Boy on a dolphin: Melicertes-Palaemon

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by zumbly, Jan 20, 2021.

  1. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Here's one of my last purchases of 2020, which arrived late on New Year's Eve. It's a small Roman provincial of Corinth with the city's familiar pegasos on one side, and Melicertes-Palaemon (Melikertes-Palaimon) lying on a dolphin on the other.

    In one mythological tradition, Melicertes and his brother Learchus are the sons of Ino, the daughter of Cadmus, the founder of Thebes, and Athamas, a Boeotian king. Ino incurs the ire of Hera by nursing the infant Dionysus (Zeus's bastard son by Ino's sister Semele), and in her rage, the goddess inflicts on Athamas a madness that makes him want to kill his own family. After witnessing Athamas slaughter Learchus, Ino flees in terror with Melicertes, ultimately jumping off a cliff into the sea with him to escape her crazed husband. Both are thereafter transfigured into sea deities, with Melicertes's body borne ashore by a dolphin and placed under a pine tree at the Isthmus of Corinth.

    Fury ot Athamas.jpg
    The Fury of Athamas by John Flaxman (1755-1826)

    In his Description of Greece, Pausanias tells us that Melicertes's body was thereafter recovered by his uncle, Sisyphus, the king of Corinth, who also established in his honour the Isthmian Games, one of four great Panhellenic Games of Ancient Greece (along with the Nemean, Pythian and Olympic Games). Pausanias goes on to describe a small circular temple dedicated to Palaemon at the Sanctuary of Poseidon at Isthmia, the remains of which were discovered in 1956 by a University of Chicago archaeological excavation. The temple features on provincial coins of Corinth struck during Hadrian's reign (another type now on my want list!).

    Temple of Poseidon and Palaemon.jpg
    An imagined view of the Temple of Poseidon with the smaller Temple of Palaemon to its left, taken from Pausanias at the Isthmian Sanctuary, by E.R. Gebhard.

    Please feel free to share your coins of Corinth, Melicertes, or any other dolphin-riders.

    CORINTHIA Corinth - AE16 Melikertes 4190.JPG
    CORINTHIA, Corinth. Pseudo-autonomous issue.
    AE16. 3.32g, 16.5mm. CORINTHIA, Corinth, time of Tiberius, AD 32-33 (?). BCD Corinth 397 (same dies); RPC I 1170. O: Pegasos flying right; COR below. R: Melicertes-Palaemon, nude, lying on dolphin swimming right.
    Ex Auctiones E-auction 50 (11 Sep 2016), Lot 105
    Iepto, cmezner, Kurisu and 27 others like this.
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  3. ancientone

    ancientone Well-Known Member

    wonderful coin Zumbly!
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  4. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    very kool Z!:)
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  5. Ryro

    Ryro They call me the 13th Caesar Supporter

    Lovely coin:artist: And thanks for the backstory. I don't recall hearing it before. That Hera is a real B!:bored:
    Here's my Caracalla with boy on dolphin:
    DonnaML, cmezner, zumbly and 8 others like this.
  6. Theodosius

    Theodosius Fine Style Seeker Supporter

    I never knew these types existed. I love them! That is a great patina on your coin @zumbly . An interesting write up, thanks for posting it.

    I have been towed through the water by a dolphin myself at Discovery Cove in Orlando in just the same way as the first coin. Now I really need one of those coins. :)

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  7. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    Super coin, well done, @zumbly ! Congrats...
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  8. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    I have nothing to add coin-wise. I just wanted to post and say great coin and great thread Z!
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  9. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    What a lovely coin! Gorgeous patina!
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  10. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    AND, John... These coins were minted at ROMA DISNEY, Conventio Inventionis in 76 BCE


    Roman Republic
    Lucretius Trio
    76 BCE
    AR Denarius
    dolphin boy
    Sear 322 Craw 390-2
  11. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Proverbial moral of the story.... don't make a goddess mad!


    And I love this coin!

    LOL. :hilarious:

    Thanks! It really does have a lovely patina. The auction pictures made the colours look quite washed out, so it was a pleasant surprise when I received it and saw how deep and intense the green was. Here's the pic from the auction:

    Corinth - Melikertes 00928q00.jpg

    You didn't post your goddess on a dolphin!
  12. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    I'll have to rectify that! It's the finest known example ... because it is the only known example, LOL!

    Faustina II, AD 147-175.
    Roman provincial Æ 5.84 g, 22.0 mm, 7 h.
    Bithynia-Pontus, Apamea.
    Obv: FAUST[INAC AUG], draped bust of Faustina II, right.
    Rev: UЄNU[S ... C]ICA dd, Venus seated right, head left, on dolphin swimming left, resting right arm on dolphin, uncertain object in left hand.
    Refs: RPC IV, 11815 (temporary); Waddington RG --; BMC --; Sear --; Mionnet Suppl 5 --; Lindgren --; Wiczay --.
    Notes: The exemplar of RPC IV 11815. Obverse die match to RPC IV.1 4729.
  13. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Lovely! I've never seen that design before either -- or any coin with a human lying forward on a dolphin that way. Here's my Lucretius Trio, with a grinning Cupid and a disgruntled dolphin (you can see Cupid's expression rather clearly if you zoom in):

    Lucretius Trio (boy on dolphin).jpg
  14. ancientone

    ancientone Well-Known Member

    Corinth has its share of interesting coin types.

    corinth~0 (5).jpg

  15. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    That's a great coin! It reminds me of my favorite stater of Tarentum, with the detailed facial features of the rider and the ticked off look on the dolphin. :D

    Tarentum - Nomos - Prow.jpg

    Nice! I hope to get one of those with the pine tree some day, and yes, Corinth had some interesting provincial types, albeit often in pretty rough shape.

    Nero - Corinth AE20 Bellerophon Pegasos 1957.JPG
    AE20. 6.96g, 20.1mm. CORINTHIA, Corinth, circa AD 57-58 or AD 58-59. Ti. Claudius Optatus and C. Julius Polyaenus, duoviri. BCD Corinth 454; RPC 1201. O: NERO CLAV CAES AVG, bare head right. R: TI CLAVDIO OPTATO / COR, Bellerophon advancing left, holding shield and seizing by bridle Pegasos standing left.

    Domitian - Corinth 2091 RPC Plate.jpg
    AE22. 7.85g, 22mm. CORINTHIA, Corinth, circa AD 81-96. BCD Corinth 533 (this coin) = RPC 128/1 (this coin illustrated, erroneously shown as 127 on Plate 6). O: IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM, radiate head right. R: COL IVL AVG COR, Chimera advancing right.
    Ex BCD Collection, ex Lanz sale 105, 2001, lot 533
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