Bellona, Roman God series, Niue Island 2016, 2 Dollars, 2 oz, 50 mm, pure antique finish without any unnecessary decoration, high relief coin, client: Mint of Gdansk, producer: Mint of Poland.


According to the first coin in this series, Bellona was supposed to refer to a well-known piece of art. My client asked me to draw more dynamic scene than Jupiter‘s composition. I found “The Chariot Race”, a painting attributed to the Hungarian painter Sándor Wagner (Alexander von Wagner). Like in Hungarian piece of art, in my design the four horses (not the rider) become heroes of the whole scene. Bellona to whom the coin was dedicated, is not the main element of the composition, like it supposed to be…

Chariot race, Alexander von Wagner
The Chariot Race, attributed to Alexander von Wagner’s, an early version. Source: Wikipedia, public domain. There are other versions of this scene, painted by Wagner.

On the reverse of Bellona, wearing Roman helmet and armor, with a torch (symbolizing victory) in her right hand, enters to the circus on her quadriga. This is the chariot of Mars—god of war. Definitely Bellona is not a queen of beauty. Her face is rather terrifying, like Furies (deities of vengeance) faces.

I made many changes in my composition to make it different from the Hungarian painting. Due to the shape of the coin, the horse on the left has a different leg positioning. The hooves of the horses are protected by hipposandals — predecessors of the horseshoes in ancient Rome.

A shield with Medusa‘s head hangs on the Bellona’s chariot. In Greek mythology, Perseus cut the head of Medusa and gave it to Athena. Athena placed the head on her shield. From then on, the stone-turned gaze of the most dangerous of Gorgons, became the weapon of the gods. The face of my Medusa on Bellona’s shield is inspired by Antonio Canova’s famous sculpture “Perseus with the head of Medusa.”

Perseus holding Medusa's head, sculpture of Antonio Canova.
Perseus holding Medusa’s head, statue of Antonio Canova, Museo Pio-Clementino (Vatican). Source: Wikipedia, public domain.

Roman legionaries are watching the triumphal entry of Bellona. They are identical to each other, like stormtroopers in Star Wars movies. They are ready to kill in the name of their goddess. In the background we see triumphal arch with small inscription “Si vis pacem, para bellum“. This is a famous Latin sentence of Publius Flavius Vegetius, a 4th century historian, meaning: “If you want peace, prepare for war”.

I really love this project. No unnecessary decoration disturbs the clarity of the coin composition…

First version of Bellona.
First version of Bellona with dust clouds in the background. Later I added the Roman circus, triumphal arch and Roman legionaries.
Bellona — final design of the reverse.
Final design of the reverse.
Chariot harness.
Chariot harness — scheme for CAM modeller.
Bellona — design of the obverse.
Design of the obverse with temple of Bellona. I invented the architecture of this building. This is not a historical reconstruction. In Rome, the temple of Bellona was situated on the Campus Martius (“Field of Mars” in Latin). In front of the temple was the war column (columna bellica). To declare war a bloody javelin was thrown over the column toward the direction of the enemy land.
Bellona — photo of the reverse.
Bellona — photo of the reverse. Unfortunately the sentence “Si vis pacem, para bellum” on the triumphal arch is invisible. This is probably due to the error in carving letters on 3D model. The letters are too shallow. On the obverse we have almost the same size of the font but the inscription is legible (see below).
Close-up view.
Close-up view.
The obverse of the coin.
The obverse of the coin.