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Nilus & Euthenia

My coin of interest today is a Roman Egyptian tetradrachm from Claudius II "Gothicus", features jugate busts of Nilus and Euthenia. The Egyptians didn't have a god of the Nile, but they did have a god Hapi who brought the flood of the Nile. The annual flooding of the Nile was essential for the growing season and 16 arms was a height of flood associated with the optimal growing season.

Nilometers were used to measure the height of the flood. The Nilometer at Elephantine Island (seen above), in Aswan was used from the Pharaonic Era to measure the water level of the Nile.


The Greeks worshiped personified Rivers, and deified Nile (Nilus) appeared during the Ptolemaic period. Euthenia first appears on coins in Roman Egypt when Augustus is emperor. This goddess of prosperity is depicted in this statue with 8 "putti" which symbolized the units of measure of the flood - 8 being half the ideal flood of 16.

Kákosy, László. “The Nile, Euthenia, and the Nymphs.The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, vol. 68, 1982, pp. 290–98.

1st Century AD Roman Egypt, said to be from Northern Upper Egypt, Akhmim (Khemmis, Panopolis), linen & tempera paint, "This rare painting of tempera on linen shows the Greek personification of abundance, Euthenia. The goddess, consort of the Nile god, rests on a sphinx and holds a bowl in her hand; above and to the sides are birds in flight or at rest."

Egypt, Alexandria, Claudius II Gothicus, AD 268-270, Potin Tetradrachm (21mm, 10.93 g, 12h), dated RY 2 (AD 269/70)

Obv: Laureate and cuirassed bust right, seen from the front

Rev: Conjoined busts of Nilus, wearing grain ear wreath and with a cornucopia behind his right shoulder, and Euthenia, draped and wearing grain ear wreath, right; L B (date) to right

Ref: Köln 3044; Dattari (Savio) 5405


Perhaps this note is incomplete without an illustration of the Nile god, Nilus.

Egypt, Alexandria, Commodus, AD 177-192, BI Tetradrachm (26mm, 12.11 g, 12h). Dated Regnal Year 24 (= 183/4 AD) of Marcus Aurelius

Obv: Laureate head of Commodus right

Rev: Bust of Nilus right, wearing taenia, slight drapery; cornucopia behind his right shoulder; L KΔ (date) across field

Ref: Köln 2216; Dattari (Savio) 3874; K&G 41.45; Emmett 2552.24

Egypt, Alexandria, Hadrian, AD 117-138, BI Tetradrachm, dated RY 22 (AD 137/8).

Obv: Laureate bust right, slight drapery on left shoulder

Rev: Nilus seated left, holding reed and cornucopia; below, crocodile to right; L KB (date) in upper left field

Ref: Köln 1241-2; Dattari (Savio) 1438; K&G 32.767; RPC III 6250; Emmett 879.22

Statue of the river god of the Nile River at the Vatican Museum, in the Pio Clemente Vatican Museum. The river-god Nile (Roman Nilus, Greek Neilos) reclines with an arm resting on the back of a Sphinx. He is surrounded by 16 putti (infant boys) playing about the god, and a cornucopia (horn of plenty) brimming with fruit stands by his side. A 1st century AD Roman work most likely based on a Hellenistic original. (photo: Public Domain from pinterist)

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