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Classical Numismatic Group > Mail Bid Sale 70Auction date: 21 September 2005
Lot number: 539

Lot description:

THRACE, Hadrianopolis. Gordian III. 235-238 AD. Æ 28mm (13.26 g, 8h).

Estimate $300 

THRACE, Hadrianopolis. Gordian III. 235-238 AD. Æ 28mm (13.26 g, 8h). Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right / Orpheus standing facing, head right, receiving veiled Eurydice, standing left, from Hermes Psychopompus, leaning left on cippus or term; small figures of the dead rising from ground line on both sides; river-god Hebrus swimming left in exergue. Jurokova 449 (V227/R436); SNG Copenhagen -; Varbanov 2198. Near VF, variegated green patina with traces of gray-green overtones, light scratches visible under lens. ($300)

Orpheus, the son of Apollo and Calliope, the Muse of Epic, was a musician par excellence, whose skill could tame the wild beasts and cause the very rocks and trees to move. His marriage to the nymph Eurydice was tragically cut short, however, when a serpent bit her as she was fleeing an unwanted pursuer. Grieving deeply his loss, Orpheus sought to recover his dead spouse by entering the Underworld and there entreating Hades and Persephone to release her. So beautiful was his singing that the shades themselves shed tears and those condemned to eternal labor ceased their toils. The king and queen of the Underworld relented, Eurydice to her husband on the condition that he not look upon her until both were on the earth above. Leading the nymph's veiled form was Hermes in his role as Psychopompus, the one who led souls to the Underworld. Unfortunately, Orpheus could not resist the temptation. At the mouth to the Underworld, he looked back, thus breaking his pledge. Eurydice was spirited back to Hades, and Orpheus was left for the rest of his life to mourn.