“LEDA AND THE SWAN”. This coin depicts Leda and the swan, an outstanding mosaic dating to the 2nd century A.D., which decorated the floor of a Roman house found at Palaipafos.
Specifically, the coin depicts the moment when Leda, the beautiful mythical queen of Sparta, had a first encounter with god Zeus who had transformed himself into a swan in order to approach her.
The mosaic is exhibited at the Museum of Kouklia in Pafos district. The coin has been designed by George Stamatopoulos and was minted by the Greek Mint.
The issue is limited to 2.000 coins.
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ANCIENT OLYMPIA 10 EURO SILVER COIN.
The obverse represents the archaeological site of Olympia with its columns made from the remains of ancient monuments. The birthplace of the Olympic Games is translated by the flame that gushes out of the basin. An Olympian goddess tries to light her torch with this Olympic flame. The geometric shapes at the back of the coin evoke the famous Greek amphitheatres and therefore the first Olympic stadiums that hosted the Games in antiquity.
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Hermes was the son of Zeus and the Pleiad Maia, daughter of Atlas. Born on Mt Kyllene, Hermes immediately showed signs of cunning resourcefulness, stealing Apollo’s cattle and promptly crafting the first lyre to appease him. Known as dolios, i.e. the schemer, Hermes was the divine trickster and patron of thieves. But, above all, he was the herald of the gods, which is why he was traditionally depicted wearing winged shoes, sporting a petasos (a broad-brimmed hat worn by travellers) and holding a caduceus. As psychopompos (i.e. conveyor of souls), he guided the souls of the deceased to the underworld. He was the protector of shepherds, tradesmen, as well as travellers. In fact, the road markers of the ancient Greeks were called herms, i.e. rectangular shafts topped by the head of hodios Hermes (i.e. Hermes of the roads). Given his additional status as patron of athletes, statues of him often adorned gymnasiums and stadiums. His varied roles, together with his playfulness, made Hermes the friendliest of the Olympian gods.
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The ancient city of Messene was built in 369 BC at the foot of mount Ithomi, sacred to the Messenians, after the Spartans had suffered a crushing defeat to the Thebans under Epameinondas at the battle of Leuktra (371 BC), which led to the Messenians’ liberation. The city was surrounded by a 9.5 km-long fortification wall, with two gates, the Laconian and the Arcadian. Although the former no longer stands, the latter is now the site’s emblematic monument, winning a Europa Nostra Diploma in 2005 for its excellent restoration. Archaeological excavations, first launched in the late 19th century and resumed since 1986 under Professor Petros Themelis, include a vast programme of impressive restorations. These allow the visitor to form a vivid and accurate picture of the most important public buildings, including the Arsinoe fountain, the Asclepieion building complex, the stadium with the mausoleum of the Saithidae family, the gymnasium, the theatre and the odeon (also called ecclesiasterion, i.e. assembly hall).
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SILVER COIN 5 EURO DEDICATED TO 150 YEARS SINCE THE BIRTH OF THEOPHILOS. Folk painter Theophilos Hatzimihail (1870-1934) was born in Vareia, on the island of Lesvos, and was essentially self-taught, apart from elements of painting learned from his grandfather, an icon painter. He left for Smyrna at a young age, but spent most of his life in Volos and villages of Mt Pelion, before returning to Lesvos in 1927. His themes are inspired from Greek history and mythology, Byzantine art, folk life and tradition, as well as from landscapes of his native island. He lived in poverty, often decorating the walls of houses and shops for a pittance. He was frequently the target of mockery for wearing the national Greek costume (fustanella) and an ancient Greek helmet. In 1928, he was discovered by art critic and collector Stratis Eleutheriadis (Teriade), who purchased several of Theophilos’s paintings and commissioned other works for a large exhibition in Paris. The exhibition, which took place in 1936, after the painter’s death, was an enormous success. A retrospective exhibition at the Louvre followed in 1961.
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2,500 YEARS SINCE THE BATTLE OF SALAMIS. The Battle of Salamis was the turning point of the Persian Wars as the Greeks, against almost impossible odds, crushed the Persian fleet, proving that strategy and valour can defeat numerical superiority. The obverse of the coin bears a portrait of Themistocles, commander of the Athenian contingent of the Greek fleet at the Battle of Salamis and architect of the Greek victory. The wording “THEMISTOCLES 524-459 BC” appears at right. The reverse features triremes (warships with three banks of oars), which were used by both the Greek and the Persian navy at the Battle of Salamis. At centre is the national coat of arms, surrounded by the wording “HELLENIC REPUBLIC” and “2,500 YEARS SINCE THE BATTLE OF SALAMIS”.
2,500 YEARS SINCE THE BATTLE OF THERMOPYLAE. Although ending in defeat for the Greeks, the Battle of Thermopylae remains a timeless symbol of heroic resistance. The obverse of the coin features an ancient Greek hoplite, armed with helmet and shield, in a state of “heroic nudity”, against a dense background of spears, the main weapon of the hoplite phalanx. Inscribed on the shield
is the wording “THERMOPYLAE – 480 BC” and “LEONIDAS”, the name of the Spartan king who led the Greek troops in the Battle of Thermopylae. The reverse features Greek hoplites marching in against Persian warriors . The images of the Greeks have been taken from ancient Greek pottery and those of the Persians reproduce bas-reliefs from the palace of Darius in Persepolis. Visible at centre is the national coat of arms, surrounded by the wording “HELLENIC REPUBLIC” and “2,500 YEARS SINCE THE BATTLE OF THERMOPYLAE”
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MYRTIS, 5 EURO SILVER COLLECTOR COIN 2020.
Myrtis is the name given by archaeologists to an 11-year-old girl from ancient Athens, whose remains were discovered in 1994–95 in a mass grave during work to build the metro station at Kerameikos, Greece.The name was chosen from common ancient Greek names. The analysis showed that Myrtis and two other bodies in the mass grave had died of typhoid fever during the Plague of Athens in 430 B.C.
This coin gives us an idea of what an Athenian girl in Pericles’s time might have looked like. The obverse features a bust of Myrtis, a name conventionally given to an eleven-year-old girl who died in the Plague of Athens (430-426 BC) during the Peloponnesian War. Her perfectly preserved skull allowed scientists to recreate her facial features using the “Manchester method”. The rim is adorned with sprays of myrtle, as the girl’s name alludes to the myrtle tree. On the reverse is depicted the DNA sequence of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi, a deadly pathogen causing typhoid fever that claimed thousands of lives during the Plague of Athens. At centre is the national coat of arms surrounded by the wording “HELLENIC REPUBLIC”. Myrtis was named a friend of the Millennium Development Goals by the United Nations Regional Information Centre and, as part of the UN campaign “We Can End Poverty”, sent her message to the world about disease prevention.
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