Herakles arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by zumbly, Feb 9, 2018.

  1. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Sorry for the rather clickbait-ish title. The reverse of this Alexandria Troas bronze is in fact usually described as "drunken Herakles supported by three satyrs". It's a likely story, given that Herakles was more than occasionally depicted in ancient art and literature as a bumptious drunk whooping it up in the company of various disreputable characters. So, ancient numismatic evidence of drunk and disorderly conduct... fun!

    The type was used at Alexandria Troas from the reigns of Commodus to Valerian and Gallienus, and considering the composition of the scene and very specific postures of Herakles and his bros, it was most probably copied from a popular painting or statuary. At the same time, it's not hard to imagine the whole drunken tableaux coming right out from the pages of a satyrical play... as in, one of those with lots of satyrs in it.

    Satyr plays were arguably the earliest form of dramatic Greek comedy, typically featuring a choir of merry, lascivious satyrs poking fun at the play's other characters. Herakles, when he made an appearance in them (which was apparently quite often), would inevitably end up getting drunk and violent at some point. In 3rd century Rome, a satyr play would have been a quaint Hellenic relic of a few hundred years earlier, but it's not a stretch to think that some of the essential elements remained popular out in the provinces. But still, why put a scene from a satyr play on a coin?

    Looking for a connection between Alexandria Troas and satyr plays will throw up the name of Sositheus, a native of the city who was something of a celebrity poet of the Hellenistic world. At the court of Ptolemy II, he was part of the Alexandrian Pleiad, a group of seven poets who were amongst the most accomplished of their generation. Sositheus had worked to revive the original form of the satyric drama, and his best known work, the pastoral play Daphnis or Lityerses, was based on a mythological story that featured both Herakles and Pan in significant roles. However, as only fragments of the play survive, it's ultimately not known for certain if Daphnis was one of Sositheus's satyr plays.

    Even as the coin's reverse is intriguing enough all on its own, I think it's tempting to conjecture that it may also have been a tip of the hat to a famous son of the city and his works. Pure speculation, but have a few drinks and I guarantee it will all sound more plausible.

    As always, please feel free to share anything appropriate, or in this case, inappropriate! :D

    Severus Alexander - Alexandria Troas Drunken Herakles.jpg
    AE25. 6.37g, 25mm. TROAS, Alexandria Troas, circa AD 222-235. RIC VI Online temp #3987 var. (obv legend); Bellinger A335. O: IM AR ƧE AΛEXANDROS, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right. R: COL AV-G TROA, drunken Herakles stumbling right, an arm around the shoulder of Pan to his right, a satyr on his left holding his hand and another behind him supporting (or restraining) him with both arms.

    A little more visual aid on the themes discussed...

    00 - Drunken Pompeii.jpg
    Herakles lying flat on his back totally wasted, from a fresco found at the House of Siricus in Pompeii.

    00 - Drunken Herculaneum.jpg
    Drunken Herakles taking a whizz, from the House of the Deer at Herculaneum.

    00 Drunken Rubens.jpg
    Herakles getting some support from satyrs and nymphs, by Peter Paul Rubens, circa 1612-1614.

    00 Drunken Pan.jpg
    Sculpture of Pan teaching the shepherd Daphnis to play the pipes, found at Pompeii.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2018
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  3. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Redditor Lucis Aeternae

  4. John Anthony

    John Anthony Ultracrepidarian Supporter

    Oh crap, Herakles is stumbling over here. We're going to have to hear that damn Hydra story for the 47th time. :rolleyes:
    Curtisimo, Theodosius, TIF and 7 others like this.
  5. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    hehe..even semi-gods gotta tie one on every once inna while ><..kool coin and pics z! :) (welp, i'm watching Troy on netflix, gotta get back to it:p)
    zumbly likes this.
  6. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Redditor Lucis Aeternae

    The question is...does Brad Pitt have hair extensions and CGI muscles?
    ominus1 likes this.
  7. John Anthony

    John Anthony Ultracrepidarian Supporter

    The perfect coin for this thread is a tetradrachm of Thasos. The island was renowned for its wine-making (Dionysos) and cult of Herakles, who is called the "Savior of Thasos" (ΣΩTHPOΣ ΘΑΣIΩN) on these coins...


    ISLANDS OFF THRACE.‭ ‬Thasos.‭
    ‬AR Tetradrachm,‭ ‬32mm,‭ ‬16.6g,‭ ‬12h; after 146 BC.
    Obv.:‭ ‬Wreathed head of young Dionysos.‭
    ‬Rev.:‭ ‬HPAKΛEOVΣ ΣΩTHPOΣ ΘΑΣIΩN‭; ‬Herakles standing left,‭ ‬holding club and lion's skin‭; ‬MT monogram to inner left.‭
    Reference:‭ ‬Le Rider‭ ‬52‭; ‬SNG Copenhagen‭ ‬1040.
  8. chrsmat71

    chrsmat71 I LIKE TURTLES! Supporter

    What an AWESOME reverse on that coin @zumbly !

    The reverse of this Hadrian denarius isn't inappropriate....but .......well....


    Is Victory here a dude urinating on something and giving someone the finger? I think this cat has been at the Hercules party!
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2018
  9. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    LOL... that's a totally appropriate inappropriate coin!
    ominus1 and Curtisimo like this.
  10. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Yup, that's just about perfect. And here's another appropriate Thasian issue, this one depicting some literal satyr play.

    Thasos - Stater 2387.jpg THRACE, Thasos
    AR Stater. 8.52g, 21mm. Circa 412-404 BC. Le Rider, Thasiennes 6; HGC 6, 334. O: Satyr advancing right, carrying off protesting nymph; A to right. R: Quadripartite incuse square.
  11. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Great write-up, @zumbly ! Very intriguing reverse type, too. That's now another one on my want list.
    zumbly likes this.
  12. TJC

    TJC Well-Known Member

    Super cool coin!! Great write up! Great artistic quality!

    Here is Tarsos that should fit right in on this thread.

    Cilicia, Tarsos AE. Time of Antiochos IV, 174-164 BC.
    O: Turreted head of Tyche right, monogram to left
    Rx:Sandan standing on horned, winged lion right, holding ear of corn and bipennis; monograms to left and right
    TarsosBiP339xO.jpg TarsosBiPe339xR.jpg
  13. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    Great pics and write up zumbly, and the reverse of that coin is fantastic. I bet there wouldn't be too many with that good a reverse.
    zumbly and Alegandron like this.
  14. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Thanks! There’s currently one example on Vcoins with a very nice reverse, but IMHO one would have to be falling down drunk to buy it at the listed price :greedy:.
    Ancient Aussie likes this.
  15. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    Still like yours more, everything is overpriced with that dealer.
    zumbly likes this.
  16. Kasia

    Kasia Got my learning hat on

    I think Heracles' motto was "You only live once!"
  17. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

    :D great coin!
    zumbly likes this.
  18. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Fabulous coin!! and that sculpture from the House of the Deer is hysterical, haven't seen that one before!
    zumbly likes this.
  19. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    ..no.he's from Missouri..so it hadda be all real.:p(there was a lot of that CGI goin' on there..i didn't notice it the 1st time i seen it on cable TV, but now WOW)
  20. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter


    That was the most entertaining thing I've read in a long time! Awesome writeup, Z :D. Fun coin too :)

    It's a perpetual wish-list coin for me, and thanks to this writeup I suspect a bunch of people will be competing for future examples!

    The whizzing Herakles statue is a hoot. Guys, don't let this statue serve as permission to water the grass wherever you'd like :stop:


    At the same frat party, Priapus thought it would be funny to steal a waiter's tray and offer hors d'oeuvres to guests...

    MOESIA INFERIOR, Nikopolis ad Istrum. Elagabalus
    AE 18 mm, 2.8 gm
    Obv: AVT K M AVP ANTΩNINOC, laureate, draped, cuirassed bust right
    Rev: NIKOΠOΛITΩ NΠPOCICTPO N, Priapus standing left, drawing back his cloak to expose his phallus, bowl of fruit balanced on phallus, right hand extended pouring from patera
    Ref: Varbanov 3811, AMNG 2022 (I own neither of those references and cannot verify the numbers)
  21. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Thanks for the reminder about that perpetual wish list coin of mine. And yeah, definitely the same frat party :D.
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