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Research Coins: Feature Auction

 
76001000

Hercules’ Eleventh Labor - The Apples of the Hesperides

Sale: CNG 76, Lot: 1000. Estimate $200. 
Closing Date: Wednesday, 12 September 2007. 
Sold For $235. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

MOESIA INFERIOR, Dionysopolis. Julia Mamaea. Augusta, AD 222-235. Æ Diassarion (5.30 g, 12h). IOVLIA MA MAIA CEB, draped bust right, wearing stephane / Hercules standing facing, head right, with lion skin over forearm, holding club set on ground and Apples of the Hesperides; B to left. AMNG I -; Voegtli -; Mouchmov 108; Varbanov 268 corr. (IVLIA MAMEA AVG). VF, brown surfaces, minor green deposits.


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.

Because he had been assisted in completing some of his earlier tasks, Hercules was compelled to undergo two more labors. The first of these was to steal the Apples of the Hesperides, nymphs who lived in a grove at the far western edge of the world. Hercules asked the Titan Atlas, the father of Hesperides whose task it was to hold up the heavens, to retrieve the apples in return for holding up the heavens while he did so. Having accomplished the task, Atlas was reticent to give up his freedom, and told Hercules that he would take back the apples to Tiryns for him. Hercules thereupon tricked the Titan, requesting that Atlas hold the heavens while Hercules adjusted his cloak to be more comfortable.