Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt, is the latest deity to adorn a superb Mint of Poland coin

Joining one of the most impressive lineups in modern numismatics, the Mint of Poland and Numiartis are releasing the first in a new series of ancient mythology coins called itGoddesses. Showcasing the more influential female characters in the pantheons of old, the series will be instantly recognisable to collectors of this outstanding genre of modern coins.

For those unfamiliar with the type, it’s a 2oz fine silver format, rimless, antique-finished and struck to an extremely impressive standard of ultra high relief. There’s usually some form of modification, varying from subtle colour highlighting, to the embedding of mineral or other material as an integral part of the design. The first itGoddesess coin features the Greek goddess of the hunt, Artemis, also known in the Roman world as Diana.

We keep saying this with almost every new release, but again, the quality on display here is of the highest order. Artemis is depicted emerging from the forest with a pack of hounds. In her hand is an ornate bow which has been highlighted with gilding. A stag sits in the background, surrounded by a forest of trees, realised with a very impressive level of relief and detail. Even the border is beautifully integrated into the design without detriment.

The obverse has a pair of patterned borders around the usual effigy of Queen Elizabeth II – this is an issue for Niue – and it looks good, if not customised to the heavy degree seen elsewhere. The coin will come packaged in a box with a certificate of authenticity, of course, but there’s a downside. Like the Zhao Yun coin, this one has had almost the entirety of the mintage allocated to the Chinese market. Now, there will be some available at a few dealers getting limited stocks, but if you want one of these you’ll likely have to be quick. Ironically, you’ll have to go on a hunt for the goddess of the hunt. Another beautiful coin and one we’ll add to our growing Thematic Guide to the genre.

THE GODDESS ARTEMIS

Artemis, daughter of Zeus and Leto, and twin sister of Apollo, was goddess of chastity, hunting, wild animals, forests, childbirth, and fertility. Convincing her father to grant her wishes, Artemis desired to remain forever chaste and unmarried and always to be equipped for hunting. The goddess was also associated with the moon and was the patron of young women, particularly brides-to-be, who dedicated their toys to her as symbolic of the transition to full adulthood and the assumption of a wife’s responsibilities.

As a deity of fertility, the goddess was particularly revered at Ephesos, where the famous temple of Artemis (c. 550 BCE) was regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Other notable places of worship were the sanctuaries at Brauron, Tauris, and on the island of Delos, where the goddess was born and where she assisted the birth of her brother Apollo, as Greek mythology tells us.

A notable episode involving the goddess is the saving of Iphigeneia, daughter of Agamemnon. The king had displeased the goddess by killing one of her sacred deer. As punishment, Artemis becalmed the Archaean fleet and only the sacrifice of Iphigeneia would appease the goddess into granting a fair wind to Troy. Agamemnon duly offered his daughter in sacrifice but in pity and at the last moment, the goddess substituted a deer for the girl and made Iphigeneia a priestess at her sanctuary at Tauris.

Artemis is most frequently portrayed in ancient Greek art as a maiden huntress with quiver and bow, often accompanied by a deer and on occasion wearing a feline skin. Early representations also emphasise her role as goddess of animals and show her winged with a bird or animal in each hand.  For example, on the handles of the celebrated Francois vase, she holds a panther and stag in one depiction and lions in another. In later Attic red- and black-figure vases she is also often depicted holding a torch. A celebrated marble representation of the goddess is on the east frieze of the Parthenon where she is seated with Aphrodite and Eros (c. 440 BCE).

Cartwright, M. (2012, May 29). Artemis. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/artemis/

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SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION $2 NZD (Niue)
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 62.2 grams
DIMENSIONS 45.0 mm
FINISH Antique
MODIFICATIONS High-relief, gilding
MINTAGE 500
BOX / COA Yes / Yes