Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Jochen1, May 25, 2019.

  1. Jochen1

    Jochen1 Well-Known Member

    Dear Friends of ancient mythology!

    Please note that the coins which I use as entrance for an article in this thread ate in principle from my own Collection.

    1st Coin:
    Pamphylia, Perge, Trebonianus Gallus, AD 251-253
    AE 23, 4.58g
    Bust, draped and cuirassed, laureate, r., on globe
    Rev.: ΠEPΓ - A - IΩN
    Hephaistos, wearing short work clothes and pileus, std. r. seated right on
    pile of rocks, holding in loered r. hand hammer and balancing with l. hand
    shield on knee
    Ref.: not in SNG France, SNG Copenhagen, SNG Von Aulock; BMC
    rare, F+
    It is seductive to think that Hephaistos is working on the shield of Achilles! But there is no evidence. The next coin shows the shield of Achilles:

    2nd Coin:
    Thessaly, Larissa Kremaste, 302-286 BC
    AE 18, 5.11g, 18.34mm, 270°
    obv. Head of Achilles l.
    rev. Thetis std. on Hippokampos l., holding shield of Achilles with monogram AX
    beneath ΛAPI
    ref. Rogers 315; SNG Copenhagen 151
    very rare, F+

    It is said that Hephaistos was the son of Zeus and Hera, but another version says that he was the son of Hera alone who has conceived him without Zeus by the aid of a herb. He was the god of fire as it appears as subterranean natural power in vulcanos, but also of the fire which is used by men in handicraft and artistry. So he was the god of forgers too.

    When he was born he was so ugly that his mother in disgust threw him down from the Olympos. The sea goddesses Thetis and Eurynome are said to have catched him. Then he lived for nine years in a concealed sea cave and made precious jewelry for them. He made a wondrous throne too from which nobody was able to get up without his permission. This throne he sent to his mother Hera as a gift to punish her for her iniquity. When she was fixed to the throne no-one could induce Hephaistos to let her free. It was Dionysos who made him drunken with wine and then led him from his cave back to the Olympos. Hephaistos freed Hera but never stopped to be cross with her. Another version reports that it was Zeus who has thrown Hephaistos down from heaven. When once again Zeus was at strife with Hera Hephaistos has taken Hera's part until Zeus caught him by the foot and threw him off the Olympos.He is said to have fallen down on the island of Lemnos where he has lacerated his foot. He was taken by the Sintians who nursed him. Another myth tells that he was lame from birth.
    Referring to Homer he has a self-built workshop on the Olympos, where he has built domiciles for the other gods too, and made there the most wonderfull works. Later he was told to have his workshops deep in fire-spitting mountains like the Aetna or on Lemnos, and his attendants were the Cyclops Brontes, Steropes and Pyrakmon.

    According to the Ilias his wife was Charis, one of the Graces, according to the Odyssee it was Aphrodite, who betrayed him with Ares. This love affair has been detected by Helios and he brought the news to Hephaistos. Hephaistos made an artful invisible net, threw it over the deceptive pair and called the Olympians as wittnesses of this infamous deed.

    He was an ingenious god and appreciative of art, and like Athena he taught the humans handicraft and art. The Athenians erected statues for him together with Athena and festivals occured for both deities together where torch runnings were executed.

    According to Homer Hephaistos had no descendants. But in later times he was given several children from different mothers: Eros, Erichthonios, Periphetes, Palaimon, Rhadamanthys, Olenos, the nymph Thalia and the Kabires.

    Here I have a list of some of his well-known works and deeds:
    (1) He has helped to give birth to Athena when he cleft the head of Zeus so that she could rise out of his head in full suit of armour. Her wonderful helmet too was made by him, and the Aegis, the magic shield of Zeus.
    (2) One of his most famous works are the shield of Achilles and his weapons, which he has forged for Thetis after they were lost by Patroklos' death at Troy.
    (3) Less known is Talos, the Bronzeman. He, quasi a predecessor of the robots of today, was made by Hephaistos and walked as guardian threetimes a day round Crete. He has made much trouble to the Argonauts.
    (4) The metallic rattle came from Hephaistos with which Herakles has scared the Stymphalian Birds so that he could kill them with his arrows.
    (5) It was Hephaistos who forged Prometheus in order of Zeus to a rock of the Caucasus Mountains because he had stolen the fire from the gods.
    (6) In order of Zeus he formed from clay the first wife, who then got the name Pandora by Hermes. She too should revenge the fire-rape. Therefore he gave her a vessel full of evil and maladies and sent her to Epimetheus, brother of Prometheus. Although he was warned by Prometheus never to take gifts from Zeus, Pandora opened the vessel for him and all evil spread over the world. Before hope, elpis, could escape too, she shut the vessel, but then let her free too. But the Golden Age was lost forever.
    (7) Then Hephaistos with the help of Athena chained Ixion to the eternal fire wheel in the Tartaros. Ixion, king of the Lapiths, once - drunken by wine - has tried to rape Hera. But Zeus has formed a figure shaped like Hera from a cloud, called Nephele, who then was raped by Ixion and has born the Kentauros.
    This list is far from complete!

    The name Hephaistos is unexplained until today. His apparent origin from Lemnos, known for its tectonic gas-fires, where he probably was genuine, speaks for the earthboundness of his elementary function. His local hypostases, Kedalion the dwarf forger and the bad smelling cripple Philoktetes, point to a numen resident in the subterranean sphere. That not only was active creatively and artisticly but curatively too. This type of goblin-shaped, magically and artfully working earth-demon had his firm position in the pre-Hellenic world. This is shown too by the Rhodian Telchines, the Lemnian Kabires and the Idaean Daktyles. They all were strongly related to Hephaistos.

    The treatment of ore evidently began in Asia Minor and the Pontic-Caucasic region. This art was partly connected to religion and like viniculture and breeding of mules it was a present of the Anatolic-Eastmediterranean culture. The passing on the Greek world is reflected in the myth of the Return of Hephaistos, who was brought back drunken on the back of a donkey to the Olympos by the wine-god Dionysos who has close relations to fire too.

    The depiction of the ugly, lame and smutty god shows at first a clear arrogance against the banausos, the handicraftsman (who works with his hands), the technical specialist, the inventive mechanist, who despite of all his abilities remains socially of second rank. At Homer in contrast predominates the aspect of the fairy tales forger, who can made magic devices and as representative of a superior metal-art finally becomes equal-ranking with Athena and together with her becomes the guardian of arts and crafts.

    With the diadochs Hephaistos came to India (Kaniska, Kushan), and in the West he
    made himself the master of the Liparic volcanos. He replaced the Sicilian fire-demon Adranos and became the father of the Palikoi. Secondary he was equated with the Roman Volcanus.The Egypts identified him syncretistically with the Memphic creator-god Ptah, who has a similar shape and appearance, and so he became the Primal King, philosopher and protos eurethes, yes, finally, the Megas Theos Hephaistos, the Great God Hephaistos.

    History of Art:

    We have ancient depictions of most of Hephaistos' deeds on bowls, vessels or metopes of temples. The favourite depiction was the return of the drunken Hephaistos to the Olympos by Dionysos, especially in archaic art. I ave added a scene on a Attic red-figured Skyphos, c.430-40 BC, ascribed to the Kleophon painter. The scene depicts Hephaistos with hammer and tongue riding on the back of a donkey, led by Dionysos holding thyrsos. On the r. side Hera is seated fixed on the throne she had gotten by Hephaistos.

    In Renaissance the depiction of the forge was liked, e.g. 'The forge of Vulcan' by Tintoretto, 1576, now in the Palazzo Ducale in Venice. Here comes Thetis, mother of Achilles, to beg for new arms for her son. Or here comes Aphrodite, begging the same for her son Aineias (e.g. Louis Le Nain, 1641, Reims, Musee St.Denis). The Dutchman M. van Heemskerck has 1540 dedicated a triptychon to the love-affair of Ares and Aphrodite. The right table (today in the Kunstmuseum in Vienne) shows in the foreground Hephaistos from back, the caught pair in the net, and right above the Olympians being convulsed with laughter.


    (1) Homer, Ilias
    (2) Homer, Odyssee
    (3) Der Kleine Pauly
    (4) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon
    (5) http://www.theoi.com/Gallery/K7.2.html
    (6) http://thanasis.com/hepha.htm
    (7) http://www.webwinds.com/myth/hephaestus2.htm
    (8) Aghion/Barbillon/Lissarrague, Lexikon der antiken Götter und Heroen in der Kunst

    Best regards
    Last edited: May 25, 2019
    eparch, Valentinian, zumbly and 11 others like this.
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  3. Plumbata

    Plumbata Well-Known Member

    Thank you for compiling and sharing all of this, I wasn't aware that Hephaestus was depicted on coins until stumbling across a hemilitron from Lipara (which had aroused concern regarding authenticity among some members here with suggestions that it could be a pressed fake):

    liparaob.JPG lipararev.JPG
    Sicily, Lipara. Æ Hemilitron 412-405 BC. 5.43 g, 19mm. Hephaestus seated right on legged bench, holding kantharos in his outstretched left hand, pick-like hammer in his lowered right hand; in field, pellet. Rev. ΛΙΠΑΡΑΙΩΝ around six pellets in two rows.

    Under magnification I see lots of scratching to the high-points as though the coin was attacked with a wire brush which is promising, but since I haven't sent it in to determine authenticity yet I felt the need to get a genuine Hephaestus coin from Lipara just in case:

    liparahex1.jpg liparahex2.jpg

    Sicily, Lipara. AE Hexas 412-405 BC. 1.35g, 12mm. Hephaestus seated right, holding hammer and kantharos. Rev. ΛΙΠ between two pellets.
  4. Jochen1

    Jochen1 Well-Known Member

    if Hephaistos actually holds a kantharos then it would go well with the drunken Hephaistos.
  5. PeteB

    PeteB Well-Known Member

    Valerian II. Caesar, 256-258 AD. Aspendos, Pamphylia. Æ 32 (16.91 gm). Obv: ΠOΥ ΛIK KOΡ OΥAΛEΡIANON KAIΣ ΣE, his bare and draped bust, right, above an eagle with wings spread. Mark of value "A" in right field not visible. Rev: AΣΠEN-ΔIΩN, Hephaistos wearing conical cap seated right, holding hammer in r. hand, and shield of Achilles(?) in left hand. Flaming forge below and to his right. BMC__; SNG Cop__; von Aulock__; SNG France__; SNG PFPS__; Leopold__; Isegrim__. Cf. SNG France 207 (for rev. type [Valerian I]). Apparently unpublished. A single example found at: http://www.asiaminorcoins.com/gallery/displayimage.php?pid=13106
  6. Jochen1

    Jochen1 Well-Known Member

    Another Hephaistos from Perge:

    Pamphylia, Perge, Philip II as Augustus, AD 247-249
    AE 23, 5.39g, 23.31mm, 0°
    Bust, draped, laureate, r., on globe
    Rev.: ΠEPΓAI - I - [Ω]N
    Hephaistos in working cloak and cap std. r. on rocks, holding with l. hand shield on knee and in r. hand hammer
    Ref.: SNG France 516-17
    F+, slightly Rough

    Johndakerftw and Bing like this.
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