Sunday, March 13, 2011

Type 29: Eros with the Aphrodite of Acrocorinth

A frequent type on coins of Corinth is the representation of a statue of Aphrodite, holding the shield of her lover Ares in front of her as a kind of mirror, that apparently stood in her temple on the Corinthian acropolis. Pausanias mentions statues of armed Aphrodite in his description of Acrocorinth, though without (unfortunately) going into further detail. In the museum at Corinth is a statuette that may represent this image of Aphrodite (right, photo © Dan Diffendale), as may the once much admired Venus of Capua (left), perhaps a copy of an original statue by Lysippus. The image on the coins shows the goddess turned (from our perspective) either to the left, i.e. in a mirror image of the two statues, or to the right.

* Corinth, coins of Domitian (not illustrated), Hadrian, period of Hadrian (with head of Aphrodite on the obverse, not illustrated), Marcus Aurelius (possibly, not illustrated), Lucius Verus, Lucilla, Commodus, Septimius Severus (none of these illustrated) and Plautilla. There are reverses showing the statue (with an attendant Eros) within the temple, with Athena facing Aphrodite, Poseidon standing behind her, with a dolphin, or with Aphrodite holding the shield on a column.There is also a coin of Marcus Aurelius (RPC IV, 10089, illustrated there) which may show Aphrodite (or Leto, or Io) advancing r. and holding Eros (or Melicertes-Palaemon).


Æ 21, 7 h, 7.43 g. Obv. Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Hadrian r. Rev. Aphrodite standing facing, head r., holding shield before her; to left, small figure of Eros standing r.


Æ 23, 1 h, 5.89 g. Obv. Draped bust of Plautilla r. Rev. Aphrodite standing facing, head l., holding shield before her; to left, small figure of Eros standing r. (Photos courtesy of Classical Numismatic Group, Inc.,

* While Aphrodite dallies with Ares, Eros plays with the weapons of the god of war—a recurring motif in Roman art, though not to my knowledge on coins—just as we have seen Erotes playing with the club of Heracles (Type 19). Here is a tiny Roman gemstone (cornelian) from a signet ring (photo courtesy of Gert Boersema).


Corinth / Domitian (Aphrodite holding the shield on a column)
References: RPC II, 154 f.
Rarity: RR

Corinth / Hadrian (Aphroditeʼs head to r., Eros to her r.) 
References: RPC III, 183, 183A
Rarity: RR 

Corinth / Hadrian (Aphroditeʼs head to l., Eros to her l.)
Reference: RPC III, 200 
Rarity: RRR

Corinth / Aphrodite
References: RPC III, 253; BMC 696; BCD Collection 634
Rarity: RRR

Corinth / Marcus Aurelius [?]
Reference: Mionnet, Supplement IV, 635
Rarity: RRR (if genuine)

Corinth / Marcus Aurelius (Aphrodite and Eros within temple) [?]
References: Bernhart, Aphrodite, 174; Mionnet, Supplement IV, 636
Rarity: RRR (if genuine)

Corinth / Lucius Verus
References: RPC IV, 7599, 10101, 10110, 5182; SNG Copenhagen 346
Rarity: Common

Corinth / Lucilla
Reference: Bernhart, Aphrodite, 169
Rarity: RRR

Corinth / Commodus
References: RPC IV, 10120; Bernhart, Aphrodite, 170
Rarity: RRR

Corinth / Commodus (with two Erotes) [?]
Reference: Mionnet IV, 725
Rarity: RRR (if genuine)

Corinth / Commodus (with Eros, a dolphin and a bucranium)
References: RPC IV, 10121, 7913
Rarity: RRR

Corinth / Commodus (with Athena facing Aphrodite, and Eros (?) between them)
References: RPC IV, 9506; BCD Collection 784
Rarity: RRR

Corinth / Commodus (with Poseidon standing behind Aphrodite, and Eros between them)
References: Bernhart, Aphrodite, 187; Mionnet Supplement IV, 739
Rarity: RRR

Corinth / Septimius Severus (Aphrodite and Eros within temple)
References: Bernhart, Aphrodite, 175; Forrer (Weber Coll.) 3803
Rarity: RRR

Corinth / Plautilla
Reference: BMC 666
Rarity: RRR

Corinth / Plautilla (with two Erotes)
References: Bernhart, Aphrodite, 171; BMC 664; BCD Collection 953
Rarity: RRR

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