Saturday, 17 April 2010

Gallienus from Seleucia

I have a passion for the provincial coins and this one just came my way as an unidentified coin of Macrinus (217-8) when it is, in reality, a coin of Gallienus (253-68). The mint city is Seleucia ad Calycadnum in Cilicia.

Obverse: AV K Π ΛK ΓAΛΛIHNOC, draped, cuirassed and laureate bust right, seen from behind

Reverse: CEΛEVKEΩN KAΛVKAΔNΩ, Athena stg. right, shield in left hand, stabbing with spear a Giant with snakelike feet, who kneels before her; he grabs her spear with left hand and has a rock in his raised right hand. Rare.

The reverse shows a scene of the Gigantomachia. After Zeus has locked up the Titans in the Tartaros, Gaia sets her sons, the Giants, on the Olympic gods. They are human shaped with snakelike feet. The battle occurred at Phlegra. The Giants throw rocks and mountains. They couldn't be killed by gods, only by humans. So Herakles came into play. He shot a poisoned arrow on Alkyoneus and dragged him over the frontier where he died. Athena threw the island of Sicily on another Giant, where he was buried. His fire breathing comes out of the volcano, Mount Etna, until today.

Seleucia ad Calycadnum is located a few miles from the mouth of the Calycadnus river in south-central Mersin province of Turkey, 80 km (50 mi) west of the city of Mersin. It is now known as Silifke.