Macedonia, Lete. c. 525-480 BC

Macedonia, Lete. c. 525-480 BC


AR Stater, 9.69g (18mm). Nymph pulling away from satyr; in field, above head pellet / Crude square incuse.

Pedigree: Ex Gorny & Mosch 102, 2000, lot 139

References: SNG ANS 956. HGC 531. SNG Cop 187

Grade: A beautiful specimen with ultra high relief. Lovely cabinet toning. EF (gk1219)

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Satyrs and their counterparts maenads, also known as nymphs or Bacchae, were mythological adherents of the ancient Greek cult of the god Dionysus.  The most essential characteristics of the Dionysiac cult were ecstatic music, dance, and the physical possession of its adherents by the god himself through the eating of raw flesh in a sort of communion known as omophagy, as it was thought that the god himself was present in the meat of the sacrificial animal.  The devotees of Dionysus were commonly divided into groups, often with male figureheads, who played the role of the god.  The Bacchae were mortal women who became possessed by Dionysus and attained more-than-mortal qualities.

Satyrs were, like the maenads, spirits of nature.  They were, however, not completely human, but bore animalistic characteristics, often possessing qualities such as the ears and tail of a horse and the beard and horns of a goat.  Satyrs were said to produce and drink wine, and possess a love of dance and music. They are incessantly in a state of sexual arousal and are commonly depicted as ithyphallic, and, as a pastime, pursue nymphs through the woods in an attempt to satiate their sexual arousal on their female counterparts.  Their mythic lineage can be traced back to the works of Hesiod, according to whom they are descended from the five daughters of Hecaterus, who wed an Argive princess, the daughter of King Phoroneus.