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Research Coins: Feature Auction

 
650789
Sale: Triton VII, Lot: 789. Estimate $400. 
Closing Date: Monday, 12 January 2004. 
Sold For $1300. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

CILICIA, Seleucia ad Calycadnum. Gordian III. 238-244 AD. Æ 33mm (16.87 gm). MAP ANTWNIOC GORDIANOC CEB, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; countermark: o within D / CELEUKEWN KALUKADNW ELEUQERAC, woman (Eurydice?) pursued by Hermes, clad in cloak and bearing caduceus. SNG Levante Supp. 208 (this coin); SNG France -; BMC Lycaonia -; SNG Copenhagen -; SNG von Aulock -; Winterthur 4639; Howgego 670 (for countermark). Good VF, brown and green patina. ($400)

A rather perplexing mythological type. Another Levante coin, 771 in the first SNG volume, clearly depicts the female as Artemis, with her short hunting chiton, bow, and accompanying hound. She joins Hermes in his guise as Nomios, "master of animals" who brings fertility and prosperity.
The present coin, however, lacks any of the attributes of the virgin goddess, depicting a mortal woman in the typical long flowing chiton and peplos. This coin presents Hermes as psychopompos, "herald of souls", who guides the dead to Hades. The woman must be Eurydice, wife of Orpheus, who is being fetched back to the underworld when Orpheus disobeys the injunction of Hades and looks back at his wife while leading her from the realm of the dead.
When combined with a third coin type of Gordian, showing Aphrodite with two Erotes, we find a common theme emerging, emphasising the traits of love, devotion and prosperity. The three coin types are undoubtedly linked to the marriage of Gordian III and Tranquillina in 241 AD.