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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, Second Democracy, 466 - 405 B.C.
Struck during the Second Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC), a titanic struggle between Athens and Sparta that engulfed the entire Greek world, and that ended with the total defeat of Athens and the destruction of her naval empire. Syracuse sided with Sparta against Athens and an Athenian fleet was sent to capture the island. The Spartan general Alcibiades (a former Athenian who had fallen from grace) and a few Spartan troops inspired the Syracusans to fight and defeat the Athenians. GI75159. Bronze tetras, Calciati II p. 21, 1; SNG ANS 376; SNG Cop 654; SNG Morcom 676; SNG München 1046; BMC Sicily p.163, 126; SGCV I 1184; HGC 2 1428 (S), aVF, rough, weight 3.229 g, maximum diameter 16.5 mm, die axis 90o, Syracuse mint, c. 425 - 420 B.C.; obverse ΣYPA, head of Arethusa right, hair drawn back and tied at crown of head, neck flanked on each side by a dolphin with head down; reverse octopus, three pellets around; very scarce; $100.00 SALE PRICE $90.00
Carthage, Zeugitana, NorthAfrica, c. 350 B.C.
By the 4th Century B.C., Sicily had become an obsession for Carthage. For sixty years, Carthaginian and Greek forces engaged in a constant series of skirmishes. By 340 B.C., Carthage had been pushed entirely into the southwest corner of the island, and an uneasy peace reigned over the island.GB49127. Bronze AE 17, SNG Cop 121, F, weight 3.177 g, maximum diameter 17.2 mm, die axis 45o, Sicilian? mint, c. 350 B.C.; obverse youthful male head left between two stalks of grain; reverse horse galloping to right; overstruck on a Carthaginian bronze with head of Tanit / horse with palm behind; $95.00 SALE PRICE $85.50
Himera, Sicily, c. 420 - 409 B.C.
In 409 B.C., Carthage attacked Himera. The city was unprepared; its fortifications weak. At first they were supported about 4000 auxiliaries from Syracuse, but their general, Diocles, seized with panic for the safety of Syracuse itself, abandoned Himera. The city was utterly destroyed, its buildings, even its temples, were razed to the ground. More than 3000 prisoners were put to death by General Hannibal Mago as a human sacrifice to the memory of his grandfather General Hamilcar who had been defeated at the Battle of Himera in 480 B.C.GB67658. Bronze tetras, Calciati I, p. 42, 31; SNG ANS 1339; Laffaille 149; SNG Cop -, aF, weight 2.200 g, maximum diameter 15.2 mm, die axis 90o, Himera mint, c. 420 - 409 B.C.; obverse Pan on a goat prancing right, nude but for chlamys fluttering in the wind behind, preparing to blow on conch in right, thyrsus in left over shoulder, three pellets under goat between legs; reverse [IMEΠAION], Nike flying left, apluster with dangling fillets in extended right, fold of long chiton in left; $95.00 SALE PRICE $85.50
Kamarina, Sicily, 420 - 410 B.C.
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.GB67660. Bronze onkia, SNG München 411; Calciati vol III, p. 47, 2; Westermark-Jenkins 182; BMC Sicily p. 40, 41 var (A rev right); SNG ANS -; SNG Cop -, aF, weight 1.362 g, maximum diameter 11.7 mm, die axis 315o, Kamarina mint, 420 - 410 B.C.; obversegorgoneion, protruding tongue, smooth neat hair tied with ribbon, symmetrical locks on forehead; reverse KAMA, owl standing right, head facing, lizard in left claw, pellet in exergue; $95.00 SALE PRICE $85.50
Syracuse, Sicily, Timoleon and the Third Democracy, c. 344 - 317 B.C.
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.GB72312. Bronze hemilitron, Calciati II p. 211, 92 DS 25 (same obv die); BMC Sicily p. 188, 304 var (no helmet); SNG ANS 1384 var (same); HGC 2 1505 (S); SNG Cop -; SNG München -, aVF, rough, legend obscure, weight 2.625 g, maximum diameter 15.0 mm, die axis 270o, Syracuse mint, c. 344 - 317 B.C.; obversehead of head of river god Anapos (or nymph) facing, turned slightly left, Thessalian helmet (control symbol) left; reverse ΣYPAKOΣIΩN, forepart of Pegasos left, with archaic curved wing; very scarce; $95.00 SALE PRICE $85.50
Syracuse, Sicily, Dionysos I, 405 - 367 B.C.
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.GB65232. Bronze hemilitron, Calciati II p. 86, 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 -, VF, some corrosion on obv, weight 6.398 g, maximum diameter 17.5 mm, die axis 270o, Syracuse mint, c. 405 - 390 B.C.; obverse ΣYPA, head of Athena left, wearing Corinthian helmet, no ornament on helmet, no control symbols; reversehippocamp left, no bridle; $90.00 SALE PRICE $81.00
Syracuse, Sicily, Roman Rule, c. 212 - 133 B.C.
Overcoming formidable resistance and the ingenious devices of Archimedes, the Roman General MarcusClaudius Marcellus took Syracuse in the summer of 212 B.C. Archimedes was killed during the attack. The plundered artworks taken back to Rome from Syracuse lit the initial spark of Greek influence on Roman culture.GB65634. Bronze AE 23, Calciati II p. 429, 231; SNG Cop 911; SNG ANS 1092, aVF, weight 9.175 g, maximum diameter 22.9 mm, die axis 0o, Syracuse mint, Roman rule, c. 212 - 133 B.C.; obversehead of Kore right, wreathed in stalks of grain; reverse ΣYPAKOΣIΩN, Demeter standing left, torch in right, scepter in left; $90.00 SALE PRICE $81.00
Panormos, Sicily, Roman Rule, c. 241 - 50 B.C.
NASO named on this coin could be Lucius Axius L. f. Naso, who was a moneyer in Rome, c. 73 - 70 B.C. Two inscriptions discovered at Cordoba dedicated to a Lucio Axio Luci filio Polia tribu Nasoni, indicate his honors. He was first decemvir stlitibus iudicandis, then tribunus militum pro legato, then quaestor. Or, this NASO could be completely unrelated.GB67138. Bronze AE 21, Calciati I p. 351, 125 (one specimen); SNG ANS -, SNG Cop -, aVF, green patina, weight 4.595 g, maximum diameter 20.9 mm, die axis 315o, Panormus (Palermo) mint, magistrate (L. Axius?) Naso, 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, NAS/O left; extremely rare; $90.00 SALE PRICE $81.00
Katane, Sicily, c. 415 - 403 B.C.
Katane was captured by Dionysios of Syracuse in 403 B.C., who sold the population into slavery and resettled the city with Campanian mercenaries. The city submitted to Rome during the First Punic war.GB65647. Bronze onkia, Calciati III p. 92, 2; cf. SNG ANS 1272 (tetras); BMC Sicily p. 50, 51; SNG Cop -, SNG München -, VF, weight 0.646 g, maximum diameter 10.2 mm, die axis 225o, Katane mint, c. 415 - 403 B.C.; obverse AMENANOΣ, young head of river-god Amenanos left, with horns and wavy hair; reverse winged thunderbolt, open wings, K-A flanking under wings, pellet above left wing; rare; $90.00 SALE PRICE $81.00
Syracuse, Sicily, Second Democracy, 466 - 405 B.C.
Following Heron's death, democracy was restored in 466 B.C. Similar to at Athens, the polis was governed by a council and popular assembly with an executive consisting of elected generals or strategoi. Syracuse fought against Athens 427 - 424 B.C. and again 415 - 413 B.C.; ultimately Syracuse was victorious. With further reforms by Diocles, the democratic nature of Syracuse's political structure was further strengthened.GB72306. Bronze hemilitron, Calciati II p. 48, 20; SNG ANS 411; SNG Cop 696 var (no dolphin); BMC Sicily p. 182, 237 var (same); SGCV I 1186; HGC 2 1479 (S), VF, fine classical style, nice green patina, areas flatly struck, a little off center, weight 3.541 g, maximum diameter 16.7 mm, die axis 0o, Syracuse mint, c. 415 - 405 B.C.; obversehead of Arethusa left, hair in ampyx and sphendone, dolphin downward with head turned back up behind; reverse four-spoked wheel, ΣY−PA divided by spoke across upper two quarters, dolphinhead down and inward in each of the lower quarters; $90.00 SALE PRICE $81.00
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