Hercules is back on a high relief silver coin depicting the fourth of his epic twelve tasks of ancient lore

A super theme for a coin series, the fabled Twelve Tasks of Hercules are one of the greatest stories of many that litter the world of Ancient Greek mythology. They were certainly an imaginative lot! The beauty of this fable from the point of view of a coin designer, are the sheer variety of tasks that require illuminating on our favourite metal canvas From hunts, to thievery, Hercules has his work cut out for him.

The first three tasks, and the corresponding coins, were feats involving the slaying or capture of animals – both mythical and those based on real fauna. This fourth issue is another of that type, before we head off into more esoteric tasks with next years fifth. The Erymanthian Boar was favoured by the gods, almost like a John Wick, being sent out to do their dirty work when needed. The porcine Baba Yaga killed Adonis, and destroyed many a village that had failed to pay sufficient homage to their particular god. Hercules was tasked the capture of the boar alive, which he did so after chasing it into deep snow. Hercules took the boar back to King Eurystheus,who immediately panicked and told Hercules to get rid of it, which he did by throwing it into the sea. Why anyone would throw that much bacon into the sea is a mystery to me…

The coin gives the boar the look it needs, to be seen as something only a man like Hercules could deal with. The hero is clearly struggling with the beast, with the fight depicted in a small gully, eschewing the snow in the original tale for something more dramatic. Previous coins have included a gilded element, and this one is no different, with the boars tusks getting the treatment. The common obverse returns, with the boar cameo on the back similarly picked out with fine gold.

Packaging should remain the same, with a wooden box holding the coin and a Certificate of Authenticity, all inside a themed sleeve. No prizes for guessing the specification (2oz 0.999 silver, rimless, high-relief, antiqued), but it’s a collector favourite, so why would you fiddle with it? The Twelve Tasks of Hercules has always been one of the best of the Mint of Poland’s many entrants in the genre, and this fourth issue does nothing to tarnish that appeal. A fine release, available to order this week with shipping around the middle of November, barring any disease related interference. Distributed by European dealer Magikos Coins, and Canadian dealer Coin Shoppe. We’ll add this to our comprehensive guide to the genre.

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
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