Coins of Roman Egypt
Greek Dates


Personifications and allegorical subjects.

The group of personifications and allegorical subjects is a very wide and interesting one. Clearly the source is mainly Roman, though the Greek interpretation of subject and inscription gives a Greek colour. Some few types are of purely Greek origin. The entire omission of the Muses would be remarkable, were it not that their temple, the museum, had become a university, and all recollection of the original idea had doubtless been lost.

It is needless to discuss well-known types, common to the Roman Imperial series, and determined by their Latin inscriptions in that series. The types to be discussed are unusual or new ones of certain attribution, and such as are obscure.

Dikaiosyne and Moneta.

Dikaiosyne, the Roman Aequitas, first appears, named, holding scales in her r. hand (Pl. vii. 146). She again appears, named, holding scales and sceptre (245). This type recurs later with the name Moneta (viii. 1262). At the same time there is a kindred type, unnamed, holding scales and cornucopiae (Pl. vii. 36O, cf. 1220). This may indicate that when the type of Dikaiosyne with scales and sceptre was appropriated to Moneta, a new type was introduced for Dikaiosyne in lieu of that which she had been deprived. The two types continue until the reign of Septimius Severus, under whom they are found in the billon series, Moneta being discriminated by the adjunct of a statue of Hermes (Pl. viii. 1156). After this time the type with scales and cornucopiae alone survives. This is here described as Dikaiosyne. On the Roman Imperial coinage of the same time there is no discrimination, the inscriptions Aequitas and Moneta accompanying the same type, even when the little heap of coins in front of the figure would seem to indicate Moneta. Thus the inscription AEQVITAS PVBLICA accompanies the figures of the three Monetae, characterized by their heaps of coins, on a medallion of Julia Domna, (Froehner, Medaillons, p. 159), and a single figure with the same adjunct (Op. cit. p. 223). It is, however, very unlikely that a term like Moneta, taken from the Latin, for which there was no Greek equivalent, would have been generally understood on the Alexandrian coinage unless expressed.


The types of Eirene are very interesting and instructive. As a standing figure she holds helmet and caduceus, an early type (Pl. vii. 148). The ordinary type holds ears of corn and caduceus (231). The substitution of the ears of corn for the olive-branch of Roman Imperial money is characteristically Egyptian, and shows that the Alexandrians allowed themselves a certain degree of freedom even when dealing with purely foreign types, where no influence of the native religion could be brought to bear on the representation.

Under Maximinus I, a new type of the standing Eirene appears, in which she holds a branch and a sceptre, transversely (Pl. vii. 1783). The attribution is fixed by denarii of the same Emperor, in which the inscription is PAX AVGVSTI, and the type identical, though the object held in the r. hand is a clearly defined branch, no doubt intended to be of olive. Afterwards the older type with ears of corn and caduceus recurs, as under Hostilianus (Pl. vii. 2099), and under Trebonianus Gallus another new type occurs with olive-branch and sceptre held upright (2103.).

Eirene and Ploutos.

The seated Eirene with Ploutos as a child, having emerged from the cornucopiae beside her throne (PI. vii. 1261, 1376), has been identified by Mr. B. V. Head, who pointed out to me the similar type of Hierapolis Phrygiae, described by Dr. Imhoof-Blumer, in which the infant Ploutos is soon within the cornucopiae of Eubosia or Euposia (Monnaies Grecques, p. 401 sqq., Pl. G. 26). This identification led Mr. Head to the conjecture that the child who in some types of Nilus emerges from his cornucopiae may be Ploutos. It may be questioned, however, whether the child is not the 16th cubit see p. lxxvi. It may be noted that in the Alexandrian representations the child holds a sceptre. See Nilus.

Eirene and Homonia.

The large bronze coins of Trajan present a remarkable type of Eirene and Homonoia clasping hands, Eirene holding ears of corn, and Homonoia a double cornucopiae, with the inscription ΕΙΡΗΝΕ ΚΑΙ ΟΜΟΝΟΙΑ (Pl. viii 434), the inscription being once transposed in Museum specimens, ΟΜΟΝΟΙΑ ΚΑΙ ΕΙΡΗΝΕ (no. 428). There seems to be no parallel in the coinage of Greek cities to this association of two abstractions, like the Latin HONOS ET VIRTVS.


The unvarying type of Elpis, Spes (Pl. viii. 291) is very noteworthy as showing a direct borrowing of a marked Roman type, which retains its archaic characteristics even when combined with an Egyptian figure in a group, the Egyptian figure being treated in the Alexandrian style. This group, that of Harpokrates of Mendes and Elpis, is found in two varieties (PL xvii. 458, 459). A curious type is Elpis turreted, the Elpis of the city (Alexandria) under Severus Alexander (Pl. viii., 1620).


Eleutheria, or Libertas, is represented on the coins of Galba and Otho, whose engravers here clearly borrowed Eleutheria from the previous issue, the type being characteristic of Galba. The type is wholly unlike the Libertas of Galba’s Latin coins, Eleutheria being here portrayed holding wreath and sceptre, and resting l. arm on a column (Pl. viii. 192), instead of holding the cap of liberty and sceptre.


Eusebeia, or Pietas, has two types. First she is represented holding patera and sceptre (Pl. viii. 919, 1217), afterwards with her r. sprinkling incense on altar and holding acerra in her l. (viii. 2089). The other varieties of her type on Roman imperial coins are wanting.


Euthenia is evidently, from her first appearance on the coins, associated with Nilus as his consort. Her types will, therefore, be discussed after his.


Homonoia, or Concord, on the Alexandrian money, follows the Roman usage. She implies either the quality or its influence on two imperial personages. The types are by no means remarkable except that of Eirene and Homonoia already noticed. (p. lii.) On Greek imperial coins we find a Homonoia of two towns or rarely three. This idea, for it could not have been more, does not appear on the Alexandrian coinage in consequence, no doubt, of its severely imperial character.

Homonoia of Ephesus with Alexandria.

Notwithstanding this, the imperial money of Ephesus under Guardians III, presents a series of Homonoia coins of that city with Alexandria, inscribed ΕΦΕCΙΩΝ ΚΑΙ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΕΩΝ ΟΜΟΝΟΙΑ, with varieties, of which the most important is ΕΦΕCΙΩΝ ΤΥΧΗ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΕΩΝ, this referring to the type of Lychee. The Alexandrian coins of Guardians III and of Tranquillina, present no trace of any reciprocity on the part of Alexandria.


The billon coins of Galba and Otho present the type of a female figure clad in talaric chiton and peplos, holding little Nike and trophy, with the inscription ΚΡΑΤΗΣΙΣ. (Pl. viii. 195). There is no exactly corresponding type in Roman imperial money. Thus both subject and inscription might be Alexandrian, like Semasia (p. lv. ). It may, however, be reasonably argued that it is most unlikely that an original type and inscription would have been introduced at Alexandria in the brief reign of Galba, and continued in the brief reign of Otho. The type of Latin money of Galba which most nearly resembles this Alexandrian one is VIRTVS, who appears on an aureus of this Emperor, advancing l., clad in short chiton with diplois and buskins, holding little Nike and sword in sheath, the Museum specimen being of Spanish fabric. It must be noted that the Roman types of Virtus are male as well as female, with the attributes of Mars in the one case and of Roma in the other. A second word is frequently added in the inscription, as AVG, AVGVSTI, or the Emperor's name. The type can then be the figure of Virtus, like Roma, that of the Emperor, or a subject connected with the Virtus of the Emperor, it being of course impossible to discriminate between the Martial type which occasionally accompanies the inscription VIRTVS, and the Emperor as a military personage. It seems therefore that the Alexandrian type Kratesis rather corresponds to Virtus than represents a new personification.

Kratesis or Arete?

Among the types of Nero is a female figure, armed with helmet and spear, holding patera and shield, who is probably Virtus, and therefore either Kratesis or Arete. (179, 180, not engr.)


Moneta has already been discussed under Dikaiosyne (p. l., li.) For the types see Dikaiosyne and Moneta.


The types of Nike are numerous, but call for no further remark than that they necessarily refer to Roman victories, are personal to the Emperors. In the coinage of Alexandria there is no looking back to past events in the history of the city or its Greek rulers.

Securitas. Asphaleia? Adeia?

There is one probable occurrence of the Roman type Securitas, under Julia Domna (Pl. vii. 1471). The equivalent would be Ασφαλια or Αδεια, more probably the former.


Semasia is a purely Alexandrian type. The subject is a female figure on a galloping horse; she is clad in short chiton and peplos, and urges her horse with a whip: the inscription is CΕΜΑCΙΑ (Pl. xi.1293,1381). The sense of σημασια here must be giving a signal. The LXX use it in the sense of blowing trumpets to announce a solemn day, translating the words, "a day of blowing the trumpets," Num. xxix. 1, by ημερα σημασιας. By Diodorus Siculus the plural is employed in the sense of " aspects," where he says that they who travel across the great desert of Arabia are like seafarers who προς τας απο των αρκτων σημασιας την διεζοδον πο ουνται (II. 54).


Tyche was evidently very popular with the Alexandrians. This is shown by the frequeney of her appearance on the coins, and by the importance of her temple (See Tychaion). She is represented, whether standing, seated, or recumbent, holding rudder and, unless recumbent, cornucopiae, and wearing on her head usually the modius (Pl. xi. 725, seqq.), but rarely the headdress of Isis (724), to whom she is thus assimilated.

Assimilated to Isis.

Tyche is shown in this aspect in a bronze from Herculaneum. (Museo Borbonico, Vol. III. tav xxvi. and text.) Under Severus Alexander the peplos of Tyche is tied over her breast in a knot (Pl. xi. 1642), and under Philip I this is clearly the knot of Isis (Pl. xi. 1974). Afterwards its distinctive character is not regularly maintained, so far as the coins show.

Τυχη πολεως.

The combination of Tyche and Isis is merely the union of two modes of representing a city, as defined by Professor Gardner, by the guardian deity and by a Tyche. (Countries and Cities in Ancient Art," Hellenic Journal, IX. i. p. 48). Tyche is therefore on the coins of Alexandria, Τυχη πολεως.

The types indicate by their variety that there was no specially famous statue, unlike the case of Antioch on the Orontes, where the leading type represents the statue by Eutychides. Libanius in his account of the Tycheion gives a description of a standing statue in that temple which clearly was the principal statue in one part, not necessarily the chief one in the whole building. It is not repeated on the coins, perhaps because it was part of a group of Tyche crowning Ge, who, in turn, crowned Alexander (ap. Overbeck Schriftquellen, no. 1987.) Groups do occur on the coins of not more than three figures, sometimes one crowned by another, which confirms the statement of Libanius, who, rhetorician as he is, can scarcely have invented the subject. (See Pl. xv. 2211, where the statue of Sarapis is crowned by Nike, Ares standing on the other side. The type of the Temple of Tyche, representing not the Tychaion but its sanctuary, shows the recumbent Tyche as the statue (Pl. xxviii. 1198.) This type also occurs on homonoia coins of Ephesus and Alexandria as representing the Egyptian city, with the difference that Tyche is recumbent without legs to the couch, and has a cornucopiae behind her. (Ionia, Pl. xxxviii. 8.)

Zodiacal and other astronomical signs.

The zodiacal types and those others which have an astronomical reference no doubt had their origin in the commencement of the Sothiac Cycle, A.D. 139, in the third Alexandrian year of Antoninus Pius. This Cycle marks the coincidence of the Egyptian old civil or Vague year, and their old fixed or Sothiac year, which occurred after the completion of 1461 Vague years, and 1460 Sothiac years.


There are two coins in the astronomical series of Antoninus Pius which have the type of the zodiac. It is to be noted that the zodiac is not Egyptian, but was probably introduced into Egypt at the beginning of the Roman dominion, when at least it first appears on the monuments. The first zodiacal coin is remarkable as not bearing a date: the rest have year 8. The type is the heads of Sarapis and Isis, surrounded by two zodiacs, one within the other, each sign within the corresponding one. (Pl. xii. 1078). Sarapis and Isis are of course the chief divinities of Alexandria, but Isis may, as Isis-Sothis, refer to the Sothic Cycle. The coincidence of the two zodiacs clearly indicates that the two years have coincided. The second coin shows the bust of Sarapis in the centre, around which are the busts of the sun the moon and the five planets, and in an outer circle, the Zodiac (Pl. xii. 1079).

It will be observed that in the series of signs there is first a regular order, the Moon in Cancer and the Sun in Leo, followed by the five planets and the five signs from Virgo to Capricornus. The five planets are then repeated in retrograde order with the remaining five signs in regular order. The object of the inversion is to retain the planets in their proper signs.

The following is the system and the known coins referring to it:— Moon in Cancer (Pl. xii. 1082), Sun in Leo (1084): then in regular order, Mercury in Virgo (Mionnet, 1607), Venus in Libra (Id. 1608), Mars in Scorpio (Feuard. Cat. Dem., Pl. xxiii. 1664), Jupiter in Sagittarius (Pl. xii. 1087), Saturn in Capricornus (Mt., 1611), next in retrograde order, Saturn in Aquarius (Pl. xii. 1088), Jupiter in Pisces (1090), Mars in Aries (Feuard., Pl. xxiii. 1668), and Venus in Taurus. (Pl. xii. 1080.)

The only type of which I can find no instance is Mercury in Gemini.

The Ploughman and the Reaper.

There are two other types which are not zodiacal, nor belonging to Greek uranography, and which are classed at the end of the astronomical series as they can scarcely belong to any other group. Neither Greek nor Egyptian mythology seems to offer an explanation of them. These types are the Ploughman and the Reaper. They are not connected with the zodiacal group, as they occur on coins of the 5th and not the 8th year. The Ploughman is represented driving a plough drawn by a yoke of oxen, whom he goads. He wears a very short kirtle a chlamys and a pointed cap (Pl. xii. 1091). The Reaper wears the same kirtle and nothing else. He holds the sickle with which he cuts ears of corn (1092). The two types are connected in subjeet and in the manner of representation, but still more strikingly by the Egyptian kirtie, although the Greek artist is seen in the modification of dress in the case of the Ploughman. In examining the various uranographies I have only been suceessful in recognizing one of these supposed signs. The Ploughman occurs in the Sphaera Barbarica,* and this fact supports the theory that the types represent signs. Moreover the Ploughman suggests the Reaper. Without entering into the difficult question of the various uranographies known to the early astrologers, which would involve too large a digression, it is necessary here to add that the Sphaera Barbarica was a uranography accommodated to the geography of Egypt.*

Egyptian Divinities.

The subject of the types representing Egyptian divinities is a far more complicated one than that just left. This subject is itself obscure: there is no good treatise on the later Egyptian mythology, nor even on the cultus at Alexandria: we have largely to depend on the authority of the old religious documents as illustrating a system greatly changed by Greek influence. It will be the best method to arrange the types in the most probable order and to justify that order, adding only the most necessary illustration. This part of the Introduction is in fact a first attempt towards an outline of the Graeco-Egyptian mythology of Alexandria, with some hints for the consideration of the later phases of the mythology of the whole country, it being borne in mind that the influence of Greek ideas was very unequally felt by the Egyptians. Sarapis, however, associated with Isis and Harpokrates, undoubtedly had in his famous statue a Greek form, and so presented a wholly new type to which the Egyptian mind would not be readily accustomed. We must make allowance for the growth of the wide popularity of the worship of Sarapis, but yet we cannot consider that he ever became a part of Egyptian mythology. The mythology we have to examine is that of Alexandria. On the other hand the worship of Sarapis could not be readily accepted by the Greeks of Alexandria, coloured as it was by Egyptian ideas, especially in his association with the purely Egyptian Isis and Harpokrates. Consequently it was long limited to the Egyptian quarter of Alexandria, where the Sarapeum lay, and was to a great extent Egyptian despite the adoption of a Greek statue. Thus the Graeco-Egyptian mythology of Alexandria was originally the religion of the Egyptian quarter, though it afterwards spread through the Greek part, so that in the time of Gordianus III, the Ephesians considered that Sarapis and Isis were as good representativos as the Tyche of the city for Alexandria as was the Asiatic or the Greek Artemis for Ephesus (see the Homonoia coins, Ionia, Pl. xxxviii. 4-9).

Enneads and Triads.

In Egypt each city worshipped a Cycle of nine divinities or an Ennead, of which the first with two associates the Triad or group of the chief divinities of the city. The Triad was usually of father mother and son.

Triad of Alexandria.

The Triad of Alexandria was of Sarapis, Isis and Harpokrates. (Pl. xiv. 749). Each of these had different forms, generally or always with appropriate epithets: these we cannot always define on the coins, and thus the representations are generally described simply as of Sarapis, &c., without epithet. When the coin-types suggest an epithet or compound name it is noted.


The name Sarapis is a Greek form of the Egyptian Hesar-Hapi, a word compounded of the names of Osiris and Apis, and applied to the divinity who was the defunct and deified, thus the "Osirian" form, of the sacred bull Apis. As Sarapis this Egyptian divinity appears in a Greek form. It is necessary to account for this exceptional fact in the Graeco-Egyptian mythology. It is not merely a case of a new type introduced from Greek art; it is that of such a type substituted for the regular Egyptian one.

Introduction of cultus.

The famous statue of Sarapis was brought to Alexandria by one of the Ptolemies to be the centre of a new cultus. It was necessary to cover the proceedings with a cloud of mystery; for so strong a measure needed the seeming sanction of the supernatural. Hence the growth of legend which surrounds the facts and which led at an early time to contradictory versions of what occurred. The basis of the legend is the desire to account for the Greek character of the statue.

Date of introduction.

The obscurity of the legend is to be seen in both the time and source to which the introduction of the statue is referred, still more in the extraordinary circumstances under which it is said to have occurred. The king under whom the statue was brought is variously called Ptolemy I II or III, if we may so read Tacitus, where he says, regnante Ptolomaeo, quem tertra aetas tulit. (Hist. iv. 84).

Source of statue.

The statue was Greek and assigned to the celebrated Bryaxis, unless there were two sculptors of that name. The known Bryaxis worked at the sculptures of the Mausoleum, yet Pliny says, Bryaxis Aesculapium et Seleucum fecit (N.H. xxxiv. 73) If he intends Seleucus Nicator, this would suit a second sculptor of the name, but Overbeck notes that he does not say Seleucum regem (Schriftq. 1327). Supposing the statue to be earlier in date than the first Ptolemy, which is thus probable, it must have been brought to Egypt from some Greek city. This is the general view of the legend, and the favourite city is Sinope in Pontus or strictly Paphlagonia. Its name presented a happy similarity to the Egyptian Hill Sinopion at Memphis, Σινωπιον ορος, Se-(t-)n-Hapi, the Hill of Apis, where was the temple of Hesar-Hapi, whence some derived the name Sinopite Zeus (Ζευς Σινωπιτης, Dionys. Perieg. 255, cf. Eustath. Comm. ad. v.), applied to Sarapis at Alexandria. What could be more likely than that the Sarapis of the Sinspion in his Greek form should be traced to the Sinope of Paphlagonia?

If there was a temple of Sarapis at Rhakotis the palaeopolis of Alexandria, which was older in date than the foundation of the Sarapeum by one of the Ptolemies, perhaps in the same temenos*, the new cultus would have more readily found a home, where the Egyptians were more used than elsewhere to Greek art.*

Statue of Sarapis.

There is no question that the statue of Sarapis attributed to Bryaxis was one of Hades, possibly modified in attributes on the introduction of the cultus into Alexandria. The coins present two types, as though representing statues, besides pantheistic types which may be merely numismatic. The two usual types are unvaried; they represent Sarapis seated, Kerberos at his feet (Pl. xiii. 447, 621, 1749), or standing with the same attendant (613). The seated type seems to represent the famous statue, as it is shown in the Sarapeum. (Pl xxviii. 872, 1252). That the standing type also represents a statue is by no means improbable.

Style panthiestic.

The lapidary inscriptions present a single style for Sarapis which is pantheistic. It is ΖΕΥΣ ΗΛΙΟΣ ΣΑΡΑΠΙΣ. Upon the coins we find ΣΑΡΑΠΙΣ (239, not engr.), ΖΕΥΣΣΑΡΑΠΙΣ (258 n.e. sqq.), and ΗΛΙΟΣ ΣΑΡΑΠΙΣ (Pl. xv. 284). It is to be noted that the inscription ΗΛΙΟΣ ΣΑΡΑΠΙΣ applies to a type discriminated by the radiate diadem. It would seem therefore that we should always consider the ordinary type Zeus Sarapis, and that it would probably be right for the radiate to follow the lapidary inscriptions and have the name Zeus Helios Sarapis.

Panthiesitic Type.

There is a remarkable pantheistic type of the head of Sarapis, most complete with the attributes of Zeus Ammon, Helios, Poseidon, Asklepios, and Nilus (Pl. xv. 744, 1102, cf. 1362, 1945). It is hopeless in the absence of an inscription, numismatic or lapidary, to find the correct designation of this type.

It is now possible to sum up what the coins sanction our holding as the most satisfactory theory of the introduction of the worship of Sarapis, and of the character attributed to him. The famous statue was the work of a Greek artist, probably Bryaxcis. It represented Hades. Ptolemy I or II in some manner, which was kept secret, acquired this statue. It may be remarked that a statue of Hades can never have been very popular in a Hellenic city. In Egypt the statue was held to represent a form of the most popular divinity of the country, the Egyptian Hades, Osiris. This form, the deified Bull Apis, Hesar-Hapi, or Osiris-Apis, originated the name Sarapis. Osiris was of very high importance in the Egyptian Pantheon, and it was the native habit to assimilate all forms to a leading divinity. Thus in earlier times each local object of worship was assimilated to Ra the sun, as Amun with the name Amun-Ra. Sarapis as Osiris could thus be as readily assimilated to Zeus as the Libyan Ammon could become Zeus Ammon. Osiris was the sun of the night, and the sun, however important Osiris became, could not be deposed from the headship of the Pantheon. Thus the assimilation to Helios was as natural as that to Zeus. Then Sarapis became Zeus Helios Sarapis, though we cannot be sure that he should always be described more fully than as Zeus Sarapis or even Sarapis.

Isis. Isis Pharia and Isis Menuthitis.

Isis was an Egyptian divinity. As the consort of Osiris she became the consort of Sarapis. At Alexandria she was worshipped under two forms, as Isis Pharia and Isis Menuthitis. Εισις η εν Μενουθι, (B.C.I.G. iii. 4683b.) Isis Pharia is easily recognized in the type of the goddess in Greek dress, holding an inflated sail (Pl. xvi. 1113), and sometimes with the Pharos before her (1119). No other type can be identified with either of the local forms.

Isis Sothis.

Isis Sothis is represented on the coinage (1121, 1339), and may have had a temple or a shrine in a temple of Isis at Alexandria. There are no pantheistic types of Isis on the coins Her case was unlike that of her consort Sarapis. She had a definite place, as the chief goddess, in the Pantheon, and it was therefore not necessary to assimilate her to any other divinity. The assimilations which we see are those of other divinities to Isis. Euthenia, as the spouse of Nilus, himself assimilated to Sarapis, takes the peculiar knot characteristic of Isis (Pl. xxi. 796). Tyche of the City assumes the headdress of Isis, which is only a combination of two modes of representing a city. (Tyche, xi. 724,5. For Isis Tyche see B.C.I.G. iii. 6005, for I. Dikaiosyne II. 2295). Various representations of Isis alone or Isis suckling Harpokrates are given. (Pl. xvi.)


Harpokrates, the third member of the triad of Alexandria, occupies a different position from those of Sarapis and Isis. As Har-pa-khruti or "Horus the infant," he is a lesser divinity, and can only be brought up to a position worthy of his parents by identification with more important forms of Horus.

It is to be noted that the Egyptian mythology had no true genealogies: thus Horus as Har-uer or "Horus the great," though brother of Osiris and Isis, was only another form of the infant Horus, their child. Sarapis was identified with various divinities, under their Greek names. Isis, the "myriad named," had a multitude of epithets, still remaining Isis. Harpokrates had his infant form and various other forms, all mature, from the diverse shapes in which Horus was worshipped in Egypt. These are of special importance as connecting the Alexandrian worship with the nome worshup, and as showing by their occasional difference from the nome types that the provincial coinage, wherever struck, was intended for local circulation.

The different types of Harpokrates are as follows, both from Alexandrian and nome coins.

Harpokrates of Alexandria.

Certain types seem to represent the forms of Harpokrates worshipped at Alexandria. These are, Harpokrates as a naked child, his hand to his chin, in his l. cornucopiae. (Pl. xvii. 306). This type occurs with the busts of Sarapis and Isis. (Pl. xiv. 749). In both cases the headdress is obscure. Allied to this type is the figure of Harpokrates as a youth, his lower limbs covered with a himation, but, in other respects, the same as the preceding, the headdress again obscure. (Pl. xvii. 991). There is another type which wears the skhent, and, as a bust; has behind the club surmountad by a hawk (1387), or, as a figure, is a youth naked but for himation thrown over l. arm, in which the club with the hawk is held, or draped; at his feet is a ram with a disk on his head (769, cf. 768, not engr.). The ram is connected with Harpokrates at Mendes, and I have therefore classed this last type to that origin.

Harpokrates of Herakleopolis.

Harpokrates of Herakleopolis Magna has an identical representation on the Alexandrian coins (Pl. xvii. 766), and on those of the Herakleopolite Nome. He wears modius and raises his hand in the characteristic attitude of Harpokrates and holds the club of Herakles on which the hawk is perched. Here he is identified, as is evident from the nome-coins, with Her-Shefit the " Ram-faced," the chief divinity of Herakleopolis, a form of Osiris. (Renouf, Myth of Osiris Unnefer, 17, 18.) To the Greeks, Her-Shefit was Herakles: hence the club here given to Harpokrates.

Harpokrates of Mendes.

Harpokrates of Mendes is the third member of a triad of which the chief was a varietyof the ram-headed type of Osiris. On the Alexandrian coins he is represented as bearded and with the Ammon horn, holding sceptre and club. His headdress is either the hemhem-crown of Harpokrates, the horns disk and plumes of Osiris, or the modius of Sarapis. He is seated on arms and accompanied by two rams, or simply seated on a throne without back (Pl. xvii. 456, 468, 459). On the coins of the Mendesian Nome a divinity is seen standing, wearing the horns disk and plumes of Osiris, and carrying a goat on his hand. On the Alexandrian coins he appears as Harpokrates with club and ram (p. lxiv.); the Mendesian type is probably of the local form of Osiris, Mendes.

Harpokrates of Pelusium.

Harpokrates of Pelusium occurs on the Alexandrian coins. On one we see a bust of a youthful character, wearing the hemhem-crown, and having on the left side, as if held in the left hand, a pomegranate. (Pl. xvii. 764). On the coins of the town of Pelusium the same head of Harpokrates occurs; but as it is not a bust, the pomegranate is omitted. (Langlois, Pl. iii. 1). The pomegranate is, however, the reverse type of a smaller coin of Pelusium, (Id. p. 89, no. 70), and the club occurs on another of the Prosopite Nome (Id. p 50, no. 97), just as the corresponding figure does on larger coins of the same Nome. (Id. p. 50, no. 96).

Harpokrates of Kanopos.

Harpokrates of Kanopos has a remarkable type, differing only in adjuncts on the Alexandrian and the nome coins. He is represented as a youth, having below the waist the body of a crocodile; he wears the skhent, and holds his right hand in the characteristic attitude of Harpokrates, and in his left carries a coruncopiae. (Pl. xvii. 462). The chief object of worship at Kanopos, the capital of the Menelaïte Nome, was the crocodile-headed Sebak, who, as identified with Osiris, might give rise to this compound form of Harpokrates, an Osirian divinity.

Harpokrates of Taua and Buto.

Harpokrates of Taua appears on the coins of the Phthemphuthite Nome, of which this town was the capital, squatting on the lotus, his right hand to his mouth, in his left the club, and wearing a crown, if correctly represented in the Catalogue Demetrio, II. p. 321. On the coins of the Phthenote Nome, Harpokrates of Buto has the same type without the crown, if again the Catalogue Demetrio is correct. (Ibid. p. 325). The type of the squatting Harpokrates on the lotus in the Alexandrian series wears the hemhem-crown, and if the engravings above referred to are correct, can scarcely be other than the Harpokrates of Tana. (Pl. xvii. 1130). The remarkable type of Harpokrates, seated sideways on an androsphinx, wearing skhent, his right hand to his mouth, in his left a cornucopiae, the sphinx surrounded by lotuses, &c., is cearly a Harpokrates of the marsh-lands (460); and if the view expressed above be correct, he might suit the Harpokrates of Buto.


There are certain remarkable representations of divinities in the form of vases with human heads, known as Canopi, from the circumstance that Rufinus uses this term in the singular 'Canopus' for the divinity represented under the symbol of a hydria, which he thus describes: " Ipsum Canopi simulacrum, pedibus perexiguis, attracto collo et quasi sugillato, ventre tumido in modum hydriae cum dorso aequaliter tereti formatur." (Hist. Eccl. II. xxvi). It may be inferred from the context that these vases were painted in various colours (variis coloribus pictam), and had each a human head (caput desuper positum). The original material was pottery (hydriae fictiles).*

Types of Canopi.

The types on all the coins have the general characteristics described by Rufinus. The vase is Human-headed; no feet are visible as the lowest part of the vase is surrounded by a kind of support, which evidently is intended to prevent its overturning; the neck is drawn out and pressed into form (quasi sugillato), as would be the case in a vase of pottery; the body is globular in front, and flat behind, and it is either decorated with figures or draped.

Canopi represent Osiris and Isis.

The Canopi represent Osiris and Isis, Osiris being probably Sarapis. The Canopus of Osiris is of two forms, (1) draped and wearing the atef-crown, which consisted of the crown of Upper Egypt, between two plumes, above the ram's horns (Pl. xviii. 625); and (2) adorned with figures and wearing the crown with disk and plumes above the ram's horns with uraei (268, 775, 2214). The Canopus of Isis is draped, with a uraeus in front of the body of the vase, and wears the headdress of cow's horns and lunar disk (633). These types cannot as yet be further discriminated. The two headdresses of Osiris are indiscriminately used by the ancient Egyptians, and therefore we cannot assign them to particular forms. No doubt in Alexandrian usage they designated such forms; or they would not occur together in one coin-type (452, 632, 779, 1133, 1134). This established, it is evident that each type was restricted to its particular use, whether both are represented on a coin or only one.

Origin of canopi.

There can be no doubt that the origin of the Canopi is due to the vases with the heads of the so-called Genii of Amenta, the children of Osiris, in which the viscera of the dead were placed when the body was embalmed. One of these was human-headed, the rest animal-headed. These vases, as connected with Osiris, would suggest the further development of the Canopi, which may have been aided by the use of mummy figures of Osiris, to hold funereal papyri. The origin of the name Canopus for the vases is more obscure.*

Anubis, the Alexandrian Hermanubis.

In the old Egyptian religion Anubis, the jackal-headed god of embalmment, a son of Osiris, is an important member of the Osirian group. In the Alexandrian system he is represented by Hermanubis, whose form is as Greek as that of Sarapis. The origin of the name Hermanubis is a remarkable instance of the Alexandrian method.


In the old system there was a form of Horus and Anubis, callod Har-m-Aunp This was a combination of two opposites, so usual in Egyptian mythology. The Alexandrians adopted the name, and by a slight change made it a compound of Hermes and Anubis, the Greek and the Egyptian Psychopompi. The figure of Hermanubis is not jackal-headed, but is accompanied by a jackal. On his head he wears a modius, like the gods of the cycle of Sarapis: this is sometimes exactly the modius of Sarapis, and frequently has a lotus-petal in front or at the side: he holds palm-branch and caduceus, or the two combined (Pl. xviii. 1138, 1428, 1506, 1678, 2050). He once appears in attendance on Sarapis (Pl. xv. 748) as Elpis on Harpokrates of Mendes (xvii. 458).* Though it is clearly accurate to describe the usual type of this divinity as Hermanubis, probably, if we are to judge from the comparative frequency of the occurrence of the name Anubis in literature, the usual name was Anubis, as Zeus Sarapis seems to have been usually called Sarapis simply.

Pantheistic type. Helios Hermanubis?

One pantheistic type of Hermanubis occurs in which he wears the radiate diadem of Helios (Pl. xviii. 1506), thus recalling perhaps by accident, the solar character of the first mythological element in the original form, Har-m-Anup. According to the analogy of Holios Sarapis, this type should have been named Helios Hermanubis.


The types of Nilus and his immediate cycle form the most interesting group in the mythology and art of Alexandria. In these subjects the fancy of the Alexandrians had free scope, and no others give us so high an idea of their capacity when unshackled by Greek ideas and forms on the one hand and by Egyptian on the other.

Type, Ancient Egyptian.

The ancient Egyptian type of Nilus as a god, when the name Hapi, probably signifying " the hidden," is applied to him, was that of a stout old man,* painted green or blue, naked but for a waist-belt with hanging strips of linen. There were two Niles, the Nile of the South or Upper Egypt, and the Nile of the North or Lower Egypt. The Nile of the South wears on his head flowers of the symbolical plant of that country, the lotus, and the Nile of the North similarly tufts of the papyrus. (Comp. Brugsch, Geog. Inschr. i. pp. 77, 78).*

Assimilated to Osiris; therefore to Sarapis.

It is well known that Nilus was assimilated to Osiris; consequently in the Alexandrian system the assimilation to Sarapis was a matter of course.* This is seen in a pantheistic type of Sarapis, already noticed (p. lxii, pl. xv. 744). It. is remarkable that though Sarapis takes an attribute of Nilus, the converse does not occur.

ln the old mythology Nilus is an inferior divinity. This is seen in the function which the two Niles perform, when they bind the royal throne with their distinctive water-plants, the lotus and the papyrus. No doubt Nilus holds high rank in a pantheistic poem like the Hymn of Enna,* but this is quite an exceptional document. With the new system it was different. A river-god recommended himself to the nature-loving Greeks, the mystery of the source of the Nile aroused their scientific wonder, and the recording of the annual rise pleased their scientific accuracy. Moreover Nilus, who had excited the interest of the Greek poets, and who could be represented in a Greek form, would be welcome at Alexandria, and it only needed the relation to Sarapis to effect his introduction. Originally without a consort, who could not have been easily introduced in scenes where the two Niles were mutually complementary, he now needed one. This female counterpart was found in Euthenia, who, since Nilus was assimilated to Sarapis, was herself assimilated to Isis (Euthenia).

Statue of Nilus in the Vatican gives Alexandrian type.

The famous statue of Nilus in the Vatican is the most complete representation of the type as formed by Alexandrian art. It was found with a statue of the Tiber which was suggested by it, and which must therefore be later, which is, moreover, of inferior style. The later statue is probably of the age of the coin of Alexandria of Autoninus Pius, year 17, with the standing figures of the two rivers and the inscription ΤΙΒΕΡΙC ΟΜΟΝΟΙΑ (Pl. xxi. 1167, Mionnet, vi p. 235, no.1591, from Eckhel, Syll. pr. p. 72.) It is indeed possible that this coin commemorates the placing together of the two statues.


The Nilus is either an original of the later age of the Ptolemies; or a very fine copy of an earlier time than the Tiber. (For the two statues, see Visconti, Mus. Pie Clém. i., p. 288, sqq. pls. Nilus, xxxvii.; Tiber, xxxviii.: for the date, cf. Friedrichs-Wolters, Gipsabgüsse, p. 611, no. 1543.)


In this statue Nilus is represented as a stout old man, reclining, his head turned back. He is crowned with a wreath apparently of the leaves and buds of the lotus. (Visc., op. cit., pl. xxxvii). In his right hand he carries ears of corn, like his consort Euthenia on the coins, instead of the usual branch of coin representations; in his left he holds a cornucopiae with bunches of grapes, lotus-petals, and other products. His left arm rests on an androsphinx. Beneath him are the waters of the river, which flow from the point of the cornucopiae. About Nilus play sixteen male children of diminutive size, the sixteen cubits of a good inundation, to be presently discussed. Fifteen have issued from the cornucopiae and move down over it, sport with an ichneumon and a crocodile in the waves beneath, and climb up the right leg and arm of Nilus. The sixteenth, the most important of all, is just emerging from the cornucopiae, the last of the series. The order is evident. (See the engraving in Baumeister, Denkm. s. v.)

Unfortunately the statue is much restored; in particular the upper parts of all the children: the work was well done by Caspar Sibilla. The restorations are shown in the pl. of Clarac, 748.

The back and two sides of the base are adorned with characteristic reliefs in place of the stream on the front. They show fights of crocodiles and hippopotami, pigmies in boats hunting the crocodile, and cows, as in Pharaoh's dream, feeding on the bank. The reliefs are given by Clarac, pl. 748, from Visconti Mus. Pie Clém i., pl. xxxvii., as if on the front of the base, which of course makes them out of scale and crowded. (For a description of the statue see Friedrichs-Wolters, Gipsabgüsse, p. 611 seqq., no 1543.)

Although this statue, or its original, belongs to an age of Greek art when the theatrical ruled, it stands out as an example of a dignified manner, lighted up by an agreeable playfulness, which is consistent with the genius of the witty Alexandrians, and may be traced to the love of humour which is evident in ancient Egyptian work even of a serious character. (See, for instance, Wilkinson, Anc. Eg. 3 ed V., pl. 84, p. 415, 416)

Other Sculptures.

Clarac engraves several other sculptures, all inferior to the famous Roman statue. The most important are the Nile of the Louvre and the Worsley statue now in the possession of Sir Francis Cook, Bart., Visconde de Montserrat, at Cintra. Both are evidently copies of the Roman statue. The Louvre statue gives sixteen children (Clarac, pl. 749 c.); the Worsley seventeen (op. cit., pl. 748). The other types are simpler, and, except the Holkham statuette, are entirely without the children, the general characteristic being that they carry the cornucopiae in the left hand, the arm resting on a sphinx, a crocodile, or the head of a hippopotamus. The Holkham statuette is important. Nilus wears a wreath of cinquefoil flowers and leaves, holds a bunch of grapes and the cornucopiae, resting his left arm on a hippopotamus. There are two children in the water and a crocodile. (Clarac, pl. 749; Michaelis, p. 315, 316). For the various types see Clarac (pl. 748, 749, 749A, 749B, 749C).

Pictures of Nilus Philostrata.

The description of Nilus in the "Pictures” of Philostratus closely agrees with the complete subject described above, making allowance for the freedom permitted to the painter as compared with the sculptor, and for the rhetorical style of the writer. The following is a sufficient outline of the passage:— The Nile is represented with the Cubits as infants playing about him, smiling, in such a lively portrayal, that one would think they could speak. They climb over him, and he gives them flowers to make wreaths; they mount up one above another carrying sistra, the characteristic instruments of Nilus. "Crocodiles and hippopotami are added by some in the stream," " as well as symbols of agriculture and navigation.”* He is painted of gigantic stature, his foot on the fountains, while he gazes on Poseidon, and asks many children. (Philost. Imag. I. v.). The description is on the whole faithful, the sistra alone being wanting in all statues, but they may easily have either been of metal or too fragile, and thus have not survived to our time.

Details of coins.

The coins give us an epitome of the same subject. As their space does not admit the sixteen cubits, they are either omitted, or frequently one, the essential sixteenth is introduced, or rarely a small number. It will be well to take each part of the subject, and to note the important variants on the coins.


The attitude is varied. The river is usually recumbent, almost always supported by a crocodile, and then carried on the stream. Sometimes he is seated on rocks, no doubt the rocks of the First Cataract. In his temple the statue is thus represented (Pl. xxviii. 881), and from this we may conjecture that the Vatican statue was not or does not represent the chief statue at Alexandria. He is rarely seen in a standing posture, and then only in a group. (Pl. xxi. 477, 1167). The two Niles are never represented. The idea does not occur in Alexandrian art, which knew but one Nile, which mythologically rose at the First Cataract: hence the rocks on which the figure sits.

Wreath, usually of lotus; rarely papyrus?

The wreath on the head of Nilus is usually of the lotus, two buds of the flower generally appearing in front. (Pls. xix. xx. xxi.) It may be sometimes of the papyrus, but this is hard or impossible to determine.


The dress of Nilus is a himation over his lower limbs.

Objects held in hands, usually papyrus branch and cornucopiae.

The objects held in the hands are usually a branch of the papyrus reed and the cornucopiae. In one type Nilus holds the lotus-flower in his right hand. (Pl. xix. 285.) Generally the papyrus reed is held in the right hand, and the cornucopiae in the left but the converse is not unusual.

Crocodile, Hippopotamus, and Elephant.

As already mentioned the crocodile almost always supports Nilus when recumbent. When he is seated the crocodile, the hippopotamus, or the elephant, stands on the rocks and Nilus rests his left arm upon the creature. When he is recumbent, and unsupported by the crocodile, he rests his arm on the hippopotamus, who stands behind him. He is thus the Nile at the cataract-island, Elephantine.

The sixteen Cubits.

The sixteen Cubits are represented on the coins with the Nilus type, in epitome, the largest number being eight, or perhaps ten; this on billon coins, which are not large enough to admit of full or clear representation. (Pl. xxi. 1577, 1587, 1672). All appear on a coin with Euthenia (xxii. 485). The identification with the sixteen Cubits of a good Nile at Memphis is proved by the statement of Philostratus referred to above (p. lxxiv.); by the number specified by Pliny—”Justum incrementum est cubitorum xvi.; minores aquae non omnia rigant, ampliores detinent tardius recedendo " (N. H. V. ix. 10); and by the present rise at Cairo, which is the same for a good Nile. Moreover, the numerals 16, which frequently occur on the coins with Nilus types, and on no others, show the correctness of the interpretation.

The 16th Cubit, Ploutos?

The most important of the Cubits is the sixteenth, who in the Vatican statue emerges from the cornucopiae. He is represented more frequently than any other. Usually he emerges from the cornucopiae, but sometimes he sits on it, and not unfrequently he holds a wreath towards Nilus as if to crown him. It has been suggested that he is Ploutos (p. lii.). This would not disaccord with the statement of Horapollo, that 16 signified in hieroglyphics ηδονη (I. xxxii.), though a male personification could not be so called. Nor do Pliny's words present any difficulty: " In xii cubitis famem (provincia) sentit, in xiii etiamnum esurit, xiv cubita hilaritatem adferunt, xv securitatem, xvi delicias " (l.c.). It is quite evident that here we have ideas and not personifications.


The Nilometer occurs in front of the figure of Nilus in connection with the Cubits, in the form of an obelisk (Pl. xxi. 1577, 1587), or as a stele (1152) bearing marks probably intended to indicate an inscription (1301).

Water-plants in stream beneath Nilus.

When Nilus is represented recumbent in the river supported by the crocodile, sometimes water plants are seen in the stream. These are apparently lotus flowers (Pl. xx. 472, xxi. 1152), as may be inferred from a comparison of the type of Harpokrates of Buto (?) (p. lxvi., pl. xvii. 460), who would be surrounded by the lotus-flowers, as they were specially sacred to him.

Are any types of Nilus commemorative of good inundations?

It might be supposed that certain types of Nilus, especially those with the numerals 16, and those in which the infant Ploutos(?) holds a wreath towards the river-god, are commemorative of good inundations. The Alexandrian year began 29-30th of August, and the maximum height of the inundation at Memphis is attained, at latest, about a month after. It would therefore, have been easy to commemorate a good Nile on the coinage of the new year, supposing that it was not usual to prepare all the dies before the close of the preceding year. The coins in the Museum make it possible to answer this question with reasonable probability, the types of Nilus being common and the specimens numerous. It is evident that the choice of types referring to the good inundations is arbitrary, as they occur, for instance, under Trajan and Hadrian, in an order which cannot correspond to the occurrence of natural phenomena. Under Hadrian there are Nilus-types in 13 years, those with the numerals 16 are found only under three years, and those three years are consecutive. It is obviously useless to pursue the inquiry.

Nilus in biga of hippopotami, rides hippopotamus.

There are two remarkable types of Nilus, to be noted for their non-Hellenic character, through the art is not native Egyptian. In one Nilus stands in a biga of hippopotami (Pl. xxi. 476), in the other he rides a hippopotamus (1157).

Pantheistic Nilus.

The pantheistic representation of Nilus is to be regarded as of Sarapis, as it is clear that Sarapis is here the chief divinity, taking the attributes of others. (See p. lxii.)

Euthenia the spouse of Nilus.

The spouse of Nilus was Euthenia. That a frequent type, with many interesting varieties, represents Euthenia is proved by the inscription of coins with this type (Pl. xxii. 1162, 1303). That Euthenia is the spouse of Nilus is proved by the occurrence of the type thus attributed with that of Nilus (xxi. 1158). Euthenia, the Latin Abundantia, and possibly the later Ubertas, was thus removed from the class of personifications to that of divinities. No doubt the line of demarcation between the two classes was always so shadowy that this could have happened in any period of Greek mythology, but at no time could so pure a personification as Euthenia have become a goddess fit to be associated on equal terms with so important a goddess as Demeter. This could only have happened at a city like Alexandria, where a compound mythology was formed out of Greek and foreign elements. Nilus, as already explained, was originally without a consort, as an inferior divinity of peculiar type and character; but when raised to the high rank of direct assimilation with Sarapis, in the Alexandrian system, he needed a consort, and his female counterpart was found in Euthenia, who was assimilated to Isis the spouse of Sarapis. (See p. lxxi.)


Euthenia is represented, like Nilus, usually recumbent, but sometimes seated. She is, if seated, usually seated on a base; but once, like Nilus, she sits on rocks. (Pl. xxii. 484). It is only in groups that she appears standing, again like her consort, though this attitude is commoner in her case.

Wreath of corn, or corn and uraeus.

The wreath on the head of Euthenia is of corn. At first she seems to wear this wreath only (Pl. xxii. 28, 108); later the uraeus appears between the ears of corn rising above her forehead (Pl. xxi. 796, xxii). The reason of this addition, if such it be, was no doubt to discriminate Euthenia from Demeter or Persephone, and to associate her with Isis.

Dress: Isiac knot.

The dress of Euthenia is a chiton and peplos, and in one remarkable representation the chiton is tied across the chest with the Isiac knot, or "nodus Isiacus" of archaeoIogists. (Pl. xxi. 796.)

Objects held in hands.

Euthenia usually holds in her right hand ears of corn and poppy heads, sometimes in her left a sceptre. In one case she holds the sistrum of Isis in her right (l.c.), in another, the lotus in her left (Pl. xxii 1162).


The left arm of Euthenia habitually rests on a recumbent androsphinx, of the Egyptian type, and therefore male. This was the symbol of Har-em-khuti, or Harmachis, the rising sun, and may be introduced to associate the abundance of Egypt with the sun.

The Sixteen Cubits.

There is one representation of Euthenia which specially associates her with Nilus. She is represented seated on a base, holding ears of corn and sceptre, her left arm resting on the androsphinx, while around her play the sixteen infants representing the sixteen Cubits of a good inundation. (Pl. xxii. 485; see p. lxxvi.). This is the only instance which I know in which the whole number of the Cubits appears on a coin.

Euthenia at Elephantine.

In another important type Euthenia is seated on rocks, resting her body and right arm on the androsphinx, between a rock and a garlanded base on which stands a large vase, one-handled, and with a long spout sloping downwards (Pl. xxii. 484). This type, like the similar type of Nilus, on which he appears seated on rocks, sometimes with the elephant beside him, sometimes with the Nilometer near, is clearly Euthenia at Elephantine, the cataract-island of the Nilometer. (See p. lxxv.).

Groups, Euthenia and Demeter.

The groups of Euthenia are especially instructive. Her importance as assimilated to Isis explains the otherwise very perplexing type in which Demeter stands before the seated Euthenia. (Pl. xxii. 488). Isis was the most important goddess in the Egyptian pantheon, and was also in literature identified with Demeter. But it was not possible to carry this identification into the region of the practical in mythology or art, as Dionysos was identified with Osiris the consort of Isis. Consequently, Dionysos and Demeter should have been a corresponding pair to Osiris and Isis, which on the Greek side was not admissible. There is a second type, in which Euthenia and Demeter both appear. They stand, facing one another, each holding in her inner hand ears of corn, while Euthenia has a sceptre in the other, Demeter a long torch (487, 806).

Nilus and Euthenia rising from river.

There is a most interesting type of Nilus and Euthenia, that which represents Nilus and his consort, as half-length figures, rising from the waters of the river. Nilus is turned to the left, crowned with the lotus-wreath, his himation flowing over his left shoulder, in his left hand a papyrus reed. Euthenia is turned three quarters towards him; on her head is the uraeus between ears of corn, the front of her wreath; her mantle is tied across the chest with the so-called Isiac knot, leaving the breasts bare, and she holds the sistrum in her raised r. hand. (Pl. xxi. 796.) This coin, which is of the reign of Hadrian, seems to be unquestionably a reminiscence of a picture.

The Byzantine historian, Theophylact Simocatta, himself of Egyptian descent, writing of a time at which he appears to have been resident at Alexandria (Hist. viii. 13), the close of the reign of Mauricius Tiberius, relates an extraordinary story of an apparition of Nilus and his consort, which illustrates this type. He says that Menas, then Eparch of Egypt, being engaged on some official journey in the delta, came at early dawn to the bank of the river. There he saw arise from the depths of the stream a man of amazing size, his face like that of a giant, fierce in glance, his hair yellow-brown turning grey, his cheeks like those of an athlete, the muscles of the loins as a sailor's, strong in chest, the back heroic, the arms mighty He appeared above the water, as far as the loins. At the third hour of the day there arose from the water a female animal, described as a beautiful woman, showing herself as far as the male animal previously described. They were seen by the Eparch and his cohort until sunset, when they disappeared below the water.*

It is quite evident that the description of the male animal may have been suggested by a marine mammal, such as those which were captured in Arab times in the northernmost part of the Delta. For this reason I have given the description almost in full. His female companion is, on the other hand, a creature of fancy. It is probable that the story reached Theophylact as that of an appearance of Nilus, λογος δε εκεινον αυτον πεφυκεαι τον Νειλον, with his consort, and he drew the description in his rhetorical manner from such an original as the coin of Hadrian, which has given rise to this discussion. The coin shows that such a picture was once at Alexandria, agreeing closely with the description of the historian. It is evident that he inclined to the popular idea that Nilus had appeared, but did not wish to commit himself to such a pagan notion, το μεν ουν Νειλωον ζωον εκεινο, ειπειν γαρ ανθρωπον ουπω τεθαρρηκα, and thus contented himself with a description after a well-known picture. It might be objected that the pictures of the temples and other public buildings of Alexandria, so far as they were mythological, must have perished at the time of the attack on the temple of Sarapis, were it not for the curious story of how the statues of the Tychaion slid down from their bases and announced to a certain calligrapher the death of the Emperor Nauricius. This story told by the same writer shows that the works of art, even when religious, were sometimes left undisturbed.*

Nilus crowned by Euthenia, and other groups.

In the other groups of Nilus and Euthenia full figures of both are seen. The most significant is that in which Nilus seated is crowned by Euthenia, Nilus crowned by Plenty (Pl. xxi. 1160). In another type Euthenia walks behind Nilus, with her right arm raised as if having just crowned him (477); in a third she presents ears of corn to Nilus seated (1158).

Concordia between Tiberis and Nilus.

A curious subject, quite isolated in the Alexandrian series, is that which presents a Homonoia or Concordia type, not between cities, or rather peoples, as usual, but between rivers, the Tiber and the Nile. It occurs on a bronze of Antoninus Pius. The inscription is ΤΙΒΕΡΙC (in ex.) ΟΜΟΝΟΙΑ, the type Tiberis and Nilus facing one another and clasping right hands. Tiberis holds a branch in his right hand; Nilus holds ears of corn, as if presenting them to Tiberis (cf. the attitude of Alexandria, touching the Emperor's hand and holding ears of corn, Pl. xxvii. 669): on the right arm of Nilus is one of the little Cubits, and another is at his feet, and in his left hand he holds the cornucopiae (Pl. xxi. 1167).

Phtha, Egyptian Hephaistos?

There are two types which appear to represent Phtha, the Egyptian Hephaistos. In the one, which is of Greek style, he is represented clad in chiton and himation, holding sceptre and tongs (Pl. xxiii 636), in the other, as a mummy, covered with the netting of beads usual in the early Roman age, holding an Egyptian sceptre varied in form (637, 638). In both types he wears a close-fitting Egyptian cap surmounted by a disk, and this seems to show that the same divinity is intended.

Cities, Roma.

Two representations of cities are seen on the Alexandrian coins, those of Roma and Alexandria. Roma is generally of the Amazonian type, with the right breast bare, usual on Roman coins. (Pl. xxiii.) She cannot always be discriminated on Roman coins from Virtus, and therefore some representations here called Roma may be of Virtus, Kratesis (?) or Arete (?) A deviation from general usage is seen in the type of Roma wearing a cuirass (xxiii. 162, 211, 2620). Her seated figure cannot always be distinguished from that of Athena in the case of the later coins, in which neither the aegis of Athena nor the Amazonian dress of Roma can be clearly seen. Here the rule has been to carry on the sequence of types, and not to change an attribution because the representation has become obscure.


There are various interesting types of Alexandria, showing that while no doubt there were many statues of the city there, no one was predominantly famous which became typical, unlike the case of Antioch on the Orontes.

Type I, wearing Elephant’s skin.

The first type of Alexandria in the chronological order of occurrence is that wearing the elephant's skin on her head, clad in short chiton with diplois peplos and endromides, holding ears of corn and vexillum (Pl. xxiv. 998, 1687), or vexillum alone (Pl. xxvii. 868), or wreath and sceptre (244). This type is clearly connected with the founder Alexander, through his characteristic headdress in Alexandrian art. It is not easy to account for the vexillum. Perhaps under the earlier Emperors Alexandria was a cavalry station.

II. Τυχη πολεως, Tyche of the City.

The second type is the Tyche of the city, Τυχη πολεως, with turreted headdress, talaric chiton with diplois and peplos, holding rudder and small figure of Isis Pharia, which surmounted the Pharos (Pl. xxiv.1000, cf. xvi., xxix.). This type is varied in the headdress, which in later coins presents the towers rising from a close-fitting cap with brim (1684, 1989, 2033, 2082), sometimes adorned with a wreath (1532).

III. Alexandria between two ports.

The third type represents Alexandria standing between two crouching or recumbent figures, two ports. She is clad in a talaric chiton with peplos over her lower limbs. In one representation she holds ears of corn and cornucopiae (p. 95, no. 808), in the other, ears of corn and rudder (Pl. xxiv. 1173). As she does not uniformly hold the rudder, she cannot in both cases be the Tyche of the city. In front of her and behind her is a galley approaching, that in front under sail. On either side, beneath the galleys, is a recumbent or crouching figure: that behind is recumbent and in every respect like Nilus, crowned with lotus and wearing himation over lower limbs, except that in his right hand he holds a rudder; the other is crouching, and is a female figure looking back, without any special attributes. It would be true to Egyptian ideas to represent a lake by a Nilotic figure (see p. lxx. n. *), and to Greek ideas to represent a port by a nymph.

The double port, and port of Lake Mareotis.

The city had a double port on the sea face, divided by the Heptastadium into the Greater Port and the Eunostos. On the land side was the Lake Mareotis, which, with its docks, formed an inland port. Clearly, the distinctly Nilotic figure with the wreath of lotus can only be this lake or its freshwater port, while the nymph, which seems without such characteristics, may well be the double port to seaward.





Collection | Topics | Resources | Library | Contact | Home
© Copyright 2001-2006 Michael J. Covili. All rights reserved.