Hercules continues hacking his way through the world’s of myth with a coin marking his sixth task – the Stymphalion Birds

Powering their way through an ancient tale describing the twelve tasks of the demi-god, Hercules, the Mint of Poland, in conjunction with Coin Shoppe and Magikos Coins, have now launched the sixth of twelve two-ounce, high-relief silver coins featuring them. Issued on a one-per-annum basis, this has been a first-class series to date, showcasing the mints copious ability in this genre.

For task six, we head to a marsh in Arcadia, where the Stymphalian Birds, bronze-beaked, metal-feathered, man-eating birds, had taken up residence. Said to be either the pets of the goddess Artemis, or the god of war, Ares, they quickly took over the area, destroying crops and taking people. Eurystheus tasked Hercules with clearing them from Arcadia, but the marshy ground would not support his weight. The goddess Athena gave him a rattle (krotala), with she had asked Hephaestus to make. Hercules climbed to a high-point over the lake the birds lived around, and shook the rattle. The birds took to the air, and he shot many of them with arrows tipped with Medusa’s blood. The rest of the birds fled.

The coin sensibly keeps the same style as those that have gone before (see lower down), and while we only have an art render at present, it looks another fine design. These have always been packed to the rafters with dynamic elements, and the birds attacking from every angle is certainly that. Each of the antique-finished entrants in this series have a gilded highlight, and the scattered feathers on this one is a top-notch choice – far better than doing the bow, for example. The common obverse returns, with its neat circle of task motifs.

As before, the one that represents the coin subject, is highlighted with gilding, maintaining the clockwise route around the border. It’s great to see the obverse have as much attention paid to it, especially compared to those that just have the Queen’s mugshot on them. Boxed with a C.O.A., the coin has a mintage of 500 pieces, and marks the half-way stage of this 12-coin set. It’s great to see a series like this, with its consistently high quality design, and fine choice of subject. That it’s also a series with a pre-determined end and release frequency, is also a bonus. Available to order this week. Hopefully, we’ll get some images of the finished article soon.

THE TWELVE LABOURS OF HERCULES

Hercules was married to Megara, the daughter of King Kreo of Thebes, and together they had five children. Unfortunately, the goddess Hera drove Hercules insane in a fit of jealousy and he killed his wife and children.

Driven mad by Hera (queen of the gods), Hercules slew his son, daughter, and wife Megara. After recovering his sanity, Hercules deeply regretted his actions; he was purified by King Thespius, then traveled to Delphi to inquire how he could atone for his actions. Pythia, the Oracle of Delphi, advised him to go to Tiryns and serve his cousin King Eurystheus for twelve years, performing whatever labours Eurystheus might set him; in return, he would be rewarded with immortality. Hercules despaired at this, loathing to serve a man whom he knew to be far inferior to himself, yet fearing to oppose his father Zeus. Eventually, he placed himself at Eurystheus’s disposal.

Eurystheus originally ordered Hercules to perform ten labours. Hercules accomplished these tasks, but Eurystheus refused to recognize two: the slaying of the Lernaean Hydra, as Hercules’ nephew and charioteer Iolaus had helped him; and the cleansing of the Augeas, because Hercules accepted payment for the labour. Eurystheus set two more tasks (fetching the Golden Apples of Hesperides and capturing Cerberus), which Hercules also performed, bringing the total number of tasks to twelve.

01 – Slay the Nemean lion.

02 – Slay the nine-headed Lernaean Hydra.

03 – Capture the Ceryneian Hind.

04 – Capture the Erymanthian Boar.

05 – Clean the Augean stables in a single day.

06 – Slay the Stymphalian birds.

07 – Capture the Cretan Bull.

08 – Steal the Mares of Diomedes.

09 – Obtain the girdle of Hippolyta.

10 – Obtain the cattle of the monster Geryon.

11 – Steal the apples of the Hesperides.

12 – Capture and bring back Cerberus.

SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION $5 NZD (Niue)
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 62.2 grams
DIMENSIONS 45.0 mm
FINISH Antique
MODIFICATIONS Ultra high-relief, gilding
MINTAGE 500
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes
MINT OF POLAND