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Herakles’ Eleventh Labor
The Apples of the Hesperides

CNG 109, Lot: 464. Estimate $1500.
Sold for $4000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

EGYPT, Alexandria. Antoninus Pius. AD 138-161. Æ Drachm (32.7mm, 24.17 g, 12h). Labors of Herakles series. Dated RY 10 (AD 146/147). Laureate head right / Herakles and the Apples of the Hesperides – Herakles standing right, lion’s skin and club over his left shoulder, holding club with his left hand and reaching with his right hand for the Apples of the Hesperides hanging from branch of tree to right; the serpent Ladon coiled around the tree’s trunk; L ΔЄKA TOV (date) around. Köln 1545 (same dies); Dattari (Savio) 2604 (same dies) & 8495-6; K&G 35.354; Emmett 1554.10. Good Fine, reddish-brown surfaces, some light smoothing on the obverse. Rare. Emmett lists this types as being struck for three of Pius’ regnal years: 5, 6, and 10.

Because he had been assisted in completing some of his earlier tasks, Herakles was compelled to undergo two more labors. The first of these was to steal the Apples of the Hesperides, nymphs who lived in a grove at the far western edge of the world. Herakles tricked the Titan Atlas, whose task it was to hold up the heavens, to retrieve the apples in return for holding up the heavens while he did so. Having accomplished the task, Atlas was reluctant to give up his freedom, and told Herakles that he would take back the apples to Mycenae. Once again, Herakles tricked the Titan, requesting that Atlas hold the heavens, while Herakles adjusted his cloak to be more comfortable.