Example of Hellenic artistry

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Pavlos, Apr 20, 2021.

  1. Pavlos

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

    Marble bust of Philetaerus. Roman copy from 1st century AD of the Greek original

    When I think of the Hellenic period, compared to the Classical and Archaic period, the first thing that comes to my mind are 'kings'. In the Hellenic period, kings started to put their portraits on the coins. Before it was only done with portraits or iconography of the gods, it was considered arrogant for a king to put his own face on the coin. When kings started to put their face on the coin in the Hellenic period, they actually gave themselves a 'divine' status.

    The below coin I obtained is in my opinion a great example of the artistry of the Hellenic period, just compare it with the nice bust above. The portrait has a heroic pose (eventhough Mr. Philetairos here was a eunuch) showing everyone who was the boss around here.
    This coin obviously had active circulation, with ticks and bangs on the surface, and a (non-distracting) testcut on the chin of the king, but nonetheless the artistry of this piece was preserved.

    Kings of Pergamon. Eumenes I (263-241 BC). AR Tetradrachm. In the name of Philetairos. Pergamon mint. Struck circa 255/0-241 BC.
    Laureate head of Philetairos right.
    Reverse: ΦΙΛΕΤΑΙΡΟΥ. Athena enthroned left, elbow resting on shield to right, crowning dynastic name; transverse spear in background, ivy leaf to outer left, monogram to inner left, bow to right.
    Reference: Meydancikkale 3008 ff.; SNG BN 1612.

    When Lysimachos established the mint of Pergamon, he entrusted its treasury to the eunuch Philetairos. Philetairos changed his allegiance to Seleukos I, probably shortly before the Battle of Korupedion in 281 BC, where Seleukos defeated Lysimachos. Although Seleukos was assassinated the following year, Philetairos continued to acknowledge Seleukid primacy for some time, but soon struck a coinage in his own name. This coinage featured Athena Nikephoros on the reverse, similar to the reverses of Lysimachos. Perhaps because this move might have been viewed as a threat by his Seleukid overlord, the obverse of the first issues of these coins featured the portrait of Seleukos I. Near the end of Philetairos’ reign, in the mid-late 260s, the portrait of Seleukos was replaced with the portrait of the Pergamene king, noting a final break from Seleukid authority. Similar to what was done in Ptolemaic Egypt, all of the subsequent kings of Pergamon continued to use these types on the coinage, and even kept the name of Philetairos. Distinguishing the issues between the various rulers has been difficult for numismatists. Westermark’s die study of the coinage, however, provided the key necessary for understanding the series, although more recent hoard evidence has refined Westermark’s assignment of the issues.

    Philetairos never married and, since he was a eunuch, had no children. He adopted his nephew Eumenes I, who succeeded him as ruler of Pergamon, upon his death in 263 BC. The above coin is therefore minted by his nephew, the successor, who recognized Philetairos as the founder of their dynasty.

    Please share your coins of Pergamon and the Pergamene kings! Also, show your examples of Hellenic artistry on coins.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2021
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  3. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    Very nice coin! I think the test cut looks like Philetairos was in a knife fight, and came very near to getting his throat slit...
  4. Ryro

    Ryro They call me the 13th Caesar Supporter

    Huge coingrats Pavlos!!! That is a true bucket list coin and one of the most artistic of antiquity:artist:
    Eumenes appears to have been an ox of a man and falls under the banner of Diadochi!:jimlad: Very envious :D
    Not my most artistic, but a coin of Philetairus with a fantastic owl countermark and a secret Saturnalia from years back!

    As for Helenic artistry, since you beat me with Eumenes here's some pretty coins from after ATG: 20200229_150110_IMG_4411(1).JPG share740345761544138738.png 16024484100126288246453856866947-removebg-preview.png 20190326_101513_DD7D513A-5724-42F6-8438-B8877701B389-406-0000007282F110D4.png 20190326_140125_5CCAFDA4-7F83-4C1E-B272-325191995DC3-406-000000AF818F6F98.png 20190326_152606_D94CE9B8-4215-40D9-B10A-1B6B1EFBF230-406-000000C8C54529E6.png 20190326_153647_C4EBFF2B-4841-4E02-BCFF-1B3E86E765D1-406-000000CC59A49DFE.png 20190326_172150_ACE5DBD0-870B-4974-9441-1B8D7515863A-406-000000E6E32D723A.png share4938191895733806573.png
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2021
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  5. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    Great write up and a great coin,Pavlos,thanks.

    P1150259best.jpg pergamon rijk Attalus II - III 159-133 BC (2).jpg
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  6. Pavlos

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

    If you have cistophoric coins please also share them! There is a wide variety of them and they were far more widespread and important in the Pergamene kingdom than these issues of Philetairos.

    I believe @TIF had this beautiful Philetairos tetradrachm, I remember from the top 2019. I hope you are willing to share that beauty again :)

    Thanks @Parthicus, indeed I think the test cut on that location adds both historical significance and interest to the coin. Your story makes it even cooler :D

    Wow @Ryro! So many nice coins with Hellenic artistry. I am still fond (and jealous) of your Seleukos drachm.

    Thanks @Andres2, nice cistophorus!
    TIF, Ryro and Andres2 like this.
  7. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Pavlos, The coins of Philetairos definitely represent a high point in Hellenistic portraiture :D. The Stephanophoric Tetradrachms of the late Hellenistic period also carried on the tradition of great artistry :happy:. My favorite is pictured below.

    Artemis & Apollo.jpg
    Ionia-Magnesia ad Maeandrum, circa 155-145 BC. Artemis & Apollo, AR Tetradrachm: 16.89 gm, 31 mm, 12 h. SNG von Aulock 7921. Ex CNG Triton VI, lot 357, January 2003.
  8. svessien

    svessien Senior Member Supporter

    Congratulations, Pavlos!
    I don’t have a lot to share from the Hellenistic period, unfortunately. Perhaps one day:) Myrnia Aiolis b.jpg
  9. Orielensis

    Orielensis Supporter! Supporter

    That is a splendid tetradrachm – the test cut only makes Philetairos appear even more rugged than he looks anyways. I also very much enjoyed reading your write-up.

    My coin of Pergamon is much less spectacular and a hundred years younger:

    Griechen – Mysien, Pergamon, AE 18, Aklepios und Schlangenstab.jpg
    Mysia, Pergamon, AE17, ca. 133–127 BC. Obv: head of Asklepios, bearded, r. Rev: [AΣ]KΛH[PIOY] ΣΩTHPOΣ, serpent-entwined staff. 17.5mm, 5.05g. Ref: SNG Copenhagen 370–376; SNG France 1828–1848; BMC 151–157.
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  10. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    The older portraits from the Ptolemaic Kingdom are worthy of praise too :D. I sold the Tet pictured below a long time ago.

    Alexandiea, Egypt (2).jpg
    Ptolemy VI, 180-145 BC, Aradus-Phoenicia. AR tetradrachm: 13.93 gm, 26 mm.
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  11. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    The Hellenistic style of the second through first centuries BC is certainly reflected in the new style tetradrachm coinage of Athens:

    D-Camera Athens new style tetradrachm, Antiochus, 163-2 BC, 16.8 g, 8-23-20.jpg

    D-Camera Athens new style tetradrachm,Caduceus rev., 164-5 BC, 17.0 g, 8-23-20.jpg

    D-Camera Athens tetradrachm new style 165-42 BC 16.56g Tomp 568c CNG  4-21-21.jpg
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  12. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Supporter! Supporter

    Philetairos Ar Tetradrachm Pergamon 269-263 BC Obv, Head of Philetairos right diademed. Rv. Athena seated left holding a shield in from of her. Westermark III Rv 2 16.99 grms 18 mm Photo by W. Hansen Philetairos1.jpeg The school of die cutters at Pergamon were truly a gifted group of artisans Fist we see the very impressive portrait of Alexander the Great which was struck at this mint. This was followed up by the portrait of Seleukos I and then finally this one. What is particularly noteworthy is that each portrait was rendered completely differently. The portrait of Philetairos is rendered with an intensity that is quite shocking. The finely detailed hair with its tight curls contrast vividly with the basically blank neck and cheek. The facial features are crowded to one edge of this vast plain. The impression given is that of an individual you would not want to piss off in a dark alley. This image is one of ruthless brutality. Whereas Alexander and Seleukos are rendered as hard capable men there is a sense of the aristocrat in both of their portraits. That vibe is completely absent here. The overly elaborate hair seems to imply that he is trying way too hard to appear aristocratic.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2021
  13. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Thanks for the reminder, Pavlos, and for the nice write-up of Philetairos :). This Eumenes I tetradrachm was my favorite acquisition of 2019 and I'm still gobsmacked by it.

    KINGS of PERGAMON, Eumenes I
    263-241 BCE
    AR tetradrachm 29 mm, 16.94 gm
    Obv: head of Philetairos right, wearing laurel wreath
    Rev: ΦIΛETAIPOY; Athena enthroned left, right hand resting on shield set at her feet, gorgon on shield; left elbow resting on small sphinx seated right; transverse spear in background, ivy leaf above knee, monogram on throne, bow to right
    Ref: BMC Greek (Mysia) 31, p.115; SNG France 1606–9
    Formerly slabbed, NGC Ch AU 5/5 3/5, Fine Style
    Ex Dr. Spencer Paterson Collection of Ancient coins, Great Collections 15 Sept 2019

  14. NewStyleKing

    NewStyleKing Beware of Greeks bearing wreaths Supporter

    From the much rightly derided schizophrenic Mr Lanz a stephanophore
    Athens New Style Tetradrachm c164/3 BC
    Obs: Athena Parthenos in tri-form helmet
    right, wearing Aegis, Biga on neckguard
    No border of dots
    33.5 mm 16.15gm Thompson issue 1
    Thompson catalogue: Obs 3 : Rev NEW
    Rev : ΑΘΕ ethnic
    Owl standing on overturned panathenaic amphora
    2 magistrates monograms in both fields
    All surrounded by olive wreath with single tie
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  15. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    This magnificent coin gives a whole new meaning to "high relief" :jawdrop:!
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