Our Ancient Gods Week may be over, but the genre continues to see new entrants. This time we see one of the originators of the modern trend for ancient mythology series, the New Zealand Mint, head back with a different take on the concept. Instead of featuring the main gods and beings that make up the great ancient pantheons, the mint has taken the concept off centre and aimed itself at some of the fascinating and unusual creatures that flesh out the stories that captivated the beliefs of our Greek forefathers.
There are myriad subjects to choose from and they’ve started with a great example, the three-headed dog, Cerberus. A hell-hound with a serpents tail, the claws of a lion and a mane of snakes, Cerberus guards the entrance to the underworld in Greek and Roman mythology. In most works, the three heads respectively see and represent the past, the present, and the future, while other sources suggest the heads represent birth, youth, and old age. Whatever the meaning, it clearly costs a fortune in dog biscuits to feed.
The coin is a straightforward proof finish, 40mm diameter round weighing one-ounce, in this genre dominated by multi-ounce, antique-finish coins, actually quite unusual in itself. Issued for Niue, the obverse carries the typical Ian Rank Broadley effigy of Queen Elizabeth II. The reverse carries a fine depiction of Cerberus guarding the entrance to Hades, the kingdom of the dead. All told it looks a nice coin in our view, and one that will make a fine accompaniment to some of the other series out there. The packaging deserves special mention, being a faux suede bag that opens up until it forms a flat disc upon which is printed the Certificate of Authenticity. A pocket in the centre holds the coin and the drawstring can be pulled tight to reform the bag. A nice inventive return to form for the mint.
Available to order now from the NZ Mint webstore for $80.00, and from their usual wide range of dealers worldwide.
Cerberus is one of the most recognised creatures in Greek mythology. Known as the guardian of Hades, his sole task was to prevent ghosts of the dead from leaving the underworld and the living from entering it.
Featuring in works of Ancient Greek literature, art and architecture, Cerberus was described in many varied ways. The most common of these represents him as a dog with three ferocious heads, the tail of a serpent, and claws of a lion. These three heads both see and represent the past, the present, and the future. It has also been argued that they signify birth, youth, and old age.
Born to Typhon and Echidna, Cerberus was a great and fearsome creature. Feared by Heroes, there are very few myths in Greek mythology where he is tricked or defeated. Only Orpheus, the famed musician, lulled Cerberus to sleep with his beautiful music in order to slip into Hades.
It is said that the twelfth and final labour given to Hercules by King Eurystheus was to capture Cerberus. Assisted by some of the Gods, Hercules managed to enter the Underworld and find Hades in order to ask his permission to take Cerberus to the earth’s surface. Hades agreed under the condition that no weapons may be used. Hercules managed to overpower Cerberus and brought him to King Eurystheus, thereby completing his twelve labours.
New Zealand Mint is pleased to present Creatures of Greek Mythology – Cerberus 1 oz Silver Coin – the first release in this exciting new coin collection.
The coin design shows the engraved illustration of the mythical 3-headed Cerberus, one of the most recognised creatures in Greek Mythology, guarding the entrance of Hades, the kingdom of the dead. Cerberus is known as the guardian of Hades and his sole task was to prevent ghosts of the dead from leaving the underworld and the living from entering it.
This stunning coin is packaged in a brown, faux-suede soft drawstring bag, styled after ancient Greek money pouches. The coin sits in an especially designed pocket within the money pouch and the Certificate of Authenticity is printed on the inside of the packaging.
I called this a 3 headed PIt-Bulldog. In fact this a maneating 3 headed pit bulldog in Hades!