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    Description

    Extremely Rare Antinoüs Drachm

    EGYPT. Alexandria. Antinoüs, favorite of Hadrian (died AD 130). Æ drachm (32mm, 26.28 gm, 11h). Dated RY 20 (AD 125/6). ANTINOOY HPΩOC, bust of Antinoüs left, / Antinoüs as Hermes on horseback right, carrying caduceus; L-K (date) across field. Dattari 2089. Emmett 1346. BMC 925. Extremely rare. Dark and light green patina. NGC Choice VF 5/5 - 2/5, fine style, smoothing.

    Ex UBS 78 (9 September 2008), lot 1654 (noted in the catalog as "ex Platt").

    Antinoüs was a handsome Bithynian youth whom Hadrian probably noticed on his visit to Bithynium-Claudiopolis in 123/4. According to Hadrian's recent biographer Anthony Birley, Antinoüs likely found a "discreet place" in Hadrian's entourage and accompanied the peripatetic emperor on his various journeys. His unmistakable face is seen in the background on a series of marble relief roundels depicting Hadrian and his companions on a lion hunt, which were later reused on the Arch of Constantine. Their relationship came to a mysterious end during Hadrian's visit to Egypt in 130. During a barge trip up the Nile, Antinoüs drowned, probably on October 24. In his memoirs, Hadrian insisted the youth's death was an accident, but other historians implied either that Hadrian had killed him in some sacrificial rite, or that Antinoüs had committed ritual suicide to preserve Hadrian's health. Whatever the true story, Hadrian's grief was such that he deified the youth and founded the city of Antinoopolis near the spot of his drowning. The cult of Antinoüs spread rapidly throughout the Greek east, making him the last of the truly popular Pagan gods. His sculpted image also became ubiquitous as the very personification of male beauty. Antinoüs is extensively honored on the Roman provincial coinage of the East, particularly in Bithynia and Egypt, but is totally absent from the official Roman coinage, since the Romans regarded their emperor's open and unashamed display of "Greek love" as an embarrassment. On this exceptional bronze drachm of Alexandria, Antinoüs is shown with the attributes of Horus and Mercury, two divinities who were often represented as handsome youths.


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    Auction Dates
    April, 2014
    10th-16th Thursday-Wednesday
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