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Research Coins: Feature Auction


The Farnese Hercules

Sale: Triton X, Lot: 715. Estimate $4000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 8 January 2007. 
Sold For $6500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Gordian III. AD 238-244. AV Aureus (5.47 g, 12h). Rome mint, 4th officina. 8th-11th emission, circa late AD 240-early AD 243. IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right / VIRTVTI A-VGVSTI, the “Farnese” Hercules standing facing, head right, resting right hand on hip and placing left on club set on rock; lion skin beside club. RIC IV 108; Calicó 3242; Cohen 401 var. (only laureate). Superb EF, a small die break at right elbow of Hercules.

The model for this reverse type is the famed marble Farnese Hercules statue that was discovered in the excavations of the Baths of Caracalla in 1546. It stood for over 200 years in the Palazzo Farnese in Rome, from whence it gained its name, and was moved to Naples in 1787, where it is now displayed in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale. The statue is thought to be an enlarged copy sculpted in the early 3rd century AD by Glykon based on an original by Lysippos dating to the 4th century BC. The statue depicts Hercules at rest after completing his Labors: he is shown standing with his club, draped in the skin of the Nemean Lion, set upright on a rock, propped under his left arm supporting the weight of his muscular frame, his head slightly nodding forward in a weary attitude, and he holds the apples of the Hesperides behind his back in his right hand. The sculpture was apparently well-liked by the Romans, and copies have been found in Roman palaces and gymnasiums