Featured Perseus, St. Paul, and Antoninus Pius

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Sulla80, May 14, 2020.

  1. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    upload_2020-5-14_20-27-53.png What do Perseus, St. Paul, and Antoninus Pius have in common? My coin of interest this week is another AE from Asia Minor, the Roman region of Lycaonia and the capital city of Iconium. Lycaonia was part of the larger Roman province of Galatia. Iconium a wealthy town on fertile land in the central plains, north of the Taurus mountains, along the Roman Via Sebaste (a nice photo here of the road).

    In 25 BC Augustus established a colony in Lycaonia by setting aside a portion of the ancient city of Iconium for veterans. Under Claudius the city was called Claudiconium and the colony Colonia Julia Augusta Iconiensium.

    The Apostle Paul visited Iconium on three of his missionary journeys between AD 48 and 57:
    “At Iconium - Now it happened in Iconium that they [Barnabas and Paul] went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed.” - Acts 14.1

    It didn’t go well from there as Paul writes to Timothy:
    “at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” 2 Timothy 3.10-12

    Paul and Barnabas escape being stoned in Iconium by fleeing to Lystra and then to Derbe, where Paul was stoned, dragged to the edge of town and left for dead. Nevertheless, they persevered in establishing the Christian church in Lycaonium.
    Iconium Antoninus Pius .jpg
    Lykaonia, Iconium, Antoninus Pius, AD 138-161, Bronze Æ
    Obv: ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Antoninus Pius right.
    Rev: COL ICO, helmeted and draped bust of Athena right
    Size: 17.6mm, 3.58g, 12h
    RPC IV online 7259; Lindgren 1378

    The coin's good portrait of Antoninus Pius and particularly nice reverse of Athena were a quick attraction and coins for this region are definitely underappreciated (i.e. not very expensive). This type, reverse only, appreas on a plate in George Francis Hill’s “Catalogue Of The Greek Coins Of Lycaonia Isauria And Cilicia” (1900):

    and in Lindgren's Ancient Bronze Coins of Asia Minor and the Levant as 1378:
    Iconium 1378.jpg
    Hill shares a story of Iconium being named for the εικόν of the Gorgon used by Perseus to conquer the Lycaoneans. More of the story can be found here:

    “John Malalas narrates Perseus’ progress through Asia Minor as a sort of mythological projection of a Hellenistic king’s campaign of conquest and foundation. On arrival in Lycaonia Perseus founds a city on the site of the village of Amandra. The new city takes its name, Iconium (modern Konya) from the ‘image’ (εικόν) of the Gorgon-head he sets up on a pillar there.”
    - Perseus by Daniel Ogden

    Hadrian traveled extensively during his reign. With celebrations honoring him when he arrived, he earned the name “New Dionysus” on the way to Athens in 124 – Dionysus being a traveling god who brought happiness with him. On the fateful trip where Antinous died on October 30, 129 AD between Memphis and Thebes, and after almost 2 years in Egypt, Hadrian began his journey home by way of Judea and Syria in the summer of 131 AD. Sometime between then and 134 AD when he returned to Rome – he passed through Lycaonia, and left behind his family name.

    The colony set up by Augustus, co-existed with the city until Hadrian’s visit when he united the colony and the city extending the rights to Roman citizenship to the city. Extending “Colonia” to Iconium and the name to Colonia Aelia Hadriana Augusta Iconiensium. [Refs: Albino Garzetti, Stephen Mitchell]

    Which brings me to the time of Antoninus Pius, when this coin was minted, the emperor detached Cilicia from Galatia, keeping Iconium with Galatia. Coins from Iconium are few and infrequently minted, there is only one other coin from the time of AP, with Athena standing.

    As usual, comments, corrections and additions are all appreciated. Share your AEs of Lycaonia and Galatia, Athena's or Antoninius Pius' coins from Asia minor or anything else that you find interesting or entertaining.
    Last edited: May 16, 2020
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  3. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    That's a pretty example @Sulla80

    Antonius Pius 4.jpg
    AR Didrachm
    OBVERSE: ANTWNEI-NOC CEBACTOC, laureate head right
    REVERSE: YPAT B PAT PATR, Helios, holding globe and sceptre, standing atop Mt. Argaeus; * in exergue
    Struck at Caesaria, Cappadocia, 139 AD
    6.2g, 21mm
    Syd 301c
    Antonius Pius 7.JPG
    OBVERSE: [AVT]O KAI TI AIΛ AΔ[ ] (retrograde)
    Laureate head left
    Tetrastyle temple with peribolos containing grove and having a colonnade (only roof slabs shown) to left and right, and in front a portico or panelled wall of two storeys; all within wreath
    Struck at Commagene Zeugma Syria, 138-161AD
    8.80g, 23mm
    BMC 3
    GIC 1492v
  4. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    That's a lovely coin, @Sulla80 . A very detailed Athena for an AE 18, too!

    Here's one of Claudius from Claudiconium:

    Claudius and Agrippina II Iconium.jpg Claudius, AD 41-54, and Agrippina II, AD 50-59.
    Roman provincial Æ 19.6 mm, 4.19 g, 12 h.
    Lycaonia, Iconia (as Claudiconium), magistrate M. Annius Afrinus, AD 50-54.
    Obv: ΚΛΑΥΔΙΟϹ ΚΑΙϹΑΡ ϹЄΒΑ, laureate head of Claudius, right.
    Rev: ϹЄΒΑϹΤΗ ЄΠΙ ΑΦΡЄΙΝΟΥ ΚΛΑΥΔЄΙΚΟΝΙЄѠΝ, bare-headed and draped bust of Agrippina II, right.
    Refs: RPC I 3542; von Aulock Lyk. 258–62.
  5. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    That is a very nice provincial bronze! And thanks for the interesting writeup.

    Here are a couple of other A-Pis from elsewhere in Asia Minor...

    Antoninus Pius - Bithynia Apameia 2604.jpg
    AE22. 5.22g, 21.8mm. BITHYNIA, Apameia, AD 145-161. Rec Gen 45; RPC Online temp #4720/2 (this coin illustrated). O: ANTONINVS AVG CO IIII, laureate head right. R: C I C APAM, Heroic founder (Myrlos of Colophon?) in military dress standing left on galley, extending right hand, left hand on hilt of sword; D-D in fields.
    Notes: Rare. Only 2 specimens listed in RPC Online, including this one. CIC = Colonia Iulia Concordia; D-D = decreto decurionum (“by decree of the town councillors”)

    Antoninus Pius - Bithynia Nicaea Infant Dionysos 3716.jpg
    AE18. 4.01g, 18.3mm. BITHYNIA, Nicaea, circa AD 138-161. RPC Online IV.1 temp #4916; Rec 79 var. (bust type). O: ΑVΤ ΚΑΙϹΑΡ ΑΝΤΩΝΙΝΟϹ, bare head right. R: ΝΕΙΚΑΙΕΩΝ, Infant Dionysus seated in liknon (winnowing basket) right, extending both arms; thyrsus to left.
    Notes: Rare. 2 specimens listed in RPC Online.
  6. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    I've posted these two coins before, but here they are again :meh:. The Egyptian drachm has a provenance going back over 35 years. The as from Antioch has an excellent portrait for a bronze from that mint. It was once in the collection of Richard McAlee.

    The Morris (Philip Peck) Collection.jpg

    Ant. Pius, AD 138-9, 26 mm, 12.47 gm, MA 555i, this coin.jpg
    Syria, Antioch, Antoninus Pius, AD 138-161 (struck 138/9) AE: 12.47 gm, 26 mm. McAlee 555j, this coin.
  7. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Great diversity of interesting coins from Antoninus Pius and Asia minor.
    @Roman Collector, great to see a Claudiconium - the evolution of this colony was one of the aspects of this coin that I found interesting. I am trying to imagine two separate populations, Roman citizens and non-Roman sharing a city until Hadrian brought them together as Roman citizens. (and likely not at all that simple - I have also seen different "tribes" described amongst the Iconium native population).

    @Bing - a Mt. Argaeus has been on my wish list for a while, your didrachm is particularly appealing, and the Commagene AE and interesting I could easily have mistaken for Mt. Argaeus.

    @zumbly two interesting rarities especially "Infant Dionysus"...

    @Al Kowsky a great griffin and unusually well designed and well struck plate coin from McAlee! which I had not seen from your earlier posts.
    Last edited: May 15, 2020
    Roman Collector and Alegandron like this.
  8. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Trajan Decius

    Nice write-up and great coins all. Congrats on getting the article featured.
    Sulla80 likes this.
  9. philologus_1

    philologus_1 Well-Known Member

    And then, just 10 verses later, while still dealing with the narrative of Paul (and Barnabas) in the region of Lycaonia, comes Acts 14:11-15...

    "11 When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have come down to us in human form!" 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. 13 The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them. 14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: 15 "Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, and human like you..."

    Per Wikipedia: “Hermes aided Perseus in killing the gorgon (Medusa) by giving Perseus his winged sandals and telling him to find the Gray Sisters (the Graeae) so they could direct him to the nymphs of the North. When he reached the nymphs, they would give him Zeus' sword, Hades' helmet, and Athena's shield.”

    Now, please see the coin below which is from the city of Iconium in Lycaonia; and note that it portrays Zeus (obverse), Perseus (standing on the reverse), and the head of Medusa (in the left hand of Perseus).
    Lycaonia, Iconium
    Late 1st century B.C.
    Bronze. Diam.: 16 mm. Weight: 3.96 gr.
    SNG von Aulock, Lykaonien, #5385 var.
    SNG France (aka: SNG Paris; SNG BnF), #2276 var.

    Granted, this coin was produced approximately 75-100 years prior to the events described in Acts 14, so it was not likely to have still been in circulation at the time. (Although some bronze coins are known to have remained in circulation for that length of time.) Yet be that as it may, the mythological personages and story the coin portrays were clearly and certainly still in the psyche and belief system of the Lycaonians when Paul and Barnabas were there.
  10. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

    Great coin
    Sulla80 likes this.
  11. svessien

    svessien Senior Member

    Thank you for an informative and very useful post, @Sulla80
    It was particularly useful for me, because I bought some big coin lots some time ago, and haven’t had time to identify all of the yet. Now it looks like one of them is matching your coin:

  12. svessien

    svessien Senior Member

    Here is another coin from Lycaonia, Parlais. There seems to be some confusion over where the city actually was situated, however:

    From «Roman rule in Asia minor, Vol. 2» by David Magi:


    Sear GIC places Parlais in Lycaonia. On wildwinds, you will find the city as Parlais, Pisidia.

    At least I’ve got the coin.
    Last edited: May 16, 2020
  13. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Very interesting coin, and reinforcing of the story of Perseus and the naming/founding of Iconium. Thanks for posting.

    Thanks for posting your example of my coin, and your Septimius also very interesting to see. Here is a 2015 review on the location of Parlais, that may interest you, highlighting in detail the epigraphic and archeological evidence. The article has a lot of additional discussion about the history of the colony too. I conclude that the location of Parlais is now fairly well established.

    "L. Robert was the first, in 1938, to show that the town of Parlais was nearby from the village of Barla on the west coast of Lake Eğirdir. The modern name of this village (called also Kocapınar) was therefore directly derived from the ancient toponymy."

    "B. Levick (1967-70) proved a little more precise and sought to locate the colony. She locates it on the slopes extending gently to the shore of the lake, on an open territory, about 2 km southeast of the modern village. The site was at the opening of a ravine (“in der Öffnung der Schlucht”) into which the Kocapınar river flowed (Kocapınar Deresi) towards the lake, while above, to the west, stood the village of Lama (Lamaköy)."

    A potential explanation for ambiguous reference in ancient sources:

    "Strictly these garrison cities were 'Pisidian,' not 'in Pisidia': they were founded on the Pisidian frontier of the empire, but the Romans expressed themselves with geographical looseness, and the looseness had a political meaning and purpose: Rome did not trouble herself about barbarian geography, but intended to substitute a Roman geography and classification."

    - Ramsay (1916)
    Last edited: May 16, 2020
  14. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

  15. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    philologus_1 and Roman Collector like this.
  16. philologus_1

    philologus_1 Well-Known Member

    That is indeed an excellent resource for anyone who collects 1st century ancient biblical coins. Peter Lewis is a wonderful, knowledgeable gentleman. You can preview a good deal of the book on Google Books, here:

    Lystra, (mentioned in Romans 14 as per the OP's quote from Scripture), is also in Lycaonia and was visited by Paul and Barnabas. See Lystra on pages 81-86 in the Lewis book. Below is another of my Lycaonian biblical coins. This type would very likely have still been circulating in Lystra while Paul was there. Notice that (a) the reverse shows bulls, (b) bulls are mentioned in the Romans 14 passage that I included in my previous post above, and (c) the events of 14:13cf took place in the city of Lystra -- from whence this coin came:
    Augustus, AE26 of Lystra, Lycaonia.
    Obv,: IMPE AVGVSTI, Laureate head left, cornucopiae behind
    Rev.: COL IVL FEI GEM LYSTRA, Colonist ploughing left with two oxen
    Diam.: 26mm. Weight: 3.05 gr.
    Attrib.: RPC I 3538.
  17. Ed Snible

    Ed Snible Well-Known Member

    This Zeus/Perseus coin from Iconium is different. The inscription is ICONI COL. It is pseudo-autonomous as a Roman colony, not a Greek issue with IKONIЄΩN.

    Lykaonia. Iconion. Pseudo-autonomous issue AD 100-200. Bronze Æ 17 mm., 3,10 g.
    Obv: bust of Hercules/Heracles (bearded) wearing lion-skin, r.; to l., club
    Rev: ICONI COL; nude Perseus standing, facing, head, r., wearing helmet, holding Medusa-head, harpa (or kibisis?) and chlamys
    Ref: von Aulock Lykonians 300; RPC online temporary 4842.

    It's rare. Von Aulock only knew of one and there are only two in RPC online. I have seen several lately for sale with the Roman-era inscription not noted.

    RPC online just calls it "2nd century" but a major new article, in German, by Hans Christoph von Mosch (of Gorny and Mosch), "Perseus und Andromeda (vormals) in Ikonion. die bilder der „bilderstadt“ und ein besuch Gordians iii. im Jahre 239/40" in _Festschrift Johannes Nollé_ places the issue to the time of Antoninus Pius.
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