Featured Pangerl's Hellenistic Portraits

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Valentinian, Jun 5, 2020.

  1. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    Today got a splendid newly released book in the mail, Portraits: 400 years of Hellenistic Portraits, by Andreas Pangerl. A few years ago I got his corresponding book on Roman coin portraits and loved it--fabulous coins, fabulous pictures, and great color, plus some articles. So, when I heard about the Hellenistic book I tried to order it immediately, but shipping from Europe was expensive and problematic. However, I found that David Fanning of Kolbe & Fanning ( https://www.numislit.com/ ) had a shipment coming, so I ordered it from him.

    This new book is massive, 10" x 11 3/4, with the first 194 pages wonderful greatly enlarged portraits on coins, one or four to a page. (The reverses, also enlarged but not so much, are on page plates near the end.) Pages 199-367 are well-illustrated "Studies" by various authors, most in German but three in English. One in English is "From symbol to likeness: The development of Coin portraits in the Graeco-Persian world," with a wonderful selection of the earliest portraits on coins. Spectacular!

    To give you a feeling for it, I took four iPad photos.

    The front cover:

    One of the obverse photo pages:


    One of the article pages:


    One of the reverse pages:


    What a wonderful book!
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  3. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Trajan Decius

    Great book with some beautiful representations.
  4. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Looks like a great coffee table book!

    I have an example of the cover coin:

    KINGS of PERGAMON, Eumenes I
    263-241 BCE
    AR tetradrachm 29 mm, 16.94 gm
    Obv: head of Philetairos right, wearing laurel wreath
    Rev: ΦIΛETAIPOY; Athena enthroned left, right hand resting on shield set at her feet, gorgon on shield; left elbow resting on small sphinx seated right; transverse spear in background, ivy leaf above knee, monogram on throne, bow to right
    Ref: BMC Greek (Mysia) 31, p.115; SNG France 1606–9
    Formerly slabbed, NGC Ch AU 5/5 3/5, Fine Style
    Ex Dr. Spencer Paterson Collection of Ancient coins, Great Collections 15 Sept 2019
  5. kazuma78

    kazuma78 Supporter! Supporter

    Just yesterday I requested this book from Spink Books along with 6 others. I'm really looking forward to reading it, it sounds great!
  6. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    It sounds wonderful! I already have Pangerl's Roman coin book, and love it. This was my comment in another thread when someone suggested that Pangerl's new book sounded like the "Ancient Selfies" book:


    The "Ancient Selfies" book is a good, inexpensive book with decent (although small) photos, but if Pangerl's book on Hellenistic coin portraits is anything like his book on Roman coin portraits (which I own) -- and it appears to be, from the descriptions I've looked at -- it's nothing like "Ancient Selfies." Pangerl's books are large, high-end "coffee-table" style art books, each with hundreds of very large color photos, and each sells for a list price of £65.00 (close to $100). The only drawback of the Roman coin book for me is that most of the essays are in German, although the book does, at least, have brief English-language abstracts of all of them. And you don't need to read German to enjoy and appreciate the glorious photographs! I assume that the same is true of the Hellenistic coin book.

    See these descriptions from the publisher, Spink. For the Roman coin book:
    http://www.spinkbooks.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=418 .
    And for the Hellenistic coin book: http://www.spinkbooks.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=735.

    Here is a mildly critical, but positive overall, review of the Hellenistic coin book in Coins Weekly: https://coinsweekly.com/hellenistic-portraits/ . It certainly has nothing but good things to say about the photography. And here is the same publication's overwhelmingly positive review of Pangerl's Roman coin portrait book: https://coinsweekly.com/500-years-of-roman-portrait-art/.

    @Valentinian, if you've read the Coins Weekly review, what do you think of the criticisms?
  7. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    I just got the book in the mail today. I'll answer when I've had more time to look at it. My first reaction after reading the review is that the reviewer criticized it for not being something it had no intention of being and something most readers would not expect or even want. The reviewer wanted some history of the people pictured. The history of the rulers was no part of the Roman book (which I have had for a long time and have read) and is not the intention of this book either. There are, of course, many places to get the history. This book is a way to view their finest coins. I have not yet read any of the essays. I'm going to look at the pictures first!
  8. NewStyleKing

    NewStyleKing Beware of Greeks bearing wreaths

    Revisionism for the PC is not only a quirk of these PC times, just as Bowdlerism did for Shakespeare the 19 c. Did the Carthaginians sacrifice children to Tanit - in the 60, 70's: NO. It was all Roman propaganda. But archaeology has shown it to be true from evidence garnered before the 60's and since the 70's.
    According to Jacob Brownoski's Ascent of Man, the Mayan kings were peaceful astronomer priests, but evidence from Bonempak murals c 1947 and the reading of Mayan texts since the 70's shows otherwise-distinctly so!
  9. Cachecoins

    Cachecoins Historia Moneta

    I would have liked a little blurb about the ruler depicted, not a long history but a short overview to tie in but not a problem in the end, stunning photos of stunning works of art on metal.
    DonnaML likes this.
  10. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    What in the world does "revisionism," "for the PC" or otherwise, have to do with Pangerl's book or the review I asked about? This seems like a complete non sequitur.
    Nathan B. likes this.
  11. NewStyleKing

    NewStyleKing Beware of Greeks bearing wreaths

    Ah! It was to a section in the coin weekly's review where he wished for some more info on the subject of the photographs that were not so white-washed! So not a complete non sequitur but maybe frayed round the edges!
  12. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    OK, I get it now. I had no idea where you were coming from or going with that!
  13. shanxi

    shanxi Well-Known Member

    NewStyleKing and DonnaML like this.
  14. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    Thank you.
  15. Nathan B.

    Nathan B. Active Member

    At the risk of going in where angels fear to tread, especially in what it supposed to be an apolitical forum: I don't think his remark was justified.

    The line in question from the review is this:

    "The book's author, however, could not bring himself to confront his readers with the exciting and sometimes criminal lives of the people concerned."

    That ancient Greek rulers committed all sorts of atrocities is hardly something to get worked up about in connection with political correctness; ancient sources admit as much, after all. How is admitting their faults related to historical revisionism? If anything, it's the opposite. And what is the connection of this all to political correctness? I can't see any. (Having said that, I thought the reviewer's analogy with English professors also didn't make much sense.)
    DonnaML likes this.
  16. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    It wouldn't surprise me if there were a practical reason -- having nothing to do with "political correctness" -- for the author's not adding details about the lives of the rulers portrayed. I doubt that he was given unlimited space. The more space devoted to text, the less room for the wonderful photographs, which are the whole point of this book. Information about the rulers' lives and reigns is easily available online in multiple places. Photographs like these are not. The choice seems easy to make.
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  17. Nathan B.

    Nathan B. Active Member

    That's exactly how I would see things, too.

    [Late edit: and similarly, if a reviewer wants to see more information about the misdeeds of ancient figures because he thinks they are interesting, or even just entertaining, that also has nothing to do with "political correctness."]
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2020
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  18. Cachecoins

    Cachecoins Historia Moneta

    Might I say just one thing to that point. Revisionist history is not bad. History is often muddled by the passing of time and conflicting information through the many years. As new information comes to light, previously report information is found to be erroneous or flawed and must be corrected or new understandings of how that information has been subjectively interpreted can be presented in a more objective and factual way...or if there is simply a different way to interpret historical data that may be more accurate...it should be at least explored.

    History is always being revised for one of these reasons. It should, however, never be revised to fit a subjective narrative but rather to make that narrative more objectively accurate. Revisionist history is only bad when it is being molded to fit a subjective view. The historical record should never be dictated by subjectivity or traditional interpretation if that interpretation is found to be inaccurate.

    If the author did not want to delve into the cloudy water of history to suss out these details but instead wanted to simply show outstanding portraiture on coins, he shouldn't be admonished. He produced what he wanted to produce, like it or not, there was no expectation to delve into the complex history of the men and their times...in fact it may have been a better choice not to, if for just the reason that quicky blurbs of history seldom paint an accurate picture. History is seldom so black and white and so easily presented properly in a brief factoid and to do so may have invited far worse criticisms.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2020
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  19. Nathan B.

    Nathan B. Active Member

    I agree. I think there is a kind of mentality at work in some quarters that wants to enjoy memorials to ancient persons who are considered "founders" of our civilization in some ways without hearing any criticisms of them. At that point, the charge of "revisionist history" sometimes gets made.

    If I may quote one writer:

    "I am compelled to write at length on this point because people now are largely ignorant of the ancient writings."

    That was written by Simplicius of Cilicia in his discussion on Parmenides nearly 1,500 years ago! This is why studying primary sources is so important. When Thucydides shows a powerful and democratic Athens attacking tiny Melos and killing and enslaving the entire city for no other reason than because Melos wanted to remain neutral in the Pelopponesian War, we should not forget that. Ancient Athens was not a utopia by any means.

    Similarly, the oldest play we have, Aeschylus' Persians, written a mere 18 years after the Battle of Marathon, presents the Persians in a very sympathetic light. (Compare that to the modern movie 300, which depicts the Persians as a bunch of naked monsters. Aeschylus, Herodotus, and the rest would be turning in their graves!)

    The capacity for substantial self-criticism, on the one hand, and admiration for those different than oneself, on the other, exists even in the archaic period. When one reads the Iliad, for example, one is struck by how the ancient Greeks in what we now call Greece proper revered this work, despite how it painted their ancestors as cruel, bloodthirsty, petty, impious, and even stupid. And similarly, the best, kindest, and most gentle people in the epic are all on the Trojan side. To me, that ability to take a look at one's history and political structures with critical eyes while approaching others' cultures with genuine respect and curiosity is perhaps the most important legacy the ancient Greek world has left us.

    The irony, then, is that those who revere the monuments, whether statues or coins, without acknowledging the faults of the various founding figures are the ones who are practicing "revisionist history" in the popular use of that term.
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  20. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    I mentioned one article in the book, "From symbol to likeness: The development of Coin portraits in the Graeco-Persian world." The earliest portraits are pre-Hellenistic (i.e. before Alexander the Great), but they are not numerous and covered in that article.

    Here is a small coin with a pre-Hellenistic portrait:

    12-11 mm. 2.12 grams.
    Lycian Dynast, Kherei, last quarter of the 5th C. B.C.
    Helmeted head of Athena right
    Head of dynast right with Persian-style headdress and long pointed beard
    Letters in local script around
    von Aulock 4173 variety (it has bust left) "Triobol" = hemidrachm
    SNG Copenhagen supplement 255 (somewhat different letters)
    "Lycian coin portraits" W. Schwabecher in "Essays Robinson" p. 111-124 and plates 11-12, #8.
    Pangerl 129 is similar, but a stater.
    Johndakerftw, Bing and DonnaML like this.
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