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Research Coins: Printed Auction


Hercules’ Fourth Labor
The Erymanthian Boar

Triton XX, Lot: 444. Estimate $10000.
Sold for $12000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

THRACE, Perinthus. Septimius Severus. AD 193-211. Æ Medallion (41mm, 40.59 g, 1h). AV • Λ • CЄΠTI CЄVHPOC • [ΠЄ], laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right / ΦΙΛAΔЄΛΦЄIA Π–ЄPINΘIΩN NЄ/ΩKOPΩN, Hercules, wearing lion’s skin, standing right, holding Erymanthian Boar over his shoulder, displaying it to Eurystheus, who stands left in a crater at Hercules’ feet, his arms raised in terror. Voegtli type 3b; Schönert-Geiss, Perinthos 521.2 = Stoll, Herakles, 28 (this coin); Varbanov 201 (same dies as illustration). EF, attractive dark brown patina with tan highlights, edge split and short flan crack. Extremely rare, one of five known.

Ex Triton XI (7 Monday 2008), lot 439; Aufhäuser (7 October 1986), lot 234a and cover coin.

In the Fourth Labor, Hercules was charged with capturing the Erymanthian Boar. The beast resided in a grove sacred to Artemis near Mount Erymanthus in Arcadia, and would descend from the wilderness to wreck havoc on the surrounding farms and groves.

During his hunt for the Boar, Hercules visited his friend, the centaur Pholus, who lived in a cave on the mountain. The centaur provided the hungry and thirsty hero with food, but shied from offering him the wine he had because it did not belong to him, and was for the use of all the centaurs. Hercules, nevertheless, opened the jar, and, smelling the wine’s aroma, the other centaurs became excited and intoxicated. A fight soon ensued, and Hercules slew a number of centaurs with arrows poisoned by the blood of the Hydra. During the melee, another of Hercules’ friends, the kindly centaur Chiron, was accidentally wounded. Although Chiron did not die, as he was immortal, he did experience great pain. Hercules attempted to medicate the wound, but his efforts were of little avail. In return for his kindness, however, Chiron offered advice to the hero as to how he could capture the Boar.

Now back on task after his disastrous dawdling, Hercules trapped the Boar by pursuing it through the mountain snows until the creature collapsed from exhaustion. Netting the animal, he carried it back to Tiryns and presented it to Eurystheus. Frightened by the Boar, Eurystheus hid himself in a large bronze crater, as is depicted here. This scene is well known from an Attic Black-Figure vase of the late sixth century BC in the David M. Robinson Collection in the University of Mississippi (D.M. Robinson, "Unpublished Greek Vases in the Robinson Collection," AJA 60.1 [January 1956], 12, and pl. 8).