Featured Harpokrates

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Jochen1, Jan 8, 2020.

  1. Jochen1

    Jochen1 Well-Known Member

    Dear Friends of ancient mythology!

    Harpocrates is one of the most famous gods of ancient Egypt. I hope to be able to tell you something new in this article.

    1st Coin:
    Moesia inferior, Nikopolis ad Istrum, Macrinus, AD 217-218
    AE 18, 3.14g, 17.55mm, 180°
    Laureate head r.
    Harpokrates, nude, stg. l., holding clothes and cornucopiae in r. arm and
    raising r. hand to his mouth.
    Ref.: a) not in AMNG
    b) not in Varbanov
    c) Hristova/Hoeft/Jekov (2018) No. (plate coin)
    very rare, F+/about VF, green Patina

    2nd Coin:
    Julia Domna AD 193-217, wife of Septimius Severus
    AR - Denar, 3.5g, 18mm, 180°
    Rome, AD 196-211, struck under Severus
    Bust, draped, r., hair waved in five waves and coiled at back
    Isis, draped, with polos on head, stg. r, foot on prow, holding the infant Horus
    at her breast, and sistrum (or rattle) in r. hand, altar at left behind her with rudder
    leaning against it.
    Ref.: RIC IV/1, 577; C. 174; BMC 76
    about EF
    (1) The type of her hairdo is called "Type of the Arch of the Argentarii (from the Forum Boarium, Rome)". The half-circled lock of hair at her cheek should be typically for Rome after AD 196 (?).
    (2) The sistrum is not mentioned in RIC!
    (3) The first Isis temple in Rome was built by Caracalla some years later in AD 217. The prow may be an allusion to the Navigium Isidis, a big ceremony on March 5. to celebrate the opening of the safe sailing season after the winter.
    (4) This representation of Isis with the Horus child was later adopted by Christianity to represent Mary with the Child Jesus

    Harpakhrad, also Heru-Pa-Khret (Greek: Harpokrates), meant "Horus the child" and he was also seen as a baby at the breast or as a naked infant sitting on the lap of his mother Isis. In Mendes, the capital of nome 16 of Lower Egypt, he was the son of the town protector Banebdjedet and the local fish goddess Hat-Mehit. Another depiction shows him as an infant boy with big, innocent eyes, engaged in sucking his finger. He had many names and shapes in the more than forty provinces (nomes) where he was appearing in local forms. He had a shaved head with a big lock of hair hanging from the right side. The Greeks considered him the god of secrecy and discretion, misinterpreting the gesture of his finger as meaning: keep quiet which was an Egyptian gesture, symbolising childhood.

    Horus (Greek) was a sky and solar god from Upper Egypt from before the unification and one of the oldest gods in the Egyptian mythology and by some concidered to have come from abroad by en early invasion of the Nile Valley. He was the personal symbol of the pharaohs symbolising protection and courage.

    Soon he became the Horus (Heru, = the Elder, Hor = the Younger) and originated lots of combined deities like Har-pakhrad, Har-Wer etc, which had wide spread cults all over the Nile Valley. He defeated all evilness in the world (symbolically) by defeating Set who had killed his father Osiris. His twin sister was Bast and he was sometimes seen as a child being breast fed sitting in the lap of his mother Isis. In his aspect Horakhty he was the combined god Re-Horakhte.

    Osiris (Greek) was king of the Underworld and originally a god of agriculture and nature. His origin is disputed and he first appeared during dynasty five. In Heliopolis he was said to be son of Re and he represented the dead king. Minor gods were taken into his vast cult and many legends were told about him. The common Myth of Osiris
    is about his death (murdered by his brother Set) and resurrection. He was the chief judge in the court at the threshold to the next life, where all the dead citizens were trying to come through to Paradise. He always wore a mummy-dress and was brother to Isis, Hor (Horus the elder), Set and Nephthys. His parents were Geb and Nut.

    The Myth of Osiris
    In the very beginning of time Osiris was king over Egypt and his queen (and sister) was the goddess Isis. He was beloved by the people whom he told how to worship the gods and grow their crops for their daily bread. His brother Set became jealous and tried to overthrow him and become king himself. When participating in a feast with Osiris as host, Set began to describe a beautiful coffin he had, in a way that made the other guests curious.

    He was asked to fetch it and so he did and this was just in line with his plan.
    Everyone agreed that it was a magnificent piece of craftsmanship and Set told them that he would give it away for free to whomever fitted exactly into it. Since he had made the coffin himself it was measured to fit one person only - his brother Osiris. When he placed himself in it everybody could see that he was the one who would get i as a present, but the evil Set had other plans. With his brother Osiris still in it, he and his fellows quickly nailed the lid and threw it into the Nile. Queen Isis was overcome by sorrow and began to search all over the land for it, but in vain. ("Isis first invented sails, for while seeking her son Harpocrates, she sailed on a ship." - Hyginus, Fabulae 277.)

    One day she heard that a wonderful tree had sprung on the shores of Byblos in the north on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, where the local king had cut it down and built a palace from it.

    Isis understood that this was the place where the coffin had come to shore and she went there in disguise. She got a job at the court as a hairdresser for the queen and now when she could walk freely inside the castle she began to look for the coffin, and finally she found it in a remote chamber.

    During the night she managed to snach it and embarked a boat heading for Egypt. When she came there she hid in the marshlands in the delta. There she opened the coffin and took a last farewell of her beloved husband Osiris and began searching for a suitable place to bury him. But Set was aware of all this and was hiding nearby. When Isis went to rest for the night he snatched the coffin and cut his brother's body into fourteen pieces and spread them all over Egypt. Isis became furious and asked her sister Nephthys and her son Anubis, to help her to find all the pieces of her husband's body.

    They now started a nation wide search that lasted for many years and finally all the part of Osiris' body were found except for the penis which had been thrown into the Nile where it was devoured by a fish.

    Isis made a wooden replacement for it and then put the whole body together. She now asked the sun god Re to make her husband alive just for one day, which he did, and they could have a last night of love together. The next day Osiris died and his body was embalmed by Anubis who thus made him the first mummy. Isis later gave birth to a son who was named Horus and she did all she could to keep it a secret from Set, but he found them and almost killed them in an ambush.

    They were saved by the god of wisdom - Thoth, and he told them to hide in the reeds in the marshes once more. But as before Set found their hiding place and had more wicked things on his mind. He transformed himself into a snake and gave the little Horus child a fatal bite.

    When Isis came back she found her baby almost lifeless, and took him to the nearest village to get help. A wise old woman examined him and found out that it must have been Set as a snake who had bitten him. Thoth came to their rescue once more and drove out the poison from Horus' body and he recovered. He and his mother stayed hiding in the delta until he was a mature man and sometimes he took the form of a hawk and scouted out Set for the final showdown - the revenge on his murdered father. When that moment came they fought for three days until Thoth stopped the fight. They were both taken to the Court of Law in the Underworld and there they presented their versions of the story leading to the combat. The Court did not believe Set, who was sentenced to pull forever the boat with the sun across the sky. Horus now became the new king of Egypt like his father Osiris before him, and the good had finally conquered evil.

    Isis put the body of her dead husband in a coffin and had nineteen identical coffins made in which she put duplicates. Priests from Egypt's twenty biggest towns then were given each one of them and thereafter they all could claim that they had Osiris' tomb in their town. Thus many places in Egypt were (and still are) called Abusir - the place of Osiris.

    "Upon her [Isis’] brow stood the crescent moon-horns, garlanded with glittering heads of golden grain, and grace of royal dignity; and at her side the baying dog Anubis, dappled Apis, sacred Bubastis and the god [Harpokrates] who holds his finger to his lips for silence sake." - Ovid, Metamorphoses 9.692

    I have attached a detail of the Roman Fresco "Isis receives Io at Canopus", Pompeji, 1st century BC, Naples, Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli. The pic shows Io, crowned with a pair of cow horns, is carried to Isis and her son Harpokrates (by the River-God Neilos?)".
    Io Isis Harpokrates.jpg

    (1) Hyginus, Fabulae
    (2) Apuleius, Metamorphoses
    (3) Ovid, Metamorphoses

    (1) Der kleine Pauly
    (2) www.nemo.nu/ibisportal/0egyptintro/1egypt/index.htm
    (3) www.theoi.com

    Best regards
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2020
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  3. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Trajan Decius

  4. Pellinore

    Pellinore Supporter! Supporter

    Fascinating stories, not at all simple! I’m sure this is the stuff of some of that fabulously varied Roman Egyptian coinage.
  5. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Great writeup and coins, Jochen. First time I’m seeing the type from Nikopolis.

    At Canopus in the Menelaites nome, Harpokrates had the body of a crocodile.

    AE Drachm. 28.01g, 36.4mm. EGYPT, Alexandria, RY 8 (AD 144/5). Menelaites Nome. Emmett 1819; Dattari 6318; RPC Online Temp #13971. O: AVT K T AIΛ AΔP ANTωNЄINOC CЄB ЄVC, laureate head right. R: MЄNЄΛAЄITHC, Harpokrates of Canopus (part human, part crocodile) left, holding finger on right hand before mouth, cornucopia on left arm; altar before, L H (date) in exergue.
    Ex Phil Peck (“Morris”) Collection
    Broucheion, TIF, eparch and 6 others like this.
  6. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Trajan Decius

  7. eparch

    eparch Well-Known Member

    Thank you Jochen - fascinating
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