Featured Zeus Kataibates

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Jochen1, Apr 8, 2019.

  1. Jochen1

    Jochen1 Well-Known Member

    Dear Friends of ancient mythology!

    I just discovered the thread on Commagene. This article about Zeus Kataibates fits well:

    1st coin:
    Syria, Cyrrhestica, Cyrrhus, Marcus Aurelius, AD 161-180
    AE 23, 12.9g, 0°.
    laureate bust r.
    Zeus Kataibates, in himation, std. l. on rocks, supports the right arm on his knee, holds thunderbolt in r. hand and resting with raised l. hand on long scepter; l. before him an eagle r.
    Ref: SNG UK 1301, 660
    Extremely rare, with attractive red, earthy patina
    Kataibates (= descending) was an epiclesis of Zeus as the god of lightning (cf. Aeschyl. Prom. 358), to whom the places struck by lightning (Greek: elusia, enelusia, Latin: putealia, bidentalia) were consecrated (Poll. 9, 41). These were then surrounded by a fence or other enclosure and were considered sacred. There were cults for Zeus the 'Descender' in Athens, in Olympia (Paus. 5, 14, 9), on several Aegean islands, in Taranto and in Kyrrhos in Syria.

    Epiklesis = as much as a nickname under which a god was called.

    According to the latest results also the temple of Zeugma was consecrated to Zeus Kataibates:

    2nd coin:
    Syria, Commagene, Zeugma, Philipp II, AD 244-249
    AE 29, 15.7g, 0°.
    minted probably in Antioch like all coins of Northern Syria (Kevin Butcher)
    Bust, draped and cuirassed, laureare, r.
    Rv: ZEVΓM - ATEΩN (Z mirrored, as usual)
    Tetrastyle temple, in it cult statue of Zeus Kataibates, stg. frontal, resting with raised l. hand on Long sceptre; in front of him peribolos with holy grove, which could be entered through a monumental two-door gate
    Below Capricorn l.
    Ref.: BMC 35 var. (Capricorn r.!); SNG Copenhagen 35 var.
    almost VF
    (1) The Capricorn was the zodiac sign of Augustus and the symbol of Legio IIII Scythia that was stationed at Zeugma.
    (2) For the cult image see: Antonio Miguel de Guadan, "El abaton de Zeus Kataibates en Zeugma de Commagene segun las representaciones monetarias", Acta Num 2 (1972), pp. 1-18.

    Zeugma was a double city (hence the name!) on the upper Euphrates, connected by an important bridge with its twin city Apameia on the other bank. For strategic reasons it had been founded by Seleukos I on the right bank as Seleukeia. Unfortunately, this invaluable ancient site is sinking into the new Euphrates reservoir built by Turkey against the protest of the civilized world! Emergency excavations have unearthed magnificent mosaics, murals, buildings and tomb monuments that testify to the city's prosperity and which could only partly be saved. In ancient times Zeugma was considered the Pompeii of the East! The temple of Zeus Kataibates was probably on the acropolis of Zeugma.

    Further information about Zeugma can be found at

    Kataibates was also the nickname of other gods:
    (1) of the Acheron, because the shadows descended to him on the way to the underworld.
    (2) Apollo called under that name to guarantee a happy homecoming, and
    (3) of Hermes, who accompanied the shadows into the underworld, in Athens and Rhodes.
    Demetrios Poliorketes was also called Kataibates in Athens (where he got off the car!).

    As an example of the wonderful mosaiks I have added the pic of a saved mosaic depicting Poseidon, Okeanos and Tethys.

    Best regards
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  3. John Anthony

    John Anthony Ultracrepidarian Supporter

    Very nice coins Jochen! Yes, it is dreadful when modern construction obliterates important archaeological sites. One wishes that Turkey would have the same respect for its ancient heritage that collectors have for their coins. I'll add a coin of Antioch that came with the hoard of Philip Zeugma issues I recently bought...


    SELEUCIS and PIERIA, Antioch.
    Philip II. AD 247-249.

    Æ 8 Assaria, 15.9g, 30mm, 6h.
    Obv.: Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust of Philip II right.
    Rev.: Turreted, draped, and veiled bust of Tyche right; above, ram leaping right, head left; Δ-Є and S-C across field, star below.
    Reference: McAlee 1073
  4. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Here's Zeus/Jupiter hurling a thunderbolt on these IOVI VLTORI antoniniani from Gallienus that were not manufactured with the highest attention to artistry.

    Gallienus IOVI VLTORI RIC 221K.jpg Gallienus IOVI VLTORI RIC 53.jpg
  5. Agricantus

    Agricantus Allium aflatunense

    Here’s my descending Zeus.


    Zeus Kataibates and Zeus Labraundos are my favorite. I have a couple of Labraundii to post, too; just waiting for the right thread.

    Every time I see the Zeugma reverse type, my first thought is: the Maya temple at Tikal. The mayans worrshiped a descending god, too. One can still see the ruins of “templos del Dios descendente”.
  6. Ed Snible

    Ed Snible Well-Known Member

    Nice Marcus Aurelius, @Jochen . Here is Antoninus Pius:

    Syria, Cyrrhestica, Cyrrhus, AE22
    Obv: ΑΥΤοΚΡ ΚƐСΑΡ ΤΙΤ Ɛ[ΛΙ(sic) (ΑΔΡΙ) ΑΝΤωΝΙΝΟС С(Β ƐΥ(СƐ))]; Antoninus Pius laureate head right
    Rev: [ΔΙΟΣ ΚΑΤΕΒΑΤΟΥ] ΚΥΡΡΗΣΤΩΝ and numeral letter Α in right field; Zeus Kataibates seated left on rock, holding thunderbolt over eagle and long scepter; A to right.
    RPC Volume IV 8539 (temporary)
    7Calbrey, Alegandron, Jochen1 and 4 others like this.
  7. 7Calbrey

    7Calbrey Well-Known Member

    Just found this interesting coin in my folders. It was struck in Cyrrhus -Syria under Roman Emperor Philip II. Reverse reads "Dioc Katebatou". Also KURECTON in exergue under an hexastyle temple which includes Zeus seated and holding scepter. There seems to be a capricorn leaping left above.
    The temple is said to involve a "Syrian Gable" whereby from the architectural design there is an outer angular pediment over a round inner pediment. Hope this coin would fit this featured and interesting thread. BMC 30.

    PhilpCyrrhus R 001.jpg Philp 2Cyr O 001.jpg
  8. Jochen1

    Jochen1 Well-Known Member

    A beautiful site for architectonical coins is http://www.aeruginis.de/aeruginis/ Highly recommended! From this site for your coin:

    Ref.: Lindgren I.1917, BMC 34, SNG Hunter 2664, SNG Righetti 1873, SNG Fitzw. 5852

    6-column Corinthian temple on stylobate with a 'Syrian gable'. Above Aries to the right, a kind of "heraldic animal" like Pegasos for Samosata or Capricorn for Zeugma. In the temple on its own flat base the statue of Zeus Kataibates sitting on a rock, who "descended" in lightning and thunder, with scepter and lightning, at the feet of eagle.
    A curtain above the head of the statue indicates a ceremonial unveiling of the statue (so Butcher)
    Zeus Kataibates was worshipped above all where a lightning had struck (Flash mark), here apparently a rock. Such places were delimited in different ways (Puteal).
    From here came Andronikos, who built the "Tower of the Winds" in Athens for Caesar.

    zumbly and 7Calbrey like this.
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