Sauroktonos.” Sauroktonos is typically translated as “lizard-slayer.” Art historians date the work to c.350-340 BC. The sculpture was well-known by Roman times and numerous copies and variants in virtually all media are known. The most famous are the Roman copies in the Louvre and the Vatican museums. The Cleveland Museum of Art claims to own a bronze original (or part-original) of this work. The work is currently being analyzed to verify this claim by scholars and archaeologists. The sculpture showed the god leaning against a tree or tree stump, with a lizard climbing up the trunk. The god carried a bow and arrow, as if preparing to shoot the animal, hence the epithet, Sauroktonos, attached to the figure by Pliny. The example in the Louvre The example in the Vatican Martial wrote an epigram about the statue (14, CLXXII), titled Sauroctonos Corinthius: “Spare the lizard, insidious boy, as she creeps toward you; she wants to die by your fingers.” Patricia Lawrence has cataloged twenty-one different coins, issued from the reigns of Antoninus Pius through Macrinus, depicting the Apollo Sauroktonos motif. This coin, a recent acquisition for my collection, serves as an example: Macrinus, AD 217-218. Roman provincial Æ pentassarion, 12.64 g, 27 mm, 1 h. Moesia Inferior, Nicopolis, Legate Marcus Claudius Agrippa, AD 218. Obv: ΑV Κ ΟΠΠΕΛ CΕVΗ ΜΑΚΡΙΝΟC, laureate head, right. Rev: VΠ ΑΓΡΙΠΠΑ ΝΙΚΟΠΟΛΙΤΩΝ ΠΡΟC ΙCΤΡΩ, Nude Apollo with crossed legs standing right, his right arm drawn back, his left on a tree trunk, from which a lizard (?) leaps across to him. Refs: AMNG I 1687; Moushmov 1210; Hristova and Jekov 126.96.36.199; Varbanov 3348; Mionnet Suppl. 2, p. 148, 541. Despite the similarity of the scene on the reverse to the extant Roman copies of Praxiletes statue, the coin does not depict a lizard crawling along the trunk of the tree. In fact, it’s unclear, even on well-struck and well-preserved examples of coins from this die, what is going on between Apollo’s right hand and the trunk of the tree. Patricia Lawrence rightly notes the right hand is “strangely absent, with the ‘connector’ from torso to tree being not quite a laurel and not quite a lizard (which end is its head?).” Pick, as noted above, was unsure about his identification of the object spanning the distance from the tree to Apollo’s right hand and marked it with a question mark in his description of the coin’s reverse. Mionnet doesn’t identify the object as a lizard at all, but rather as a “shaft” of some sort. But let’s assume for the sake of argument, that it is a lizard. But is Apollo actually trying to kill the lizard in any of the representations, numismatic, sculptural, or otherwise? Recent scholarship, most notably by Renate Preisshofen and by Irving Lavin, has called this long-standing notion into question. Preisshofen argues that Pliny was simply in error, misinterpreting the meaning of Apollo’s gesture, and especially misunderstanding the action of the reptile, which climbs up, toward the sun, rather than scampering away to hide, as is the animal would be expected to do under such circumstances. And certainly, Martial’s epigram notwithstanding, the lizard wouldn’t want to die by anyone’s hand. Preisshofen suggests that Pliny may have conflated the motive of the young Apollo observing a lizard on a tree with that of the Delphic Apollo who killed the monstrous Python. While the god carries weapons in the Praxiletes statue, they are at rest. Preisshofen argues that the so-called Apollo Sauroktonos represents a different and much more widespread manifestation of the god, greatly elaborated in the long tradition of animal physiology, of Apollo as healer, that is, Apollo Medicus, most notably healer of maladies of the eyes. Lavin notes that the mythographer Hyginus describes Apollo as the first to practice the art of treating the eyes. This ability of Apollo to heal eye diseases is frequently represented in art by the god’s encounter with the lizard. The ancients believed that as the animal molts, it emerges blind, but its sight is restored by the healing rays of sunlight cast upon it by the sun god, Apollo. Far from slaying the lizard, Apollo’s purpose is probably to heal the blind creature. The point is crucial since it explains why the Apollo of this type is canonically represented as a sweet, nubile, sympathetic youth, and not the mature and wrathful slayer of Python at Delphi. I find this argument thought-provoking and convincing. ~~ Notes: 1. Pliny the Elder, Natural History 34. 69–70: “fecit et puberem Apollinem subrepenti lacertae communis sagittae insidiantem quem sauroctonon vocant.” 2. See: https://www.clevelandart.org/magazine/cleveland-art-2013-highlights/apollo-python-slayer 3. Martial’s Epigram in Latin reads, Ad te reptanti, puer insidiose, lacertae/Parce: cupit digitis illa perire tuis. See: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:2008.01.0506:book=14oem=172 4. Patricia Lawrence, Forum Ancient Coins, “Apollo Sauroktonos: The Evidence of the Coins,” http://www.forumancientcoins.com/ayiyoryitika/saurcoins /ayiyoryitika-saurcoins.htm. 5. This description is taken from Behrendt Pick. Die antiken Münzen Nord-Griechenlands, Vol. 1: Dacien und Moesien. Druck Und Verlag Von Georg Reimer, 1898, p. 433. The original German reads, "Nackter Apollon mit gekreuzten Beinen r. stehend, den r. Arm zurückgezogen, die L. auf einem Baumstumpf, von dem eine Eidechse (?) zu ihm hinüberspringt (Sauroktonos)." 6. CNG electronic auction 388, lot 224, December 14, 2016, https://www.cngcoins.com/Coin.aspx?CoinID=326763 7. Op. cit. 8. The term Mionnet uses is flèche; his description of the coin’s reverse reads, “Figure virile, nue et debout, (Apollon) tenant une flèche de la main droite, et ayant la gauche sur un arbre ébranché,” which I translate as, “Male figure, nude and standing, (Apollo) holding an arrow in the right hand and having the left on a lopped tree.” See Mionnet, T. Description de Médailles Antiques Grecques et Romaines, Supplement 2: Thrace. Paris, 1822, p. 148. It is certain that the Paris specimen described by Mionnet is of the same reverse type as the specimen in Athens described by Pick because Pick notes they were struck with the same dies (Pick, ibid.). 9. Renate Preisshofen, “Der Apollon Sauroktonos des Praxiteles,” Antike Plastik 28 (2002): 41–115. 10. Irving Lavin, "The Fable of Apollo Sauroktonos and the Beauty of Apollo Medicus," Institute for Advanced Study. Available online at https://publications.ias.edu/sites/default/files/LAVINApolloFableBeauty.pdf 11. I have previously written about the motif of Apollo slaying Python on coins here at Coin Talk. See https://www.cointalk.com/threads/apollo-versus-python.327205/ 12. Lavin quotes Hyginus: Apollo artem oculariam medicinam primus fecit, and cites Fabulae, 174, M. A. Grant,The Myths of Hyginus, Lawrence KA, 1960, 173; P. K Marshall, ed., Hyginus. Fabulae, Munich and Leipzig, 2002, 196.