Schlagwort-Archive: Apollon

Why not Myonnesos?

Anhang 3MY is a common beginning of greek city names, especially in Asia Minor. Coins bearing the legend MY… are in many cases attributed to Myous in Ionia, mostly because of the meander pattern. Others, like early Poseidon/Dolphin bronzes, seem to belong to either Myndos (Sear, Aulock) or Mygissos (SNG Tübingen, Klein), an obscure, almost unknown town in Caria. Furthermore, an attribution to Myrina, Mylasa or even Mykale (if it was an independent Polis in early times) is possible as well, also highly unlikely for historical and stylistic reasons.

Anhang 4Now a new typ occured, depicting a female head (it seems to be female to me because of the hairdress and the necklace) on the obverse and bow, arrow and the legend MY on the reverse. Because of the completely different iconography I am tempted to atrribute this coins to a different, further mint. Unfortunately, there are allmost no usefull hints. The head on the obverse show more or less certain Artemis, the hair typically pushed up, wearing a necklace. The huntress is further charaterized by bow and arrow on the reverse. Otherwise, bow and arrow can also stand for Herakles or Apollon. In case of Apollon, bow and arrow can be interpretated as divine weapons against any kinds of parasits, like locusts and mice. SmintheusAs protector against mice, Apollon bore the epithet Σμινθεύς, Smintheus („Mice-destroyer“). Imperial bronzes from Alexandreia Troas show the statue of Apollon Smintheus who still was worshipped in roman times (see right).

The small town of Myonnessos in Ionia, situated on a promontory between Teos and Lebedos, was discribed as an independent Polis by Hekataios in the 6th century BC (cited Steph. Byz.). In the second century BC the Teians persuaded Rome to prevent the fortification of Myonnesos (Strabo XIV.643), which implies the independence of the town in this time. As Myonnesos means Mice-Island, it seems very well possible to me that this city, like Airai near Teos, minted a small series of bronze coins which depicts the attributes of the local Apollon cult – Apollon, the „Mice-destroyer“. This is a vague speculation of course, but perhaps, as long as there is no other evidence or hint, not the worst one…

Magnesia on the Maeander, Tetartemorion – the tiny one

The first coin I’d like to introduce is a Tetartemorion, minted in Magnesia on the Maeander, my favourite mint!  According to its style I assume the coin to minted at about 400 b.C.

The obverse of the Tetartemorion

The obverse of the Tetartemorion

The male, youthful head on the obverse is usually interpreted as head of Apollon. Unfortunately its not clearly visible on the worn piece whether the God is wearing a laurel wreath. The avers shows a raging bull, runnig to the right, lowering his head. While the M is outside of the coin, the legend is red (M) A on the obvers, continuing G N H on the reverse, meaning MAGNEton in ancient greek. The term Magneton refers to second person genitiv, which means „of the Magnetians“ and declares the coin to be part of the official currency of the state of Magnesia on the Maeander.

The revers of the Tetartemorion

The buttin bull on the revers is a bit more challenging to interpret. Homer describes the river Skamandros, which rans through the territory of Troja, as a roaring, angry bull, rolling through the meadows of Ilion. For assuring the fertility of the Troian fields, the river was ennobled to a demigod, with an own cultus and own priest. Everywhere across the ancient greek world river gods were depicted as buttin bulls, sometimes with a bearded human face. Beeing symbolized as an attacking bull the personification of a river god also tells us about the fear of drought and crop failure: the small, dry summertime streamlets of Asia Minor have very few in commom with the watering, rolling rivers that the people longed for. After thunderstorms and snowmelt, during the winter month, the creeks are in fact transformed into torrentials rivers, whose power and speed for the ancient Greeks seemed to be only comparable with one of the most powerful animals of their time – the bull.

The Tetartemorion from Magnesia vis-à-vis Twenty Pence

The Tetartemorion from Magnesia vis-à-vis Twenty Pence

Same at Magnesia: the butting bull is the iconographic depiction of the personification of the Maeandros River. By displaying the rivergod on their coins, the Magnesians showed everybody the considerable local value of this deity and, by doing this, worshiped him. Introducing two major gods. a local river and the first letters of the City on hardly 0,24 inch – a remarkable message for such a small medium.