Herakles, the most famous hero from the mythology of Greece and Rome, was a demi-god and supreme hero of their folklore. Romans came to worship him as a god through the Etruscan culture after Etruscans migrated to the Roman Republic.
The first shrine of Hercules built in Rome was Ara Maxima, the great Altar of Hercules around 6th to 5th century BCE. The main reason to worship him was his supposed ability to protect people from evil. Hercules was quite a popular figure in Roman statuary and it’s reflected in their coinage too.
Hercules first appeared on silver denarii, the above-shown image depicts silver denarii illustrating the bust of Hercules with lion skin headdress around it. He is also depicted strangling the Nemean lion on the same denomination. The second coin in the image depicts Hercules riding on the biga of Centaurs.
Hercules also appeared on the silver denarius coin of Trajan. The reverse side of a billion Antoninianus of Gallienus and Postumusshows depicts Hercules with club and apple circulated around 266-267 CE. The provincial bronze coin which depicts Hercules fighting with Hydra was issued in 260 CE. Later on, the Roman coinage depicted club as his symbol or his names on the coins.
To know more about Roman coinage click here.
Image Courtesy: American Numismatic
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