River Gods, Part 2

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by ancientnut, Jun 14, 2016.

  1. ancientnut

    ancientnut Well-Known Member

    “As distinct from the man-faced bull [see Part 1], there is a possibility that an ordinary bull was sometimes used as a coin-type to represent a river-god. This has been argued with special reference to the bull type of Thurii; and it is perhaps significant that the bull at Thurii is normally accompanied by a…fish [in the exergue],…that is often associated with other river-god types at other mints (e.g. Gela…Catana [see Part 1, coin 5], Camarina). Bull types [without fish in exergue] which may have a similar signification are found in the coinage of [several cities including] Poseidonia in Italy…”

    12 Thurium.jpg
    1. Thurium, Lucania, AR stater, c 443-400 BC. Reverse: Bull standing left on exergual line; in exergue, fish swimming left.


    2. Thurium, Lucania, AR Double Nomos or Distater, c 413-412 BC. Reverse: Bull butting right on double exergual lines; in exergue, fish swimming right.
    11 Poseidonia.jpg

    3. Poseidonia, Lucania, AR stater, c 430-420 BC. Reverse: Bull walking left on two dotted exergual lines.

    From c 460 BC river-gods also appear on coins in human form, either as a full-length figure or the head only. Some exhibit no bull characteristics, but others have bull’s horns or ears. They first appear as youthful, naked figures on tetradrachms and didrachms of Selinus.


    4. Selinus, Sicily, AR tetradrachm, c 460-440 BC. Reverse: Youthful, naked river-god Selinos, standing left, holding patera over altar and branch; rooster on altar, bull on pedestal and selinon (celery) leaf to right.

    20 Selinus.jpg

    5. Selinus, Sicily, AR didrachm, c 460-440 BC. Reverse: Youthful, naked river-god Hypsas, standing left, holding branch and patera, pouring libation over altar around which a serpent twines; to right, heron walking right; above, selinon (celery) leaf. Herons are birds that live in or near water and are, therefore, an appropriate attribute of a river-god.

    Segesta issed a tetradrachm with a full-length figure of the river-god Krimissos with his dogs. Jenkins says “…there is a good basis in mythology for regarding the dog, both here and on the didrachms, where it alone forms the obverse type, as itself another form of the river-god.”


    6. Segesta, Sicily, AR didrachm, c 412-400 BC. Obverse: Dog advancing right, on the scent; wheat stalk with three grain ears in background.

    There are many other examples of these human forms of river-gods, struck in both silver and bronze. Post your coins with full figures or heads of NON-MFB river-gods.


    - As in Part 1, all quotes and information are excerpted from Jenkins, G. Kenneth, The Coinage of Gela, 1970, “River Gods”, pages 165-175.

    - Nicholas J. Molinari and Nicola Sisci provide a comprehensive catalog of bronze, silver, and gold coins with man-faced bulls at these sites:

    - All coins, with the exception of 4, are in my collection.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 14, 2016
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  3. Ancientnoob

    Ancientnoob Money Changer

    Here is one with Orontes...non MFB

    Roman Empire
    Syria, Antiochia ad Orontem
    Augustus Octavian (r. BC 27 - AD 14)
    AR Tetradrachm 26 mm x 14.82 grams
    Struck 26 of the Actian Era and Cos. 12 (BC 5)
    Obverse: Laureate bust of Octavian right. Greek Legend - KAIΣOAPΣΣE BAΣTOY (Caesar Augustus)
    Reverse: Tyche of Antioch seated on a rock to right, holding a palm-branch, the river-god Orontes swimming at her feet, YΠA monogram, IB (Cos. 12) and ANT (in monogram) in field. Greek Legend - ETOVΣ - CK - NIKHΣ, CK ( 26 yrs After the Victory)
    Ref: RPC 4151

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  4. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    @ancientnut and @Ancientnoob you both have presented beautiful coins. I just looked through my catalog, and none of my river god coins compare.
  5. Nicholas Molinari

    Nicholas Molinari Well-Known Member

    Great post.

    I wonder if the bull from Lucania is a river god or Poseidon himself (as on the obverse), or if not him, just an associated symbol not representing a river?
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  6. Nicholas Molinari

    Nicholas Molinari Well-Known Member

    I only have one youthful river god and it just so happens that it is paired with a man-faced bull:


    From Panormos, 5th-4th century BC. Youthful, horned river god (Eleutherios) to left/ Forepart of Acheloios Oreto as a man-faced bull to right.

    Isler used this type in his argument that all man-faced bulls were Acheloios, claiming that here we see the youthful river god Oreto on one side and Acheloios as a man-faced bull on the other. However, the youthful river god is probably Eleutherios, a minor river close to Panormos, and the man-faced bull Acheloios Oreto, in keeping with the theory that man-faced bull represent local embodiments of Acheloios.
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  7. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    I own a man-faced bull coin, but I have never associated it with a river god.
    Sicily Gela.jpg
    AR Litra
    OBV: Naked horseman galloping left holding spear & shield
    REV: Forepart of man-headed bull right
    Struck at Gela, Sicily, 425BC
    0.36g; 13mm
    SNG Cop 275, BMC 52, Jenkins 405; HGC 2 374
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  8. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    The youthful river god head on the Gela bronzes come in a variety of styles and hairdos, but this is the one I like best.

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  9. Mikey Zee

    Mikey Zee Delenda Est Carthago

    Cool thread and posts!!!:woot:

    It seems all the river god's, in whatever guise, have swum post my present abode:grumpy:;)
  10. chrsmat71

    chrsmat71 I LIKE TURTLES! Supporter

    beautiful coins..and great write up AN!
  11. JeffM-Houston

    JeffM-Houston Active Member

    Very nice, and thanks for the history lesson!
  12. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Here's a nonspecific non-MFB "river god" on a coin of Nikopolis ad Istrum. That city was located at the junction of two rivers, so the iconography isn't surprising.

    MOESIA INFERIOR. Nikopolis ad Istrum
    Elagabalus , CE 218-222
    AE 26 mm, 11.1 gm
    Obv: AYT K M AYP ANTΩNEINOC. Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right
    Rev: VΠ NOBIOV POVΦOV NIKOΠOΛITΩN ΠPOC ICTPON. River-god reclining right, holding branch; prow at side
    Ref: Varbanov 4055
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  13. ancientnut

    ancientnut Well-Known Member

    Poseidon was normally associated with horses, but bulls were the animals most commonly sacrificed to him.

    As a student of Greek tragedy, I recall an instance of an association between Poseidon and a bull:

    In the play Hippolytus by Euripides, Phaedra, the wife of Theseus, leaves a suicide note falsely accusing her step-son Hippolytus of raping her. Theseus calls upon his father, Poseidon, to kill Hippolytus. Poseidon causes a monstrous BULL to rise from the sea, spooking the chariot horses of Hippolytus, and he dies as a result of the ensuing accident.

    Are there other ancient associations of Poseidon with bulls?
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  14. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    My example is not as nice but shows what I consider an interesting difference in dating ten years later. Instead of year 26 of the Actian era, mine is stigma lambda or year 36 but just in case you find that confusing we also have year delta nu or 54 of the Caesarean era now known as 5 AD. I still have the Antioch monogram but the consulship information is gone. Augustus took his last consulship in 2 BC so this coin considered that old news and dropped the listing. The reverse legend also changed the old 'year of the victory' to City of Antioch. This one has been harshly cleaned and is retoning so I hope it will look better in a decade or so.

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  15. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    I like Achelous...

    Campania AE Apollo-Achelous -275-250BCE SNG ANS 474 - Obv-Rev.jpg
    AE Apollo-Achelous
    SNG ANS 474

    Sicily Gela AR Litra Horse-Achelous 0-63g 13mm 465-450 BCE Obv-Rev HGC 2 p 373.JPG
    Sicily Gela
    AR Litra
    0.63g 13mm
    465-450 BCE
    HGC 2 p 373

    Eyes without a face....
    Italy Neapolis Campania AR Nomos 320-300BCE - Obv-Rev.jpg
    Neapolis Campania
    AR Nomos
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  16. Nicholas Molinari

    Nicholas Molinari Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure. The first place to look would be LIMC. There is an online databases but it is difficult to navigate.
  17. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Oh yeah, thanks for the reminder, Noob and Doug!

    Here's Orontes in his curtain call, on tatty little bronzes from the Byzantine emperor Justin I :)

    Justin I
    CE 518-527
    AE Pentanummium, Antioch. Diameter of each is ~13 mm.
    Obv: DN IVSTINVS PP AV; pearl diademed, draped, cuirassed bust right
    Rev: Tyche of Antioch, turreted, seated left within columned shrine with half submerged figure of river-god Orontes swimming at her feet; retrograde epsilon to left
    Ref: SB 111, DOC 57

    and a few centuries earlier on a provincial from Edessa:
    Elagabalus, CE 218-222

    AE27, 15 gm
    Obv: AVT K M A ANTΩNEINOC; radiate cuirassed bust left, holding shield and raising right hand.
    Rev: AVP ........ EΔECCA; Tyche seated left on rock, holding corn ears; to left a column surmounted by a statue of Marsyas, river god swimming right at feet
    Ref: Mionnet supplement 8, 26. Rare.
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  18. Nicholas Molinari

    Nicholas Molinari Well-Known Member

    Great coins, TIF. It is really interesting to see a Christian emperor pay homage to Tyche and the local river god on his coinage!
    TIF likes this.
  19. Nicholas Molinari

    Nicholas Molinari Well-Known Member

    Your first coin is a plate coin in Potamikon, number 343 in our catalog so Sambon 663; Taliercio IIIa.16; MSP I, 343, featuring Acheloios Sebethos as a man-faced bull. Taliercio cited three examples of this type, so yours is the fourth known of that particular variety.
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  20. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    Oh, wow, thank you! I reckon I lucked into that one! I was looking for an AE Achelous / Acheloios to complement my AR version. When I get home, I will look up my purchase info and provenance. You made my day!
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2016
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  21. Nicholas Molinari

    Nicholas Molinari Well-Known Member

    According to my notes, ACR E-Auction 28 lot 12.
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