COMMODUS BRONZE MEDALLION – VERY RARE MYTHOLOGICAL ISSUE OF SILANDUS WITH HEPHAESTUS MAKING ARMOR FOR THE GODS – VF NGC GRADED ROMAN IMPERIAL AND PROVINCIAL COIN OF LYDIA (Inv. 14587)
ROMAN EMPIRE. COMMODUS, AD 177-192. PROVINCIAL ISSUE OF SILANDUS, LYDIA.
Bronze Medallion, 29.18 g, 36 mm, 12h. Struck under Tatianos, archiereus and first archon.
Obv. Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Commodus right.
Rev. Hephaestus seated right, working with a hammer on a helmet, which Athena, standing right with shield and spear, steadies on a columnar base.
Ex Coin Galleries, 11/13/1991, lot 537.
RPC IV Online 9954; Mionnet Supp. VII, 541.
NGC graded VF, Strike 4/5, Surface 4/5. This extremely rare medallion, apparently on the second piece known, depicts a mythological encounter between Hephaestus (Vulcan) and the goddess Athena (Minerva), who assists the divine blacksmith in forging a helmet. Although there is no known mythic episode describing this specific encounter, visually the scene is based on the episode from the Iliad where the goddess Thetis visits Hephaestus so that he may make the armor for her legendary son, Achilles (see example of vase painting included). On this medallion, as described in the accompanying study (see attached PDFs), the coin cleverly employs this old visual formula to refer to allude to more modern concerns, namely the arming of the local legions serving the Roman empire.