Dog coins are big business. In fact, since Dogecoin arrived on the scene nearly eight years ago, the top crypto 100 lists have read like the cast of 101 Dalmatians.
Shiba Inu, Floki Inu, DogeCash, Baby Doge, EtherBone, the list goes on.
But hound-themed currency isn’t anything new. Do a little reading and you’ll find we’ve been slapping images of man’s best friend all over our loose change for centuries.
Here’s five of the most notable pre-crypto dog coins.
A contender for the greatest coin ever minted. This bronze coin from Phaistos on the island of Crete dates back to around 250 BCE.
It features not only a mythical bronze giant, but a magical golden pooch, too.
This dog’s name was Laelaps and he was the companion of Talos, the aforementioned giant. Some claim Talos was actually a robot created to stand guard over the island. Cool.
Legend says Laelaps never failed to catch whatever he hunted. However, he met his match in the Teumessian fox, a creature that could never be caught.
Long story short, Zeus eventually got fed up with the neverending chase and, in what could be called a slight overreaction, hurled Laelaps into the stars. He lived on as the constellation Canis Major.
Argos, the dog coin story told by Futurama
A Roman coin from the year 82 BCE shows possibly the most famous four-legged friend in all of ancient literature.
Argos was the faithful companion of Homer’s best-known hero Odysseus. After 20 years fighting in Troy, Odysseus returned home in disguise to surprise the hoards of chancers hoping to move in on his wife Penelope.
The only former acquaintance to recognize Odysseus was Argos. Upon seeing his master, Argos just about managed to wag his tail.
But in order to keep up his ruse, Odysseus ignored his old friend.
Argus promptly died.
If you can’t bear to trawl the annals of history for the full story, it’s effectively summed up in the Futurama episode Jurassic Bark.
The Sons of Mars
The Sons of Mars (or Mamertines) were Greek mercenaries who took control of Messana in Sicily somewhere around 288 BCE.
They slaughtered every man they could find before marrying their widows and ruled Messana for many years. Lucky Messana.
But it’s not all bad news for the Sicilians. While there, they began minting their own coins, the most striking of which dates from around 278 BCE and features a large dog. Snazzy.
Cerberus, dog coins’ most dangerous
Another Roman coin dating from AD 276 to 282 depicts mythical hero Hercules dragging the three-headed demon dog Cerberus from the underworld.
Cerberus guarded the entrance to Hades and was tasked with preventing the living from entering the realm of the dead.
Hercules was ordered (as the last of his 12 labors) to kidnap the beast and present it to King Eurystheus.
This was no mean feat, given Cerberus had three heads, a serpent for a tail, and snakes all over its body.
Not one of today’s more popular breeds.
In what’s thought to be the first ever representation of a dog on a coin (eat it, Dogecoin fans), a stater — an ancient Greek coin — created around 450 BCE shows a winged hound believed to be Seirios.
Seirios was signified by the brightest star of the constellation Canis Major (Laelaps, is that you?). According to legend, Seiorios was the source of scorching heat and devastating summer droughts.
Indeed, as long as humans have had money, they’ve had dog coins.
So, while dog money is all the rage with closet furries and crypto gamblers in 2021, history tells us this phenomenon is nothing new.
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