Coins of Roman Egypt
Greek Dates


Animals, sacred Egyptian, Greek mythological, Roman connected with games, &c.

I have grouped together all the animals, as it is not always possible to separate them into their classes. The most important are clearly the Egyptian sacred animals, such as the Hawk; next in order come those which have a mythological reference to Greek divinities, as the Panther to Dionysos; and, lastly, those which occur also on Roman coins, and are connected with the public games. To these may be added the legionary Aquila. All that is necessary here is to notice the more difficult types in alphabetical order.

Bull Apis.

The cultus of the Bull Apis, which must have been introduced from Memphis, its ancient seat, was of course sacred to Sarapis, whose name, as has been noticed (p. lx.), was derived from that of the defunct and deified Apis He is represented with the disk of the moon between his horns, and before him an altar of Egyptian form (Pl. xxv. 812). The disk is sometimes wanting (1175 not engr.).


The Crocodile was no doubt sacred to Harpokrates of Kanopos, whose peculiar form as a youth with a crocodile's body, represented on the coins of Alexandria and the Menelaite Nome, has already been noticed (p. lxv. lxvi.). Of course the crocodile was primarily sacred to the crocodile-headed Sebak of Kanopos, but the link with Alexandria needed to account for the crocodile on the coins is no doubt Harpokrates. The animal has the solar disk on his head, which would agree with the solar divinity Harpokrates (Pl. xxv. 316).

Eagle, Roman Aquila, Consecratio.

It is important to discriminate the use of the Eagle, first in the Ptolemaic fashion as the bird of Zeus, when he frequently stands on the thunderbolt or has a palm across him (Pl. xxv. 1, 166), and then as the Roman legionary Aquila. Ultimately the meaning, when the Eagle carries a wreath, or has the palm across him, is always military. (Pl. xxv.) The eagle also occurs in the Consecratio, αΦιερωσις type.


The Hawk, crowned with the Egyptian skhent, the crown of Upper and Lower Egypt (xxv. 275), is in the native mythology sacred to the solar gods, such as Ra and Horus. He is therefore at Alexandria connected with Harpokrates, a form of Horus.


The Hippopotamus appears on the coins of the District of the Alexandrians as held on the extended right hand of the district divinity, possibly Alexander (see p. xlvi.). Probably this cultus of the hippopotamus was handed down from the earlier town Rhakotis.


The Ibis, sacred to Thoth, the Egyptian Hermes, implies a worship of Thoth at or near Alexandria. This is explained by the neighbourhood of the town of Hermopolis Parva.


The Jackal was sacred to Anubis. He is therefore seen beside the figure of Hermanubis (Pl. xviii. 1138, 1428, 2050), and occurs alone (xxvi. 833).


The Phoenix, in the form of the Bennu, or Numidian crane, occurs on a billon coin of Antoninus Pius, in connection with the beginning of the Sothiac Cycle (p. lvi.). It is represented with a radiate nimbus around its head, and is accompanied by the inscription ΑΙωΝ (Pl. xxvi. 1004).

Serpent, Agathodaemon, snake, Uraeus.

There are several interesting types of the serpent and snake, the serpent being the Agathodaemon, sacred to Sarapis, and the snake the Uraeus, sacred to his consort Isis.

The Agathodaemon or good genius was worshipped in every Egyptian town, and had a special name in each (Brugsch, Dict. Geog., p. 1364, 1372). Unfortunately Brugsch's lists do not contain the District of the Alexandrians. On the coins he is always represented erect, and usually wearing the skhent, in the midst of corn and poppies, generally with a caduceus, also rising from the ground (Pl. xxvi. 171, 390). He also appears on the back of a horse (1308 not engr.). In a curious variety of this type he has the head of Sarapis (xiv. 1105). This distinctly connects him with that divinity.

The Uraeus is also represented erect, and wears the headdress of Isis (xxvi. 505). The Agathodaemon and Uraeus are shown facing one another, with the caduceus club and sistrum rising from the ground (668), or in the midst of corn and poppies (845). In the symbols the caduceus should refer to Hermanubis, but here seems to be connected with Sarapis: the sistrum is a symbol of Isis, and the club of Harpokrates. The frequency of the occurrence of the caduceus is noteworthy.

Sphinxes, Androsphinx.

The sphinxes form an interesting and difficult group. First there is the usual Egyptian Androsphinx, in the ordinary (male) form and the ordinary recumbent position.

Female Sphinxes.

There are also female sphinxes, whose types are rather Greek than Egyptian. The simple form wears the modius and uraeus, and holds, like a Greek griffin a wheel under the fore-paw (Pl. xxvi. 846). This is an ancient type, possibly Phoenician,* but perhaps introduced into Alexandria from some Greek settlement, such as Naukratis. The complex form differs alone in being three-headed, the only obscure detail being the headdress, for it is uncertain whether the objects rising above the modii are uraei (850); in the other form the uraeus is represented in front of the modius, but in 846 only.

Trimorphous male sphinx.

There is a very remarkable trimorphous male sphinx. This type has a man's head, lion's body, and the head of a crocodile in front of the breast. The attitude is standing, and upon the head is one of the head-dresses of Osiris, consisting of the ram's horns, uraei, plumes, and disk Upon the back is seated a small griffin, holding its wheel (xxvi. 853). This type is clearly connected with Sarapis, and, by the presence of the wheel, with the female sphinxes.

Imperial persons and Acts.

The group of types representing Imperial Persons and Acts is undoubtedly Roman, and several of the types are seen on Roman money, the rest being mainly variations of these, due to their local issue. None of them are accompanied by Greek inscriptions. Here they must be noticed very briefly, and the inscriptions of the corresponding Roman types supplied, in the simplest form, as Profectio Aug. instead of Profectio Augusti. The order of cataloguing will followed, which is that of subjects, the Emperor in a triumphal chariot: first, then on horseback, then standing, &c., as we cannot supply all the inscriptions.

The following are the most important types:—

Emperor in triumphal quadriga; in biga of Centaurs.

The triumphal types are those in which the Emperor is represented in a triumphal quadriga of horses or elephants, holding laurel-branch and aquila (Pl. xxvii. 508, 863, 866). A singular type is that in which he is seen in a biga of Centaurs, a subject clearly of this class, notwithstanding its scenic character: It is to be noted that the Centaurs hold figures of Nike, and that the type occurs under two Emperors, Domitian (338) and Trajan (507 not engr.).

Emperor on horseback.

The types which would in Roman coins bear such inscriptions as PROFECTIO AVG. either represent the Emperor on a cantering horse, his spear couched, or galloping over a prostrate enemy, and striking downwards, (Pl. xxvii 1430) or else simply advancing, his right arm raised (1534).

Emperor sacrificing to Sarapis.

The Emperor sacrificing before the bust of Sarapis, raised on a column, would in Roman coins bear such an inscription as VOTA SVSCEPTA or SOLVTA. The type of Commodus is important as showing the Emperor in the dress of the High Priest of Sarapis (Pl. xxvii. 1432), whereas Elagabalus is merely clad in the toga (1524).

Emperor in galley.

The coin with the Emperor, in this case Hadrian, seated in a galley under oars with steersman, with the date of the 15th year, that of the Emperor's visit to Egypt (xxvii. 871) would, if Roman, bear the legend FELICITATI AVG.

Liberalitas, or Congiarium.

The Liberalitas or Congiarium type of the 20th year of Antoninus Pius is important, as its date does not correspond with any one of the nine liberalitates which are commemorated on the Roman coins of this Emperor. Clearly it is, therefore, a local distribution, and probably to the people of Alexandria. The Emperor is seated on a suggestum, receiving a tessera from Liberalitas, while Alexandria (?) stands behind, the right hand upraised (Pl. xxvii 1007).

Arrival of the Emperor at Alexandria.

The arrival of the Emperor Hadrian at Alexandria is commemorated by three types One, the Emperor in a galley, has been already noticed (p. lxxxviii.): the others are clearly ADVENTVI AVG. ALEXANDRIAE types, though strikingly differing from the treatment of the same or like subjects on the Roman coinage of Hadrian.

Emperor in chariot.

In one type the Emperor is represented in a slowly advancing chariot drawn by four horses, clad in toga and veiled, his right arm upraised, in his left aquila, received by Alexandria, clad in short chiton, her head covered with elephant's skin, her right arm upraised, in her left hand vexillum (Pl. xxvii. 868).

Emperor on foot.

In the other type Alexandria, holding vexillum, presents corn to the Emperor (669), or holding corn in her left kisses the hand of the Emperor (870).

Emperor crowned by Euthenia (?) Alexandria.

There are two other types of the Emperor and Alexandria. On one she alternates with a female figure (xxvii. 530), which may be Euthenia: this type is of Trajan. In the other type Commodus is seen crowned by Alexandria, who has the turreted headdress and holds corn in her left hand (1436).


The Alexandrian types of buildings are of much archaeological importance, as they undoubtedly represent most of the chief edifices of the city, and as most of them can be named.

Greek and Roman mode of representing buildings.

The Greek and Roman mode of representing buildings was generally in epitome. A temple was thus represented by its front portico, and when it was thought fit to show the statue of the sanctuary, all the columns but the two extreme ones were omitted to leave space enough for the statue in the centre.

Styles at Alexandria.

The buildings of Alexandria, as represented on the coins, are of four styles of architecture, Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Graeco-Egyptian. The Egyptian and Graeco-Egyptian styles were evidently limited to temples of the native divinities.

Temples. Temple of Zeus.

The Temple of Zeus is represented by a distyle portico, the statue being shown between the columns. Zeus is naked, looking back; on his right hand, the thunderbolt; in his left, sceptre; at his feet, a flaming altar. (Pl. xxviii. 533). lt is remarkable that the figure of Zeus on the coins has a different pose.

Temple of Athena.

The subject of the Temple of Athena is similar. The edifice is shown as a distyle portico, and the statue of the goddess is seen; she holds Nike on the right hand, and an altar, flaming, is at her feet (Pl. xxviii. 1191). In an instance of this type, without the temple, Athena has the altar at her feet, while behind her is a head apparently of Zeus (414 not engr.). This suggests the possibility that the temple of Athena was attached to that of Zeus.

Temple of Tyche, Tychaion.

The Temple of Tyche is the Tychaion described by Libanius, and referred to by Theophylact Simocatta. The temple is of Greek type, like the two already described, and is shown as distyle, the goddess appearing on her couch between the columns (Pl. xxviii. 1198). Probably this was the form of the chief statue; those which Libanius describes, including that of the standing goddess in a groupe (vol. iv., p. 1113, ed. Reiske), having, according to Theophylact Simocatta, been outside the temple. (Hist. Viii, 13).

Temple of Sarapis, Sarapeum.

The famous Temple of Sarapis, or Sarapeum, is represented by a distyle portico, in the pediment of which are sculptured two figures of Nike, placed so as to fill the space, holding between them a globe: within is seen the statue of Sarapis, seated, Kerberos at his feet. (Pl. xxviii. 872.) On one type (1252) we see figures on the back of the throne, no doubt those of Nike also represented on some types of Sarapis, seated. (Pl. xiii. 447.)

There are two types, referring to the dedication of a temple, which seem to represent the Sarapeum, within which is another represented of a smaller size. This must be considered under the Adrianon, or Hadrianum, the temple within the other.

Temple of Isis.

The Temple of Isis has two types, possibly of two temples. The first shows the propylon of an edifice. This is in Egyptian style, with the usual high slightly inclined towers, pierced with square apertures for the flagstaves, having above the low portal in the centre a statue of the goddess. (Pl. xxviii. 542, 879). The second type shows a distyle edifice, supported by Egyptian columns, in the rounded pediment of which is the globe and uraei: within is seated Isis suckling Harpokrates (1194). This type of Isis, also seen by itself (Pl. xvi. 762), was no doubt the chief statue of a temple. The edifice may portray the portico, but is more probably the naos. The rounded pediment would scarcely be intended for the cornice of the portico.

In a variety of the second type the edifice contains two so-called Canopic figures of two forms of Osiris (PL xxviii. 877). This subject also occurs without the edifice. (Pl. xviii. 779.) Possibly here it merely indicates that Osiris had a shrine in the temple of Isis, whose place as the chief object of worship is indicated by her statue over the entrance (542, 879.)

Temple of Hermanubis.

The Temple of Hermanubis, or Anubis, is not dissimilar in its representation to that of Isis in the second form, except that the columns which support the rounded pediment are of Greek or Roman type. Within is seen the statue of Hermanubis, with his jackal behind him (Pl. xxviii. 1197, pediment angular, 1196 not engr.), as usual.

Temple of Nilus.

The Temple of Nilus has an exceptional representation, that of a tetrastyle portico, within which is the figure of Nilus seated on rocks (Pl. xxviii. 881), from which it may be inferred that this type, when occurring on the coins is a copy of the chief statue.

Adrianon, Hadrianum.

The somewhat difficult subject of the temple dedicated in the Sarapeum is now to be discussed. There are two types. The first, which is of Trajan, shows Sarapis standing in a temple, apparently his own, placing his right hand on a small distyle edifice, with in one case dots upon it to indicate an inscription (Pl. xxix. 537, cf. 534 not engr.). Under Hadrian the same subject recurs, with an important variety in which Hadrian stands with his right hand on the little temple, before Sarapis, whose right hand is raised: on the little temple is the inscription

showing that the temple received the name by which it was subsequently known from Hadrian (876). Probably the original name was ΤΡΑΙΑΝΟΝ.

It might be inferred from the coins that this temple was merely an addition to the Sarapeum, in the form of a chapel or lesser temple; but this is shown to be out of the question, by its having been turned into a church as early as the time of St. Athanasius, therefore long before the overthrow of the worship of Sarapii, as will be next shown. St. Epiphanius mentions among the many churches of Alexandria, the newly-built one called the Kaisareia, formerly the Adrianon, afterwards the Licinian gymnasium, or basilica, which under Constantius I I was rebuilt as a church (adv. Haer. II., ii.69). St. Athanasius mentions the church (Apol. I.) It is evident from these different uses that the edifice cannot alone be meant by St. Epiphanius: the surrounding temenos is probably included.

Altar, of Kaisareion (?)

The extraordinary type of an Altar of great size, assuming the character of an edifice, the determination of which I owe to my colleague Mr. Murray, is peculuar to the Alexandrian series. It is represented as hexastyle, except in one type (Pl. xxix. 1204), which is tetrastyle, no doubt on account of the statue. The horns are like aplustria, and at the corners beneath each is a dolphin (see esp. 882, 1200). Upon the roof is in the centre a mass of fuel from which a flame rises, strangely varied in one case (1204). One type shows the edifice hung with garlands (1255). In some there is a statue before an altar of Egyptian form: the statue cannot be determined from the Museum specimens (1200, 1201). In most there is between each column a curule chair, with in some cases a wreath, usually upright but at least once flat (882, 1204, 1255). It seems probable that the altar is that of the Emperor, and that the curule chairs were intended for him and the other imperial personages, the wreaths standing for them in their absence. If this attribution be correct, no doubt the altar was part of the Kaisareion, Or Caesareum.

Triumphal Arch.

The Triumphal Arch first occurring as a type under Domitian, is clearly imperial. It cannot represent one of the city gates, two of which, those of Helios and of Selene, might have had a common form, and so have been represented by a common type, for the chariot in the centre of the roof is a triumphal car, in which the Emperor is standing (Pl. xxix. 286, 341, 342).

Public Fountain.

There is in the Museum a most interesting type of Trajan, representing a building, of a peculiar character of architecture, which seems to be a classical adaptation of the Egyptian style. It consists of a deep base, on which are three bosses, surmounted by two towers between which is a standing statue. The towers are flanked by columns, With between them on each side a standing statue. The statue in the centre is surmonuted by an eagle with open wings, and is therefore of Zeus, with whose figure the form, so far as it is discernible, agrees (no. 546 not engr.). The building has no sign of a door. I believe it to be a public fountain.

The Pharos.

The celebrated Pharos of Alexandria is several times represented under three types: 1) as the sole type (xxix. 884, var. 1205, 1206); 2) with Isis- Pharia advancing towards it (xvi. 1119); 3) with a ship sailing from it (xxix. 1439), the last type occurring only on a coin of Commodus.

The first and second types give a clear and consistent view of the structure, which supplies the deficiencies of ancient authors. It is represented as a narrow square Tower, the sides on most coins slightly concave, with a short upper storey, having straight sides perforated to show the light within. Near the ground is a doorway approached by a short flight of steps. At each corner is a Triton blowing a buccinum, and on the summit, standing on a pedestal, a statue, probably of Isis Pharia, notwithstanding that the Pharos was dedicated to the Dioscuri. (p. xlix). There are slight varieties in tbe coins, as the absence of the pedestal of the statue, but it is evident that there is no essential difference in the representation of this famuous structure, which has an archaeological value, as it portrays a type which was followed by the architects of later lighthouses.

Barge of Sarapis.

The barge of Sarapis may be a Greek representation of the sacred barge of the Sarapeum, or may symbolically portray the arrival at Alexandria of the famous Statue. It is a Greek galley, in the midst of which is Sarapis seated, Kerberos at his feet; on either side is a goddess. In one type the goddesses are Isis Pharia and Demeter (Pl. xxix. 886). In the other type, they are Demeter and Tyche (1207).

Various objects.

Under the head of "Various Objects," I have placed alphabetically important types which could not readily be classed in the preceding sections.


The Thymiaterion in a shrine may be connected with the worship of the Emperor. (Pl. xxx. 7). This is almost certain in other types, and of course certain in that of the flaming altar with the accompanying legend, ΑΦΙΕΡωCΙC. (2446).


The Caduceus, when associated with ears of corn, seems to belong to the cultus of the Agathodaemon (890; cf. xxvi. 390).


The Cornucopiae is evidently derived from the Ptolemaic money, and does not seem to be connected with any divinity in a special manner.

Two Cornuacopiae.

The two Cornuacopiae may be a Homonoia type.


The Crescent is no doubt a symbol of Selene.

Ears of Corn.

The Ears of Corn with or without poppy-heads probably belong to Demeter.

Hands clasped.

The Hands clasped are defined as a Homonoia type (xxx. 1279).

Headdress of Isis, Harpokrates.

The Headdress of Isis (901) and that of Harpokrates, the "hemhem" crown (902), need no comment.

Modius types.

The various types of the modius are remarkable, and show more than anything else the popularity at Alexandria of the cultus of Demeter. The modius occurs alone (551), or between two flaming torches. In one case the torches are encircled by serpents (29), in another the modius bears a relief of the Rape of Persephone (906). The modius is also seen in a quadriga drawn by horses (552), in a biga of oxen (553), and in a car drawn by the winged serpents of Triptolemos (554). In accord with the last type, we see the modius placed on a column, on either side of which is one of the winged serpents, erect (557).

Pilei of Dioskuri.

The Pilei of the Dioskuri occur.

Prow, Galley.

There is besides the usual Prow the type of a galley sailing, which in the series of Nero is accompanied by the inscr. ΣΕΒΑΣΤΟΦΟΡΟΣ, indicating the ship which brought the Emperor to Alexandria (176). A like type occurs under Hadrian without the inscription (xxvii. 871).

Sistrum. Star.

The Sistrum refers to Isis; and the Star to Helios, as usual on Greek coins.


The various types of Trophies with usually two captives refer to Roman victories (xxxi. ), but there is no one alluding, so far as I can ascertain, to the suppression of Egyptian revolts. It is only in late types of Nike, &c. that the Emperors may record the defeat of a rival rather than the subjugation of Egypt.


The Vase-subjects present one interesting type of an Egyptian sacred vase (xxxi. 11).


The Wreaths are apparently almost always of laurel. At first they represent the wreath of Nike (17); afterwards, when encircling the inscription commomorating the Decennalia, they may be used merely as fit to enclose the record of the auspicious completion of the period. (1442, 1703, 2240.) In the money of Marcus Aurelius the inscription L Ι within a laurel-wreath may commemorate the Decennalia (1283.)




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