Coins of Capaneus
Capaneus was the son of Hipponous and either Astynome or Laodice. He was married to Evadne, the mother of Sthenelus. Capaneus is only indirectly related to the Trojan War. It was in fact, Capaneus’ son, Sthenelus, who plays a role in the epic tale as one of the numerous suitors of Helen of Troy.
Capaneus was famous in Greek mythology known as one of the “seven against Thebes”, the third play in an Oedipus-themed trilogy by Aeschylus, written in 467 B.C. The story chronicles the battle between the Argives (led by Polynices) and the Thebans (led by his brother, Eteocles). As the story goes, Oedipus, king of Thebes, blinded himself after learning that he has married his own mother. In the process he fathered two sons (Eteocles and Polynices). Upon his death they were forced to share their inheritance (the kingdom) and agreed to alternate ruling Thebes (every other year). After his first year on the throne, Eteocles refused to step down and Polynices raised an army in order to take Thebes by force. His army was led by “the seven”, heroic captains from Argos. In the end, Eteocles meets his brother on the battlefield and they both take each other’s life.
The seven Argives include: Adrastus, Amphiaraus, Capaneus, Hippomedon, Parthenopeus, Polynices, and Tydeus. All perished in the battle, save Adrastus. Capaneus had immense strength and body size and was an outstanding warrior. He was also notorious for his arrogance. He stood just at the wall of Thebes at the siege of Thebes and shouted that Zeus himself could not stop him from invading it. While he was mounting the ladder, Zeus struck and killed Capaneus with a thunderbolt, and Evadne threw herself on her husband's funeral pyre and died
During the Trojan War, Sthenelus fought alongside Diomedes and the other Argives. He was one of the brave warriors who hid in the Trojan horse. He clearly inherited his father’s arrogance for in the Iliad, he boasts that he captured the city of Thebes, while his father, fighting among “the seven" died in attempting the same. Sthenelus co-ruled Argos along with Diomedes, after both Adrastus and Aeqialus had died.
Coins of Ancaeus
Ancaeus was the king of the island of Samos, and an Argonaut helmsman. He was a son of Poseidon and Atypalaea and brother of Eurypylus. By other accounts his father was the Lelegian king Altes which makes sense given Ancaue's fule over the Leleges of Samos. According to a lost epic of his house, sung by the Samian poet Asios, he married Samia, daughter of the river god Maeander, who bore him Perilaus, Enudus, Samus, Alitherses, and Parthenope (the mother of Lycomedes). The most famouse story surrounding Ancaeus is the following - when planting a vineyard (Samos was famed for its wine) Ancaeus was told by a seer that he would never taste its wine. Joining the voyaage of the Argonauts, he returned hom safely at which time the grapes were ripe and already made into wine. Ancaeus summoned the seer before him and raised a cup of wine to his lips...mocking the seer. The seer retorted, "there is many a slip between cup and the lip." Before Ancaeus could taste the wine, an alarm was raised that a wild boar was ravaging the vineyard. On hearing this news Ancaeus dropped the cup and went to investigate...and was promptly killed by the boar.
Coin of Kadmos
Kadmos was the son of the Phoenician king Agenor, son of Poseidon. His sister was Europa and his brothers Phoinix and Kilix. While in search of his sister he wandered around the Mediterranean and visited many islands. During his travels he built many temples to Poseidon (at Rhodes, thera, Crete, Samothrace, etc.). Kadmos went to Delphi to inquire the whereabouts of Europa at which time Apollo told him to end his search and instead follow a cow that would lead him to a place where he would build a town. Kadmos followed the cow to Boiotia where she laid down, signifying where he should build his town. Kadmos set about to sacrifice the cow to Athena gaining her blessing for the building of the town; however, a dragon appeared and killed Kadmos' men. In return Kados slayed the dragon. Athena advised him to sow the teeth of the dragon on a field. After seeding the field a mass of armored warriors rose from the earth and started to struggle against eachother. All were killed save 5. These band of 5 were called Spartoi and began the ancestors of the Thebanians.
To pay for the death of the dragon, Kadmos was forced into servatude to Ares for one year. Kadmos later built a castle at the spot that the cow had lead him. The castle Kadmeia later became the city of Thebes. The Ilias therefore called the Thebanians Kadmeioi.
Kadmos is said to have brought the Phoencian alphabet to the Greeks. Is is this alphabet that is used in the Greek language today...from which the Latin alphabet is derived as well.
THESSALY, Ainianes. Circa 80s-40s BC. AR Hemidrachm or Tetrobol (17mm, 2.38 g, 12h). Hypata mint. Head of Athena, Warrior (Phemios) shooting sling. Liampi, Beitrag, Group VII, 11; Callataÿ, Argent 17 (D6/R1) corr. (obv. legend); BCD Thessaly II 43.2; ex. BCD Collection. Ex Bourgey (2 April 2001), lot 149; Egger (26 November 1909), lot 327. (image courtesy of CNG; from the Bill Hearn collection).
Coins of Tylos
Tylos’ mythology chronicles that he was killed by a snake bite. Tylos’ sister, Morie was aided by the local Hero Manat and Herakles who killed the snake. The herb from a neighboring tree had medicinal properties and Morie used it to heal Tylos.
Coins of Arkas or Orchomenos
According to a fragment of Hesiod's lost work, Astronomoi (Eratosth [Cat.], frag. 1:2), and later retold by the Roman poet, Ovid (Met. 2.405-531), Kallisto was the daughter of Lykaon, the king of Arkadia. Vowing to remain a virgin, she became a companion of Artemis. Zeus, however, eventually became enamored of Kallisto, and impregnated her. Kallisto's pregnancy was soon discovered when she was seen bathing. Angered by this, Artemis – perhaps at the insistence of Juno, according to Ovid – transformed the nymph into a bear; as a bear, Kallisto gave birth to a son who named Arkas and who became the eponymous founder of the Arkadians. Subsequently, either Artemis slew Kallisto, or it was Arkas himself who unwittingly did it, when his bear-mother wandered into a forbidden precinct of Zeus, or was stopped at the last moment. In recompense, Zeus then set both mother and son in the heavens as constellations – Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.
ARKADIA, Pheneos. Circa 360-350 BC. AR Stater (25mm, 11.95 g). Head of Demeter to right, wearing grain wreath, elaborate disc and crescent earring with pendants, and pearl necklace / ΦΕΝΕΩΝ, Hermes, nude but for his petasos and for a cloak over his shoulders, partially facing and moving to the left, holding a kerykeion in his right hand; his head is turned back to right to gaze at the infant Arkas, whom he holds on his left arm with his left hand and who raises his right hand towards Hermes’ face; between Hermes’ legs, Θ. BCD Peloponnesos 1615 (same dies); Boston MFA 1266 (same dies); Du Chastel 243 (same dies); Shultz 2 (V2/R1 – this example unrecorded). (image courtesy of CNG)
ARKADIA, Orchomenos. Circa 370-340 BC. Æ Dichalkon (18mm, 5.54 g, 10h). Artemis kneeling right, holding bow; to left, hound seated right / Kallisto seated left, falling backwards with arms outstretched, an arrow piercing her breast; below, the infant Arkas lying on his back, reaching upward toward Kallisto. BCD Peloponnesos 1575; HGC 5, 958. (image courtesy of CNG; from the Bill Hearn collection)
Coins depicting Thessalos
The taurokathapsia was a form of bull fighting that was popular at many games in the ancient Greek world, particularly in Crete and Thessaly. Scenes of this event are depicted on coins from various cities in Thessaly, but it is especially prevalent in the 5th century BC coinage of Larissa, which provides much of the current evidence about the sport. In the Thessalian version of the event, a man on horseback was to chase down and subdue a bull. He first rode alongside the running bull, then grabbed the bull by the horns and jumped from his steed onto the back of the bull. It is now known – after close examination of some dies used for silver denominations – that the rider then subdued the bull by passing a cloth or (more likely) a leather band below his horns, thus restricting or possibly even totally blocking his eyesight. This would cause the animal to lose his ferocity and eventually come to a halt.
THESSALY, Thessalian League. Mid-late 1st century BC. Æ Tetrachalkon (24mm, 11.01 g, 11h). Eubiotos and Petraios, magistrates. Laureate head of Zeus right / Taurokathapsia scene: The hero Thessalos jumping from his horse, in background galloping right, onto a bull running right, the head of which he restrains with a band held in both of his hands. Burrer p. 62; Rogers 58 corr. (scene misdescribed); BCD Thessaly II 897.1-4 (image courtesy of CNG; from the Bill Hearn collection)
Coins of Kydon
According to Cretan myths and legends, Kydonia was built by Kydon. Some legends place Kydon as the son of Hermes, while others say that he is the son of Apollo. Whoever his father is, Kydon was borne of Akakalis, a daughter of the great King Minos. Homer wrote that Kydonia is one of the greatest cities that were ever established on Crete.
Coins of Jason and the Argonauts
Jason was the leader of the Argonauts in their quest for the Golden Fleece. His father was the King of Lolcus and his mother was a sorceress (Medea). Jason’s group of heroes were the namesake of their vessel, the Argo. The Argonauts included Heracles, Philoctetes, Peleus (father of Achilles), Telamon, Orpheus, Castor and Pollux, Atalanta, and Euphemus, and the Boreads.
In Corinth, a child was born to the King, Glaucus. Bellerophon, the son of the most skilled equestian of the day, was taught by his father from a young age. Bellerophon was a precocious student. When he turned 16 he set out on a journey during which time he met Proteus. Although feining friendship with Bellerophon, Proteus was jealous and sought to cause his death. Proteus was the son-in-law of lobates, king of Lycia and sent Bellerophon to his father on false pretenses. Once arriving in Lycia, Bellerophon found the country under threat of the Chimera...a monster with the head of a lion and the tail of a dragon (carrying off women, children, and livestock). Unbenounced to Bellerophon, he carried a letter of treachery to lobates (a letter from Proteus that requested Bellerophon be put to death). In turn, lobate sent Bellerophon to slay the Chimera (sure that he would be killed). Bellerophon welcomed this task but first sought the advice of wise Polyidus who told him of the legendary Pegasus. He advised him to seek out Athena and earn her favor to secure the use of Pegasus. Athena provided him with a golden bridle and instructions on how to find and subdue Pegasus. Bellerophon pursued the Chimera and drove a spear through its heart. Once the Prince returned to the palace of the King with the head of the Chimera he was hailed by the King and the people of Lycia. The King awarded him with his daughter and eventually his Kingship. Bellerophon sought greater and greater adventures until one day he decided to ride up to Mount Olympus to visit the gods. Zeus was so displeased with Bellerophon's arrogance that he sent a gadfly to sting Pegasus...hurling Bellerophon off his back and sending him plummeting to the ground. Although rescued from death by Athena, he remained crippled to the end of his days.
Androklos, founder of Ephesus
Tereus and Prokne
Tereus, a son of the war god Ares, was King of Thrace. Because he helped King Pandion of Athens against the King of Thebans, Pandion gave him his daughter Prokne as wife who eventually bore him a son, Ithys. One famous tale about Tereus and Prokne tell of a time when Tereus went to Athens to assist Prokne's sister, Philomele, travel to Thrace for a visit. Because of her beautiful voice, Tereus fell in love with her and he forced himself onto her. To secure the secrecy of his terrible act, he cut out her tongue, so that she couldn't reveal it and hid her away in the forest. Back home he told Prokne that her sister Philomele had died. But the mute Philomele wove a tapestry depicting what had happened and sent it to Prokne. Prokne discovered what had happened and decided to take revenge. In response to her husband's most cruel act, Prokne slayed her son Ithys, cut him to pieces, boiled him and served him as meal for Tereus. When he asked for his son, she answered that he was already here, and then she threw the head of Ithys on the table. Tereus jumped up, pulled his sword and threatened to kill her and her sister (then revealed). But Prokne and Philomele were transformed into birds, Prokne into a nightingale, and Philomele into a swallow, and they escaped.
Although far from a definitive attribution, many have suggested the following "banquet scene" represents the myth of Tereus and Prokne.
Coins of Attis
Attis was Cebele's lover, eunuch attendant, and driver of her lion driven chariot. Ultimately, he was driven mad and castrated himself because of her.
Coins of King Midas
Midas, the mytho-historical king of Phrygia and Lydia, was granted the so-called "Golden Touch" by Dionysus because the king wished for unending wealth as a reward for his guest-friendship to Silenus. Everything Midas touched turned to gold, including food. Starving and pleading for relief, the king was instructed to bathe in the waters of the river Pactolus. The water removed Midas’ “gift” and turned the sand of the river-bed into grains of gold. It was the naturally-occuring ore of the Pactolus that became the source of the metal used in the first archaic electrum coinages of Asia Minor.
He was the son of the priestly herdsman Aristaeus and Autonoe. He grew to become a Theban hero who was trained by wise Chiron the centaur. Ironically, at the hands of Artemis, goddess of the hunt, Actaeon was transformed into a stag.
Coins of Castor and Pollux (the Dioskouroi, Dioscuri or Gemini)
The twin sons of Leda (by Tyndareus and Zeus), brothers of Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra (half brothers of Herakles, Phoebe, Philonoe and Timandra). Having different fathers meant that Pollux was immortal while Castor was mortal. When Castor died, Pollux asked Zeus to allow him to share his immortality with his twin brother and the two became the constellation, Gemini. The two were considered patrons of sailors. Both participated in the hunt of the Calydonian boar and they sailed with Jason and his Argonauts.