Antik Sikkeler Nümzimatik

Roman Imperial Hadrian - Hercules

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Antik Sikkeler

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Succeeding Trajan as emperor in AD 117 whilst on campaign in the east, Hadrian returned to Rome in 118. However, by 119 he was already planning his next foray abroad, as we see him invoking the favour of the gods on his coinage in advance of the journey. As seen on this reverse type, Hercules the great adventurer and traveller was one of those whose blessing was sought.

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That Hercules is present on the coinage of Hadrian is only natural after his appearance on types of his adoptive father Trajan, and his presence is further explained by Hadrian's familial ties with southern Spain [he is thought to have been born in the city of Italica], where the cult of Hercules was prominent. Other reverse types struck under Hadrian explicitly mention the cult of Hercules Gaditanus, who enjoyed the highest honours in southern Spain. The present reverse shows Hercules in the style that many Roman citizens would have been familiar with, seated and resting after his toils in the manner of statues from Kroton and the south.

The inclusion of the distaff in this image of Hercules is somewhat unusual. Rather than alluding to his masculinity and strength as shown through the Twelve Labours, it draws attention to the story of the period when Hercules, as penance for the murder of Iphitus, was remanded as a slave to Omphale for a year and was subjected to holding the yarn for her maids as they spun. This Greek myth, which survived through the writings of the early Roman writer Ovid among others, is not one we immediately associate with Hercules today, though it was a more common feature of his cult in antiquity.

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