The tragic-heroic tale of Prometheus forms the basis of the Mint of Poland’s latest Ancient Myth coin

Continuing with their impressive track record of premium coins showcasing themes from the ancient world, the Mint of Poland has now launched the third in its ‘Ancient Myths’ series. Of course, it’s another beautiful issue, and again, we’re going to look like we’re on the payroll as we give our opinion of it.

This series started a couple of years ago with the release of the gorgeous Trojan Horse. An impressive visual style and an inset wooden shield made this coin one of those that focused attention on the genre, and one that took what the Perth Mint started with its Gods of Olympus series, that bit further. Followed in 2018 by a Minotaur issue that while excellent, didn’t quite reach the same heights. This year sees the tragic and heroic tale of the Titan Prometheus showcased, and it’s another extraordinary piece of work.

The tale is of the being that gave mankind the gift of fire and was punished by the god Zeus by having his liver repeatedly eaten by an eagle. The way it has been depicted on the coin is an object lesson in coin design. Ostensibly it’s simple enough – just an eagle snacking on the innards of a bound figure – but the use of perspective and anatomy, of both the bird and the human, is literally top drawer. Examine the way the outstretched hands look like they’re about to explode from the coin face. The eagle isn’t just plonked in, it’s an integral part of the action, and the face is filled by the scene without looking like it had to be compromised to do so. The red-gold plated chain seems a little randomly chosen as a detail, but will likely be subtle enough (we only have the ArtCAM render currently).

Only basic artwork for the obverse at present, and this one looks decent enough, although not matching the high of the Trojan Horse coin. Not really a major criticism given that one ranks amongst our most admired obverse designs in AgAuNEWS history. A box, a certificate, and a mintage of 500 are all typical of the genre and it should start to ship late in August. If you haven’t guessed by now, it’s an ultra high relief strike, rimless, antique finished and two ounces in weight. We can’t see regular collectors of the genre wanting to miss this one either. Quite outstanding, this Magikos Coins distributed release is available to pre order now from the usual dealers (check out our Where to Buy below).

THE TITAN PROMETHEUS

Prometheus (meaning “Forethought”) was one of the ringleaders of the battle between the Titans and the Olympian gods led by Zeus to gain control of the heavens, a struggle which was said to have lasted ten years. Prometheus did, however, switch sides and support the victorious Olympians when the Titans would not follow his advice to use trickery in the battle.

According to Hesiod’s Theogony, Prometheus’ father was Iapetus, his mother was Clymene (or Themis in other versions) and his brothers were fellow Titans Epimetheus (Afterthought or Hindsight), Menoetius, and Atlas. One of Prometheus’ sons was Deucalion, an equivalent of Noah, who survived a great flood by sailing in a great chest for nine days and nights and who, with his wife Pyrrha, became the founder of the human race.

In some traditions, Prometheus made the first man from clay, whilst in others, the gods made all creatures on Earth, and Epimetheus and Prometheus were given the task of endowing them with gifts so that they might survive and prosper. Epimetheus liberally spread around such gifts as fur and wings but by the time he got around to man, he had run out of gifts.

Feeling sorry for man’s weak and naked state, Prometheus raided the workshop of Hephaistos and Athena on Mt. Olympus and stole fire, and by hiding it in a hollow fennel-stalk, he gave the valuable gift to man which would help him in life’s struggle. The Titan also taught man how to use their gift and so the skill of metalwork began; he also came to be associated with science and culture.

Zeus was outraged by Prometheus’ theft of fire and so punished the Titan by having him taken far to the east, perhaps the Caucasus. Here Prometheus was chained to a rock (or pillar) and Zeus sent an eagle to eat the Titan’s liver. Even worse, the liver re-grew every night and the eagle returned each day to perpetually torment Prometheus. Fortunately for man’s benefactor, but only after many years, the hero Hercules, when passing one day during his celebrated labours, killed the eagle with one of his arrows. In Hesiod’s Works & Days we are told that Zeus punished man for receiving the fire by instructing Hephaistos to create the first woman, Pandora, from clay and through her all the negative aspects of life would befall the human race – toil, illness, war, and death – and definitively separate mankind from the gods. (Cartwright, M. (2013, April 20). Prometheus. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/Prometheus/ )

https://www.mdm.de/
Bold Precious Metals
SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION $5 NZD(Niue)
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 62.2 grams
DIMENSIONS 50.0 mm
FINISH Antique
MODIFICATIONS High-relief, red gilding
MINTAGE 500
BOX / COA Yes / Yes
First Coin Company AD