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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: Triton V, Lot: 1778. Estimate $3000. 
Closing Date: Wednesday, 16 January 2002. 
Sold For $3750. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

EGYPT, Alexandria. Antoninus Pius. 138-161 AD. Æ Drachm. (28.60 gm). Year 5 (=141/142 AD). [AVT K] T AIL AÐP ANTWNEINOC CVECB (sic), laureate head right / Orpheus charming the animals: L E, Orpheus seated right on rock, playing lyre, charming numerous wild animals around. Köln -; cf. Dattari 2996; Milne -. Near VF, brown patina. ($3000)

From the David Simpson Collection. Ex Finarte (26 November 1996), lot 940.

Orpheus, the son of the Thracian king Oeagrus and the Muse Kalliope, was a master poet, proficient on the lyre, and possessing a melodious voice surpassed by no other mortal. He mesmerised gods and mortals alike with his song. His musical powers were so intense that the birds and animals, even trees and stones, were charmed and drew near to hear his voice. Orpheus married the nymph Eurydike, but their life together was cut short by the bite of a snake that sent Eurydike from the land of the living to the shadowy kingdom of the underworld. Distraught over the death of his beloved, Orpheus descended into the land of shades and made his way to the very throne of Hades and his queen Persephone. His music was so enticing that all the inhabitants of the underworld were entranced, and the King of Darkness granted Orpheus' request to return Eurydike to the light of day provided he dare not look back at her until they both had cleared the gates of Hades. The temptation was too great, though, and Orpheus turned to gaze upon Eurydike for the last time before her spirit sped back to the underworld. Totally disheartened by his second loss, Orpheus shunned all women and sang his songs in the company of Thracian men, who became distracted from their womenfolk. Outraged, the Thracian women ultimately fell on Orpheus and killed him. Severing his head from his body, they cast it into the Hebrus River, where it floated on his lyre, still singing, out to sea. Finally, Orpheus' head drifted to Lesbos, where it was enshrined by the nymphs.