Page:EB1911 - Volume 19.djvu/919

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

Zeus Cretagenes. The autonomous coins are very varied. The obverse of the didrachms of Aptera bears a head of Artemis and the reverse a warrior (Ptolioikos) before a sacred tree. Of Chersonesus, the port of Lyctus, there are didrachms of coarse style, with a head of Artemis Britomartis, who had a temple at the place. The head is copied from Stymphalus, as also is one of the reverse types, Heracles wielding his club. The money of Cnossus is of great interest. The oldest coins may be as early as 480 B.C. They bear the figure of the Minotaur as a bull-headed man, kneeling on one knee, and a maeander-pattern, in one case enclosing a star (the sun), in another a head (Theseus?). Of the period 431-350 there are didrachms with the head of Persephone, and the labyrinthine pattern enclosing the sun or the moon or a bull's head for the Minotaur, and at length becoming a regular maze. To this time belongs the wonderful coin in the Berlin Museum with Minos seated, his name in the field, and the head of Persephone within the maeander-pattern. In the later 4th century a head of Hera (copied without spirit from the coins of Argos) occupies the obverse of didrachms and drachms, and the reverse has a maze through which the way may be clearly traced. This series closes with Alexander's empire, and the native coinage disappears until the league of Cephisodorus revives it with the Athenian tetradrachm of Attic weight, bearing the name of the Cnossians. It is of inferior style, and is followed by base coins with heads of Minos and Apollo, and the Labyrinth, either square as before or in a new circular form, which is interesting as showing it was a mere matter of tradition.

There are interesting coins of Cydonia, some of them of beautiful style and work. One bears an engraver's name, Neuantos. The head is that of a Maenad, and the reverse has a figure of the traditional founder Cydon, stringing his bow, who on other didrachms is seen suckled by a bitch. The style is good, but the execution poor. Gortys, or Gortyna, is represented by most remarkable coins, which generally allude to the myth of Europa. Didrachms of archaic style have on the obverse Europa carried by the bull and on the reverse the lion's scalp. These pieces are followed by a remarkably fine class of spread didrachms; the best are of about 400 B.C. They have on the obverse Europa seated in a pensive attitude on the trunk of a tree, doubtless the sacred plane at Gortyna, mentioned by Pliny, which was said never to shed its leaves, and on the reverse a bull suddenly turning his head as if stung by a fly (Pl. II. fig. 6). Nothing in Greek art exceeds the skill and beauty of these designs. The truth with which the tree is sketched, and the graceful position of the forlorn Europa are as much to be admired as the fidelity with which the bull is drawn, even when foreshortened, sharply turning his head, with his tongue out and his tail raised. These designs, beautiful in themselves, are strikingly deficient in fitness, and afford equally strong illustrations of the excellencies and of the one great fault of the art of Cretan coins. Many pieces of the same class are of rude execution. Of Itanus there are remarkable coins, the earlier, some of which are of good style, with the subject of a Tritonian sea-god (Glaucus?) and two sea-monsters. Lyctus (Lyttus) is represented by strangely rude pieces, with the types of a flying eagle and a boar's head. The coins of Phaestus form a most interesting series. Among the didrachms are some of admirable work, with on the obverse Heracles slaying the Hydra with his club and on the reverse a bull. Others have on the obverse Heracles seated on the ground, resting. Another noticeable obverse type is the beardless Zeus seated in a tree, with his Cretan name, Velchanos. On his knee is a cock crowing, showing that he was a god of the dawn. We also find Talos, the man of brass, said to have been made by Hephaestus or Daedalus, portrayed as a winged youth naked, bearing in each hand a stone, and in a combatant attitude. Apollonius Rhodius (Argonaut. iv. 1638 sqq.) relates that Talos prevented the Argonauts from landing in Crete by hurling stones at them, until he was destroyed by the artifice of Medea. The important town of Polyrrhenium is represented by carefully-executed coins with a head of Zeus and a bull's head. A later piece has a whiskered head of Apollo, probably Philip V. in that character. Priansus shows the remarkable type of Persephone seated beside a date-palm, placing her right hand on the head of a serpent in reference to the myth of the birth of Zagreus. As usual, the figure is foreshortened. The reverse has a standing figure of Poseidon. Rhaucus has Poseidon beside his horse. The rare didrachms of Sybritia, or Sybrita, may fitly close the series; one, among the most exquisite of Greek coins, has heads of Dionysus and Hermes in high relief (see Pl. II. fig. 7); another has on the obverse a charming subject, Dionysus seated on a running panther, and on the reverse Hermes drawing on his right buskin,—a delightful figure. Another beautiful type is a seated Dionysus.

The coinage of Euboea is all on the native standard, of which the Attic was a variety. It includes some of the very earliest Greek Euboea. money. Carystus begins in the time of the Persian War with the type of the cow and calf, as in Corcyra, and its special badge is the cock. In the period 197-146 it issued gold drachms. Chalcis, the mother of western colonies, has already in the 6th century, or even earlier, a long series with the wheel-type and an incuse diagonally divided, and later, a nymph's head and an eagle devouring a serpent. Eretria probably begins as early as Chalcis, but the obverse type is the Gorgon's head. This is succeeded by the same type and a panther's or bull's head, and fine late archaic coins bear the cow and the cuttle-fish. Eretria was probably the mint of coins with the head of a nymph and a cow or cow's head struck in the name of Euboeans in the fine period. Of Histiaea the usual type is the head of a Maenad and a female figure seated on the stern of a galley.

Among the other islands classed after Euboea, Amorgos must not be passed by, as a bronze coin of Aegiale, one of its towns, presents Cyclades and Sporades. the curious type of a cupping-glass. To Andros has been attributed a group of early coins bearing an amphora. The silver money of Carthaea, Coressia and Iulis in Ceos is extremely old, beginning in each case in the 6th century. The weight is Aeginetic, and there are didrachms and smaller coins. The usual types of Carthaea are an amphora and then a bunch of grapes; that of Coressia is a cuttle-fish and dolphin. The coinage of Delos is insignificant. Melos coined from the early 5th century to imperial times: its chief type is a canting one, the μῆλον (pomegranate). Naxos is represented by early Aeginetic didrachms and coins of the fine period, the latter being chiefly bronze pieces of remarkably delicate and good work. The types are Dionysiac. A 7th-century coin with the head of a satyr (one of the earliest representations of the human head on a coin) is probably Naxian. Of Paros there are early Aeginetic didrachms with the type of a kneeling goat and beneath a dolphin. Of the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C. there are Attic didrachms with a head, possibly of Artemis, at first of a charming style, and a goat on the reverse. There are very archaic Aeginetic didrachms of Siphnos, which was famous for its gold and silver mines. A late tetradrachm of Syros is interesting as representing the Cabiri.

The coinage of Asia begins with that of Asia Minor. It falls into certain great classes—first, the ancient gold and electrum, Asia Minor. Lydian and Greek, in time succeeded by electrum or gold and silver, all struck in the west and mainly on the coast. Then the Persian dominion appears in the silver money of the satraps, circulating with the gold and silver of Persia, and the Greek money is limited to a few cities of the coast, none save the electrum of the great mint of Cyzicus uninterrupted by the barbarian. With the decay of the barbarian empire the renewed life of the Greek cities is witnessed by a beautiful coinage along the coast from the Propontis to Cilicia. On Alexander's conquest autonomy is granted to the much-enduring Hellenic communities, and is again interrupted, but only partially, by the rule of his successors, for there was no time at which Asia Minor was wholly parcelled out among the kings, Greek or native. The Romans, after the battle of Magnesia (190 B.C.), repeated Alexander's policy so far as the cities of the western coast were concerned, and there is a fresh outburst of coinage, which, in remembrance, follows the well-known types of Alexander. When the province of Asia was constituted and the neighbouring states fell one by one under Roman rule, the autonomy of the great cities was generally reduced to a shadow. Still the abundant issues of imperial coinage, if devoid of high merit, are the best in style of late Greek coins, and for mythology the richest in illustration.

The oldest money is the electrum of Lydia, which spread in very early times along the western coast. This coinage, dating from the 7th century B.C., has an equal claim with the Aeginetic silver to be the oldest of all money.