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539233

Ritual Adbuction?

539233.

ISLANDS off THRACE, Thasos. Circa 500-480 BC. AR Stater (21mm, 9.49 g). Ithyphallic satyr advancing right, carrying off protesting nymph / Quadripartite incuse square. Le Rider, Thasiennes 2; HPM pl. X, 3–5; HGC 6, 331. Detailed strike, lightly granular surfaces. Good VF.


Ex Jonathan P. Rosen Collection.

Ritual abduction as a form of exogamy (marrying outside of a community or clan) was, and is still, frequent in tribal society. The reference here is probably to the Dionysiac cult and is modeled on one of the stone reliefs for which Thasos is famous. The overtly sexual displays seen on many early Greek coins can be disconcerting to the modern eye, viewing them through the lens of centuries of Christian fulmination against pagan eroticism. These scenes are at their most graphic in northern Greece, for example, on the archaic coins of Thasos, showing the interplay of nymphs and satyrs. The towns and tribes of this region were only newly introduced to the ‘civilizing’ influences of the south, and were still close to their roots in farming and herding cultures. Their gods were not the Olympian super beings, but the spirits of nature, and the emphasis was on celebrating the fecundity of fields and flocks.