Ancient Ephesus Coin Features Baby Hercules Strangling Snakes

09 Apr 2019  Tue

A silver double siglos coin featuring the legend of baby Hercules would be offered by Nomos Ag’s auction No. 18 on 5th May in Zurich. Struck somewhere between 405 and 404 B.C. in Ephesus, Ionia, the coin features a crawling baby strangling two snakes in two separate hands. The common reverse design of coins from Ephesus depicts a bee. The 11.19 grams coin has a diameter of 20 millimetres and is in Very fine condition. It was overstruck on a stater of Aegina. The same coin was auctioned twice before and the first auction took place in 1961. This time, it’s being offered at an estimated value of 7,500 Swiss francs.

According to Greek mythology, goddess Hera had sent two poisonous snakes to kill baby Hercules in the cradle. However, baby Hercules managed to strangle and kill the snakes.

Ephesus, Byzantion, Kyzikos, Samos, Iasos, Knidos, Rhodes, and Lampsakos formed a league in 394. Athens had just won a naval war off Knidos and the league was probably formed to fight against Sparta. Some experts believe that the league was formed towards the end of the Peloponnesian War when many Western Asia Minor cities campaigned against Athens.

All territories from this league issued coins featuring a bee on the reverse. The baby Hercules design probably symbolised the league trying to fight an enemy. Experts are not sure who this enemy was.

Image Courtesy: Nomos Ag’s auction

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