ILLYRIA, Apollonia

c. 1st century BCE
AR 15 mm, 1.25 gm
Obv:  AI-NEA; fires of the Nymphaeum of Apollonia; dotted border
Rev:  AΠOΛΛΩ-NIATAN, lagobolon; dotted border
Ref:  BMC 44; Maier 121.  Rare.

Coinpal "Zumbly" is to blame/thank for my interest in the type.  His fun write-up of these coins can been seen on my favorite online coin hangout, CoinTalk.   Below is an excerpt but there is additional information about the coins in the forum thread linked above.

 

"...struck during Illyrian Apollonia's time as a Roman protectorate, the obverse showing a formation of rocks on fire, and the reverse a lagobolon, a rabbit-beating stick that was a symbol of the satyr-god Pan.

 

The rocks represent a famed nymphaeum that was located near Apollonia. While the typical nymphaeum was a sanctuary associated with sacred springs, grottoes and water nymphs, that of Apollonia was unusual in that streams of fire were said to issue from the rock of the nymphaeum, while warm asphalt springs flowed from beneath, giving life to a lush, verdant valley. 

 

Another tidbit of knowledge I enjoyed discovering - in his Life of Sulla, Plutarch describes an event that occurred while Sulla was camped in the vicinity of Apollonia while preparing for his invasion of Rome. The story is that a satyr was caught while asleep in the Nymphaeum and brought before Sulla. Translators tried in vain to question the creature, who would only reply in the hoarse, bleating cries of a goat. In horror and disgust, the great Roman general ordered that it be taken away from his sight. Poor Pan."