Glory and Grandeur

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by kevin McGonigal, Nov 12, 2019.

  1. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    I think most readers and posters here like to study the times of the Classical World. We are attracted to this time period for many reasons. We are fascinated by the Glory that was Greece and the Grandeur that was Rome. When it comes to the coins of the Classical World we are attracted to various coins for one of many reasons. One of the motives for me in purchasing coins of any time period is that I am looking for coins that reflect the values of people who issued them, that reflect what was most valued and cherished. As I looked through my collection today I tried to figure out which of my coins most express Greek glory and Roman grandeur. For me the epitome of glorious Greece is beauty. What catches my eye in acquiring ancient Greek coins is beauty. Few people in history have had the ability to see beauty as the Greeks did or the ability to create it in their coinage. For the coinage of the Roman people it is not their beauty but rather their ability to impress me with their power. I admire Greek coinage, I am impressed by Roman coinage. Admiration versus awe.

    The two coins I selected are first a silver stater of Magna Graecia, the City of Velia from circa 290 BC (Sear 269) with Athena on the obverse and a crouching lion on the reverse, weighing 7.4 grams. Just gorgeous. The second which just screams, this is "what power looks like", is a hefty sestertius of 28 grams, from circa 105 AD (Sear 1004)with Trajan looking out at the world with a, well, imperious stare. "Don't mess with Rome or me". These two coins represent the epitome of the quintessence of the celators' ability to project and reflect what mattered to their people, glory and grandeur.

    I am sure members have coins of their own which say, "This is what it means to be a Greek or a Roman", "This is what matters to us". Show us the coins you have that send a message to the person who looks closely at them, a missive their time to our time. IMG_1178[2430]Glory, Grandeur.jpg IMG_1179[2428]Grandeur, glory rev..jpg
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  3. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

    Both neat coins
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  4. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    Thanks. When I gaze on coins like this I get lost in reverential reverie.
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  5. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I'll play. My most Archaic Greek coin is this Sybaris bull stater with the incuse reverse believed to be associated with the Pythagoreans.

    Most Classical Greek has to be the owl of Athens:

    Again there is little competition for Alexander the Great when to comes to being the later Greek/Hellenistic coin:

    Most Roman Republican would be an Aes Grave as if I had one but the best I can do is a struck sextantal as:

    Roman Imperial could be any of a thousand worthy coins but I'll offer an Augustus denarius with capricorn:

    Roman Provincial is represented here by a very common Hadrian from Alexandria:

    I suppose we could continue this with other coins representing other ancient categories: Byzantine, Near East, Indian, Far East, Medieval etc.
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  6. Blake Davis

    Blake Davis Well-Known Member

    I can certainly see how the Trajan captures the grandeur that was Rome - oddly enough what does it for me is a certain type of Nero sestertius, the type with Roma on the reverse. I only wish I could afford a really nice example. But Trajan does it in a different way - and it is an imperious stare. BTW - what color is the patina?
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  7. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    It's a very dark black. I have to use a strong LED lamp to get it to reveal its intricacies and, as you can see, the reverse was not a good strike. I almost chose a Nero Dupondius for the grandeur coin. That one is a bright brassy color, photographs well but the visage of Nero inspires more of revulsion than awe, to me anyway.
  8. Orielensis

    Orielensis Well-Known Member

    I've shown all of these before, but I'll play.

    Archaic Greece:
    Magna Graecia – Phokis, Liga, Triobol.png
    Phokis, Federal Coinage, triobol, ca. 490–485 BC. Obv: frontal bull's head. Rev: head of Artemis r. set diagonally in incuse square, Φ-O[-K-I] around. 13mm, 2.63g. Ref: see BCD Lokris–Phokis 189; see Williams 1972, no. 17.

    Classical Greece:
    Magna Graecia – Attica, Athen, tetradrachme.png
    Attica, Athens, AR tetradrachm, ca. 440s–430s BC. Obv: head of Athena to right, wearing crested Attic helmet decorated with three olive leaves and palmette. Rev: AΘE; Owl standing right, head facing; to left, olive sprig and crescent; all within incuse square. 24mm, 17.14g. Ref: Kroll 8.

    Hellenistic Greece:
    Makedonien – Alexander, Tetradrachme, Herakles Zeus.png
    Alexander III "the Great," Kingdom of Macedonia, Ar tetradrachm, 325–323 BC, Amphipolis mint (under Antipater). Obv: Head of Herakles right, wearing lion skin. Rev: ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΥ, Zeus Aëtophoros seated left; in left field, rooster standing left. 26mm, 17.17g. Ref: Price 79; Troxell 1997, issue E3.

    Roman Republic:
    Römische Republik – Denar, Marius Capito, Ceres, Ochsengespann.png
    Roman Republic, moneyer: C. Marius C. f. Capito, AR denarius serratus, 81 BC, Rome mint. Obv: CAPIT; head of Ceres, diademed, r., control number CV; control mark (whip?) before. Rev: C. MARI. C. F. / S. C; ploughman with two oxen l.; above, control number CV. 18mm, 3.88g. Ref: RRC 378/1c.

    Roman Imperatorial:
    Römische Republik – Denar, Julius Caesar, Elephant.png
    Roman Republic, Imperatorial Coinage, Julius Caesar, AR denarius, 49–48 BC, military mint moving with Caesar. Obv: [CA]ESAR; elephant walking r., trampling snake. Rev: priestly implements: culullus, aspergillum, axe, apex. 20mm, 3.70g.

    Roman Empire:
    Rom – Marcus Aurelius, Denar, Iuventas.png
    Marcus Aurelius (as Caesar), Roman Empire, denarius, 140–144 AD, Rome mint. Obv: AVRELIVS CAESAR AVG PII F COS; head of Marcus Aurelius, bare, r. Rev: IVVENTAS, Iuventas (youth) standing l., dropping incense in candelabrum and holding patera. 17.5mm, 3.16g. Ref: RIC III Antoninus Pius 423a.

    Medieval Europe:
    MA – Halberstadt, Gero von Schermbke, Brakteat, Hlg. Stephan.png
    Bishopric of Halberstadt, under Gero von Schermbke (sometimes: von Schochwitz), AR bracteate, 1169–1177 AD. Obv: + S–STEPHANVSPROTOMARTI; bust of St. Stephen facing between three stones and star. Rev: negative design. 25mm, 0.83g. Ref: Berger 1324; Slg. Bonhoff 483.

    Crusader States:
    MA – Crusaders, Jerusalem, Baldwin III denier (neues Foto).png
    Baldwin III, Kingdom of Jerusalem, BI Denier, 1142–1163 AD, Jerusalem mint. Obv: BALDVINVS REX; cross pattée. Rev: + DE IERVSALEM; Tower of David. 16mm, 0.97g. Ref: CCS 21.
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  9. Pishpash

    Pishpash Supporter! Supporter


    I fell in love with the owl as a child. before I even knew it was a coin! Never thought I would own one.

    My old avatar. Helios from Caria, Rhodes.

    Head of Jason right, wearing petasos.
    ΑΛΕΞΑΝ [Δ]ΡΟ[Υ] - Lower leg of horse
    Mint: (369-359 BC)

    I could go on, and on, and on.
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  10. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    I love your Rhodian piece. It would enlighten anyone's day.
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  11. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    Your Hadrian piece certainly conveys the "We in Rome know what we are doing" image. Usually I am not too impressed with the Alexandrine tetras but that one is especially well struck.
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  12. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Supporter! Supporter

    One of the coins that I find most interesting is this one. Especially the obverse. As you change the angle of view the expression on the lion's face changes becoming more fierce. Rhegion tetradrachm HN 2496 415-387 B.C. Obv. Head of lion facing. Rv Headof Apollo right 17.20 grms 22mm Rhegion8.jpg The flan is a little dumpy compared to others in the region at that time but I believe the die cutter needed the extra relief to create his image. A fascinating Greek coin
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2019
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  13. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Supporter! Supporter

    In terms of Roman coins I always fall back to the coins of Trajan especially the sestertii. They seem to be just so relentlessly perfect. Sestertius of Trajan RIC 485 Woytek 250b Rv. Roma Victrix standing left 106-107 A.D. 26.44 grms 35 mm trajans20.jpg
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  14. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Nothing says Rome more than this issue, in my opinion. Roma herself appears on the obverse in military garb, surrounded by VRBS ROMA, "City of Rome." The founding myth of the Roman people graces the back in the form of the Lupa Romana, the Roman she-wolf, and the twins Romulus and Remus. The two stars above them have been variously interpreted* as representing aeternitas and translatio imperii, or as Rome and Constantinople. The two interpretations are not mutually exclusive.

    VRBS ROMA Wolf and Twins Cyzicus.jpg
    VRBS ROMA Wolf and Twins Arles.jpg

    *Fernando López Sánchez, "Julian and his coinage: a very Constantinian prince" in Emperor and Author: The Writings of Julian the Apostate, Nicholas Baker-Brian, Shaun Tougher, eds. Swansea, Classical Press of Wales, 2012, p. 174.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2019
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  15. Alegandron

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

    I like the critical junctures in history:


    If it weren't for this man resurrecting and remaking Makedon...

    Makedon Philip II Tet Pella LIFETIME 353-349 Zeus Horse star spearhd Le Rider 102.JPG
    Makedon Philip II Tet Pella LIFETIME 353-349 Zeus Horse star spearhd Le Rider 102


    This was at the nadir of Rome's history...

    RR Anon AR Heavy Denarius -Quadrigatus - Didrachm 225-215 BCE Incuse Roma Janus Jupiter Cr 28-3 S 31
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  16. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    Yet, from both images emanates a determined design to continually strive to succeed. That Quadrigatus is a mighty fine looking coin.
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  17. Alegandron

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

    Thank you, and agreed. I enjoy that Quadrigatus just for that reason: pure perserverence pulled Rome through their darkest hours...
  18. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Trajan Decius

    One that projects power and cruelty at the same time is Maximinus Thrax, a guy that no one wanted to mess with until he became so oppressive and/or boorish that the Gordians in Africa decided to revolt.


  19. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    I recall reading a story about Maximinus Thrax, that he was so powerfully built, so strong, that he would occasionally give evidence of this strength by punching a horse in the face and knocking it out. looking closely at that image on his coins it seems a credible story.
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