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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Greek Coins ▸ Geographic - All Periods ▸ SicilyView Options:  |  |  |     

Ancient Greek Coins of Sicily

The coins of Ancient Greek Sicily are considered among the finest numismatic works of art ever produced. Superb examples may cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Forum's selections include some more affordable examples.


Syracuse, Sicily, Dionysos I, 405 - 367 B.C.

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Dionysius I was tyrant of Syracuse. He conquered several cities in Sicily and southern Italy, opposed Carthage's influence in Sicily and made Syracuse the most powerful of the Western Greek colonies. He was regarded by the ancients as an example of the worst kind of despot - cruel, suspicious and vindictive.
GI76358. Bronze hemilitron, Calciati II p. 76, 34 (c. 409 B.C.); HGC 2 1456 (c. 375 - 344 B.C.); BMC Sicily p. 187, 292; SNG ANS 426 ff. (end 5th c. B.C.); SNG Cop -, gVF, attractive style, tight flan, some light corrosion, weight 5.429 g, maximum diameter 18.0 mm, die axis 90o, Syracuse mint, c. 405 - 390 B.C.; obverse ΣYPA, head of Athena left, wearing Corinthian helmet, no ornament on helmet, no control symbols; reverse hippocamp left, no bridle; $350.00 (€311.50)


Kalakte, Sicily, 240 - 210 B.C.

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Kalakte was founded by the Duketios, the Hellenized leader of the Sicels, in 446 B.C. when he returned from his exile in Corinth. The name means beautiful beach. Nothing else is known of the city until Roman times when it became a civitas decumana, paying 1/10th of its annual harvest to Rome. Kalakte was the birthplace of Caecilius of Calacte, historian of the servile wars. The city survived until at least the second century A.D.
GI76362. Bronze quadrans, Calciati I p. 129, 2 Ds 1; SNG ANS 1200; SNG Morcom 545; BMC Sicily p. 32, 3; HGC 2 513 (R1), F, glossy green patina, weight 2.689 g, maximum diameter 15.1 mm, die axis 0o, Kalakte (Caronia, Sicily) mint, 240 - 210 B.C.; obverse wreathed head of young Dionysos right, thyrsos over left (far) shoulder; reverse KAΛA-KTINΩN (upward on left and right), grape bunch on vine tendril; rare; $350.00 (€311.50)


The Sileraioi, Sicily, c. 357 - 330 B.C.

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Sileraioi was not a city. The Sileraians were Campanian mercenaries who took their name from their proximity to the river Silaros. These rare coins have been found at the site of their settlement, Cozzo Mususino, a natural strong-hold in north central Sicily. The coins are often overstruck on coins from Syracuse minted c. 375 - 345 B.C.
SH68704. Bronze Calciati p. 301, 2; HGC 2 1243 (R1); SNG Cop -; SNG ANS -; SNG Munchen -; SNG Morcom -, VF/F, reverse rough, weight 7.521 g, maximum diameter 20.6 mm, die axis 90o, Sileraian mint, c. 340 - 330 B.C.; obverse ΣI−ΛEPAIΩ−N (retrograde counterclockwise from 3:00), man-faced bull forepart charging right; reverse SIL (retrograde, upward behind), warrior advancing right, spear in right hand, shield in left; rare; $330.00 (€293.70)


Piakos, Sicily, c. 425 - 400 B.C.

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Struck with unsigned dies by the ?Maestro della Foglia.? Rizzo was the first to suggest that this famed artist who engraved magnificent masterpieces for Katane, was also the engraver for the dies of this Piakos coinage. Other experts have agreed. This particular type might have been his very first work. Calciati dates the type to a possible period of transitory independence, 425 - 424 B.C., during the time of the first Carthaginian invasion of Sicily to shortly after Gela's conference. Other authorities date it as late as 400 B.C.
SH71341. Bronze tetras, Calciati III p. 198, 2; Rizzo pl. LX, 14; HGC 2 1101 (R1); SNG Cop -; SNG ANS -; SNG Munchen -; SNG Morcom -, VF, weight 2.357 g, maximum diameter 14.4 mm, die axis 45o, Piakos mint, c. 425 - 400 B.C.; obverse P•I•A•K (pellets are mark of value), laureate and horned head of a young river-god left; reverse hound right attacking fallen stag right, seizing her by the throat, barley kernel on left and another on right; rare; $330.00 (€293.70)


Syracuse, Sicily, Pyrrhus of Epirus, 278 - 276 B.C.

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This combination of control symbols is not listed in the references examined. The cornucopia obverse control symbol is normally paired with a fulmen (thunderbolt) on the reverse. The vertical trident reverse control symbol is normally paired with a club on the obverse.
SH73164. Bronze AE 26, Calciati II p. 325, 177 Ds 69 var. (club vice cornucompia); SNG Cop 810 var.; SNG ANS 844 ff. var.; SNG Munchen 1333 ff. var.; HGC 2 1450 (S), VF, nice style, nice patina, broad flan, edge split, weight 11.274 g, maximum diameter 26.0 mm, die axis 90o, Syracuse mint, 278 - 276 B.C.; obverse ΣYPAKOΣIΩN, head of Herakles left, clad in lion-skin headdress, cornucopia (control symbol) behind; reverse Athena Promachos advancing right, helmeted and draped, hurling javelin with raised right hand, shield in left hand, no inscription, vertical trident head upward (control symbol) behind; rare variety; $320.00 (€284.80)


Gela, Sicily, 420 - 405 B.C.

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Gela, named after the river Gela, was founded by colonists from Rhodos and Crete around 688 B.C. In 424 B.C., the Congress of Gela established a "Sicily for the Sicilians" platform and formed a league that pushed back the Athenian attempt to conquer the island. The city had a history of internal strife between its plebs and aristocrats. When the Carthaginians arrived in 311 BC, they easily captured the Gela with the help of its elites. In 282 B.C., Phintias of Agrigento ruthlessly destroyed Gela to crush its power forever. In Roman times it was only a small settlement.
SH76948. Bronze tetras, Calciati III p. 17, 32/1; Jenkins Gela 516; SNG ANS 115; SNG Cop 283; SNG Munchen 314; BMC Sicily, p. 73, 66; HGC 2 379 (S), gVF, well centered on a broad flan, nice green patina, light marks and corrosion, weight 3.408 g, maximum diameter 17.5 mm, die axis 90o, Gela mint, 420 - 405 B.C.; obverse bull standing left, head lowered and turned slightly facing, barley kernel over ΓEΛAΣ above, three pellets in exergue; reverse horned head of beardless young river-god Gela right, no diadem, floating hair, barley kernel behind; scarce; $320.00 (€284.80)


Syracuse, Sicily, Agathokles, 317 - 289 B.C.

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With an army of mercenaries, through deceit, and after banishing or murdering some 10,000 citizens, Agathocles made himself master of Syracuse and later most of Sicily. Machiavelli wrote of him, "It cannot be called prowess to kill fellow-citizens, to betray friends, to be treacherous, pitiless, and irreligious" and cited him as an example of "those who by their crimes come to be princes." According to the historian Justin, very early in life Agathocles parlayed his remarkable beauty into a career as a prostitute, first for men, and later, after puberty, for women, and then made a living by robbery before becoming a soldier and marrying a rich widow.
GI76945. Bronze litra, Calciati II p. 287, 150 Ds 14 Rs 63; BMC Sicily p. 196, 391; SNG ANS 740; SNG Cop 767; HGC 2 1465 var. (R1, 4th Democracy, different controls), aEF, dark sea-green patina, light marks, small spots of light corrosion, flan with ragged edge splits, weight 8.501 g, maximum diameter 26.1 mm, die axis 315o, Syracuse mint, 305 - 295 B.C.; obverse ΣYPAKOΣIΩN, head of young Herakles left, wearing taenia, star (control symbol) behind neck; reverse lion walking right, right foreleg raised, club right above, arrow right (control symbol) in exergue; $300.00 (€267.00)


Kamarina, Sicily, 420 - 405 B.C.

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Kamarina was suffering a plague. A marsh north of the city was the suspected source. The town oracle advised them not to drain the marsh, but in 405 B.C., the leaders ignored the advice. Once the marsh was dry, there was nothing to stop the Carthaginian army. They marched across the newly drained marsh, razed the city, and killed every last inhabitant.
GI76951. Bronze tetras, Westermark-Jenkins 195.12; BMC Sicily p. 40, 38; Calciati III p. 57, 24; SNG Cop 168; SNG Munchen V 410; HGC 2 547 (S); SNG ANS 1226 var. (style), gVF, well centered, attractive dark brown surfaces, some light corrosion, weight 3.552 g, maximum diameter 14.8 mm, die axis 225o, Kamarina (near Scoglitti, Sicily, Italy) mint, 420 - 405 B.C.; obverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion) with neatly waved hair, pearled headband, smiling expression, dimpled cheeks; reverse KAMA (downward on right), owl standing left on left leg, head facing, lizard with head down in right talon, three pellets (mark of value) in exergue; scarce; $300.00 (€267.00)


Syracuse, Sicily, Timoleon, 3rd Democracy, 344 - 336 B.C.

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Timoleon installed a democracy in 345 B.C. After the long series of internal struggles had weakened Syracuse's power, Timoleon tried to remedy this, defeating the Carthaginians near the Krimisos river in 339 B.C. Unfortunately the struggle among the city's parties restarted after his death and ended with the rise of another tyrant, Agathocles, who seized power in 317 B.C.
SH71353. Bronze dilitron, Calciati II p. 185, 80; SNG ANS 533; SNG Morcom 717; SNG Munchen 1159; SNG Lloyd 1456; BMC Sicily p. 189, 311; HGC 2 1439 (S), gVF, some corrosion, weight 18.018 g, maximum diameter 28.8 mm, die axis 225o, Syracuse mint, 344 - 336 B.C.; obverse ZEYΣ EΛEYΘEPIOΣ, laureate head of Zeus Eleutherios left; reverse ΣYPAKOΣION, free horse prancing left; $290.00 (€258.10)


Selinous, Sicily, c. 450 - 440 B.C.

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Selinous was once one of the most important Greek colonies in Sicily. In 409 B.C., the Carthaginians attacked with a vast army believed to include at least 100,000 men. Selinus, with a population of about 30,000 excluding slaves, was unprepared and an auxiliary force promised by Syracuse, Agrigentum and Gela did not arrive. The Selinuntines defended themselves with courage, and after the walls were breached, continued to fight from house to house. After tens days the city fell. Of the citizens, 16,000 were slain and 5,000 made prisoners, but more than 2,600 escaped to Agrigento.
GI79939. Bronze cast tetras, Calciati I p. 235, 4; SNG Lloyd 1272; HGC 2 1233 (R1); BMC Sicily -; SNG Cop -; SNG ANS -; SNG Munchen -; SNG Morcom -; SNG Tub -, F, green patina, weight 11.019 g, maximum diameter 20.5 mm, die axis 0o, Selinus mint, 450 - 440 B.C.; obverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion), anepigraphic; reverse wild celery (selinon) leaf, three pellets (mark of value) around, anepigraphic; rare; $280.00 (€249.20)


Gela, Sicily, c. 339 - 310 B.C.

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Demeter in Greek mythology is the goddess of grain and fertility, the pure; nourisher of the youth and the green earth, the health-giving cycle of life and death; and preserver of marriage and the sacred law. In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, dated to about the seventh century B.C. she is invoked as the "bringer of seasons," a subtle sign that she was worshiped long before she was made one of the Olympians. She and her daughter Persephone were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries that also predated the Olympian pantheon.
SH71027. Bronze tetras, Jenkins Gela, group XII, 549; Calciati III p. 29, 59; BMC Sicily p. 74, 77; SNG Cop 287; SNG Munchen 324; SNG ANS 123; HGC 2 388 (R1), VF, well centered, green patina, corrosion, weight 2.921 g, maximum diameter 14.5 mm, die axis 135o, Gela mint, c. 339 - 310 B.C.; obverse ΓEΛΩI−ΩN (beginning upward on left), head of Demeter facing slightly right, wreathed with barley, wearing earrings and necklace; reverse bearded head of river-god Gela left, short horn over forehead, bull's ear, wreathed with barley (or reeds?); rare; $260.00 (€231.40)


Syracuse, Sicily, Roman Rule, c. 212 - 133 B.C.

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Apollo's most famous attribute is the tripod, the symbol of his prophetic powers. It was in the guise of a dolphin that Apollo brought priests from Crete to Delphi, explaining Apollo's cult title "Delphinios" and the name of the town. He dedicated a bronze tripod to the sanctuary and bestowed divine powers on one of the priestesses, and she became known as the "Pythia." It was she who inhaled the hallucinating vapors from the fissure in the temple floor, while she sat on a tripod chewing laurel leaves. After she mumbled her answer, a male priest would translate it for the supplicant.
GI76347. Bronze AE 13, Calciati II p. 419, 212 DS 41; SNG Cop 894; SNG ANS 1079; HGC 2 1523 (R1, Agathokles, c. 310 - 305 B.C.); BMC Sicily -, Nice VF, nice style, attractive green patina, weight 1.544 g, maximum diameter 12.7 mm, die axis 150o, Syracuse mint, Roman rule, c. 212 - 133 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo left, cornucopia (control symbol) behind; reverse tripod lebes with lion paw feet, three loop handles above the bowl, surmounted by the Pythia's seat, ΣYPAKO/ΣIΩN in two downward lines, starting on right; $250.00 (€222.50)


Ziz (Panormos), Punic Sicily, c. 336 - 330 B.C.

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Panormos was the ancient Greek name (meaning, 'All-haven') for present day Palermo. Palermo was, however, originally a Phoenician colony and numismatists identify the city before Greek rule with the Punic name Ziz. It seems the only evidence for this ancient name is the coinage and some scholars believe that Ziz may have been another city.
GI76350. Bronze AE 12, Calciati I, p. 272, 10; HGC 2 1061 (R1); SNG ANS 5, III, pl. 44, 1362; SNG Cop -; SNG Munchen -; BMC Sicily -, gVF, dark green patina, light smoothing, light marks and corrosion, small edge split, obverse 1/5 off-center, weight 1.975 g, maximum diameter 12.2 mm, die axis 0o, Ziz (Palermo, Sicily, Italy) mint, c. 336 - 330 B.C.; obverse horse galloping right, barley-kernel above, linear border; reverse forepart of a man-faced bull right, Punic inscription above: ZIZ; all within a deep round incuse; rare; $250.00 (€222.50)


Syracuse, Sicily, Agathokles, 317 - 289 B.C.

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With an army of mercenaries, through deceit, and after banishing or murdering some 10,000 citizens, Agathocles made himself master of Syracuse and later most of Sicily. Machiavelli wrote of him, It cannot be called prowess to kill fellow-citizens, to betray friends, to be treacherous, pitiless, and irreligious and cited him as an example of those who by their crimes come to be princes. According to the historian Justin, very early in life Agathocles parlayed his remarkable beauty into a career as a prostitute, first for men, and later, after puberty, for women, and then made a living by robbery before becoming a soldier and marrying a rich widow.
GI76940. Bronze AE 13, cf. Calciati II p. 284, 149 R1 6 (controls, Timoleon); SNG ANS 744 (same); SNG Morcom 748 (same); HGC 2 1525 (R1); SNG Cop -; SNG Mün -, BMC Sicily -, VF, well centered, green patina, some corrosion, weight 1.877 g, maximum diameter 12.9 mm, die axis 90o, Syracuse mint, c. 295 - 289 B.C.; obverse ΣYPAKOΣION, laureate head of Apollo left, oinochoe behind; reverse dog seated left, looking back right at tail?, Y (control letter) above, A (control letter) in exergue; $250.00 (€222.50)


Syracuse, Sicily, Timoleon, 3rd Democracy, 344 - 336 B.C.

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Timoleon installed a democracy in 345 B.C. After the long series of internal struggles had weakened Syracuse's power, Timoleon tried to remedy this, defeating the Carthaginians near the Krimisos river in 339 B.C. Unfortunately the struggle among the city's parties restarted after his death and ended with the rise of another tyrant, Agathocles, who seized power in 317 B.C.
GI76978. Bronze dilitron, Calciati II p. 185, 80; SNG ANS 533; SNG Morcom 717; SNG Munchen 1159; SNG Lloyd 1456; BMC Sicily p. 189, 311; HGC 2 1439 (S), VF/F, attractive patina, nice green patina, legend weak, weight 19.755 g, maximum diameter 28.5 mm, Syracuse mint, 344 - 336 B.C.; obverse ZEYΣ EΛEYΘEPIOΣ, laureate head of Zeus Eleutherios left; reverse ΣYPAKOΣION, free horse prancing left; $250.00 (€222.50)


Panormos, Sicily, Roman Rule, c. 241 - 50 B.C.

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The gens Calpurnia was a plebeian family, which claimed descent from Calpus, the son of Numa Pompilius, the second King of Rome. The first of the gens to obtain the consulship was Gaius Calpurnius Piso in 180 B.C., but from this time their consulships were very frequent, and the family of the Pisones became one of the most illustrious in the Roman state. Two important pieces of Republican legislation, the lex Calpurnia of 149 B.C. and lex Acilia Calpurnia of 67 B.C. were passed by members of the gens.
GI76937. Bronze AE 23, Calciati I p. 351, 130 (2 specimens); SNG Cop 556; HGC 2 1071 (C); SNG Munchen 810 var. (AE28); SNG ANS -; SNG Tub -; BMC Sicily -, gVF/aVF, attractive style, green patina, weight 5.744 g, maximum diameter 22.8 mm, die axis 180o, Panormus (Palermo, Sicily, Italy) mint, magistrate C. Calpurnius, c. 241 - 50 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus left; reverse warrior standing left, sword in extended right, spear vertical behind in left, grounded shield behind leaning on spear, C CALP lower left; rare; $245.00 (€218.05)


Menaion, Sicily, c. 204 - 190 B.C.

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In the West foothills of the Hyblaei Mountains of Sicily, an indigenous settlement on a high peak under the name of Menai, flourished until 453 B.C. when its inhabitants were moved to nearby Paliké near the well-known sanctuary of the Palici. No traces of life survive from between the second half of the 5th c. B.C. and the end of the 4th c. B.C. The city, under the name of Menainon, began once more to flourish in the Hellenistic period, as attested by its rich necropolis. After the Roman conquest the city minted its own coinage. Its existence during the Roman period is attested by Cicero (Verr. 3.22.55; 3.43.102) and Pliny (HN 3.91). The site continued to be inhabited until the Arab Conquest and again during the following centuries.
GI76345. Bronze trias, Calciati III p. 186, 7; SNG Cop 384; SNG Munchen 617; BMC Sicily p. 97, 5; HGC 2 760 (R1); SNG ANS 290 var. (∆ vice IIII), VF, scratches, porosity, weight 3.135 g, maximum diameter 16.8 mm, die axis 0o, Menaion (Mineo, Sicily, Italy) mint, Roman Rule, c. 204 - 190 B.C.; obverse veiled bust of Demeter right; reverse MENAINΩN, crossed torches, IIII (mark of value) below; scarce; $220.00 (€195.80)


Syracuse, Sicily, Hieron II, 275 - 215 B.C.

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Hieron II was tyrant and then king of Syracuse, c. 270 to 215 B.C. His rule brought 50 years of peace and prosperity, and Syracuse became one of the most renowned capitals of antiquity. He enlarged the theater and built an immense altar. The literary figure Theocritus and the philosopher Archimedes lived under his rule. After struggling against the Mamertini, he eventually allied with Rome.
GI84181. Bronze tetras, SNG Cop 844; SNG Munchen 1446; SNG Morcom 830; BMC Sicily p. 218, 606; HGC 2 1550 (S); cf. Calciati II p. 395, 197 (controls); SNG ANS 964 ff. (same), VF, dark green patina, weight 6.914 g, maximum diameter 19.4 mm, die axis 0o, Syracuse mint, c. 268 - 218 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Poseidon left; reverse ornamented trident head, dolphin downward flanking on each side, IEPΩ−NOΣ horizontal across field divided by shaft, AΠ (control letters) lower right; $220.00 (€195.80)


Kamarina, Sicily, 420 - 405 B.C.

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A Gorgoneion was a horror-creating apotropaic Gorgon head pendant. The name derives from the Greek word gorgós, which means "dreadful." The Gorgons were three sisters who had hair of living, venomous snakes, and a horrifying face that turned those who saw it to stone. Stheno and Euryale were immortal, but their sister Medusa was not, and was slain by Perseus. Zeus, Athena, Hellenistic kings and Roman emperors wore Gorgoneion for protection. Images of the Gorgons were also put upon objects and buildings for protection. A Gorgon image is at the center of the pediment of the temple at Corfu, the oldest stone pediment in Greece from about 600 B.C.
GI73157. Bronze tetras, Westermark-Jenkins, type C, 185; Calciati III p. 51, 10; SNG Munchen 408; SNG Cop 167; SNG ANS 1222; BMC Sicily p. 39, 34; HGC 2 546, gVF, green patina, light corrosion, weight 3.457 g, maximum diameter 15.5 mm, die axis 180o, Kamarina (near Scoglitti, Sicily, Italy) mint, 420 - 405 B.C.; obverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion) with wild locks, hairband indicated, s-shaped eyebrows, bow-shaped upper lip; reverse KAMA (upward on left), owl standing right on right leg, head facing, lizard with head down in left talon, three pellets (mark of value) in exergue; $200.00 (€178.00)


Kamarina, Sicily, 420 - 405 B.C.

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A Gorgoneion was a horror-creating apotropaic Gorgon head pendant. The name derives from the Greek word gorgós, which means "dreadful." The Gorgons were three sisters who had hair of living, venomous snakes, and a horrifying face that turned those who saw it to stone. Stheno and Euryale were immortal, but their sister Medusa was not, and was slain by Perseus. Zeus, Athena, Hellenistic kings and Roman emperors wore Gorgoneion for protection. Images of the Gorgons were also put upon objects and buildings for protection. A Gorgon image is at the center of the pediment of the temple at Corfu, the oldest stone pediment in Greece from about 600 B.C.
GB73539. Bronze tetras, Westermark-Jenkins, type E, 194; Calciati III p. 55, 20; SNG ANS 1226; HGC 2 547 (S); BMC Sicily -; SNG Cop -; SNG Munchen -, gVF, nice green patina, weight 2.624 g, maximum diameter 15.0 mm, die axis 0o, Kamarina (near Scoglitti, Sicily, Italy) mint, 420 - 405 B.C.; obverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion) with radiating locks, fierce expression, knitted eyebrows, no hairband, chubby cheeks; reverse KAMA (downward on right), owl standing left on left leg, head facing, lizard with head down in right talon, three pellets (mark of value) in exergue, no control marks; scarce; $200.00 (€178.00)




    



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REFERENCES

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