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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Harpokrates of Pelousion

Triton XXI, Lot: 237. Estimate $300.
Sold for $850. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

EGYPT, Alexandria. Claudius II Gothicus. AD 268-270. Potin Tetradrachm (22mm, 9.35 g, 12h). Dated RY 2 (AD 269/270). AVT K KΛAV∆IOC CЄB, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right / Harpokrates of Pelousion standing facing, head right, wearing hem-hem crown, holding a pomegranate branch with his outstretched right hand and a pomegranate in his left; to left, small figure standing facing, plucking a pomegranate from branch; L B (date) across field. Köln 3036; Dattari (Savio) 5390; K&G 104.24; Emmett 3886.2; Staffieri, Alexandria In Nummis 239 (this coin). EF, dark brown surfaces.

From the Giovanni Maria Staffieri Collection. Ex Empire Coins 8 (7 December 1987), lot 770 (further pedigree given to the Niggeler Collection cannot be verified, as this coin was not in the 1966 auction).

At Pelousion is the sacred image of Zeus Kasios; but the statue is that of a youth more like Apollo, so young it seemed. He has his hand stretched out holding a pomegranate, about which there is a mystical story. (Achilles Tatius 3.6)

Achilles Tatius’ description of the cult image of Harpokrates of Pelousion, given in his tale of the adventures of the lovers Klitophon and Leukippe, is frustratingly brief and offers no clue as to how the youthful deity became associated with Zeus. Coins and gems serve as the primary evidence for the iconography of the sanctuary’s cult statue.