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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: Triton V, Lot: 1719. Estimate $6000. 
Closing Date: Wednesday, 16 January 2002. 
Sold For $5500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

TROAS, Ilium. Commodus. 180-192 AD. Æ 38mm (2.89 gm). AV KAI M AVRH KOMMOÐOC, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right / ILIEWN in exergue, Ganymede, wearing Phrygian helmet, seated left on pile of rocks, giving cup to eagle who grasps it with his left claw and drinks from it; tree behind. Bellinger T186; Von Fritze, "Münzen von Ilion" in Dörpfeld, Troja und Ilion II, 76; SNG Copenhagen 411; Cornell 101 (this coin). Good VF, dark green patina with light earthen encrustation around the devices, some corrosion. ($6000)

From the David Simpson Collection. Ex Bank Leu Auktion 30 (28 April 1982), lot 395.

The Roman emperors followed Caesar's example in patronising Ilium and its temples because of the legend that the founders of Rome were of Trojan origin. The Roman provincial coinage of the city has an exceptionally large variety of types chiefly relating to Athena Ilias and the heroes of the Trojan War. Some of the types, such as Ganymede above, may well represent monuments that actually existed in Ilium.

Ganymede was the son of Tros, founder of Troy, or of Laomedon, father of the Trojan king Priam. A youth of great beauty, he was abducted by the gods, to live with them and to be cup-bearer to Zeus, in place of Hebe. Later writers say that Zeus, in love with Ganymede, disguised himself as an eagle and carried him off to be his eromenos and set him in the sky as the constellation of Aquarius, the water-carrier. This myth was extremely popular in Greece and Rome and gave religious respectability to homosexuality, for which the Greeks and Romans had neither a separate conception nor word until the arrival of Christianity.