Bruttium, Kroton - The Birth of Herakles

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On the night that Herakles was to be born, Hera, knowing of her husband Zeus' adultery with the mortal Alkmene, persuaded Zeus to swear an oath that the child born that night to a member of the House of Perseus would be High King. Hera did this knowing that while Herakles was to be born a descendant of Perseus, so too was Eurystheos, son of Sthenelos. Once the oath was sworn, Hera hurried to Alkmene's dwelling and slowed the birth of Herakles by forcing Ilithyia, goddess of childbirth, to sit crosslegged with her clothing tied in knots, thereby causing Herakles to be trapped in the womb. Meanwhile, Hera caused Eurystheos to be born prematurely, making him High King in place of Herakles. She would have permanently delayed Herakles' birth had she not been foiled by Galanthis, Alkmene's servant, who lied to Ilithyia, saying that Alkmene had already delivered the baby. Upon hearing this, she jumped in surprise, untying the knots and thus allowing Alkmene to give birth to Herakles.

Having failed to prevent his birth, Hera sent two serpents to kill the baby Herakles as he lay in his cot. While his twin brother Iphikles screamed in terror, Herakles throttled the snakes, one in each hand, and was found by his nurse playing with their limp bodies as if they were toys.

Bruttium, Kroton AR Stater. Circa 370 BC. Laureate head of Apollo right, KPOTΩNIATAΣ around / Infant Herakles kneeling right, head turned left, strangling two serpents. SNG ANS 384-386; SNG Lockett 631; SNG Lloyd 618; Jameson 433; Dewing 513. 7.59g, 20mm, 10h.

Very Fine. Small and unobtrusive punch on reverse.

From the Mark Christenson Collection; 
Ex Gerhard Hirsch Nachfolger Auction 289, 2 May 2013, lot 88;
Ex New York Sale VII, 15 January 2004, lot 10; 
Ex New York Sale IV, 17 January 2002, lot 39.