Featured Ganymedes: The Beautiful

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by ycon, Mar 30, 2021.

  1. ycon

    ycon Renaissance Man

    One year ago @Jochen1 posted a wonderful thread of the same examining the mythological figure of Ganymede—the lover of Zeus and cupbearer to the gods—and his depictions on coinage. I too have been gathering a collection of coins, medals, tesserae, and jetons featuring Ganymede, which cover a span of over 1700 years.


    Here is my complete collection, presented chronologically, with relevant contextual and art-historical information. Some I have posted before, but many are recent acquisitions that I have never posted on cointalk.


    TROAS. Ilium. Commodus , 177-192. Diassarion (?) (Bronze, 27 mm, 9.35 g, 7 h). ΑY ΚΑΙ Μ ΑYΡΗ ΚΟΜΟΔΟϹ Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Commodus to right, seen from behind. Rev. ΙΛΙΕΩΝ Ganymede advancing left, holding pedum in his left hand and being carried away by Zeus, behind him, in the form of an eagle. Bellinger T187. RPC IV.2 online 11281. Very rare

    All of the ancient coins featuring Ganymede that I know of come from Asia Minor. They’re all quite rare and most of them seem to come from near the site where Ganymede was lifted up to heaven—which is indeed the scene we see here on the reverse of this coin. This is one of two ancient coins I have depicting Ganymede.


    THRACE, Hadrianopolis. Septimius Severus. AD 193-211. Æ (26mm, 13.12 g). Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right / Ganymede standing left, placing right hand on eagle sitting on rocky outcropping, holding logobolon in left; flute to lower right. Youroukova 192; Varbanov 3348 (R8).

    Another very rare type (which Jochen has a superior example of). This one comes from Hadrianopolis which is modern day Edirne in Turkey.


    ASIA MINOR. Ephesus(?). PB Tessera (Circa 2nd-3rd centuries). Obv: Ganymede standing right, left arm around Zeus/eagle, standing on thunderbolt.
    Rev: Blank. Unpublished in the standard references. 4.29 g. 17 mm.

    My latest addition is this apparently unpublished tessera. I’m not sure how to go about researching it. I believe that all of the Ephesian Tesserae are somewhat mysterious—with theories including magical and medical amulets or that they were connected to temples and festivals. If anyone can point me to more information I would be very appreciative.

    Screen Shot 2018-06-12 at 8.jpg

    Charles IX, 1570. Jeton. 27mm, 4.10 gr. Obv : JUPITER ET GANYMEDES. Ganymede and the Eagle. Rev: VENERANDA MINERVA. Minerva seated left. By Hans Krauwinckle (1562-1586).

    Hans Krauwinkel was one of the most prolific jeton producers in Nuremberg in the 16th Century, supplying the demand for tokens all across Europe. Most of the pieces you see have very mundane symbols and are quite worn (but they are all signed, as that was apparently mandated by law). However Hans Krauwinkel also executed a wonderful series of jetons with mythological scenes, including many drawn from ovid. It's very rare to see jetons in this good condition,

    Ganymede by Giulio Clovio after Michelangelo, c. 1540

    The depiction of Ganymede on this jeton is fascinating. It is derived from a lost Michelangelo drawing (preserved in copies by Giulio Clovio). Hans Krauwinkel would have known the design from prints that circulated throughout Europe, like this one that is a copy itself after a print by Nicolas Beatrizit.

    print after Beatrizit after Michelangelo, after 1550

    image copy.png

    Jeton de Menus Plaisirs du Roi, 1654. AE. 26,5 mm. 6 h. F.2859 var. écu

    Obverse: MENVS. PLAISIRS. DV. ROY. Crowned shield of France with double rim.

    Reverse: MINOR EST QVAE FVLMINA GESTAT ; Exergue: 1654. Ganymede carried by the Eagle of Jupiter through the air. trans: It is more fragile than (the eagle) which carries lightning

    The following two are French jetons, ten years apart, that share a reverse die. This jeton was issued by the “Menu Pleasures Of The King.” The full name of this administration is "silverware, small pleasures and affairs of the king's chamber." This is the service responsible for stage sets, costumes and accessories for plays, ballets and shows organized in the courtyard. It was headed by a steward. From the Hotel du Roi, service des Menus Plaisirs and House Affairs provided the King with valets, barbers and upholsterers, liveries, plus travel, almanacs and calendars for the Court, jewelry and portraits.

    The iconography of Ganymede on these jetons seems to me most closely related to a c. 1644 painting by Eustache le Seur, now at the Louvre.

    Ganymede by Eustache le Seur c. 1644


    Jeton de galanterie. 1674. Silver plated brass. 27 mm 6 h. Terisse- - F.12660

    Obverse: IEN SVIS LE SOVTIEN ET LA IOYE 1674. Cupid seated on a barrel, lifting the globe. trans: I am the support and the joy. Reverse: LAMOVR ME RAVIT 1674. Trans: Love delights me. Ganymede carried by the Eagle of Jupiter through the air.

    My second Ganymede jeton is a type of gallantry tokens. It was customary to give a one once during the wedding mass. It was blessed and meant entering a community property married. It subsequently became a medal or token of marriage, so named in honor of Jesus Christ and the Twelve Apostles. This practice persisted into the

    first half of the twentieth century. The reference book on the subject is the work of Jules Florange, Love and marriage in numismatics, Moulins, 1936 now replaced by Henri Térisse, The Wedding Coin, Argenton-sur-Creuse 2008

    End of Part I
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  3. ycon

    ycon Renaissance Man

    Part II


    Paul III (1468–1534-1549), Farnese, the Ganymede Medal, bronze annual medal, Year 16 (1549/1550), by Alessandro Cesati, called 'Il Grechetto', PAVLVS · III · PONT · MAX · AN · XVI · bust r., wearing cope embroidered with scene of the Porta Sacra, rev. ΦEPNH · ZHNOΣ. Ganymede watering the Farnese lilies, EYPAINEI in exergue. 39.30mm 30g. (Att.380, fig 69; cf. Linc.497; cf. Arm I, 172, 5, year XIII; cf. Pollard 417), old restrike, from incorrect obverse die.

    This medal has an interesting double history. The dies, which are mismatched—making it a mule of sorts—were engraved by one of the great late Renaissance medalists: Alessandro Cesati, known as Grechetto. Vasari records a hyperbole in his honor that he attributes to Michelangelo: “The hour of art’s death has arrived, because a better [medal] could not exist.”

    The Ganymede symbolism here is unexpected (on a papal medal) and delightful—and quintessentially Renaissance. The legends “The dowry of Zeus” and “He irrigates well” form a play on the Farnese name, and the imagery of the medal symbolizes the pope’s paternal task of nurturing. It is one of a number of instances of Paul III’s use of Jovian iconography.

    Why then is this medal listed second to last if the dies date from 1549.50? The Hammerani family, who were the great Baroque family of papal engravers in the 17th century, put together a massive collection of papal medallic dies. Until the 1790s the dies belonged to the artists and not to the mint, and the celators were permitted to privately strike and sell medals after fulfilling the terms of the official orders. The Hamerani formalized this process in 1789 with the founding of a saleroom in Rome to pedal re-struck papal medals—the original tourist shop. The medals they struck were generally mules. They treated obverses of the same pope as interchangeable and were not careful in matching them with their original reverses. The re-striking operation continued well into the 19th century and was expanded by the Mint Master of Rome, Francesco Mazio. In 1824 he published the first catalogue of papal medals and it was probably under him, and around that time, when my medal was struck.


    International aviation exhibition in Frankfurt,1909. Bronze medal (unsigned. - K. Eberle). Ganymedes, cupbearer of Zeus, is carried to Olympus by an eagle / script. 83.2mm, 205g 1.346 Kaiser 342.2

    The youngest item in my collection is this wonderful art deco piece. It was issued in 1909 to commemorate the Ausstellungshalle der Internationalen Luftschiffahrt in Frankfurt which was the world’s first aviation exhibition. I find the connection between aviation and Ganymede being lifted to the sky quite charming.

    photo of the 1909 exhibition
  4. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    I have no coin to add, but art history.

    The famous Villa of Tiberius included the spectacular Sperlonga Grotto which included several incredible sculptural groups by the trio Polydoros, Athanadoros, and Aesandros of Rhodes - famous for the Laocoon group.

    They also sculpted at least four sculptural groups in Sperlonga.

    On top of the grotto was a lovely, veined marble statue of Ganymede, which, incredibly, has survived largely intact until the systematic excavation performed in the mid-20th century.

    Though found in fragments, it is largely intact missing only the head and a few other bits. Despite the cluttering of the marble veins, the incredibly artistry of the sculpture is evident in the Hellenistic rendering of drapery, flowing with the wind, as befitting a figure presented to the wind at the top of the grotto.

    The original is now in the Sperlonga Museum while a modern repro was installed in its place. (You can barely see it in the second picture above)
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  5. Jochen1

    Jochen1 Well-Known Member

    @ycon Wonderful collection. Thank you für showing.

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  6. Alegandron

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

    Well done, @ycon . Great collection!
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  7. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Wonderful collection and informative write-up, @ycon!
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  8. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Well-Known Member

    ycon, Thank you for this excellent article & sharing your impressive collection of coins & medals of Ganymede :D! The myth of Ganymede being abducted by an eagle (Zeus in disguise) seems to be an obvious euphemism for pederasty as practiced by the ancient Greeks & Romans :rolleyes:. It is amazing how much artwork has been devoted to this myth from ancient to modern times. During the Renaissance period the Roman Catholic church attempted to change the meaning of the myth to "Ganymede rising to heaven, by means of an eagle, after attaining spiritual perfection" since homosexuality was forbidden by the church :shame:. I find it interesting that Zeus, the most powerful of all Greek gods, is depicted as a sexual predator, not only in the myth of Ganymede but also in the myth of Leda & the Swan. In both of these myths Zeus appears in the form of a bird.

    _Leda_and_the_Swan_copy of Michelangelo.jpg
    Copy of a print by Michelangelo

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  9. Andrew McCabe

    Andrew McCabe Well-Known Member

    Time magazine this week has a good discussion on Ganymede and related topics including Plato's Symposium, “After the division the two parts of man, each desiring his other half", Aristophanes. Genesis. Michelangelo. Christian martyrdom, Cicero - "they condemn what they do not understand", etc


    So which US classics professors worked with LilNasX?

    Y'all should watch the video.
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