Description: Rhodes, AR drachm, 275 - 305 BC. 15mm, 2.55g. Radiate head of Helios right / Ρ-O across fields, Rose with stalk and bud on the right, serpent on omphalos at lower left.
History: The city of Rhodes was built in 408 B.C. According to mythology, Helios had fallen in love with the nymph Rhodes, and when he shone his light on her, she transformed into the island. The name means "rose" and the island is known since antiquity as a flowery place. The proceeds gained from a successful defense against a siege of Demetrios Poliorketes, were used to build a colossal statue of Helios (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world) in the port of Rhodes. This huge statue, measuring 100 feet, was built in 280 BCE In the earthquake of 224-223 BCE the statue broke off at the knees.
Helios is the young Greek god of the sun. He is the son of Hyperion and Theia. Each morning at dawn he rides his chariot, pulled by four horses: Pyrois, Eos, Aethon and Phlegon -through the sky and rises from the ocean in the east, descending at night in the west. Helios once allowed Phaeton to guide his chariot across the sky. The unskilled youth could not control the horses and fell towards his death.
The reverence of the sun as a god came from the east to Greece. Helios was worshipped in various places, but especially on Rhodes, where each year gymnastic games were held in his honor. On other places where he was worshipped there were herds dedicated to him. People sacrificed oxen, rams, goats, and white horses to Helios.
During the middle ages, the coins took on a different meaning. It was thought that the head of Helios was the head of Christ, and the rose was the Rose of Sharon, and that these coins were the thirty pieces of silver paid to Judas.