After the nine-coin Norse Gods series released in 2016 and the excellent Roman Gladiators series in 2017, MDM have launched a new ten-coin set for 2018 with the similar setting of the classical ancient world. Instead of featuring gods or types of gladiator, this set follows the story of the legendary Greek hero, Odysseus. His exploits are depicted over the course of the set, each one showing one of the tales laid out by writers of the day. Hugely popular in the Greek world, he was generally despised by the Romans because of his duplicitous nature and percieved lack of honour.
No changes to the specification – these are antique-finished, high-relief, two-ounce fine silver coins. The extra weight over a standard one-ounce coin has gone solely to thickness, an aspect we weren’t keen on before and aren’t here. We’d much rather the extra weight had gone to increasing the diameter of the coin to 50, or even 55 mm instead of the standard 38.6 mm employed here, but it isn’t a huge drawback and the designs remain first class regardless.
The artistic style in use here will be instantly recognisable to buyers of the earlier series, and it’s an eclectic and attractive one. Using an unusual mix of strange perspectives and changing scales, these are hardly realsitic depictions of the, admittedly mythological events, and they’re all the better for it. Very well done designs and we’re pretty sure the work of the same artist as the gladiator set, and likely the Norse god set as well. Each sits within a border and there’s a very neat, almost privy-like depiction of the two faces of a silver tetradrachm called the ‘Owl of Athena’.
The obverse is common to the set and as they’re issued for the Solomon Islands, they carry the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II in the centre, surrounded by the usual inscriptions (“ELIZABETH II” – the name of the Queen, “5 DOLLARS” – the face value, “SOLOMON ISLANDS” – the issue country, “2018” – the year of issue and “2 OZ Ag 999” – the weight of the coin and the fineness of the Silver.). Struck by BH Mayer in Germany, the quality is likely to be top-notch. Each coin is available individually packaged, so you can freely pick a single coin you like if you so wish, or as a complete set of ten in a big wooden box. A great set, we think.
fter the Trojan War, Odysseus first sails with his 12 ships to the land of the Cicones in Thrace. Here, he and his companions carry out a raid on the Cicones of Thrace, who were allies of the Trojans, but are driven back by them.
As the ships are rounding Cape Malea on their way to Ithaca at the southern tip of the Peloponnese, a strong northerly wind springs up and drives them past the island of Cythera into the open sea.
fter fighting the Cicones, Odysseus and his companions arrive in the land of the friendly Lotophagi, they and their ships having been driven there by a tyerrible storm lasting several days.
Although the Lotophagi turn out to be friendly – probably as a result of their lotus-eating habits, which stupefy their hearts and minds – Odysseus soon wants to travel on. His companions, who havbe eaten of the fruits of the lotus and been intoxicate dby it, want to stay with the Lotophagi. Odysseus has to drag them away by force.
he ships then land on the island of Telepylos, on the coast of the Laestrygonians. The Laestrygonians turn out to be a savage people of man eating giants. They destroy the ships in the harbour by throwing huge boulders at them.
Only Odysseus’ ship remains unscathed, as it’s moored in a more protected place. With this sole remaining vessel, Odysseus saves himself and his surviving companions.
ith his last ship, Odysseus reaches the island of Aerea, home to the goddess and sorceress Circe. On her estate are enclosures with tame lions and wolves, which in reality are people whom Circe has bewitched.
Circe also transforms half of Odysseus’ men, who had been sent to reconnoitre the island, into pigs with a magic potion. Thereupon, Odysseus goes to Circe alone and on his way meets Hermes, the messenger of the gods, who gives him the herb called moly. With its help, he resists Circe’s magic and forces her to return his companions to their human form.
s if all of their previous troubles had not been enough, on their way home Odysseus and his companions have to pass through further straits, which are guarded on one side by the six-headed, man-devouring Scylla, and on the other by Charybdis, who created a whirlpool.
Their ship has the good fortune of coming through, but they lose six men to Scylla.
heir next stop is on the island of the sun god, Helios. Since the provisions given to them by Circe are running out, the men disobey their orders while Odysseus sleeps, and slaughter the sacred cattle of Helios.
This act of sacrilege is revealed when the skins of the beasts crawl around and the meat on the roastiong spit bellows. The punishment of the gods comes upon them in the shape of a storm that destroys their ship. Odysseus is the only survivor.
nly seven years later does Odysseus finally return home. There, he finds his wife and his court beset by suitors, who are vying to take his place.
To help him, Athena gives Odysseus the appearance of a beggar. Odysseus reveals his true identity in an archery contest, and kills the suitors, as well as the maids and menservants who prove unfaithful. After nearly twenty years, Odysseus once again sets eyes on his wife, Penelope.
Packaging of the individual coins is of a good quality, understated and in a lightly themed shipper. Very similar to last years Roman Gladiators series, a polished wood box with a padded felt interior is also available to hold the entire set of ten coins. Finished in gloss black with a silver motif on the lid, both inside and outside, it appears to be a good quality item.