Haimos - the Mountain God

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Jochen1, Feb 22, 2019.

  1. Jochen1

    Jochen1 Well-Known Member

    Dear Friends of ancient mythology!

    One of my main activities is collecting coins from Nikopolis ad Istrum and to publish them together with Prof. Jekov in the monography "Hristova/Hoeft/Jekov, The Coinage of Nicopolis ad Istrum". Sadly Mrs. Hristova deceased in May 2017. I miss her! The actual edition is from 2018. It is a "work in progress". Every 1 to 2 years a new enhanced edition will be published because new unknown types were found and has to be added.

    Nikopolis was founded AD 102 by Trajan and the name should remind of his victories over the Dacians. At first it belonged to the province of Thracia, later by Septimius Severus it was added to Moesia inferior. Ister is the ancient name of the Lower Danube. Derived from Ister is the name of Austria (German Österreich), not from Eastern Empire.

    Actually it was located not at the Danube but at the Rosiza, a smaller tributary of the river Iantra, which then flows into the Danube. Therefore the correct spelling is NIKOΠOΛIS ΠPOC ICTPON (= towards the Ister), not ΠPOC ICTPΩ (= on the Ister). In ancient times it was a crossing point of important military roads. That is the reason of the emission of this enormous amount of coins we know today. The biggest number of types of all provincial mints! And Nikopolis was the birthplace of Germanic literature tradition. Here the Gothic bishop Ulfilas has translated the Greek Bible into Gohtic, for which he developed the Gothic Alphabet. Today it is Nikjup near Veliko Turnovo in North Bulgaria.

    Nikopolis has issued a number of coins depicting the mountain god Haimos (Lat. Haemus) on the rev. Here I want to tell something about Haimos.

    Coin #1:
    Moesia inferior, Nikopolis ad Istrum, Elagabal, AD 218-222
    AE 28, 15.94, 27.56mm, 225°
    struck under governor Novius Rufus
    bust, draped and cuirassed, radiate, r.
    Youthful mountain god Haimos sitting on rocks l., with hunting shoes(?),
    reclining back on a tree, hands above the head, behind him a stag jumping r., and
    a bear coming out of his cave below.
    ref. a) AMNG 1953 (pl. III, 23, same rev. die)
    b) Varbanov 3084
    c) Hristova/Hoeft/Jekov (2018= No. (plate coin)
    rare rev. type, about EF (the most beautiful specimen I have ever seen!)

    Dr. Reinhart Falter (Munich), a specialist for river gods and initiator of the renaturation of the river Isar in Munich, thinks that the bear rather is drinking from a well.

    Haimos was a king of Thracia, son of king Boreas and his wife Oreithyia, father of Hebron. He was married to Rhodope which he loved over all. Their love was so great that they called one another Zeus and Hera. Because of this blasphemia they were transformed by the real Zeus in the homonymous mountains.(Ovid, Met. VI, 87) I think the true reason was the enviousness of the gods!

    Haimos and Rhodope are the most important mountain rages of the Balkan mountains. The Balkans are known as wild mountains today as well. In ancient times there were only few transit ways. They crossed at Nikopolis. The reverse of the coin with rocks, stag and bear reflects well the rough nature of this region. It was a favourite hunting ground and Haimos here is depicted in the pose of a hunter who is resting. The hand above the head is iconographically a symbol of exhaustion after a strong effort. On other, earlier types the word AIMOC is written in the field. But at this time the meaning of the reverse seemed to be clear for every observer.

    That two lovers called each other Zeus and Hera and therefore were punished by the gods is a locus classicus. The same story is told of Keyx, king of Trachis, and his wife Alkyone, daughter of king Aiolos of Thracia. Keyx was transformed into a loon and Alkyone into a kingfisher. Because her eggs were washed away by the waves Zeus commanded the winds to rest during the incubation period of the kingfisher. This is between Christmas and New Year. These days therefore were called 'Alcyone Days'. (Ovid Met. XI, 410)

    Excursion: The rarest coin of Nikopolis ad Istrum

    Coin #2:
    Moesia inferior, Nikopolis ad Istrum, Macrinus, AD 217-218
    AE 28, 11.12g, 27.87mm, 195°
    struck under governor Marcus Claudius Agrippa
    Bust, draped and cuirassed, seen from behind, laureate, r.
    Nude youth (mountain god Haimos), wearing boots and with slight drapery over r. shoulder and knees, on rock std. r., looking l., r. arm with hunting spear resting on tree behind him, l. hand on his head
    in r. field AIMOC
    ref. a) AMNG I/1, 1700, pl. III, 24 (1 ex., Bassarabescu)
    b) Moushmov 1295, pl. XI, 33 (spear vanished!)
    c) not in Varbanov:
    cf. #3390, but different obv. legend, spear vanished
    pic. on p. 385, in error named #3391
    rev. taken from Pick! Obv. from #3407!
    d) Hristova/Hoeft/Jekov (2018) No. (plate coin)
    Unique (R10), F+, dark green patina
    ex dianacoins, Ebay, 2009
    ex coll. Steve Cady, Tantalus Coins, #34158, 2012

    This is the only type where Haimos std. r.!

    Bassarabescu is not a site, but the name of the collector at that time. Nicolae Bassarebescu was 1890 director of the journal "Poporul (= "The People") in Bukarest and an important Romanian collector and numismatist.

    The coin of Bassarebescu vanished during the troubles of time. The fate of this coin can't be traced. But it is interesting to pursue the fate of the coin pic! Originally the pic comes from Pick. This pic has taken over Moushmov and from him it came to Varbanov. This pic from Varbanov was too in the 1st edition of Hristova/Jekov, Nikopolis 2011. On no of these copies you can see a spear. The spear vanished by copying. But the spear has to be there because Pick has described it.

    Now after more than 100 years it is the first time that this type appears in the public again!

    (1) Ovid, Metamorphosen
    (2) Stephani Byzanthii Ethnica

    (1) Der kleine Pauly
    (2) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches Mythologisches Lexikon
    (3) Behrendt Pick, Die antiken Münzen Nord-Griechenlands (AMNG), 1898

    Online Sources:
    (1) Wikipedia

    Best regards
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  3. PeteB

    PeteB Well-Known Member

    Septimius Severus. 193-211 A.D. Nicopolis, Moesia Inferior; Æ25. Obv: His laur. head r. Rev: Mt. Haimos as a young man sitting left on a rock, with a light gown over his shoulder and knees; his head turned to the right. His right arm is raised over his head and his left hand is resting on the rock or a tree stump. A bear at the base of the rock springs right, toward a deer fleeing right. The legend includes the Roman legate Gallus' name. Nice dark green patina. F/aVF. Not in Varbanov for Gallus and with bear springing toward deer, but see Varbanov 2186 for a roughly similar type by Tertullus and 2683 for Macrinus with the same reverse as this coin.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2019
  4. Jochen1

    Jochen1 Well-Known Member

    Hi Pete!

    HrHJ (2018), scarce (R5). We have 3 ex. in the book.
    obv. AVT Λ CEΠT. - CEVHP ΠEP

    Best regards
    PeteB likes this.
  5. PeteB

    PeteB Well-Known Member

    THANKS, Jochen!!
    At 87, I am not buying more books.
    Though your book is extremely important.
    I'll correct my web site. You continue to be a great help!
  6. ancientcoinguru

    ancientcoinguru Supporter! Supporter

    Another great write-up @Jochen!
  7. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    Here is one like the one @PeteB showed.

    This one is 27 mm and 11.55 grams.
    As @Jochen wrote:
    obv. AVT Λ CEΠT. - CEVHP ΠEP
    AIMOC in left field
    Note the leaping stag and the animal
    Do you see a "a bear coming out of his cave below" or a "bear drinking from a well," or some other animal? I can't see it as a bear drinking. Do bears hunt stags? The position of the "bear" makes it look ready to attack the stag.
  8. PeteB

    PeteB Well-Known Member

    Please note that my post #2 above contains references from Varbanov (Bulgarian edition). Please ignore them.
    Great coin, Valentinian!
  9. PeteB

    PeteB Well-Known Member

    I got the description of a bear pursuing a deer from AMNG vol. I. I used Google translate and this is what I got:

    Attached Files:

    TIF likes this.
  10. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    I also have one of Septimius Severus, but very worn:

    Severus Nicopolis ad Istrum Hemus.jpg
    Septimius Severus, AD 193-211
    Roman provincial Æ 25.2 mm, 9.95 g
    Moesia Inferior, Nicopolis ad Istrum
    Obv: ΑVΤ CΕΠΤ CΕVΗΡ ΠΕΡ, laureate head, right
    Rev: VΠ ΑVΡ ΓΑΛΛΟV ΝΙΚΟΠΟΛΕΙΤΩΝ / ΠΡΟC ΙCΤΡ, River god Hemus reclining left, seated on cliff, r. hand over head, l. arm leaning on tree and holding spear, bear below, AIMOC before.
    Refs: Moushmov 1023, AMNG (Pick) 1315
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