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Auction XXII  7-8 Oct 2021
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Lot 536

Estimate: 25 000 GBP
Price realized: 22 000 GBP
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Antinous (favourite of Hadrian) Medallic Æ 39mm (8 Assaria?) of Mantinea, Arcadia. Financed by Vetourios, circa AD 134. BETOYPIOC, bare-chested heroic three-quarters-length bust of Antinous to right, with slightly inclined head / TOIC APKACI, stallion stepping to right, with right foreleg raised and head slightly inclined. RPC III 325; Blum p. 37, 1, pl. I, 17; LHS Numismatics Auction 96, Coins of the Peloponnesos in the BCD Collection, 8-9 May 2006, 1493; for Antinous-Poseidon and Betourios cf. R. Pudill, Antinoos, Münzen und Medaillons, Ragensstauf 2014, 'Antinoos-Poseidon' pp. 34-9, M25. 39.06g, 39mm, 6h.

Extremely Fine; superb olive green patina; by far the finest of the four recorded examples of this denomination and the heaviest of the series.

Ex Philip Mayo Collection (Palm Springs, CA);
Privately purchased from Freeman & Sear Inc.

The heroic bust of Antinous series in the name of the Arcadians was commissioned by a certain Vetourios (BETOYPIOC on the coins, otherwise unknown to history), in five bronze denominations. They were probably issued for distribution at the games held in Mantineia in AD 134 in honour of Hadrian's favourite Antinous, whose death had occurred on the Nile under mysterious circumstances in 130.

Pausanias, the Greek traveller and geographer of the mid 2nd century AD, author of the 'Description of Greece', has left us a remarkably detailed account of the events commemorated on this extraordinary medallic issue, which says of the Arcadians:

'Antinoüs too was deified by them; his temple is the newest in Mantineia. He was a great favourite of the Emperor Hadrian. I never saw him in the flesh, but I have seen images and pictures of him. He has honours in other places also, and on the Nile is an Egyptian city named after Antinoüs. He has won worship in Mantineia for the following reason. Antinoüs was by birth from Bithynium beyond the river Sangarius, and the Bithynians are by descent Arkadians of Mantineia. For this reason the Emperor established his worship in Mantineia also; mystic rites are celebrated in his honour each year, and games every four years...', [Description of Greece 8.9.7-8].

There also follows an explanation for the horse on the reverse of the coin: 'There are roads leading from Mantineia into the rest of Arcadia, and I will go on to describe the most noteworthy objects on each of them. On the left of the highway leading to Tegea there is, beside the walls of Mantineia, a place where horses race, and not far from it is a race-course, where they celebrate the games in honour of Antinoüs. Above the race-course is Mount Alesium, ... By the foot of the mountain is the sanctuary of Horse Poseidon, not more than six stades distant from Mantineia. About this sanctuary I, like everyone else who has mentioned it, can write only what I have heard. The modern sanctuary was built by the Emperor Hadrian, who set overseers over the workmen, so that nobody might look into the old sanctuary, and none of the ruins be removed. He ordered them to build around the new temple. Originally, they say, this sanctuary was built for Poseidon by Agamedes and Trophonius, who worked oak logs and fitted them together', [8.10.1-2].
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