Thasos (Northern Greece)

Silver Stater or Didrachm, ca. 525/10 - ca. 480/78 BCE
weight: 7.8g, width: 2.14cm; die axis: 1h

Thasos OBVThasos REV
OBV.: Naked ithyphallic satyr running right with struggling maenad in his arms.
REV.:
Quadripartite incuse square.

HFMA nr. 2006.010.004. Ref.: Picard (1990) Group I, Kraay (1976) p. 149-50 [nr. 519]

The motif of the satyr abducting a maenad (1) appears on several northern Greek coins. In the case of Thasos, an island just off the coast of Thrace in northern Greece, this Dionysiac motif serves to promote the island's famous wine.

Satyrs belong to the retinue of Dionysos, the god of wine. They are only interested in drinking wine and having sex, usually with the maenads, the female followers of Dionysos. Satyrs are commonly represented as half-man, half-horse or goat, often with a horse tail and pointy horse ears. On the obverse of this coin, however, the satyr has mostly human traits, except for his goat legs. In addition, his bestial nature is made clear by means of his nudity (which visibly contrasts with the maenad's modest dress, a long chiton), his obvious sexual arousal, and the fact that he is trying to abduct a maenad against her will, as evidenced by the fact that she is raising her right arm in protest.

This coin belongs to the first issues of Thasian coins, as indicated by the Y-shaped hand of the maenad (Picard 1990: 24).

(1) In connection with these coins, the maenad is often called a nymph. Ancient Greek vases, however, feature numerous scenes of satyrs pursuing or abducting female figures, and there they are always clearly characterized as maenads.

Literature:
Anderson, Gary T., "Satyrs and Nymphs", Forum Ancient Coins.
Kraay, Colin M., Archaic and Classical Greek Coins. Berkeley; Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1976.
Picard, O., "Le monnaye de Thasos / The coinage of Thasos." Nomismatika Chronika 9 (1990) 23-27.

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