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Elagabalus,218AD.,Thrace: Philippopolis.TELESPHORUS son of Asclepius.Very RARE

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Elagabalus - Roman Emperor, 218-222 A.D.
 Bronze (19mm, 3.03 gm.) of Philippopolis in Thrace, 219 A.D.
AVT K M AVP ANTΩNEINOC, Laureate head right.
 ΦΙΛΙΠΠΟΠΟΛΕΙΤΩΝ ΝΕΩΚΟΡΩΝ, Telesphorus, son of Asclepius, standing facing, wearing hooded cloak.

* Numismatic Note: This coin celebrates neocorate (ΝΕΩΚΟΡΩΝ) status of the city of Philippopolis and heralds public Olympic-style games that such status called for.

CERTIFIED AUTHENTIC TIC
by Sergey Nechayev, PhD -
Numismatic Expert

Neocorus was a Greek title which designated the in­dividual who had charge of the interior of a temple and looked out for the temple's needs. In Roman times, provincial Greek cities often styled themselves as the neocori of the imperial cult. This was an obvious form of flattery, which insinuated the godliness of the emperor and indicated the city's devotion and loyalty. The neocorate of a city was a great and coveted honor, and not one which was presumed arbitrarily. The em­peror allowed the bestowing of this right only to cities which had earned the status. Consequently, cities were eager to announce this consideration and usually did so on their coinage. The proclamation of a neocorate on coins was often accompanied by a depiction of the temple.

Originally, it was imperial policy that only one neocorate would be allowed in a city. This rule was later relaxed, and several cities were allowed two or more neocorates. The subsequent awards were depicted on coins by showing two or three temples along with an appropriate inscription. The first neocorate of a city was usually mentioned in the inscription simply as NEΩKOPΩN. The second appeared as B NEΩKOPΩN, the third as F NEΩKOPΩN (e.g. Pergamum).

The approval of neocorate was usually accompanied by games and festivals. The coins struck for these events often displayed a combination of neocorate and agonistic imagery. Like the number of temples depicted, there also seems to be a correlation between the imagery and the award on some of the "games" issues. Although this may be coincidental, coins bearing the single NEOKOPOC often have a singular agonistic crown or urn, which is in the center field between the temples. Those indicating a second or subsequent neocorate have two or more crowns.

The iconography of neocorate and agonistic references is very complex and not fully understood by most numismatists. It is, however, a wonderful area for study, research and discovery. You may learn more about the interrelationships between these aspects of religion, civic administration and public events, and then we will undoubtedly be able to unravel some of the underlying symbology.

In Greek mythology, Telesphorus (or Telesphoros; Τελεσφόρος) was a son of Asclepius. He frequently accompanied his sister, Hygieia. He was a dwarf whose head was always covered with a hood or cap. He symbolized recovery from illness, as his name means "the accomplisher" or "bringer of completion" in Greek. Representations of him are found mainly in Anatolia and along the Danube.

Telesphorus is assumed to have been a Celtic god in origin, who was taken to Anatolia by the Galatians in the 3rd century BC, where he would have become associated with the Greek god of medicine, Asclepius, perhaps in Pergamon, an Asclepian cult center. and spread again to the West due to the rise of the Roman Empire, in particular during the 2nd century AD, from the reign of Hadrian, after Epidaurus, the main center of the cult of Asclepius, had adopted him.

Plovdiv (Bulgarian: Пловдив) is the second-largest city in Bulgaria with a population of 380,683. Plovdiv's history spans some 6,000 years, with traces of a Neolithic settlement dating to roughly 4000 BC. It is the administrative center of Plovdiv Province in southern Bulgaria and three municipalities (Plovdiv, Maritsa and Rodopi) and Bulgaria's Yuzhen tsentralen planning region (NUTS II), as well as the largest and most important city in Northern Thrace and the wider international historical region of Thrace. The city is an important economic, transport, cultural and educational center.

Known in the West for most of its history by the Greek name Philippopolis, it was originally a Thracian settlement before becoming a major Roman city. In the Middle Ages, it retained its strategic regional importance, changing hands between the Byzantine and Bulgarian Empires. It came under Ottoman rule in the 14th century. In 1878, Plovdiv was made the capital of the autonomous Ottoman region of Eastern Rumelia; in 1885, it became part of Bulgaria with the unification of that region and the Principality of Bulgaria.

Plovdiv is situated in the southern part of the Plovdiv Plain on the two banks of the Maritsa River. The city has historically developed on seven syenite hills, some of which are 250 m high. Because of these seven hills, Plovdiv is often referred to in Bulgaria as "The City of the Seven Hills".

There are many remains preserved from Antiquity such as the Ancient amphitheatre, Roman odeon, Roman Stadium, the archaeological complex Eirene and others.

Plovdiv was given various names throughout its long history. It was originally a Thracian settlement by the name of Eumolpias. Philip II of Macedon conquered the area in 342-341 BC and renamed the city Philippoupolis (Greek: Φιλιππούπολις), of which the later Thracian name for the city, Pulpu-deva, is a reconstructed translation. After the Romans took control of the area, the city was named Latin: Trimontium, meaning the Three Hills. During the Middle Ages the city was known as Philippoupolis in Byzantine Greek and Paldin (Пълдин) or Plavdiv (Плъвдив) in Old Bulgarian, variations of the town's earlier Thracian name. The city was known as Philippopolis in Western Europe well into the early 20th century. The city was known as Filibe in Turkish during the Ottoman Empire.

Plovdiv has settlement traces dating from the Neolithic, roughly 4000 BC. Archaeologists have discovered fine pottery and other objects of everyday life from as early as the Neolithic Age, showing that in the end of the 4th millennium B.C. there already was an established settlement there. According to Ammianus Marcellinus, Plovdiv's written post-Bronze Age history lists it as a Thracian fortified settlement named Eumolpias. In 4th century BC the city was a centre of a trade fair (called panegyreis). In 342 BC, it was conquered by Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great, who renamed it "Φιλιππόπολις", Philippopolis or "the city of Philip" in his own honour. Later, it was reconquered by the Thracians who called it Pulpudeva (a reconstructed translation of Philipopolis)

In 72 AD it was seized by the Roman general Terentius Varo Lukulus and was incorporated into the Roman Empire, where it was called Trimontium (City of Three Hills) and served as metropolis (capital) of the province of Thrace. It gained a city status in late 1st century. Trimontium was an important crossroad for the Roman Empire and was called "The largest and most beautiful of all cities" by Lucian. Although it was not the capital of the Province of Thrace, the city was the largest and most important centre in the province. In those times, the Via Militaris (or Via Diagonalis), the most important military road in the Balkans, passed through the city.

Elagabalus (pronounced El-uh-GAB-uh-lus, c. 203 – March 11, 222), also known as Heliogabalus or Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, was a Roman Emperor of the Severan dynasty who reigned from 218 to 222. Born Varius Avitus Bassianus, he was Syrian on his mother's side, the son of Julia Soaemias and Sextus Varius Marcellus, and in his early youth he served as a priest of the god El-Gabal at his hometown, Emesa. Upon becoming emperor he took the name Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus, and was called Elagabalus only a long time after his death.

In 217, the emperor Caracalla was murdered and replaced by his Praetorian prefect, Marcus Opellius Macrinus. Caracalla's maternal aunt, Julia Maesa, successfully instigated a revolt among the Third Legion to have her eldest grandson, Elagabalus, declared as emperor in his place. Macrinus was defeated on June 8, 218, at the Battle of Antioch, upon which Elagabalus, barely fourteen years old, ascended to the imperial power and began a reign that was marred by infamous controversies, to put it mildly.

During his rule, Elagabalus showed a disregard for Roman religious traditions and sexual taboos. He was married as many as five times and is reported to have prostituted himself in the imperial palace. Elagabalus replaced Jupiter, head of the Roman pantheon, with a new god, Deus Sol Invictus, and forced leading members of Rome's government to participate in religious rites celebrating this deity, which he personally led.

Amidst growing opposition, Elagabalus, only 18 years old, was assassinated and replaced by his cousin Alexander Severus on March 11, 222, in a plot formed by his grandmother, Julia Maesa, and members of the Praetorian Guard. Elagabalus developed a reputation among his contemporaries for eccentricity, decadence, and zealotry which was likely exaggerated by his successors and political rivals. This propaganda was passed on and, as a result, he was one of the most reviled Roman emperors to early historians. For example, Edward Gibbon wrote that Elagabalus "abandoned himself to the grossest pleasures and ungoverned fury." "The name Elagabalus is branded in history above all others" because of his "unspeakably disgusting life," wrote B.G. Niebuhr.

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