It is said that the creativity of man’s designs and inventions is influenced by nature. This influence can also be seen on coins. Many great empires throughout the history depict flora and fauna on coins as a representation of Gods and Goddesses or just for design. One such fine example of this illustration is a dolphin’s depiction on coins.
The representation of this sea creature on coins in various forms can be seen throughout the ancient monetary systems. Sometimes it is depicted in a quiet and fixed position while other times it is depicted in a state of movement. Dolphins were dedicated to Apollo; a Delphic tripod is thus depicted on silver coins of Vitellius. The similar tripod is depicted on the Denarius of Titus but without a legend.
Dolphins are sacred to Neptune. On the coin of Agrippa, Augustus, Caligula, Vespasian and other Roman Emperors Neptune is depicted holding dolphin in his hand. This fish is also dedicated to Venus and in early Roman coinage, this aquatic mammal occurs on the denomination like Triens, Quadrans, and Sextans.
This bronze Terunicas shown in the above picture belongs to the coinage of Roman Republic during the pre-Denarius system. On this cast coin dolphin is depicted on the obverse side with the denominational mark three pellets below it. The reverse of this coin depicts a star with six rays.
Some interesting facts:
a) Neptune is the god who presides over the sea and affairs of navigation.
b) Dolphin also appears with cupid on its back on Denarius coins minted in Cordia during the era of Roman Republic.
c) Dolphins entwined around an anchor on coins is a symbol of the Roman Emperor Augustus.
d) The dolphin and eagle are depicted on the reverse of the Denarius coins, struck in the honour of Pompey the Great.
To know more about Roman republic coins click here.
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