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Research Coins: Feature Auction

 
11100495

The Actian & Pythian Games

CNG 111, Lot: 495. Estimate $500.
Sold for $800. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

THRACE, Perinthus. Septimius Severus. AD 193-211. Æ (34.5mm, 23.34 g, 6h). Actian and Pythian Games. Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right / Agonistic table with two victory crowns on top, two palm fronds between; below, five apples and amphora. Varbanov 197; Schönert-Geiss, Perinthos 495; BMC 31; Mionnet Supp. II p. 413, 1258. Good VF, dark green and brown surfaces, small flan crack.


Originally founded as one of four Panhellenic Games during the sixth century BC, the first Pythian Games were said to have been held by Apollo in penance for the killing of Python at Delphi. With gymnastic, athletic, music, and poetry competitions, the games evolved to display the very best of Graeco-Roman culture and traditionally drew visitors from across the empire. Illustrated on the reverse of this coin is the agonistic table showing the victors’ prizes: two victory crowns, representing the Action and Pythian Games, the two local contests held in the city of Perinthus. Traditionally made of bay leaves, which were sacred to Apollo, the leaves for the crowns were taken from the sacred tree in the Vale of Tempe in Thessaly. Between them are two palm fronds, and below, apples and an amphora.