Maron - Eponym of Maroneia

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Jochen1, Feb 7, 2019.

  1. Jochen1

    Jochen1 Well-Known Member

    Dear Friends!

    Here I want to share another myth, beginning with a grammatical detective work:

    The coin:
    Thrace, Maroneia, after 148 BC
    AR - Tetradrachm, 16.47g, 32.65mm, 15°
    obv. Head of youthful Dionysos r., wreathed with ivy leafs and blossoms, wearing a
    taenia on his forehead
    rev. r. ΔIONYΣOΣ - l. ΣΩTHPOΣ (each from top to bottom)
    Dionysos, nude, stdg. half left, chlamys (nebris?) over l. arm, holding 2 narthex
    sticks in l. arm and bunch of wine-grapes in lowered r. hand
    l. beside monogram, beneath MAPΩNITΩ
    ref. cf. Schönert-Geiss 995 var.(for the original)

    Narthex, Greek name for giant fennel (Ferula communis, family Apiaceae). Was sacred to Dionysos. As thyrsos crowned with a pine cone The stalk is light bust robust and could be used by a drunken person to lean on it.

    Sadly this coin itself is a Slavey fake. But Slavey says, that he isn't a faker but an artist! This type can be found from the same dies in the Fakes Reports of Ilya Prokopov in the American Forum and at forgerynetwork

    Remarkable is the grammatical error you find on the coin: ΔIONYΣOΣ is nominative case, whereas ΣΩTHPOΣ is genitive case (nominative case would be ΣΩTHP!). Correct it should be ΔIONYΣOY ΣΩTHPOΣ = of Dionysos the Saviour! Such an error is unusual in ancient times but typical for a modern faker who doesn't master Greek very well. Pat Lawrence has written: Interestingly, the "look alike" mistake, common in children beginning to learn the 2nd and 3rd declensions in Latin, is not common on ancient coins, in either Greek or Latin. That is, when I saw sôtêros with Dionysos, as if both ending in -os were agreement, when the usual legend recognizes that sôtêros is genitive case, the possibility of its being a MODERN mistake at once came to mind. Even CNG was cheated by this fake:

    Maron was the son of Euanthes, referring to others the son of Oenopion or Silenos, whose student he was too. He was the grand-son of Dionysos and Ariadne. In the Thracian city of Ismaros he served as priest of Apollo. He was the hero of sweet wine and should have been a companion of Dionysos at his famous journey to India. He is said to have been the equerry of Dionysos. And he should have been together with Dionysos at the famous drinking contest between Herakles and Dionysos.

    He became famous because Homer mentioned him in his Odyssee (9.200). Odysseus reports: "With me I had a goat-skin of the dark, sweet wine, which Maro, son of Euanthes, had given me, the priest of Apollo, the god who used to watch over Ismaros. And he had given it me because we had protected him with his child and wife out of reverence; for he dwelt in a wooded grove of Phoibos Apollo. And he gave me splendid gifts: of well-wrought gold he gave me seven talents, and he gave me a mixing-bowl all of silver; and besides these, wine, wherewith he filled twelve jars in all, wine sweet and unmixed, a drink divine." This was the wine which Odysseus later gave to the Kyklop Polyphem to make him drunken so that he and his companions could flee. But actually it was the following that happened:

    The Kikones lived on the southwestern coast of Thrace. During the Trojan War they fought with Troy against the Greeks. Their leader was Euphemos, who therefore was listed as Trojan Leader. Annother leader was Mentes in whose shape Apollo encouraged Hektor to fight for the arms of the dead Patroklos.

    After sacking Troy, Odysseus with 12 ships came to the coast of the Kikones, where he pillaged the city of Ismaros and killed everyone except Maron, the priest of Apollo, son of Euanthes. Euanthes was king of Maroneia, son of Oenopion, who is known for blinding Orion.

    The land of the Kikones the Greeks gave themselves to plunder and murder. When they had taken women and treasures, Odysseus said to his men that they ought to be off. But his warriors, enyoyed by the Kikonian wine, kept drinking and butchering animals by the shore, refusing to leave.

    In the meantime the Kikones received reinforcements from their neighbours, who were good fighters from chariots and on foot. They attacked the Greeks by the ships and fighting for a whole day they broke the Greek ranks. The Greeks had to flee having suffered heavy losses since more than seventy men of Odysseus' warriors were killed.
    The city of Maroneia was called after Maron who was venerated in a sanctuary.

    Referring to Diodorus Maron came to Thrace together with Osiris (= Dionysos) and stayed there because he was already aged (Pauly). He founded Maroneia and there were cults for him in Maroneia and on Samothrake. Maroneia was famous for its wine. This wine was sweet and rich. It was said that this wine was tasteful even diluted with the twentifold amount of water.

    Nonnus emphasizes Maron's connnection to Dionysos. He was described as an old man with tumbling limbs whose power was sufficing only to drink and for songs praising Dionysos. He was the personification of a drunkard. Near the Pompejan gate in Rome there was a statue where he was depicted as a sleeping fountaine figure.

    Maron litterally means "the blazing, the shining". The connection to Dionysos probably has its origin in the story of the wine at Homer. Referring to Welcker Maron was primarily the Silenos of Maroneia and his name related to Marsyas, Silenos of Kelainai. The interpretation of the bearded face on the coins of Maroneia as Maron is wrong because the legend is naming Dionysos. But there are coins too on which Maron is mentioned explicitely (Eckhel Doc. num. vet.) V. Hehn has an interesting suggestion: Maron is nothing else but the mythical personification of the city of Ismaros. After omission of the s before m and expanding suffix it is the same as Maroneia!

    History of Art:
    Pseudo-Kallisthenes mentions a statue showing Maron sitting on a draft animal.

    I have attached 3 pics:
    (1) The pic of a mosaic from the 3rd century AD, showing Maron and Dionysos.
    Today in the Miho Museum, Kyoto

    (2) The pic of a floor-mosaic, today in the Shahba Museum, Shahba, Syria. Its the
    depiction of the drinking contest between Herakles and Dionysos. The figures in
    the upperline are named: Maron, Ariadne, Pothos, the winged god of desire,
    holding a flaming torch, Dionysos with thyrsos, Herakles laying on the ground with
    a drinking jar at his feet, Eros playing with his club. (

    (3) The pic of a Sicilian kalyx-krater of the Maron painter from the midth of the 4th
    century BC, today in the Museo Archeologico Regionale Eoliano of Lipari. It
    depicts the scene of Homer's Odyssee where Odysseus gets the wine from Maron.

    (1) Homer, Odyssee
    (2) Nonnus, Dionysiaca
    (3) Diodorus Siculus

    (1) Der Kleine Pauly
    (2) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon (online too)
    (3) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und römischen
    Mythologie (online too!)
    (4) Pierre Grimal, The dictionary of classical mythology (online too!)


    Best regards
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  3. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member

    Those inspired by this thread to run out and buy one of these coins need to take care to distinguish them from the similar and more often seen tetradrachms of Thasos with Hercules on the reverse. Both are large and attractive coins but we need to understand what we are buying before we take the leap.
    Should we mention that this coin has ΗΡΑΚΛΕΟΥΣ the correct genitive for Hercules.
  4. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    Many fakes around of the coin Doug shows.
    From my black cabinet:

    Marsyas Mike, Johndakerftw and Bing like this.
  5. ancientcoinguru

    ancientcoinguru Supporter! Supporter

  6. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member

    I have never seen one like Andres2's fake with the left legend reversed. This is very, very late for boustrophedon and I would be surprised to see a real coin of the type like this. Does such exist?
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