The Family of Maiandros

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Jochen1, Jan 27, 2021.

  1. Jochen1

    Jochen1 Well-Known Member

    Dear Friends of ancient mythology!


    Coin #1:
    Phrygia, Apameia, pseudo-autonomous, 2nd-3rd century BC
    AE 15, 3.76g, 14.6mm, 180°
    Obv.: AΠAME - ΩN
    Bust of Athena, wearing Corinthian helmet, draped and with aegis, r.
    Rev.: AΠAME - ΩN
    River god in hip dress leaning l., holding in extended right hand long waterplant
    and in l. arm cornucopiae; resting with l. elbow on overturned vase from which
    water is flowing l.
    Ref.: BMC 116; Imhoof Phrygia 115; Prowe III, 1643; SNG München 132-133; not in
    Rare, VF, remains of sand patina
    Apameia, also called Apameia Kibotos in contrast to other cities with the same name, was founded by the Seleucid king Antiochos I Soter (324-261 BC) on the site of the older residence Kelainai, and named after his mother Apame. Apameia was situated at the sources of the Maiandros and the Marsyas.

    Mythology of Maiandros
    Maiandros as river god was already known by Hesiod. Like all great rivers, he was considered the son of Okeanos and Thetys. There was a multifaceted family mythology around him. One of his daughters, the Naiads, was the nymph Kyanee, and Kalamos (Nonn. Dion.) and Marsyas are mentioned as his sons.

    Kyanee, the daughter of Maiandros, was the nymph of a spring or well near Miletos. She was the wife of Miletos, the founder of the city of Miletos. Miletos was a son of Apollo and Aireia in Crete. Minos, Rhadamanthys and Sarpedon had fallen in love with him and fought over him. When he chose Sarpedon, he was driven out of Crete by Minos, sailed with Sarpedon to Karia and founded the city of Miletos (Apollodor) there. Kyanee gave birth to the twins Byblis and Kaunos.

    Byblis and Kaunos:
    The story of Byblis is the story of her incestuous love for her twin brother Kaunos. There are different versions of this mythology:

    (1) The beautiful Byblis was desired by many noble Carians. But she rejected them all and began to love her twin brother Kaunos. But she kept this a secret, which weighed so heavily on her that in her hopeless love she decided to kill herself to shorten her suffering, and she threw herself from a high cliff. But the nymphs took pity on her and caught her. Then they sank her into a deep sleep and made her one of their companions as a hamadryad (tree nymph) and immortal (Nicander).

    (2) Ovid tells us that she actually confessed her forbidden love to her brother through a messenger. Horrified, he fled from her into a foreign land, where he founded the city of Kaunos. Byblis then set off in search of him and wandered through Caria, Lycia and other countries as if out of her mind, until she finally fell to the ground exhausted and no nymphs could help her. She dissolved into tears and was transformed into a fountain (Ovid. Metam. IX, v.452). This fountain bore her name and was known for a long time at the foot of an oak tree in Miletos (Strabon).
    Byblis, Painting by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905).

    (3) Others say that after her brother fled from her to the land of the Lelegen (neighbours of the Carians), she hanged herself in despair from an oak tree with a belt. From her tears, however, the Byblis fountain was formed (Aristokritos).

    (4) There is also the version that it was Kaunos who fell in love with her, but since this love was impossible, he fled her and went far away in despair. Byblis, however, set out to look for him. When she could not find him, she hanged herself from a walnut tree (Conon. Narr.).

    The Byblis myth is probably related to the traditions of the cult of Aphrodite near Miletos and was genealogically linked to Minos by the Cretan colonists of this city (Roscher). According to Stephanos of Byzantium, the city of Byblos in Phoenicia is said to have been named after Byblis.

    Kalamos, the son of Maiandros, had a companion Karpos, a son of Zephyr and a Hore (a goddess of the season), whom he loved above all things. When he was thrown back by a vicious gust during a swimming race in the Maiandros and drowned, he no longer wanted to live and begged Zeus to allow him to die too, so that he could be reunited with his beloved. Zeus took pity on him and transformed him into a reed (calamus). It is said that the sound of the rustling reed was the lamentation of Kalamus over the death of his beloved. Karpos became a crop. This story is told by Eros to Dionysus to comfort him over the loss of his lover Ampelos (Nonn. Dion.).

    The Maiandros (Meander, also Great Meander), today Büyük Menderes, is the longest river in southwestern Asia Minor. It rises near Kelainai and after a short course takes in the Marsyas. In a strongly winding course it flows into the Icarian Sea in ancient times near Priene through a wide alluvial plain. The Μαιανδρου Πεδιον , the valley through which the Maiandros flows, was famous for its fertility. There is also the Small Meander (Kücük Menderes), which was called Kaystros in ancient times. It should not be confused with the Mainandros. The Maiandros was known early on. Homer already mentions it in his Iliad (II, 869), when he reports at the end of the catalogue of ships that Nastes led the Carians, a people of barbarian dialect, who inhabited Miletos and the floods of the Maiandros.
    The most striking feature of the Maiandros is its meandering course, which has given the name meandering to the similar behaviour of other rivers. In the case of the river loops, a distinction is made between the impinging slope and the sliding slope, whereby over time the impinging slopes of two loops come closer and closer together until a breakthrough occurs. Then the river takes the shorter path and the old loop becomes an oxbow lake or silts up completely. If there was an elevation in the middle of the loop, a circulating hill was formed, popular as a site for a castle.


    The photo shows the circulating hill at the Neckarburg/Germany in the upper Neckar valley. The Neckar once flowed in the flat loop around the hill. Now it takes a shortcut in the background of the photo.

    Art history:
    The meander pattern has been known since the Neolithic period. It was used as an ornament in the borders of garments, on clay vessels, as a relief or frieze in architecture. The meander also exists rounded as a so-called running dog or as a double meander consisting of 2 meanders running in opposite directions, e.g. in the Pompeian wall painting of the Villa dei Misteri.
    "Reading of the ritual of the bridal mysteries", fresco, scene in the Villa dei Misteri, Pompeii, ca. 60 BC (Wikipedia). Above the painting you can see the frieze of the double meander.

    Originally, however, it is a characteristic of Greek art. In antiquity it stood for the attainment of eternity through repetition. It is an allusion to the eternally young god Eros and the eternally renewing cosmos. The meander pattern was the distinguishing feature of several cities on the Meander. Thus it is often found as an ethnicon on coins.

    Coin #2:
    Phrygia, Apameia, c. 88-40 BC.
    AE 25, 7.88g, 180°.
    struck under the magistrate Andronikos, son of Alkios
    Obv.: Bust of Athena with Corinthian helmet, draped and wearing aegis, .r.
    Rev.: above AΠAMEΩ[N].
    below in 2 lines ANΔPONIKO[V] / AΛKIOV.
    Eagle rising from a meandering pattern r., behind its head an 8-pointed
    star, on both sides the pileus of a dioscuri with an 8-pointed star above
    Ref.: SNG Copenhagen 163; SNG Tübingen 3955-2956; SNG Munich 109; SNG
    Lewis 1010; Weber 7024; Hunter 3; Walcher 2474; BMC 37-39; HGC 7, 670;
    VF, de-patinated
    Note: These coins are among the first to have been struck in brass (Tatjana N. Smekalova, 2009).

    Authors cited by Hederich:
    (1) Aristokritos, from Milet(?), 1st century BC (at least before Parthenios from Nikaia, d. 73 BC), wrote a book "Peri Miletou".

    (2) Konon, around 30 BC, wrote "Diegeseis", 50 mythological tales, known only through Photius' "Myriobiblon".

    (3) Nikander from Kolophon, 197-133 B.C. 2 didactic poems on remedies and poisons have survived. Not preserved are his "Metamorphoses", which Ovid used, and the "Georgika", which Virgil used.

    (4) Stephanos of Byzantium, a late ancient Greek grammarian from the early period of Justinian I, worked at the University of Constantinople. Wrote 50-60 books of "Ethnika". The quality of his works is rather variable, nevertheless his excerpts represent a not unimportant source (Wikipedia).

    (1) Homer, Ilias
    (2) Apollodor, Bibliotheke
    (3) Hesiod, Theogony
    (4) Strabon, Geographika
    (5) Nonnos, Dionysiaka
    (6) Plinius, Naturalis historiae
    (7) Ovid, Metamorphoses

    (1) Benjamin Hederich, Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon (online too)
    (2) Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher, Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und
    römischen Mythologie (online too)
    (3) Der Kleine Pauly
    (4) Robert von Ranke-Graves, Römische Mythologie
    (5) Westermanns Atlas zur Weltgeschichte

    Online Sources:
    (1) Wikipedia

    Best regards
    DonnaML, Spaniard, BenSi and 15 others like this.
  2. Avatar

    Guest User Guest

    to hide this ad.
  3. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Entertaining and informative write-up, as always, @Jochen1!

    Here's one of Apameia with a Maeander pattern. I did not know until I read your post that it was struck in orichalcum!

    Phrygia, Apameia, ca. 88-40 BC.
    Greek Æ 23 mm, 7.71 g.
    Magistrate Philokratos son of Aristos.
    Obv: Bust of Athena to right, wearing aegis and crested Corinthian helmet decorated with griffin.
    Rev: AΠAMEΩN / ΦIΛOKPATOY APIΣΤΕOY, Eagle alighting right above Maeander pattern; to l. and r., eight-pointed star above piloi of the Dioskouroi.
    Refs: BMC 25.87, 105-108; SNG Cop 168-69.
    DonnaML, Spaniard, BenSi and 11 others like this.
  4. Alegandron

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

    Thank you for the great writeup, @Jochen1 . And very nice coins.

    This helps me further understand the history of my coin...

    Apameia with a Maeander pattern

    Augustus 27BC-AD14
    Æ20 5.5g 12h
    Apameia Phrygia
    Magistrate Attalos c 15BC
    Two corn-ears above maeander pattern
    RPC I, 3125 SCARCE
    DonnaML, Spaniard, BenSi and 11 others like this.
  5. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Thanks for that comprehensive writeup, Jochen!

    One day I'll have to get one of these on a larger flan so that the maeander pattern that Marsyas is stepping on is clearer.

    PHRYGIA Apameia - AE17 Marsyas ex Klein 3992.jpg PHRYGIA, Apameia
    AE17. 4.0g, 17mm. PHRYGIA, Apameia, circa 88-40 BC. Philokrates, son of Aristeon, eglogistes. HGC 7, 674; SNG Cop 194; Klein 589 (this coin). O: Turreted bust of Artemis-Tyche right, bow and quiver over shoulder. R: AΠAMEΩN, Marsyas advancing right on maeander pattern, playing aulos; ΦIΛOKPAT/APIΣTEO in two lines on left.
    Ex Dr. W.R. Collection (acquired in December 2004 from Hauck & Aufhäuser, Munich); ex Dieter Klein Collection, No. 589
    Alegandron, Spaniard, BenSi and 9 others like this.
  6. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for that write up Jochen
    I like the meander motiv, one of my bathrooms greek style

    toilet greek .JPG
  7. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Enrich the soldiers...ignore all others

    Jochen1 likes this.
  8. eparch

    eparch Well-Known Member

    Thanks as always Jochen

    This is a varient of Zumbly's coin above
    I love the way Marsyas tiptoes along the meander pattern


    Turreted head of Artemis right; bow and quiver over her shoulder. Rev. AΠAMEΩN ATTAΛOY BIANOPOΣ Marsyas advancing right on a maeander pattern, playing a double flute.

    BMC 62. HGC 7 674v. SNG Copenhagen 192
  9. Jochen1

    Jochen1 Well-Known Member

    eparch likes this.
  10. pprp

    pprp Well-Known Member

    I am happy to have a maeander coin which might not be well known to people not collecting Kroton.

  11. Jochen1

    Jochen1 Well-Known Member

    In antiquity it stood for the attainment of eternity through repetition. It is an allusion to the eternally young god Eros and the eternally renewing cosmos.

    With this background it was suitable as an ornament on sarcophagi. I took this picture in 2011 in Aphrodisias. It shows a meander cross with the typical swastikas as a sun symbol.
    Aphrodidias März 2011.JPG
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page