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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Prophetic Priestess

Triton XXII, Lot: 910. Estimate $1500.
Sold for $4750. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Moneyer issues of Imperatorial Rome. T. Carisius. 46 BC. AR Denarius (17mm, 4.05 g, 4h). Rome mint. Head of Sibyl Herophile right, hair elaborately decorated with jewels and enclosed in a sling, tied with bands / Sphinx seated right; T • CARISIVS above, III • VIR in exergue. Crawford 464/1; CRI 69; Sydenham 983a; Carisia 11; BMCRR Rome 4061; RBW 1613. Superb EF, lightly toned, lustrous. Exceptional for issue.

From the Alan J. Harlan Collection. Ex Numismatica Ars Classica 40 (16 May 2007), lot 558.

This evocative type demonstrates that Roman moneyers were quite familiar with the legends and coin types of obscure Greek cities. The city of Gergis in Troas, near the site of ancient Troy, was said to be the birthplace of the Sibyl Herophile, a priestess with prophetic powers. Coins of the city struck circa 350-300 BC depict a head of the Sibyl on the obverse and a seated sphinx, symbol of prophecy, on the reverse. The types are repeated here, surely intended as a nod to the Trojan origins of Julius Caesar’s gens.