Kaunos, Caria (Karl Coll.)
[B]Kaunos, Caria (450-430 BC.)
[u]Obv[/u]: Iris with curved wings in left "knielauf" position, holding a kerykeion in her right hand and a wreath in her left, facing right.
[u]Rev[/u]: Triangular baetyl with handles on either side of the apex; inverted Δ above baetyl; granulated patterns in the form of stylized birds on either side of baetyl; incuse square
[u]Attribution[/u]: K. Konuk, "The Early Coinage of Kaunos," Studies Price, 206, Pl.49,90 (O33/R31); Troxell 260, Pl.31, 25.
[u]Provenance[/u]: ex. Lanz 131(#198), 11.27.06 (Karl Collection)
[u]Weight[/u]: 11.54 gm
[u]Maximal Diameter[/u]: 21 mm
[u]Note[/u]: Iris was the goddess of the rainbow, a messenger of the Olympian gods. She was later described as a handmaiden and personal messenger of the goddess Hera.
Iris was a goddess of both the sea and sky - her father Thaumas "the wondrous" was a sea god, and her mother Elektra "the amber" a shining cloud godddess. For the coastal-dwelling Greeks the rainbow's arc was most often seen spanning between cloud and sea. Her name had a clever double meaning, being connected with both iris, the rainbow, and eiris, a messenger.
"Iris storm-footed sprang away ... and at a point between Samos and Imbros of the high cliffs plunged in the dark water, and the sea crashed moaning about her. She plummeted to the sea floor like a lead weight." - Homer, Iliad 24.77
Iris was often described as being despatched by Hera to command Hypnos the god of sleep.
"[Hera] said: 'Iris, my voice's trustiest messenger, hie quickly to the drowsy hall of Somnus [Hypnos], and bid him send a dream of Ceyx drowned to break the tidings to [his wife] Alcyone.' Then Iris, in her thousand hues enrobed traced through the sky her arching bow and reached the cloud-hid palace of the drowsy king. Near the Cimmerii a cavern lies deep in the hollow of a mountainside, the home and sanctuary of lazy Somnus [Hypnos] ... There Iris entered, brushing the Somnia (Dreams) aside, and the bright sudden radiance of her robe lit up the hallowed place; slowly the god his heavy eyelids raised, and sinking back time after time, his languid drooping head nodding upon his chest, at last he shook himself out of himself, and leaning up he recognized her and asked why she came, and she replied: 'Somnus [Hypnos], quietest of the gods, Somnus, peace of all the world, balm of the soul, who drives care away, who gives ease to weary limbs after the hard day's toil and strength renewed to meet the morrow's tasks, bid now thy Somnia (Dreams), whose perfect mimicry matches the truth, in Ceyx's likeness formed appear in Trachis to Alcyone and feign the shipwreck and her dear love drowned. So Juno [Hera] orders.' Then, her task performed, Iris departed, for she could no more endure the power of Somnus [Hypnos], as drowsiness stole seeping through her frame, and fled away back o'er the arching rainbow as she came ... The old god chose Morpheus to undertake Thaumantias’ [Iris’] commands." - Ovid, Metamorphoses 11.585