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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: Triton V, Lot: 1744. Estimate $4000. 
Closing Date: Wednesday, 16 January 2002. 
Sold For $3200. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

PISIDIA, Kremna. Maximinus I Thrax. 235-238 AD. Æ 41mm Medallion (37.72 gm). IMP CAE C IVL VER MAXIMINO A-VG, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right / MINERVA COL IVL AVG CREM, Athena standing right, holding upturned spear; serpent crawling up shaft from base of spear. SNG von Aulock 5101 (same dies); SNG France -; Cornell 112 (this coin). EF, attractive green patina. ($4000)

From the David Simpson Collection. Ex Bank Leu Auktion 10 (29 May 1974), lot 291.

The reverse of this coin must have been inspired by a magnificent statue of Athena, identified by the Romans with the Italian Minerva, characterised by her animal companion, the Erichthonius serpent, coiled menacingly around the base of her spear. The myth relates that Hephaestus, while making armour for the warrior maid, could not resist the temptation of sexually assaulting her and was repulsed with the result that his semen fell on the ground. A child was born from it and handed by Gaia to Athena to look after, the nearest Athena ever came to having a child of her own. Athena accepted and entrusted the child, in a covered box, to the three daughters of Cecrops to guard with orders not to look inside. They disobeyed, and what they saw so terrified them that they leapt from the Acropolis and killed themselves. It was said that they saw a serpent, or creature half-child and half-serpent, or serpents coiled round a baby. This was Erichthonius, whom Athena took back and brought up in her temple, and who later became king of Athens.