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    Superb Medallion of Antinous

    IONIA. Smyrna. Antinous, favorite of Hadrian (died AD 130). Æ medallion (39mm, 40.31 gm, 6h). After October, AD 130. ANTINOOC HRΩC, bare head of Antinous left / ΠOΛЄMΩN ANЄΘH KЄ  CMVP-NAIOIC, ram standing right, caduceus in field before. Blum 4 and pl. II, 8. Extremely rare! A truly impressive medallion, with an exceedingly handsome portrait of the young Antinous, with a choice deep green patina only lightly smoothed in fields, with none of the heavy tooling often seen on this series. NGC Choice VF 5/5 - 3/5, Fine Style, light smoothing.

    Antinous was a handsome Bithynian youth whom Hadrian probably noticed on his visit to the region in AD 123/4. According to Hadrian's biographer Anthony Birley, Antinous 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, Antinous 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 Antinous 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 Antinous 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. Antinous 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 display of "Greek love" as an embarrassment. This superb medallion was likely struck to mark the "divinization" of Antinous and the founding of a city in his honor. 


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    Auction Dates
    August, 2016
    11th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
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