Lesbos, Mytilene, Electrum Hekte

Lesbos, Mytilene, Electrum Hekte

Lesbos, Mytilene (c. 412-378 B.C.), Electrum Hekte. Head of Io facing right, wearing a tainia, rev. head of young Dionysos facing right, wearing a wreath of ivy; within a linear square; all within a shallow incuse square, 2.57g., 2h (Bodenstedt 77). Of beautiful style, with an exceptionally fine head of Io, retaining lustre beneath a light tone, extremely fine and a very pretty coin which is most attractive in hand.

Io was an important figure in Greek mythology, and an ancestor of many important figures such as Herakles, Perseus and Minos. She was also a mortal lover of Zeus who, in order to hide her from his wife Hera, was said to have transformed Io into a heifer. However, Hera became aware of the deceit and, having persuaded Zeus to hand the heifer over to her, sent a gadfly to pursue Io across the known world. Many geographical features take their name from Io's extensive wanderings, such as the Ionian Sea, and the Bosphoros (meaning an 'ox-ford'). It was only when she eventually reached Egypt that Io was restored to human form. There she gave birth to Zeus's son Epaphos and married the Egyptian King Telegonos, and also became associated with the Egyptian goddess Isis.


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