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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: CNG 76, Lot: 989. Estimate $300. 
Closing Date: Wednesday, 12 September 2007. 
Sold For $375. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

THRACE, Hadrianopolis. Pseudo-autonomous issue. Æ 18mm (2.85 g, 12h). Bare head of bearded Hercules right / Hercules standing left, destroying Lernaean Hydra; tree to left; quiver and bow to right. Yorukova, Hadrianople 709 (V298/R670); Voegtli 2i; SNG Copenhagen -. Good VF, green patina.

From the James E. Cain Collection.

Hercules, made temporarily insane by the goddess Hera, murdered his wife and children. Once recovered, and distressed by his actions, Hercules consulted the Delphic Oracle to find a means of expiating his sin. As a punishment, Apollo replied that the hero would have to serve his cousin Eurystheus, the king Tiryns, a man whom Hercules despised, for a period of twelve years. Because Eurystheus also hated Hercules, he devised a series of ten feats of such difficulty that they would be either insurmountable, or Hercules would die in the attempt. Because Hercules received assistance in completing two of the tasks, Eurystheus added two more. Each labor became more fantastic, and eventually Hercules was compelled to break the bonds of the supernatural in order to complete his task. Once he accomplished the Labors, Hercules was absolved of his guilt, and preceded to perform many other heroic feats.

The Lernaean Hydra, the offspring of Typhon and Echidna, was said to be the sibling of the Nemean Lion, the Chimaera, and Cerberus. Inhabiting the swamp near Lake Lerna in the Argolid, the creature possessed numerous mortal and one immortal head on its single body; should one head be removed, two more would grow in its place. When Hercules reached the swamp where the Hydra dwelt, he drew it out of its lair near the spring of Amymone. Thereupon, wielding a harvesting sickle, he attempted to decapitate the creature. When this proved unsuccessful, because of the Hydra’s regenerative ability, Hercules enlisted the assistance of his nephew Iolaus, who devised a plan: once Hercules had cut off one of the creature’s heads, Iolaus would cauterize the stump with a burning firebrand. The plan succeeded, and the Hydra was destroyed. Hercules placed its one immortal head under a large rock on the sacred way between Lerna and Elaius and dipped his arrows in its poisonous blood.