Asia Minor, Caria, Rhodes Island, AR Drachma (304-167 BC)
Av. head of Helios almost v. front
Rs. Rose, l. branch.
Historical : Helios on the coins of Rhodes.
According to Greek mythology, the sun god Helios, being late in the distribution of the earth among the gods, was given the island of Rhodes, which had just emerged from the sea.
The veneration that Helios received on Rhodes was enormous and extended into mythical prehistory.
The coins of the Greek poleis were long in the tradition of the archaic period and had animals, plants, recessed squares and rectangles. The idealised portraits of the gods were not included in the image programme of ancient Greek die-cutting art until later.
Helios only appeared numismatically after the new capital Rhodes had been founded at the end of the 5th century BC.
The blossoming rose also only became the dominant image motif on the reverse of the coin with the invention of a "new" type of coin.
Why the rose in connection with Helios?
The rose was sacred to the sun god. Even in antiquity, its fragrance and oils were considered beguiling and sensual. The plant, which was cultivated early on, was very popular and well-known as an ornamental plant in the gardens of the entire Mediterranean region and the Orient as far as India.
The rose is also said to have given Rhodes its name, and not only Helios is associated with it, but also the goddess of love Aphrodite.
The Helios head of Rhodes probably goes back to the depiction of the nymph Arethusa and the Syracusan die-cutter Kimon. The unique feature of the Rhodian depiction of the gods is therefore solely the transformation of a female coin portrait into a male one, which, as can be seen, the Rhodian die cutters succeeded in doing excellently.
(Text according to: M.K. Sonntag:)
Revision B.F. / Emporium Hamburg