Head of Athena left, wearing Corinthian helmet with neck guard,
Hippocamp left
15mm., 6.13g
Ref : Calciati # 34, Sear # 1193

 

Q

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North Arabia, Lihyan(?) Æ Tetradrachm (19mm, 8.77g, 10h). Circa 2nd-1st centuries BC. Imitating Athens. Obv: Schematic head of Athena to right, wearing crested Attic helmet. Rev: Stylised owl standing to right, head facing; olive sprig to left, [A]ΘE downwards to right. Ref: Huth 40 = Huth, Athenian, fig. 5, e. Near Very Fine. Ex Roma e111 (24 Aug 2023), Lot 489.image.jpeg.d3febf4e87176d3b1983265ed70707ce.jpeg

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I am very happy to see all the great additions to this thread! Hopefully my other 11 write ups prove to be just as fun. 🙂 

I should have mentioned that you shouldn’t let the parameters I set for my sub-Collection stop you from posting your favorite Minerva or full-figure Athena coins. I would like to see all of those too!

…………………………

Just for fun I will post a couple of the other coins in my collection that I considered using as my representative Athena for this sub-collection.

The Classical Owl
Athens_454_Tet.jpeg.f2b1554b6908159af04ae9f8a6f154cc.jpeg
Attica Athens 
AR Tetradrachm, Athens mint, struck ca. 454 - 404 BC
Dia.: 24 mm
Wt.: 17.10 g
Obv.: Head of Athena right wearing created attic helmet with three olive leaves above visor and five pronged palmette, round earring with central boss, frontal eye
Rev.: ΑΘΕ; owl standing right with head facing, olive sprig and crescent to left
Ref.: Kroll 8, SNG Copenhagen 31
Ex Steven Album Rare Coins Auction 26, lot 25 (Sept. 15, 2016); Ex Triskeles Auction 322, lot 73 (Dec. 13, 2016)

This is probably the most recognizable Ancient Greek coin of all. The mass emission owls were struck to pay for the immense expenses of the Peloponnesian War. Thucydides outlines the financial details of the war from Athens perspective. For me, this adds a great deal to my interest in the coin.

I bought this one in 2016 before the flood of owls depressed prices. Oh well…

The End of Athenian Independence
Athens_Pi_Style_III_DL.jpeg.2293c6e3150b9cdd8b13747faf2b7ec4.jpeg
Attica Athens 
AR Tetradrachm (Pi-style III), Athens mint, struck ca. 353- 340 BC
Dia.: 25 mm
Wt.:  17.17 g
Obv.: Head of Athena right wearing attic helmet. Pi-style floral ornament on helmet with a long central tendril. Pellet above earring.
Rev.: ΑΘΕ; owl standing right with head facing, olive sprig and crescent to left.
Ref.: Kroll Pi-Style p. 244, fig. 8; Flament p. 126, 3; SNG Cop 63 (round flan) and 64 (elongated flan); SNG München 96; SGCV I 2547 (elongated flan); SNG Delepierre 1474 (elongated), 1479 (round flan); Svoronos Athens pl. 20: 2, 4, 5; van Alfen New pl. 7: 19 - 20

This coin coincides with the final period of the independent Athenian democracy. The striking of this coin lines up well with the career of the statesman and orator Demosthenes (famous for his Philippics against Philip II of Macedon). As was pointed out to me by @Severus Alexander when I posted my Top 10 of 2022, this coin was also struck about the time Plato and Aristotle were concluding their time together at Athens.

As far as Pi-Styles go, I think this one is really nice. The pi is fully readable and the portrait is rather nice. This would have been my #3 choice after the other two owls posted above.

 

Edited by Curtisimo
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