Featured Greeks, Wolves, and Cleopatra?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Sulla80, Jul 7, 2020.

  1. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    upload_2020-7-7_16-40-57.png Public Domain Image
    Some of my favorite coins have been opportunistic rather than the result of careful planning. This coin is in that category, a quick search for price comparison, the price was right, the look intriguing: a prone wolf, an incuse "A" reverse, light wear, decent strike and great toning. I hadn’t noticed one of these before, and decided to bid. Now I have questions and the hope that CT members will be able to add to my incomplete picture. Argos Argolis Cleopatra.jpg
    Argolis, Argos, circa 90-50 BC, AR Triobol, Hieron (IEPΩNOΣ), magistrate
    Obv: Forepart of wolf at bay left
    Rev: Large A; I-E/P-Ω/NO-Σ in three lines around; below crossbar, eagle standing right on thunderbolt; all within incuse square
    Size: 14mm 2.43g
    Ref: BCD Peloponnesos 1177-8

    A few things I can share about this coin: it comes from Argos, Argolis on the Peloponnese peninsula:
    modified map from Wikipedia under CC 3.0 License

    Plutarch tells of a legend that provides at least one explanation for the wolf on these coins - Apollo Lyceius the patron god of the city:

    "...Danaüs first landed in the country, near Pyramia in the district of Thyreatis, and was on his way to Argos, he saw a wolf fighting with a bull; and conceiving that he himself was represented by the wolf (since both were strangers and were attacking the natives), he watched the battle to its end, and when the wolf had prevailed, paid his vows to Apollo Lyceius (the wolf-god), attacked the city, and was victorious, after Gelanor, who was at that time king of Argos, had been driven out by a faction. This, then, was the significance of the dedication."
    - Plutarch, Pyrrhus, 32.4

    Similar coins with wolf and "A" for Argos go back to the very early 5th century BC. The wikipedia describes Argos as "one of the oldest continuously inhibited cities in the world". Argos is where the Argead dynasty originated, which includes Philip II of Macedonia and Alexander "The Great". Although it also mentions a theory that they claimed this origin only to reinforce their Greekness – Appian reinforces this theory:

    "There is an Argos in Peloponnesus, another in Amphilochia, another in Orestea (whence come the Macedonian Argeadæ), and the one on the Ionian sea, said to have been built by Diomedes during his wanderings, -- all these, and every place named Argos in every other country, Seleucus inquired about and avoided."
    -Appian, Syrian Wars 10.63

    Then there is an interesting note on a CNG coin of this type referencing a BCD sale from LHS: “It would be interesting to suggest that the eagle on thunderbolt on the reverse of this coin refers to Cleopatra and that this issue, and others similar to it (with the massive wolf on the obverse), ought to be down-dated to the 30s. The fact that this issue definitely seems to have been struck in haste (many of the specimens known to us are mis-struck), might be evidence for this theory, but it unfortunately does not seem to be compelling at this time.”

    A few questions:
    • Cleopatra VII? Is there other evidence for this association? I can find no reference other than this note and can only link to the idea by location to the Battle of Actium, not too far from Argos: ~450km by foot or ~350km by sea. Just coincidence of location, hastily struck coins and an eagle that looks a bit Ptolemaic?
    • Denomination? Although this is sometimes called a triobol it is also sometimes called a hemidrachm or even tetraobol? the one very early drachm of this type that I found is 5.6g - this seems unlikely to give me a decent weight comparison for a coin 400 years later. Which is this tri-obol, hemi-drachm, tetrobol or something else? on what evidence?
    • Roman Province? was Argolis and Argos part of the Roman province of Achaea at the time 90-50 BC? if so, why is it not labelled this way in auctions?
    • Hieron Magistrate? what else can I find on IEPΩNOΣ the magistrate? are there other artifacts that might reference him from Argos?
    Corrections, answers, and additions are all appreciated. Post your opportunistic purchases, coins with Ptolemaic eagles, wolves, coins of Argos, or anything else you find interesting or entertaining.
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2020
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  3. Carl Wilmont

    Carl Wilmont Supporter! Supporter

    @Sulla80, that's an attractive coin with several interesting design elements to "happen upon!" Nice write-up and facts about Argos. I'll answer your call for a Ptolemaic eagle.

    Ptolemy III Euegertes.jpg

    Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, Ptolemy III Euergetes (246-222 BC). Æ Dichalkon. Alexandria mint, struck 245-222 BC. Head of Zeus-Ammon right, wearing tainia / ΠΤΟΛΕΜΑΙΟY ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ, Eagle standing left on thunderbolt; cornucopiae to left, Chi-Rho Monogram between legs.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2020
  4. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    A Ptolemaic eagle:

    Egypt, Ptolemaic Kingdom, Ptolemy VI Philometor [“Mother-loving”] (First reign, 180-164 BCE), ca.180-170 BCE, Alexandria Mint. Obv. Diademed head of Ptolemy I right, wearing aegis / Rev. Eagle with closed wings standing left on thunderbolt, ΠTOΛEMAIOY on left, BAΣIΛEΩΣ on right. Seaby 7895 [Sear, David, Greek Coins & their Values, Vol. II: Asia & Africa (Seaby 1979)]; Svoronos 1489 (ill. Pl. 51a, Nos. 1-5) [Svoronos, J.N., Ta Nomismata tou Kratous ton Ptolemaion (Athens, 1904-08)] (see https://www.coin.com/images/dr/svoronos/svc001p209t.html [incorrectly attributed to Ptolemy VIII]); SNG Copenhagen 262-268 [Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Copenhagen, The Royal Collection of Coins and Medals, Danish National Museum, Part 40: Egypt: The Ptolemies (Copenhagen 1977)]; BMC 6 Ptolemaic Egypt 3 (p. 100) (ill. Pl. XXIV No. 5) [Poole, R.S., A Catalog of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, Vol. 6, Ptolemaic Kings of Egypt (London, 1883)]. 26 mm., 12.14 g.

    Ptolemy VI tetradrachm jpg version.jpg

    One of my favorite wolves (the only one I have without Romulus and Remus):

    Roman Republic, P. Satrienus, AR Denarius, 77 BCE. Obv. Helmeted head of Mars right, control-number (L[in archaic form of upside-down T]XXXVIIII = 89) behind/ Rev. She-wolf standing left with right front paw raised, ROMA above, P. SATRIE-NVS in two lines below. RSC I Satriena 1, Crawford 388/1b, Sear RCV I 319 (ill.), Harlan, RRM I Ch. 15 at pp. 92-97, BMCRR Rome 3209-3237 [no entry for control no. 89; cf. 3236 (no. 99)]. 18 mm., 3.87 g., 3 hr.

    Satrienus - Wolf Denarius jpg version.jpg
  5. Pavlos

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

    Nice write up and coin @Sulla80 thank you for sharing.
    It is interesting you talk about Cleopatra VII, there is a series of coins from Patrai in Achaia that was hastily struck ca. 35 BC to support the funds of Cleopatra and Antony against Octavian. Eventhough it does not show an eagle, it does resemble the portrait of Cleopatra Thea.


    Who knows the same happened in Argos? In this case however I do not think your eagle is related to Ptolemaic influence, the eagle was on Argos coinage as far as 275 BC: https://www.cngcoins.com/Coin.aspx?CoinID=349587
    And I think it is a quite simple reason, I have been there myself, eagles fly continuously over your head in that region (just like Kyzikos strike the tuna on their coins because the tuna migrated past the city to the black sea). Atleast that is my theory.

    The whole Peloponnese used the reduced heavy Aeginetan standard later on, implemented like that by the Achaian league. With a hemidrachm weighing 2.4-2.3g. Not sure why it is sometimes called triobol and sometimes hemidrachm, it should mean the same.

    And on your third question, I think it is not listed as Roman Provincial since the type was relatively unchanged for almost 250 years or more. It has 100% Greek iconography and nothing looks even slightly Roman about it.

    I have no coins from Argos, but do have a cool wolf to share:
    Lycaonia, Laranda. AR Obol. Circa 324/3 B.C.
    Baal seated left, torso facing, holding grain ear and grape bunch in extended right hand, scepter in left.
    Reverse: Forepart of wolf right; inverted crescent above; all within dotted square border.
    Reference: Göktürk 82; SNG BN 443 (Cilicia); SNG Levante 223 (Cilicia).
    0.60g; 9mm
  6. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

  7. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Love the toning on your new coin, @Sulla80. I don't have one of them to show, but I do have a bronze from that city that I like.

    Argolis Argos - AE BCD.jpg ARGOLIS, Argos
    AE Dichalkon. 3.51g, 17.2mm, ARGOLIS, Argos, circa late 3rd - early 2nd century BC. SNG Cop 67; BCD Peloponnesos 1128. O: Laureate head of Apollo to left. R: Wolf standing at bay to left; above, A.
    Ex BCD Collection; ex Joseph J. Copeland Collection

    Here's Apollo the Wolf-God dancing with his wolves on a provincial bronze of Tarsus.

    Herennia Etruscilla - Tarsus Apollo Lykeios 2561.jpg
    AE29. 13.29g, 29.4mm. CILICIA, Tarsus, AD 249-251. RPC 1368. O: ΑΝΝΙΑΝ (sic) ΑΙΤΡΟΥϹΚΙΛΛΑΝ ϹƐ, draped bust right, wearing stephane, crescent behind shoulders. R: Τ - ΑΡϹΟV ΜΗ – ΤΡΟΠΟΛƐΩϹ around, Α /Μ / Κ - Γ / Β in field, Cult statue of Apollo Lykeios standing left on omphalos, head right, holding wolf by forelegs in each hand. Notes: The empress's name misspelled ANNIAN on this obverse die, but eventually corrected to EPENNIAN as other examples struck from the same die show.
    Ex Bill Behnen Collection (purchased from Fred Shore, 30 Oct 1989)

    And since it was mentioned, I'll take the opportunity to show a coin from another Argos, the Amphilochian Argos, which was supposedly founded by colonists from the original Argos.

    AKARNANIA Argos Amphilochikon - Stater New 359.jpg AKARNANIA, Argos Amphilochikon
    AR Stater. 7.15g, 21.1mm. AKARNANIA, Argos Amphilochikon, circa 360-330 BC. Calciati pg. 524, 6 (same dies); HGC 4, 781 (R2). O: Pegasos with pointed wing flying right, beneath dog lying right, AP. R: Head of Athena left; AM above helmet; behind, tubula and A.
  8. PeteB

    PeteB Well-Known Member

    One with the die in better condition than the BCD example:
    "From the time of Cleopatra VII."
    ACHAIA, Patrai. Circa 35 BC. AR Hemidrachm (17mm, 2.2 gm, 2h). Obv: Head of Aphrodite right, wearing stephanos. Rev: ΔA/MACIAC (Damasias, son of Agesilaus, magistrate) in two lines above Patrai monogram; all within wreath. BCD Peloponnesos 525-8. Struck before substantial wear affected this die, as seen on the BCD example.
  9. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    There are six obols in a drachm, so a triobol and hemidrachm are the same denomination. The question is if it is 3/6 of a drachm (triobol) or 4/6 of a drachm (tetraobol).
    ancientone, Alegandron and Sulla80 like this.
  10. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    @Carl Wilmont, a great looking Ptolemaic eagle! @DonnaML and excellent wolf and a Satrienus denarius one of many still on my wishlist from the Roman Republic.

    @Pavlos, thank you so much for your answers, an excellent and interesting wolf obol, and personal experience from the region. There is much about the politics of Rome - Egypt during the republican period that is high on my topics for further reading. The early encounter touched on in this post.

    @zumbly, thanks for sharing other coins from Argos and the very interesting coin with a cult statue of Apollo Lykeios.

    @PeteB, your ACHAIA, Patrai coin associated with the funding of Cleopatra & Marc Antony against Octavian is much appreciated.
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2020
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  11. Orielensis

    Orielensis Well-Known Member

    That's a fine new acqisition. I like the colorful toning and the exceptionally clear eagle detail.

    There are no coins of Argos in my collection, but I've got a small pack of wolves:
    Magna Graecia – Lykaonien, Laranda, Obolos, Baar Tars und Wolfsprotome.png
    Lycaonia, Laranda, AR obol, 324–323 BC. Obv: Baal Tars seated on throne n.l., holding grain ears and grapes in r. hand and sceptre in l. hand. Rev: forepart of wolf r., in field l., ⌒. 10mm, 0.59g. Göktürk: Small Coins from Cilicia (2000), no. 82 ff.; SNG Levante 223 (for Cilicia); SNG France 443 (for Cilicia).

    Römische Republik – RRC 235:1c, Denar, Sex. Pomeius Fostlus, Romulus und Remus mit Wölfin.png
    Roman Republic, moneyer: Sex. Pompeius Fostlus, AR denarius, 137 BC, Rome mint. Obv: head of Roma, helmeted, r.; behind, jug; before, X. Rev: SEX·PO[M FOSTVLVS]; she-wolf suckling twins r.; behind, ficus Ruminalis with birds; in l. field, the shepherd Faustulus leaning on staff; in exergue, [RO]MA. 18mm, 3.87g. Rev: RRC 235/1c.

    Rom – Konstantin der Große, Stadtprägung, Roma, Thessaloniki.png
    City Commemorative under Constantine I, Roman Empire, AE 3, 330–337 AD, Thessalonica mint. Obv: VRBS ROMA; bust of Roma, helmeted, wearing imperial cloak, l. Rev: She-wolf, standing l., suckling twins; above, two stars; in exergue, SMTS∈. 18mm, 2.25g. Ref: RIC VII Thessalonica 187/229.

    MA – Deutschland etc., Passau, Erzbistum, unter Otto von Lonsdorf etc., Pfennig, Wolf:Greif.png
    Prince-Bishopric of Passau, under Otto von Lonsdorf or his successors, AR “ewiger Pfennig,” 1254–1451 AD. Obv: wolf l., crozier behind. Rev: griffon with shield l. (weakly struck as usual). 16mm, 0.56g. Kellner 36.
  12. Alegandron

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

    I have been travelling, so I missed the posts. Great TriObol, @Sulla80 !

    Looks like you, me, and @Bing are coin bros! And, @zumbly has a very cool AE, upright standing version!

    Mine is a bit older, and faces right.

    Silver Argolis

    ARGOLIS Argos 490-470 BC AR Triobol 14mm 2.9g Forepart of wolf lying - A 2 incuse sqs pellet crossbar within shallow sq incuse BCD Peloponnesos 1009 R
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2020
  13. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    nice, only 400 years older :)
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  14. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Your coin looks like the same one as mine - with Hieron as the issuing magistrate.
    Excellent wolf pack - I especially appreciate the very crisp reverse on your Sex. Pompeius Fostlus. I sold mine, I wasn't thrilled with it, a year later haven't found one I like as well as the one I had.
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2020
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  15. Alegandron

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

    Isn’t that amazing! For over 400 years, longer than many counties and Empires, a very similar coin design is used.
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  16. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    Not a fan of the Cleo VII theory. Everyone, since she is so famous today, tries to associate coins with her. Not without sound archeological or hoard evidence would I entetrtain that. Antony if either of them would be more likely in Greece proper.
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  17. Alegandron

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

    Wow, you are shattering my Stargate theory the Sha’re is actually Cleo VII. I believe that show really chronicles Egypt. It is a true story.
    I believe.

  18. Ed Snible

    Ed Snible Well-Known Member

    CNG cites https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=296342
    That coin cites https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=295604
    That coin cites J. H. Kroll, "Hemiobols to Assaria: the bronze coinage of the Roman Aigion", Numismatic Chronicle (1996)

    JStor is free (or partly free) during the pandemic, and the article is online at https://www.jstor.org/stable/42667946 . I haven't read it.
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  19. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Thank you so much, @Ed Snible! I am grateful for your investigation, locating the article and I look forward to reading. Jstor already a favorite resource.
    Ed Snible likes this.
  20. Mike Margolis

    Mike Margolis Well-Known Member

    Wow- that is a pretty coin, love the toning!
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