This cracked me up!

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Roman Collector, Dec 4, 2021.

  1. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

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  3. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

  4. romismatist

    romismatist Well-Known Member

    Wow... a winged, dolphin-headed creature... assume this is an electrum of Kyzikos? First time I've ever seen that one before...
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  5. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    (copying my post from 2016):

    This one sold in Roma today. It was estimated far higher than I could conceivably go and it realized £57,500 (with exchange rate, BP, etc... close to $100,000). Too bad. I really wanted it :(. [Edited to clarify: I did not win this. I couldn't even bid on it. It's my dream coin.]

    My utter inability to ever acquire such a coin doesn't dampen my enthusiasm for...


    An ancient superhero! :D


    Mysia, Kyzikos EL Stater. Circa 550-450 BC. Winged figure to right, consisting of man's body with dolphin's head, holding tunny fish in left hand, right hand raised behind head. Von Fritze -, cf. 79 (hemihekte); BMC -; von Aulock -; Franke-Hirmer 599 = Hurter-Liewald II, 79. 16.11g, 20mm.

    Of the highest rarity, only the second specimen known and the only one in private hands.

    From the auction listing:

    The type of this coin is at first glance completely perplexing - there are no part man, part dolphin hybrid monsters known in Greek mythology. To better understand the type we must therefore consider other possibilities. The prevalence of winged beings in Kyzikene coinage is a reflection of archaic mythological convention that assigned wings to most divine or sacred entities as an immediately visible and understandable symbol of their nature, and in the case of gods, of their power to move at will across great distances. The presence of wings on this figure therefore indicates a divine identity.

    Several gods are associated with dolphins, notably Poseidon, Aphrodite and even Dionysos. The latter on one occasion was travelling in disguise among a group of Tyrrhenian pirates, who thinking him only a man, decided to sell him into slavery; Dionysos transformed them into dolphins as they dove into the sea to escape his wrath, charging them for evermore with rescuing sailors in distress. While it could be argued therefore that the image on this coin represents a sailor in mid-transformation, this does not satisfactorily explain why it should be accorded a divine aspect, nor why an obscure myth should be chosen to feature on the coinage of Kyzikos.

    Instead we should turn to the Homeric Hymns of Apollo, which relate that having been born on the island of Delos in the Cyclades, the god grew to manhood in just four days, and from there set out into the world, looking for a place to make his home, until he arrived at last at Mount Parnassos and the site of Pytho. Finding it occupied already by the oracle of Gaia and guarded by a serpent known as Python, the offspring of Gaia, Apollo slew the monster with an arrow and claimed the site for his own. Yet, despite being the son of Zeus, Apollo had nonetheless committed murder and to cleanse the blood-guilt he was required to serve king Admetos of Pherai in Thessaly for nine years. This he did, and when he returned to Pytho he came in the form of a dolphin bringing with him priests from Crete. The site became known as Delphi, from the Greek word for dolphin: 'delphis'.

    It is most likely that we are expected to see in this coin's winged dolphin-headed man a representation of Apollo Delphinios: Apollo of Delphi; Apollo the dolphin. This identification is further supported by some myths which name the eponymous founder of Kyzikos' father as being none other than the god Apollo; Aristides (Orat. Cyzic., 1, p.114) goes so far as to speak of the god himself as the founder of the city.

    Yeah, whatever. WINGED DOLPHIN MAN. That's all I need to know :D.


    There have been a few more winged dolphin men since this spectacular example was auctioned. I tried for one of a smaller denomination but failed :(.
  6. romismatist

    romismatist Well-Known Member

    Holy mackerel, or should I say, tunny fish :)
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  7. Nicholas Molinari

    Nicholas Molinari Well-Known Member

    I like the Apollo Delphinios interpretation best.
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