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The E-Sylum: Volume 14, Number 19, May 8, 2011, Article 4

EXHIBIT: MYTH AND COINAGE

Coins Weekly has an article about a new numismatic exhibit in Greece. The article illustrates what appears to be an exhibit catalog, which could be an interesting and useful reference. Here are some excerpts from the article. -Editor

Myth and Coinage For the first time, the National Archaeological Museum, the Numismatic Museum and the Alpha Bank Numismatic Collection collaborate and co-organise the temporary exhibition entitled "Myth and Coinage", which will be presented concurrently in both Museums from April 15 to November 27, 2011. The exhibition offers the possibility of a dialogue between Greek Mythology and ancient coinage and focuses on the illustration and use of myth on the faces of coins since the 7th century BC onwards.

In the exhibition unveiled at the National Archaeological Museum 261 coins from the Alpha Bank Numismatic Collection which numbers more than 10,000 items and is considered one of the richest and most significant in the world are showcased for the first time, alongside 71 coins from the Numismatic Museum and 79 selected artefacts from the National Archaeological Museum collections: sculptures, vases and metalwork. The exhibition has been divided in five sections with the purpose of promoting and highlighting the mythological themes depicted on the faces of coins throughout antiquity.

The first section, "The Dodecatheon", is dedicated to the Olympian deities. The heads of the gods and goddesses as well as their attributes (e.g. owl, thunderbolt, etc.) adorn the obverse or the reverse of coins issued by ancient cities and kingdoms. The colossal marble head of Zeus from Aigeira in Achaia or the bronze statuette of the father of the gods brandishing the thunderbolt are exhibited beside bronze coins of Elis or Messene that bear the same iconographic theme.

The second section, "Mythical creatures", includes representations of creatures like the Griffin, the Sphinx, the Chimaera or Medusa, which were significant emblems for the issuing authority. These daemons, which stood in-between gods and humans, were thought of as "guardians of mortals" and as such were depicted on coins often replacing the deity itself. Hence, a bronze figure of a Centaur is on display next to a coin of Demetrias in Magnesia (Centaurs resided on Mt Pelion).

The third section, "The demigod Heracles", is dedicated to the greatest hero of Greek Mythology. Heracles and his labours adorn the issues of many cities. For example, Heracles and the Nemean lion are depicted on a black-figure krater and a silver coin of Nemea.

The fourth section, "The secondary deities", includes those figures not as powerful as the Olympian gods but who nonetheless had a significant role in the lives of humans, like Asclepius (in Epidaurus) or Helios (in Rhodes).

The final fifth section, "Heroes and mythical stories", includes depictions of heroes and mythical stories, primarily from the Iliad but also from mythological sagas, associated with local coinages. Opting to depict Homeric or local heroes served the need of the rulers to promote themselves and to attain a heroic ancestry or the moral dimensions of their selected hero (e.g. Pyrrhus, king of Epirus).

135 coins, 22 medals and 15 banknotes from the Numismatic Museum collections will be on display. Moreover, on temporary loan, 15 ancient Greek coins from the Alpha Bank Numismatic Collection, 13 artefacts from the National Archaeological Museum collections, 2 paintings from the National Gallery and one painting from the Bank of Greece collection will also be presented.

To read the complete article, see: Myth and Coinage (www.coinsweekly.com/en/News/4?&id=573)

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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