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Denomination: Hemidrachm Date: 350-300 BCE
Description: MYSIA, Parion. 4th century BC. AR Hemidrachm (14.5mm, 2.24 g, 6h). Obverse: Bull standing left, head right Reverse: Gorgoneion with protruding tongue facing .
History: This hemidrachm from Parion has an unusual design: a staring female face with protruding tongue, surrounded by snakes. The reverse shows a bull standing left and looking back. The Greek letters ΠΑ appears above the bull and ΡΙ is between the legs of the bull. ΠΑΡΙ are the Greek letters for PARI- for Parion.
The face is a mask in imitation of the head of the gorgon. In archaic and classical Greek art gorgons were always shown facing the viewer, protruding tongue, and teeth. In Greek mythology there were three gorgon sisters. The most famous was Medusa who was decapitated by the hero Perseus. The hair of gorgons was never depicted as living snakes in ancient times. The snakes, if any, were shown near or later sometimes in the hair. Perhaps Parion chose a hideous monster as an emblem for the city as symbol of terror. It was used on Greek shields to frighten the enemy as well as for its hypnotic ability - it was thought that the gorgonian attracts the gaze of enemy soldiers toward the shield and thus away from the weapon hand.