Friday, March 4, 2011

Type 02: Eros Stringing his Bow

The types of Eros stringing his bow are probably based on different statues by Lysippus—one (as shown above left, marble copy in the Capitoline Museum in Rome) may have been the famous bronze from Thespiae in Boeotia—not to be confused with the even more renowned Eros of Thespiae in marble by Praxitelesthe other (as shown right, copy in Venice) may have been Lysippus’s Eros from Myndus in Caria. It has occasionally been suggested that this motif might represent Eros playing with one of the weapons of Heracles, as part of the theme of the mighty warrior tamed by Love. Some of the following reverse types do indeed refer to this, but here it is most unlikely, since the bow is definitely Eros- rather than Heracles-sized.

These Lysippic types are rare, and were struck only in Philippopolis and Nicaea. Note the expressive differences in pose. The beautiful Seleucid head of Eros already illustrated (Type 01) may also be Lysippic.

* Philippopolis in Thracia, coins of Septimius Severus and Caracalla Caesar. 

At Philippopolis, Eros seems to be leaning into what he is doing, and his right leg is bent outwards; his right wing is also in a higher position than on the Nicaean coins, and his head is turned to look back over his shoulder.

Æ 18, 12 h, 3.45 g. Obv. AV • K • Λ • C • CEVHPOC. Laureate, cuirassed bust of Septimius Severus r. Rev. ΦΙΛΙΠΠΟΠΟΛΕΙΤΩΝ. Eros standing l., head facing, stringing his bow; quiver upright on the ground in front of him (Private collection, by permission).

Æ 20, 1 h, 2.77 g. Similar.

Æ 19, 2 h, 3.48 g. Obv. M • AV • KAI ANTΩN… Bare-headed, draped bust of Caracalla Caesar r. Rev. ΦΙΛΙΠΠΟΠΟΛΕΙΤΩΝ. Eros standing l., head facing, stringing his bow; quiver (barely visible) upright on the ground in front of him.

* Nicaea in Bithynia, coins of Commodus (not illustrated), and Geta Caesar.

At Nicaea, Eros is leaning back from the bow, holding it almost at arm’s length, with his weight on his left leg and his right leg tucked inwards, as in the Roman copy of the statue in the Capitoline Museum in Rome and other similar copies. There is no quiver as on the coins from Philippopolis. Note the attention to detail which the engraver of the die for this tiny coin has devoted to Eros’s right wing, awkwardly situated behind his arms and the bow.

Æ 17, 6 h, 2.98 g. Obv. …• CEΠTI • ΓETAC… Bare head of Geta Caesar r. Rev. NIKAI[EΩN]. Eros standing facing, head l., stringing his bow. 


Philippopolis / Septimius Severus
Reference: Varbanov 1291
Rarity: Scarce

Philippopolis / Caracalla Caesar
Reference: Varbanov 1603
Rarity: RRR

Nicaea / Commodus
References: RPC IV, 6255; Waddington, Recueil général, 264
Rarity: RR
Nicaea / Geta Caesar
Previously unpublished?
Rarity: RRR

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