Saturday, 5 February 2011

Hera and Pegasos

Silver drachm (reduced standard) of Herakleia in Akarnania, c. 330-280 BCE
Silver drachm (reduced standard) of Herakleia in Akarnania
This coin, shown here much enlarged, was struck about 2,300 years ago.  It comes from Herakleia in Akarnania, which was a coastal region on the Ionian sea in what is now western Greece.   It is a silver drachm, small and light; 15mm across, weighing only one and a half grammes.

It is the latest addition to my set of Pegasus coins; though, this being a Greek coin, he should really be called Pegasos here.  It's a pleasant coin, looking quite sharp in places, so perhaps the lack of detail in Pegasos' head was caused by a weak strike or an unevenly worn die rather than wear.  Although the surface is pitted with the corrosion of over two millennia, It lacks crystallisation, a problem that affects many of these ancient silver coins.  In fact, the only other example I could find on the web is clearly crystallised.

Pegasos looks lively and active.  He is in a pose that makes it look as though he is springing up into flight.  Oddly, his tail is clearly tied at the base, which is fine for a domestic animal, but unlikely for a wild creature.  Perhaps the suggestion is that this is Pegasos after he has been tamed by Bellerophon. 

The revese of the coin shows the head of the goddess Hera.  Relatively few coins show Hera, which is odd considering that she is the chief female deity in the Greek pantheon.   Her name crops up quite often elsewhere; Herakles, the original Greek name of the hero we usually know as Hercules, means "Glory of Hera," and so does the name of this town.  In fact there were several towns called Herakleia.  Here, Hera is wearing a necklace and a diadem known as a stephane.

Here is the other example I was able to find on the web: drachm of Herakleia in Akarnania.  This is a double die match; both coins were struck from the same pair of dies.  If this is a rare coin, as the reference suggests, most or all examples would probably be similarly die-matched.

No comments:

Post a Comment