Over the weekend, I kicked up my feet and turned on one of the hottest shows on TV, NBC’s Hannibal. The episode was another provocative story and I was completely immersed in the tale of a poor woman, Bella, and her battle with cancer. I was so engrossed I jumped for glee when I recognized an old friend that made an appearance on the show: the Gold French Rooster.
This iconic gold coin has been a symbol of French revolution and freedom since the period of The French Third Republic. It is a beautiful coin, recognized around the world, with a Gallic rooster on its reverse. The Gallic Rooster, as the image is known, is attributed to many aspects of French culture. The name for rooster is the same in Latin as the name for Gaul, the old name for the region that is now France. Also, the Gauls worshiped Mercury who was associated with the rooster. These reasons have made the rooster an icon for the French, but the show Hannibal revealed another culture that had ties to symbolic roosters – Greece.
The rooster has been held in sacred status by many cultures and religions. In Greece during Socrates time, the Persians held the rooster as a significant animal in religious worship. Throughout history almost every religion has held the rooster in high regard at one time or another as the rooster is seen to bring light with their crow and scare away the darkness.
What You Saw on the Show
In Hannibal, Bella offers a gold rooster to Dr. Lecter as a gift for “helping me understand that death is not a defeat, but a cure.” Her reference is to a story about Socrates that Dr. Lecter mentions earlier in the show and can be found in Plato’s Phaedo. Socrates, imprisoned by the city he championed, refuses to escape when given the opportunity. Instead, he poisons himself and as he lay dying, according to Plato, says “Crito, we owe a rooster to Asclepius. Please don’t forget to pay the debt.”
Asclepius is the Greek god of medicine and healing and it is accepted by scholars that Socrates was trying to convey that his death would heal Athens, and himself, of their misfortunes. Socrates believed no philosopher should fear death, so death for him was a cure, not a surrender. Just like Bella.
Plot Twist: Did they make a mistake on the show?
As a bit of Hannibal trivia, one of our head numismatists here at Gainesville Coins noticed an error in the show. The coin that Bella gives Dr. Lecter and the coin that he returns to her on her death bed are not the same coin though they are meant to be.
“I deal with these coins everyday and I’d be willing to bet a 20 franc Gold Rooster the coin Hannibal hands back to her is not the same coin she gave to him.” said Daniel Kedem.
Did Dr. Lecter pull a switch?
We hope more of our friends of the gold and silver variety find the spotlight and trip the lights fantastic. Bravo for the Gold French Rooster, what a stunning performance!
by Brandi Hollis,
March 24, 2014 © Gainesville Coins.