Snakes on a Thread!

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by David Atherton, Oct 21, 2020.

  1. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic Supporter

    The Alexandrian coinage struck for Domitian is quite rich in interesting reverse designs and are an endless source of numismatic fascination. My latest arrival was a fun one to research!

    Æ Diobole, 9.35g
    Alexandria mint, 95-96 AD
    Obv: ΑΥΤ ΚΑΙϹΑΡ ΔΟΜΙΤ ϹƐΒ ΓƐΡΜ; Head of Domitian, laureate, r.
    Rev: LΙΕ; Agathadaemon serpent erect, r., with corn-ears and caduceus
    RPC 2734 (1 spec.).
    Acquired from, October 2020.

    A diobole struck for Domitian at Alexandria featuring the Agathadaemon serpent (the 'Good Spirit' of grain fields and vineyards) on the reverse wearing the Skhent (double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt). The 'Good Spirit' was venerated in both Greek and Roman religions, depicted as a serpent on Roman shrines and lararia and honoured as an omen of good luck among the Greeks. The Agathadaemon serpent's most developed form flourished in Roman Egypt where it became an exalted deity, far beyond the status of a mere household god. On this diobole it is a symbol of fertility and the regeneration of crops, as indicated by the corn-ear and caduceus at its side. The Skhent crown the serpent wears represents the power over both upper and lower Egypt. The type was frequently repeated on Alexandria's middle bronzes throughout Domitian's reign. This diobole struck during his last regnal year is fairly rare.

    Guardian household spirits, symbolised as serpents, were frequently depicted on domestic shrines in the Roman world, likely owing to the fact snakes protected the household from vermin. This lararium from Pompeii depicts a fantastic snake guarding the fortunes of the household.


    Feel free to post your snakes!
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2020
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  3. cpm9ball

    cpm9ball CANNOT RE-MEMBER

    Well, I don't collect Ancients, but I do have a photo of this critter who happened to pass through the breezeway at our house in Cape Coral, Florida circa 2004 AD.:)
    HOUSEGUEST ca. 2004.jpg
  4. TuckHard

    TuckHard Well-Known Member

    This is my only snake, it's also my first Roman and ancient coin I ever bought!

    265-267 CE AE Antoninianus Gallienus Rome Mint.jpg
  5. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    A wonderful coin, @David Atherton. I hope someday to have an Alexandrian coin with an Agathadaemon snake. In the meantime, here are some coins I do have depicting snakes/serpents: a drachm from Apollonia Pontika, a cistophoric tetradrachm from Tralleis/Tralles in Lydia, and a few Roman Republican denarii:

    Thrace, Apollonia Pontika, c. mid-late 5th century BC. AR Drachm (Gorgoneion-Anchor) jpg version.jpg
    Lydia, Tralleis. AR Cistophoric Tetradrachm. jpg version.jpg

    L. Procilius (Juno Sospita - Juno Sospita in biga) jpg version.jpg

    Man. Acilius Glabrio denarius jpg version.jpg

    Obverse only:

    Plautius Plancus-Medusa denarius Obv. 3.jpg
  6. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    ..that's right ..mask of Medusa..she had snakes for hair(and i can see lil snakes on yours around the cheeks) that case, i have two snake coins now ^^.. not rounds    snake coin 003.JPG not rounds    snake coin 004.JPG L. Plautiius Plancus Roman Republic 47BC 001.JPG Markinopolis Marcrinus & Diadumenian Provincial bronze, L. Plautius Plancus AR denaius
  7. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Right -- some of the Plautius Plancus Medusas have one small snake at the top of each cheek, and some don't. Different sub-types.
    +VGO.DVCKS, finny and ominus1 like this.
  8. Clavdivs

    Clavdivs Supporter! Supporter

    This Domitian depicts an ancient version of "Snakes on a Plane"....


  9. Ryro

    Ryro They call me the 13th Caesar Supporter

    Wonderful thread idea!!!
    Who doesn't LOVE snakes!?!?!
    Oh, wait...
    Censured Samuel L aside, I've ALWAYS been drawn to snakes on coins. And more specifically their respect of the snake vs our modern fears, via religion, art et al, and of course how they are portrayed on coin:
    20200222_185716_1B4510E8-A037-497A-9CE4-4F6631E2A425-631-000003E53D208DC6.png 20190327_115922_4E1F394E-F21F-402D-AE40-D29DA65430D1-469-000000537C9EC955.png 20190327_140103_437F86AF-3415-4E77-8725-C75281ACF059-469-0000007B00E147CF.png

    Aaand as Halloween nears I'm allowed to celebrate snake like sea monsters!!!
  10. Carl Wilmont

    Carl Wilmont Supporter! Supporter

    SSSSSSSSSplendid thread, @David Atherton.

    Pergamon Entwined Serpent.jpg
    MYSIA. Pergamon. AE. Circa 133-27 BC. Laureate head of Asklepios right /
    AΣKΛHΠIOY ΣΩTHPOΣ ("of Asklepios the savior"), Serpent-entwined staff. 15 mm. 3.54 g.
  11. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter

    Great coin David and great thread!

    Vespasian, 69-79 A.D. AR Denarius, 3.16g. 21.41mm. Rome, 73 A.D.
    Obv: IMP CAES VESP AVG CENS. Laureate head of Vespasian to right.
    Rev: MAXIM PONTIF. Nemesis walking to right holding caduceus over snake.
    C 385, RIC 544. BMC 97SRCV I (2000) 2304, RSC 385
    Ex: E. E. Clain- collection. Ex: Numismatica Ars Classica - Auction 92 Part 2, Lot 2133 May 24, 2016 275 CHF ; Ex: Ed waddell September 7, 2016
    Coin depicted in the database.
    Best of type in the Forum Ancient Coins Galleries

    vespasian ric 544.jpg
  12. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Snakes flanking a cista mystica:

    Antony and Octavia cistophorus.jpg

    The snake god Glykon:

    Gordian III Nicopolis Glycon snake god.jpg

    Hygieia feeding a snake:

    Gordian III and Serapis Dionysopolis Hygeia.jpg
  13. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    M Volteius.jpg
    AR Denarius
    OBVERSE: Head of Bacchus or Liber right, wreathed with ivy
    REVERSE: Ceres holding two torches, in biga of serpents right. Symbol in left field (double headed axe)
    Rome 76BC
    3.75g, 18mm
    Volteia 3; Cr385/3; Sear 314
    AR Serrate Denarius
    OBVERSE: Head of Juno Sospita in goat skin, L ROSCI below, Jug to left
    REVERSE: Girl standing right feeding serpent before, Unknown control mark (?) to left, FABATI in ex.
    Rome 59 BC
    3.7g, 18mm
    Cr 412/1; Syd 915
    AR Denarius
    OBVERSE: SALVTIS, head of Salus right
    REVERSE: MN ACILIVS III VIR VALETV, Salus standing left holding serpent
    Rome 49 BC
    3.37g, 20mm
    Cr442/1a, Acilia 8
    Claudius 3a.jpg
    AR Denarius
    OBVERSE: TI CLAVD CAESAR AVG P M TR P VI IMP XI, laureate head right
    REVERSE: PACI AVGVSTAE, Pax-Nemesis advancing right, drawing out fold of robe at neck, holding caduceus above serpent preceding her
    Struck at Rome, 46/7AD
    3.6g, 19mm
    RIC39, BMC40
    Macrinus 4.jpg
    Pentassarion AE28
    REVERSE: VP PONTIAN-OV MARKIANO/ POLIT, Coiled serpent with radiate head
    Struck at Markianopolis, Moesia Inferior, Magistrate Pontianus; 217 - 218 AD
    12.6g, 28mm
    Hr & J (2012)
  14. Edessa

    Edessa Supporter! Supporter

    Kings of Macedon, Time of Alexander III – Kassander. Circa 325-310 BC. Æ Half Unit (17mm, 3.91g, 3h). Uncertain mint in Macedon. Obv: Macedonian shield with thunderbolt on boss. Rev: B-A; Macedonian helmet, coiled serpent left below. Ref: Price 409; Liampi, Chronologie 54; SNG Alpha Bank 840; HGC 3, 956.

  15. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

  16. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

  17. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    I"m glad @Bing posted his example, because it reminded me that I forgot to post my own L. Roscius Fabatus. So here it is, belatedly.
    Roscius Fabatus denarius 59 BC - jpg version.jpg

    PS: I have no idea what happened above -- I swear I pressed "upload reply" only once, but three identical comments appeared.
  18. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    ...A Lot of (expl. del.) Snakes on this (expl. del.) Plane!
  19. Orielensis

    Orielensis Well-Known Member

    There are a lot of nice reptiles in this thread. I've got a number of coins with Salus holding or feeding a snake, but these are my only two examples with serpents in other roles:

    The typical Pergamene snake staff:
    Magna Graecia – Mysien, Pergamon, AE 18, Aklepios und Schlangenstab.jpg
    Mysia, Pergamon, AE17, ca. 133–127 BC. Obv: head of Asklepios, bearded, r. Rev: [AΣ]KΛH[PIOY] ΣΩTHPOΣ, serpent-entwined staff. 17.5mm, 5.05g. Ref: SNG Copenhagen 370–376; SNG France 1828–1848; BMC 151–157. (AMCC picture)

    And don't forget this famous snake on a coin:
    Römische Republik – RRC 443:1, Denar, Julius Caesar, Elephant.png
    Roman Republic, Imperatorial Coinage, Julius Caesar, AR denarius, 49–48 BC, military mint moving with Caesar. Obv: [CA]ESAR; elephant walking r., trampling snake. Rev: priestly implements: culullus, aspergillum, axe, apex. 20mm, 3.70g. Ref: RRC 443/1.
  20. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    The oracular Snake God Glycon was apparently no more than a hand puppet dressed in a blonde wig and a fish tail, but that didn't stop its cult for being widely popular for more than a hundred years. It was probably not so much the case that its owner, Alexander of Abonoteichus, was a snake oil salesman of the first degree, but the sad fact that people have been prone to gullibility since the dawn of time.

    Trivia: Even today, Glycon has at least one famous follower, Alan Moore, writer of, amongst other things, the Watchmen and V for Vendetta.

    05 Commodus - Pautalia AE24 Glykon 4016.JPG
    AE24. 6.39g, 23.8mm. THRACE, Pautalia, AD 180-192. Varbanov 4565; RPC Online IV.1 temp 8913. O: ΑΥ ΚΑΙ ΜΑΡ ΑΥΡ ΚΟΜΟΔΟC, Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right. R: ΟΥΛΠΙΑC ΠΑ-ΥΤΑ/ΛΙΑC, the serpent Glykon wearing wig and with fish tail coiled right, feeding from altar to right; tree or branch to left.
    Ex E.L. Collection (Germany); ex Helios Auktion 3, 2009, lot 157
  21. AncientJoe

    AncientJoe Supporter! Supporter

    Here are a few of my favorite slithering specimens:

    Heracles strangling two snakes:


    On Athena's helmet on this distater:

    Likely not the appropriate manner in which to safely handle a snake:

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