This coin was minted
in Alexandria in Roman Egypt in AD 141/2.
At this time the Roman Egyptians had started making great use of Greek
mythology for their coin designs. This was in response to a greater emphasis
on Greek culture and identity which was a feature of the second century
AD. Other designs from Greek mythology to appear on Egyptian coins at
this time include the 'Labours of Heracles' and 'Orpheus and the Animals'.
Many of these coins, including ours, use a very unusual pictorial style,
perhaps copied from paintings or sculptures by an artist more used to
working with other media.
The story of Bellerophon
slaying the chimaera first appears in Homer's Iliad (written
In the myth it is claimed that Bellerophon resisted the attentions of
wife, who retaliated by telling the king that Bellerophon tried to seduce
her. As a result the king sent the hero away to Asia Minor with a coded
message for the King of Lycia stating that he should be killed. The King
of Lycia set him some seemingly impossible tasks, rather like the Labours
of Heracles, the first of which was to slay the chimaera, a monster composed
of 'a lion in front, a snake behind, and a she-goat in the middle'. In
later versions of the myth Bellerophon is helped by the winged horse Pegasus,
which you can see on this coin.