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Research Coins: Feature Auction


The Ninth Labor – The Golden Girdle of Hippolyte

Triton XXI, Lot: 156. Estimate $7500.
Sold for $9000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

EGYPT, Alexandria. Antoninus Pius. AD 138-161. Æ Drachm (35mm, 23.67 g, 12h). Labors of Herakles series. Dated RY 5 (AD 141/142). [AVT] K T AIΛ A∆P ANTωNINOC ЄVCЄB, laureate head right / Herakles and Hippolyte’s Girdle – Herakles standing right, nude but for lion's skin draped over his left shoulder, holding club with left hand over his left shoulder and with right hand he seizes the “Golden Girdle” from the prostrate Hippolyte on her fallen horse which lies left; to upper right, L Є (date). Köln –; Dattari (Savio) 2616 (this coin); K&G 35.144; Emmett 1540.5 (R4); Staffieri, Alexandria In Nummis 156 (this coin). VF, attractive brown surfaces. Extremely rare, and one of the finest known for the type. Emmett lists this types as being struck for three of Pius’ regnal years: 5, 6, and 10.

From the Giovanni Maria Staffieri Collection, purchased from Renzo Canavesi, Sagno, 1996. Ex Renzo Canavesi Collection (Sagno); Dr. Piero Beretta Collection (Milan); Giovanni Dattari Collection, no. 2616.

At the request of Admete, Eurystheus’ daughter, Herakles as his Ninth Labor went to seize the golden girdle of Hippolyte, a garment that gave power and supremacy to the wearer. The daughter of Otrera and the god Ares, Hippolyte was the queen of the Amazons, an all female race who lived near the slopes of the Caucasus. To carry off this Labor, Herakles organized an expedition, which included the Athenian hero Theseus. Upon the heroes’ arrival, the Amazon women greeted them warmly, while Hippolyte offered the girdle as a gift. Hera, on hearing this, took the form of an Amazon, spreading a rumor that Herakles had come to steal away their queen, and take her back with him to Greece. The female warriors, in protection of their queen, began fighting the heroes. In the melée that followed, Herakles slew Hippolyte, thinking she had betrayed him. Winning the battle, Herakles headed back for Mycenae. On the way, he saved the life of Hesione, daughter of Laomedon, king of Troy. Laomedon, however, refused to reward the hero for his service. In retribution, Herakles slew the king and all his sons, save the youngest, Podarces, who later became known as Priam.