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Research Coins: Printed Auction


The Judgment of Paris

Triton XX, Lot: 453. Estimate $2000.
Sold for $5500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

TROAS, Ilium. Commodus. As Caesar, AD 166-177. Æ (31mm, 14.22 g, 1h). Struck AD 174/5-177. AV K Λ AVPH KOMOΔOC, bareheaded and draped bust right / The Judgment of Paris: Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite standing right before Paris seated left below tree, wearing Phrygian cap and holding apple in right hand and pedum in left; syrinx (panpipes) in field above, IΛIЄΩN in exergue. Unpublished in the standard references. Good VF, dark green patina, some smoothing and cleaning marks, light doubling on obverse. Interesting mythological scene.

Ex David Szapary-Donadello Collection.

The Judgment of Paris, a mythical “beauty contest” of sorts, serves as a prelude to the Trojan War and thus is wholly appropriate for Ilium, a city believed to have been founded over Homeric Troy. Eris, goddess of discord, was excluded from a feast thrown by Zeus, but the scorned deity arrived uninvited with a golden apple inscribed “for the fairest.” Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite each claimed the apple, and Zeus was asked to award it to the most beautiful. Zeus, wishing to avoid this uncomfortable situation, appointed the mortal Paris as judge, as the shepherd and prince of Troy had a reputation for his fairness. Each goddess attempted to sway Paris with a bribe in order to win the apple: Athena offered him incredible skill in battle, Hera offered him an immense kingdom, and Aphrodite offered him the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen of Sparta, the wife of the Greek king Menelaus. Paris could not refuse Aphrodite’s offer, setting in motion the war between the Greeks and Trojans.