18 December 2022
THRACE. Apollonia Pontika. late 5th-4th centuries BC. Drachm (Silver, 15 mm, 3.37 g, 2 h). Upright anchor; crayfish to left, A to right. Rev. Facing gorgoneion. HGC 3.2, 1323. SNG BM Black Sea 153-6. Toned with minor encrustations. Extremely fine.
The hideous triad, the sisters Stheno, Euryale, and Medusa, were said to have hair of writhing living serpents, venomous and terrifying, and whose gaze turned to stone any who beheld it. Two of the sisters, Stheno and Euryale, were immortal but Medusa was not. She was killed and beheaded by the hero Perseus who used his polished shield as a mirror to protect himself from viewing her directly. Gorgons as depicted in art and coinage are atropaic, offering protection by warding off evil (and conversely bringing benefit). Here the gorgon, presumably Medusa, is portrayed as a hideous monster, with her face in rictus, tongue protruding, flaring nostrils, and large boar-like fangs. Fifteen serpents sprout from her head, surrounding her and presenting a menacing terror. In one version of the myth regarding Perseus, he gave the severed head of Medusa to Athena, who attached it to her shield as a protective device which she then gave to Zeus.