The Mount Olympus Silver Collection:
Ancient Greek Coins Featuring Gods & Goddesses
To the ancient Greeks, gods and goddesses were actively, and often intimately, involved in the affairs of mankind. From the battlefield to the bedroom, there the deities were, having their way with the men and women who competed for their divine favor. A quarrel over a golden apple’ legend has it, was the impetus for the Trojan War. The epic poem about that famous conflict, the Iliad, begins with a god sowing plague on the Achaeans. Gods and goddesses figure prominently in Homer’s narrative, as if they, and not the humans, were the cause of all conflict.
This remarkable collection features genuine ancient coins bearing the likenesses of three of the most powerful Greek deities:
Athena is the daughter of Zeus, the chief of the Greek pantheon, and his first wife, Metis. Fearing that she would bear him a son that would kill him, as he had slain his own father, he swallowed her, and she lived in his head. When she became pregnant, Zeus’s headache became so great that his son Hephestus, god of fire, had to split open his skull—and out came Athena, fully formed. The goddess of wisdom and war, Athena is portrayed as an androgynous figure in a helmet. Her patron city, Athens, is named for her.
Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto. His twin sister, Artemis, is the chaste goddess of the hunt. Apollo’s responsibilities are far-reaching: he is the god of the sun, music and poetry—he is the father of the nine muses—as well as prophecy. The Delphic oracles were in his charge. He had a dark side, too: it was he who sowed the plague upon the Achaeans in the Iliad.
The uncle of Athena and Apollo and the brother of Zeus, Poseidon is the god of the sea. Wielding his trident, he rides on a chariot. He is known as the tamer of horses and also the Earth Shaker, for his habit of causing earthquakes. He is shown as an old man with white hair and a beard.
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This remarkable collection features coins from the regions of Sicily and Thessaly—major Greek-speaking areas that eventually were assimilated into the Roman Empire.
1. Ancient Greece, Thessalian Confederacy Bronze, 2nd BCE Thessaly
Issued: 196-146 BCE Material: Bronze Weight: 5-6.7 g Obverse Reverse Denomination: AE 17 Diameter: 15-20 mm Head of Athena in helmet Horse Prancing Right
2. Ancient Greece, Thessalian Confederacy Bronze, 2nd BCE Thessaly
Issued: 196-146 BCE Material: Bronze Weight: 5.3-9 g Obverse Reverse Denomination: AE 20 Diameter: 16.5-20.5 mm Laureate head of Apollo Athena w spear & shield
3. Ancient Greece, Syracuse, Bronze, 3rd BCE Syracuse
Issued: 275-215 BCE Material: Bronze Weight: 5.8-7.5 g Obverse Reverse Denomination: AE 19 Diameter: 17-21 mm Head of Poseidon Trident & dolphins