In ancient Greek mythology, the gods and goddesses did not create the universe but were created by it. Rather than standing above the natural world, superior to it, they embodied the qualities of the world that created them. Thus we can see that the ancient Greeks used their deities to describe and explain the world as it was, rather than to change it according to one group’s or person’s ideal.
This explains why the human phenomenon of “war” produced multiple deities, each one representing different aspects, and each one both ruling those aspects and being ruled by them. The Greek goddess Athena embodied the principle of wisdom in the use of force. Ares, the god of war, embodied force itself. Renamed “Mars” in the Roman pantheon, Ares bore the fearsome, bloodthirsty traits the Viking berserkers would have recognized—the blood-madness, the joy of battle and destruction. He was generally despised by the other gods, including his parents, Zeus and Hera, for his brutal ways. Even the Greek people had no love for Ares . . . until it was time to go to war, and then they would pray for his power to be on their side.
The wild power of Ares inaugurates a new coin series from Niue Island. Simply called “Gods,” the series is produced by the innovative Mint of Poland and is officially distributed by First Coin Company. The obverse of the coin depicts Ares himself, charging toward the viewer in battle armor, his eyes blazing through the slots in his helm. The traditional symbol of Ares, the helmet is almost always present in ancient Greek art, whether the god is naked, draped, or, as on the coin, clad in armor. He carries a gilded sword in his right hand; on his left arm is strapped a shield with a gilded lion. He leads a charge of similarly clad warriors, their spears bristling behind him. Rising from the cloud of dust in their wake is the Parthenon, the former Greek temple of Athena (mentioned above), who was both sister and rival to hot-headed Ares. In fact, one of the few remaining ancient works depicting Ares was found on the east frieze of the Parthenon, and is now housed in the British Museum. Below the Parthenon is the series name, GODS, and around the lower field is the name of the subject coin, ARES.
The border of the god’s shield is decorated with the “Greek key” design, which is repeated on the obverse of the coin. Within the central circle—the “boss” of the shield—a small effigy of Queen Elizabeth II appears at the center of the obverse, in the position held by the lion on the reverse; the effigy is embraced by the inscriptions ELIZABETH II (above) and TWO DOLLARS (below). The fineness, Ag 999, appears in small characters to the right of the portrait. Surrounding the boss is a border decorated by the Greek key design, with the text NIUE ISLAND 2017 at the top.
Both sides of the 99.9% silver coin are carefully antiqued to add depth to the artwork—although the physical depth of the reverse is extraordinary on its own. (See the angled photo above.) Equally as impressive is the degree of detail, from the artwork on the front of the distant Parthenon to the texture of each individual rock.
“Ares,” which has a limited mintage of 500, can be ordered from the website of First Coin Company (product code NA-S-GOD-17-01). Preorders are now being taken; the coins will ship in February or March. Each coin, which is legal tender in Niue Island, is housed in a wooden box for display and comes with certificate of authenticity. Free international shipping is provided; the full specifications are shown below.
|Mint||Mint of Poland|
|Availability||Preorder now; ships February/March|
|Content||2 troy oz.|
|Denomination||$2 (New Zealand)|
|Year of Issue||2017|
|Quality||Ultra High Relief; antique finish|
|Exterior Decoration||Gold-plated details|
|Package type||Wooden box with color package|
|Certificate of Authenticity||Yes|