THRACE. Ainos. Circa 357-342/1 BC. Drachm (Silver, 16 mm, 3.64 g, 12 h). Head of Hermes facing slightly to right, wearing petasos. Rev. AINION Archaic cult image of Hermes standing to left on throne, the left arm of which is supported by a tiny sphinx; to left, thyrsos. May, Ainos, 451 (A277/P329). Beautifully toned and with a fine pedigree. Somewhat porous, otherwise, good very fine.
Ex LHS 95, 25 October 2005, 550 and Vecchi 10, 24 March 1998, 264.
The reverse of this issue shows a xoanon of Hermes, an Archaic wooden sculpture, whose discovery is reported by Kallimachos in his Iambus 7. A product of Epeios, the sculptor of the Trojan horse, the xoanon was carried down into the sea by the Skamander river and found by fishermen from Ainos, who tried to hack the god up and use him as firewood. However, the god would neither break nor burn, and when they threw him back into the sea, he reappeared in their fishing nets again. Eventually, they recognized him as a god and brought the xoanon to Ainos, where, on the order of Apollo, it was set up in a sanctuary, which is shown on the reverse of this coin. Stories like these, where fishermen catch divine objects in the sea, are a familiar topos in Greek mythology and reminiscent of the xoanon of Dionysos from Mytilene (Paus. 10.19.3), also shown on coins (see Leu 4 (2019), 259).