Zeus and Solar Eclipses


This coin displays the head of the Seleucid King Antiochus the VIII (Grypus) on the obverse and Zeus on the reverse. Zeus is standing holding a star which represents the moon and the crescent above him is solar. The below quote sheds some light on the powers of Zeus.

Zeus, father of the Olympians, made night from mid-day, hiding the light of the shining Sun, and sore fear came upon men.

Archilochus, Greek poet, refering to the solar eclipse of April 6, 647 BC

The reign of Antiochus the VIII was between 125-96 BC and the above coin was minted in Akko-Ptolemais. Solar eclipses in 126 and 125 BC were seen in the Eastern Mediterranean around the time of his ascension to the throne. Only brief solar eclipses followed and were seen in 115 and 103 BC. Grypus tried to promote the Hedonistic lifestyle, "the good life" and is showing Zeus possibly interupting a solar eclipse. Grypus is also calling himself "God made manifest" on the reverse. At the heart of all nature worship and paganism is the worship of self. The promotion of the ability to interrupt a fearful omen in nature is a divine attribute that Antiochus the VIII is trying to communicate to the people. It is important to remember the crescent moon phases were associated with planting and harvesting. The phases of the moon were like clockwork to the ancients and common to normal events. Solar eclipses were irregular and significant with divine intervention to the uneducated population.

Photo Gitbud-Naumann Coins

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