The Eagle on Coins

The Greek World

Already in prehistoric Mesopotamia the "king of the air" was chosen as the attribute of the highest deities, especially of sun and weather gods. Thus it is no wonder that in the Greek world the eagle was the messenger and attribute of the highest of the Olympian gods, Zeus. Thus Greek towns which controlled or owned major sanctuaries and temples dedicated to Zeus, often chose not only a "portrait" of their preferred god, but also a picture of an eagle as their coin motif. Elis, the community which protected the sanctuary of Olympia, and Akragas on Sicily, for example, often depicted eagles on their coins.

Click on links below to see a larger image of the coins (obv for obverse, rev for reverse):

 1.[obv] Croton/Southern Italy, Stater, c. 510-480 BC, McClean coll.1659: Eagle flying r.
 2.[obv][rev] Croton/Southern Italy, Stater (2), c. 420-400 BC, McClean coll.1699/1701: Tripod/Eagle standing l.
 3.[obv] Agrigentum/Sicily, Tetradrachm, c. 472-420 BC, McClean coll.2016: Eagle standing l.
 4.[obv][rev] Agrigentum/Sicily, Tetradrachm (2), c. 412-400 BC, McClean coll.2042-3: Quadriga to r./ Two eagles on dead hare.
 5.[obv] Elis/Peloponnesos, Drachm c. 471-452 BC, McClean coll.6598: Eagle with serpent flying r.
 6.[obv][rev] Elis/Peloponnesos, Stater (2), c. 323-271 BC, McClean coll.6634-5: Head of Zeus r./Eagle standing r.
 7.[obv][rev] Macedonia, Alexander III the Great (336-323 BC), Tetradrachm (2), mint of Aegina and Memphis, SNG Fitzwilliam General coll.2180+2182: Head of Heracles with lion skin r./Zeus with eagle (aëtophoros).
 8.[obv][rev] Antiochia/Syria, Vespasian (70-79 AD), Tetradrachm, FM.CM.152+155-1992: Head of Emperor r./Eagle.

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