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Perseus and Andromeda

Triton XXI, Lot: 167. Estimate $5000.
Sold for $3000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

EGYPT, Alexandria. Antoninus Pius. AD 138-161. Æ Drachm (35mm, 22.46 g, 12h). Dated RY 24 (AD 160/161). TI AI A∆PIA ANTωNINOC C ЄB EV, laureate and draped bust right / Perseus and Andromeda – Perseus advancing right, wearing Phrygian cap and chlamys, holding a harpa with his left hand over his left shoulder, extending his right hand to Andromeda; Andromeda is stepping down from a rock base, wearing chiton, and extending her right hand to Perseus, her left hand is held to her breast; between them, ∆/L (date), [K] behind Perseus. Köln 1856; Dattari (Savio) 2990-4 & 8840; K&G 35.828; Emmett 1637.24; Staffieri, Alexandria In Nummis 134 (this coin). VF, dark brown surfaces with touches of green, roughness. Very rare. Emmett lists the type for regnal years 20 and 24 of Pius, but his reference for RY 20 is Dattari 2990, but in the Dattar-Savio plates the ∆ (K∆ = 24) is visible, hence this is a one-year type only.

From the Giovanni Maria Staffieri Collection. Ex David Simpson Collection (Triton V, 15 January 2002), lot 1789; Spink Numismatic Circular Vol. XCII, No. 10 (December 1984), lot 7941.

Perseus, the slayer of Medusa, was returning from this task, when he caught sight of a naked woman chained to a sea-cliff, and instantly fell in love with her. This was the princess Andromeda, daughter of King Kepheus of Joppa and Kassiopeia. Kassiopeia had boasted that both she and Andromeda were more beautiful than the Nereids, who then complained about this insult to their protector, Poseidon. Poseidon sent a flood and a female sea-monster to devastate Philistia (Palestine) – the home of Kassiopeia and Andromeda.

When the king consulted an oracle, he was told that his only hope was to sacrifice Andromeda to the sea-monster. This was Andromeda’s predictament when Perseus happened upon her. Perseus killed the sea-monster and took Andromeda as his wife, but only after using Medusa’s head to turn Kassiopeia and Kepheus to stone after they broke their bargain with him for saving their daughter. The coin type depicts Perseus helping Andromeda down from the sea-cliff.