a1 Sheffield University
The possibility that the Greeks used heraldic symbols or blazons was first explored a long time ago. The question has been revived recently by a French scholar in an article entitled ‘Les “blazons” des villes grecques’. It is of wide general interest, and of particular interest to numismatists who are concerned with the curious group of coins of Euboic standard bearing various simple devices (horse, horse protome and hindquarters, wheel, triskeles, beetle, gorgoneion, etc.), sometimes placed within what appears to be the circle of a shield. Various scholars, including C. T. Seltman, ascribed these coins to sixth-century Athens; Seltman's particular contribution to the problem of their identification consisted in the explanation of the diverse anepigraphic types of this group of coins as the ‘heraldic’ devices or blazons of the great gene or noble houses of early Athens. In particular he pointed out that the same devices appeared also in Attic black-figured vases on the shields of deities, heroes, and unidentified hoplites, and proposed the theory that the vase-painters were copying what they saw in the streets of Athens, namely the shield-devices of the men-at-arms of Athens' leading families.