The Creatures of Greek Mythology series is now on it's sixth issue from the New Zealand Mint, and this time around features the Sirens of ancient Greek mythology.
Sirens were said to be alluringly beautiful but deceitful and even maliciously dangerous creatures. Stranded on their isolated island, they would sit on the rocky shores or cliffs singing their hypnotically beautiful siren call. It is said that sailors unfortunate enough to pass near enough to hear their song became spellbound and were helpless but to answer the call. Only to wreck their ships on the rocky shores, doomed to a watery grave.
Although they appear in many cultures and is different guises, in Greek mythology sirens were said to be handmaidens of the goddess Persephone, who was abducted by Hades, the God of the underworld. After searching in vain for Persephone, the Sirens eventually gave up and settled on the island of Anthemoessa. From this beautiful place, they continued to eternally call for Persephone's return, with their captivating, yet sad melody.
According to Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus managed to elude disaster by blocking the ears of his ship’s crew with wax as they passed the island. Out of curiosity, he himself chose to be bound to the mast, so he may hear the Sirens song without being able to answer it's deadly call.
This is the scene that was chosen for the reverse design of the Creatures of Greek Mythology - Sirens silver 1oz coin. The three winged Sirens can be seen to the right of the coin calling out to the passing ship, beckoning it to shore. The skeletal remains of dead sailors littering the ground and rocks between them. To the left in the distance Odysseus is bound to the mast of his ship, helpless both to resist the call and to answer it. The words “1 oz 999 FINE SILVER” are written in the sands of the beach at the bottom.
The obverse legend indicates the country and date of issue along with the denomination : “ELIZABETH II”, “NIUE”, “TWO DOLLARS” and “2016”. All encircling the Ian Rank-Broadley portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II.
Like the other coins in this series the 40mm(1.57 inches) silver coin is presented in a faux leather pouch that, when closed, resembles an ancient pouch or wallet. On the inside of the pouch is printed a short coin description along with a certificate of authenticity.
The proof coin is struck from .999 Fineness silver and has a limited mintage of 2000 coins. The New Zealand Mint is selling these coins for US$80.00 from their website upon release.
This is not the first time that Odysseus has featured in a minor role on the Creatures of Greek Mythology series. He could also be seen on the Cyclops coin that was released earlier in the year. Previous issues from the series have featured the Gorgon, Minotaur, Centaur and Cerberus.