Featured Asklepios and Telesphoros - Recovery Tag Team

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by hotwheelsearl, Apr 7, 2021.

  1. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    Asklepios is a rather famous deity, the god of medicine, healing, doctors, etc. He's a cool dude who often looks like Zeus with the beard and all that getup. My man also got the pecs, no doubt a result of his healthy lifestyle.
    Temples to Asklepios were common across the Hellenistic realms, with the most famous one in Epidaurus, which had a whole giant healing complex, basically the Disneyland for the sick.
    An interesting feature of the main temple was that it included an accessibility ramp for the mobility-impaired to more easily get inside, preceding the ADA by a solid two thousand years.

    Inside the temple it was a little different than most other major temples. Most of the major temples disallowed the public except for special occasions and festivals/feasts. However, Asklepion temples allowed select sick people to actually stay for several days and were attended to by the temple priests, doctors, and other health professionals.
    In the above picture, you can see strange disembodied limps and body parts on the walls. When patients arrived, they brought with them models of bronze or clay, of the body part that troubled them. For example, if they had leg pain they'd bring a leg model. There is also a large number of both male and female genetalia, indicating that these healing centers were used for any and all ailments, even the more advanced ones.

    Although Asklepios was the Big Daddy of healing, there was a cute little dude associated with Asklepios by the name of Telesphoros, who is an interesting character often existing in the shadow of his father today. Most people who know a little about classical history know Asklepios, but much fewer have ever heard of Telesphoros, but lil' T was actually a very important guy in the Hellenic tradition of healing. He was the god of convalescence, otherwise known as the process of healing. So, while Dad was the god of healing and medicine overall, Telesphoros was the one handling the restoration of health from zero to hero.

    Telesphoros was a tiny little guy, the size of of a three or four year old compared to big poppa. He wears a curious little hoodie type of thing which looks really weird, almost like he's a little gnome. However, this type of shawl was apparently commonly worn by those sick people who were undergoing the recovery process. tumblr_inline_o1o4i8Xek01srzad7_540.jpg

    In the sanctuary of Asklepios at Pergamun (different from the one at Epidaurus illustrated above) there was an interesting temple dedicated to Telesphoros, one of the few extant examples in a good state of preservation.
    This temple was pretty cool: it led patients down a underground tunnel that was probably pumped full of relaxing vapors and scents, and probably nice and cool too. The underground portion included a circular ambulatory with a design that allowed a "neverending" procession. In effect, this part of the experience was something of a walking meditation.

    A really neat thing about this part of the temple was the bathing tubs inset into a series of pillars. Basically, you could walk around, chillax, and hop into a nice spa to wind down.
    So, basically, the old Sanctuaries of Asklepios were a spa resort/Disneyland/healing spring/place to relax. Neat.

    Now some coins:



    Please show off your Asklepios and Telesphoros coins! They're bound to be a lot better than mine...




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  3. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    Great write up, I did one some time ago about the Asklepion on Kos: https://www.cointalk.com/threads/the-asklepion-of-kos.351085/

    Islands off Caria, Kos. AR Tetrobol. Nikostra– and Deinias, magistrates (Circa 200-180/70 B.C.)
    Laureate head of Asklepios right.
    Reverse: ΚΩ below, ΝΙΚΟΣΤΡ on left, ΔΕΙΝΙΑΣ on right; Coiled serpent to right; all within incuse square.
    Reference: Stefanaki 2036 (E83/O137); HGC 6, 1324.
    1.92g; 15mm
    Ancient & Medieval Coins Canada, auction 2, lot 20.
    From the JB (Edmonton) collection.
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  4. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    Septimius Severus(193 - 211 A.D)
    Æ 27
    Anchialus, Thrace.
    O: AY K L CEP CEYHROC PE, laureate, draped bust right.
    R: HG CT BABHAROY AGXIALEWN, Hygieia standing right, feeding serpent in arms, facing Asklepios standing left, resting on serpent-entwined staff.
    Moushmov 2807; Varbanov 176 AMNG II 458
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  5. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Thank you for the informative write-up.

    Any excuse to post my only Caracalla sestertius - Asclepius and Telesphorus on the reverse:

    Caracalla Sest. Asclepius RIC 538a Mar 2021 (0a).jpg
    Caracalla Æ Sestertius
    (215 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    [M AVRE]L ANTONINVS PIVS AVG GERM, laureate, draped, cuirassed bust right / [P M TR P] XVIII IMP III [COS IIII PP] SC Asclepius standing facing, resting on serpent-entwined staff, Telesphorus standing left, globe on ground to right.
    RIC 538a.
    (23.61 grams / 31 x 29 mm)

    "Before establishing his military headquarters at the Syrian capital of Antiochia in 215, Caracalla...found time to visit the shrine of Asklepios in Pergamum...This visit was of such importance to Caracalla that it was commemorated by a special emission of coins in all three metals from the Rome mint in 215..."
    Julius Germanicus Coin Talk Sep. 2017

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  6. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    Your coin is incredible!
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  7. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    I do love some Asklepios and family! This one's my favorite because it has both Asklepios and Hygieia (and Faustina II)!

    Faustina Jr Hadrianopolis Hygeia and Asklepios Naumann.jpg
    Faustina II, AD 147-175.
    Roman provincial Æ 22.7 mm, 6.54 g, 7 h.
    Thrace, Hadrianopolis, AD 161-176.
    Obv: ·I·AVCTEINA CEBACTH, pearl-diademed and draped bust, right.
    Rev: ΑΔΡΙΑΝΟΠΟΛΕΙΤΩΝ, Hygieia, feeding serpent from patera, and Asklepios, leaning on serpent-entwined staff, standing facing one-another.
    Refs: RPC IV (temp) 10453; SNG Cop 560; Jurukova 84-87; Varbanov 3219; Moushmov 2521; Mionnet suppl. 2, 636.

    And here's the little dude ...

    Elagabalus, AD 218-222.
    Roman provincial Æ assarion, 2.36 g, 16.1 mm, 12 h.
    Moesia Inferior, Marcianopolis, AD 218-222.
    Obv: ΑVΤ Κ Μ ΑVΡ ΑΝΤΩΝΙΝΟC, laureate head, right.
    Rev: ΜΑΡΚΙΑΝΟΠΟΛΙΤΩΝ, Telesphoros standing facing, wearing hooded cloak.
    Refs: AMNG I 910; Varbanov 1421-22; Moushmov 652; SNG Budapest 191.
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  8. Ed Snible

    Ed Snible Well-Known Member

    Here is something smaller:

    Lydia. Tripolis. Pseudo-autonomous issue (198-218 or 193-268 AD or "Time of the Antonines".) AE 15 mm, 1.67 g.
    Rev: Blundered inscription ΤΙΙΠ?-?ΙΤΩΝ; Telesphorus standing facing, in hooded cloak, arms crossed in front.

    These small Athena/Telesphoros coins can be collected by mint. No clue why so many cities did the type.
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  9. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    Neat! Telesphoros on romannprovincials seem to be rather hard to find
    Ed Snible likes this.
  10. Ryro

    Ryro The last of the Diadochi Supporter

    Wonderful write up! And sign me up for the full on Asklepios treatment:cigar:
    Here's the man's little creeper buddy now...
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2021
  11. gogili1977

    gogili1977 Well-Known Member

    Gallienus - Asklepios
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  12. PeteB

    PeteB Well-Known Member

    All three:
    Severus Alexander. 222-235 AD. Æ 30, and of medallic style. Kotiaeon/Cotiaeum, Phrygia. Obv: M AVP CΕVΗ ΑΛΕΧΑΝΔΡΟ-C AVΓ. His bust left with imperial mantle, holding scepter in l. hand, which slants over his left shoulder, and raising right hand (in greeting?). Rev: ΕΠΙ Π ΑΙΛ ΕΡΜΑΦΙΛΟΥ APXONTOC; "A" in upper center field; in exergue: KOTIAEΩ(N). Asklepios standing facing, head toward Hygieia. A small Telesphoros between them; the "N" from the exergue over his head. SNG Tubingen 4111.
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  13. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    I have no coins with Telesphoros, and only one depicting Asklepios, a coin that I would characterize as "Republican Provincial":

    Mysia, Pergamon (under Roman Republic from 133 BCE, Province of Asia), AE 19 mm., 133-27 BCE. Obv. Laureate head of Asklepios right / Rev. Serpent coiled around oval Omphalos covered by net [agrenon],* AΣKΛHΠIOY downwards to right, ΣΩTHΡOΣ downwards to left [ = Asklepios Sothros or Soter, meaning “the Savior”]. BMC 15 Mysia 158 (p. 129) & PL. XXVII no. 4 [Wroth, Warwick, A Catalogue of the Greek Coins of the British Museum, Vol. 15, Mysia (London 1892)]; Sear, Greek Coins 3967 (p. 369) (ill.) [Sear, David, Greek Coins and their Values, Vol. 2: Asia & Africa (Seaby 1979)]; SNG Von Aulock I 1377 [Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Deutschland, Sammlung Hans Von Aulock, Vol. 1: Pontus, Paphlagonia, Bithynia, Mysia, Troas, Aiolis, Lesbos, Ionia (Berlin, 1957)]; SNG BnF 1803-1827 [Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, France, Cabinet des Médailles, Bibliothéque Nationale, Vol. 5, Mysia (Paris 2001)]. 19 mm., 9.91 g., 11 h.

    Mysia Pergamon 133-127 BCE Asklepios - Serpent on Ompalos 19 mm. 9.91 g - jpg version.jpg

    *See the definitions of Omphalos and agrenon at http://www.forumancientcoins.com/moonmoth/glossary.html:

    Omphalos: The Omphalos was a sacred stone sited near the prophetic chamber of the oracle of Delphi. The word means "navel" in Greek, indicating its position in the centre of the Hellenic world. There were several copies, and some other stones are sometimes given this name, but the Delphi stone is the original and the one which is usually meant by the term. Apollo, the patron deity of the Delphic oracle, is often shown seated on the Omphalos. It was usually shown on coins as covered by a white wool netting, the agrenon, though this is worn to invisibility on many examples.

    Agrenon: A Greek word for the white wool netting which covered the Omphalos, and was also worn by soothsayers. It was related to the casting nets used by hunters. It was made of raw wool which had been carded, but not spun or died. Paintings and copies of the Omphalos showed it with this netting. It can be seen on the example to the right, criss-crossing between the body of a snake [illustration is of this coin type; see http://www.forumancientcoins.com/moonmoth/coins/pergamon_004.html].

    I particularly like this example because it's possible to see the netting clearly on the Omphalos, which isn't always the case. Also the serpent's beard. But could someone please explain to me exactly what Asklepios and his snake have to do with the Omphalos of Delphi (specifically indicated by the net or agrenon), and why the snake is coiled around it? Is it supposed to be healing or protecting the Omphalos, or some similar meaning?
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  14. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    I have been unable to find a specific explanation of why Asklepios's snake is depicted coiled around the Omphalos of Delphi. I do not think it's intended to evoke Python, the giant serpent whose mother was Gaia and who originally guarded the Omphalos until it was slain by Apollo, who built his temple there to replace the serpent -- interpreted by some as the sky god replacing the Earth goddess, etc. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Python_(mythology). That myth has nothing to do with Asklepios or his serpent or medicine.

    So it may just be as simple as Asklepios being the son of Apollo. Here's a coin from Pergamon (not mine) showing Asklepios sitting on a rock (the Omphalos?) and feeding his snake:


    The photo is taken from a very interesting series of Power Point slides about Asklepios and his coins, with lots of great images -- including a nice example of my coin. You can download it from https://www.academia.edu/37005694/A...TATIONS_OF_HIS_CULT_ON_ANCIENT_COINS_2018_ppt .
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  15. Limes

    Limes Supporter! Supporter

    Great and interesting write up, thanks! Here's my contribution:
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  16. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    I've had this Caracalla rolling around for a bit and couldn't figure out what it was. Finally buckled down and figured out it was Asklepios!

    At first I thought it was Titus or Vespasian with Hercules, closer inspection proved otherwise.

    I think it's Hadrianopolis; the reverse legend doesn't quite match but that's the best I'll get.
    Caracalla Moushom 3461.JPG
  17. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

  18. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    Fun fact: Apparently in Ancient Rome it was common for slave owners to leave seriously ill slaves at the Temple of Asclepius so they didn’t have to take care of them.

    They hoped the slaves would die there.

    If the slave survived the master would come reclaim him/her.

    Emperor Hadrian did not like this so he passed an edict saying that any slave who was abandoned at the Temple and survived was automatically considered a freedman.
  19. Silphium Addict

    Silphium Addict Supporter! Supporter

    Instead of a coin, I have an Asklepios story:
    While in Barcelona 2018, I specifically went to the Museu d'Arqueologia de Catalunya - Barcelona to see the original statue of Asklepios from Empuries, its most famous artifact. When I visited the Museu d'Arqueologia de Catalunya - Empúries at the archaeologic site, I was surprised to find out the original statue had been returned to the Museum in 2016 for its centennial anniversary but my guidebook was not up to date. However, the MAC-Barcelona was still well worth the visit and the day wandering Empúries was exceptional.
    Original statue of Asklepios at MAC - Empúries
    Copy of statue at the temple - Empúries
    Photo of finding the statue in a well 1909

    BTW, if you ever go to Empúries, stay at the Hostel Spa Empúries beside the archeologic site. Nice beach and be sure to walk to the medieval town of Sant Marti d’Empúries for dinner. What a wonderful experience!
    Hostel Spa Empúries
    Sunrise at Hostel Spa Empúries

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 24, 2021
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  20. Nvb

    Nvb Well-Known Member


    Septimius Severus Æ29 of Pautalia, Thrace. AD 193-211.
    AY K Λ CЄΠTI CЄVHPOC ΠЄP, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right /
    Asclepius seated right on back of winged serpent, holding serpent-entwined staff; serpent-entwined staff; OVΛΠIAC ΠAVTAΛIAC in two lines below. Varbanov 4681-9 var. (obv. legend).
    Very Fine. Extremely Rare.
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