Yothr CRP.211.1a

Imperator Caesar Lucius Aelius Aurelius Commodus Augustus
Reign: Marcus Aurelius
Mint: Cyrrhus Cyrrhestica, Syria
Date: 177/180 AD
Nominal: Bronze
Material: AE
Diameter: 22mm
Weight: 10.36g

Reference: RPC IV.3 9042 (#5 this coin)
RPC Online: https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/4/9042
Rare: Specimens 5 (4 in the core collections)
Provenance: Lucernae Numismatica Alcala, Spain (Auction 11, Lot 83)
Pedigree: –

Obverse: Laureate head of (youthful) Commodus, right
Translation: Autokrator Kaisaros Lucios Aurelios Kommodos
Translation: Imperator Caesar Lucius Aurelius Commodus

Reverse: Zeus Kataibates seated on rock, left, holding thunderbolt and long sceptre
Translation: Dios Katebatou Kyrreston
Translation: God [Zeus] Kataibates, City of Cyrrhus

Comment: Cyrrhus (also Kyrrhos), was an ancient city on the road from Antioch to Zeugma in present-day northern Syria. The ruins lie about 70 kilometres northwest of Aleppo and 28 kilometres north of Azaz near the Turkish border on a rocky hill. The provincial city was founded by Antigonos I Monophthalmos around 300 BC or at the beginning of the 3rd century BC by the Seleucids. In 64 BC, Kyrrhos was captured by the Roman general Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, and the place served as a military base in the fighting between the Romans and the Parthians. In the Roman imperial period, the auxiliary unit Cohors II Cyrrhestarum was recruited from the city of Cyrrhus and its surroundings. A prominent resident was Avidius Cassius, who was born in Cyrrhus. He had himself proclaimed counter-emperor in 175 AD when news was falsely circulated that Marcus Aurelius had died.

Kataibates was a common epithet of Zeus, which he received in all the places where lightning had struck. It was believed that Zeus descended there in fire, fenced off these places and considered them very sacred. It was forbidden to enter the place, and often an altar was built there. This local version of Zeus was also worshipped in Cyrrhus. On numerous issued provincial coinages of the city of Cyrrhus, a temple with the statue of Zeus Kataibates is depicted on the reverse. Here, too, a sanctuary in honour of the god must have been built directly over the strike of lightning, of which the city fathers were particularly proud. Unfortunately, nothing remains of the former temple today.

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