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Home > Member Collections > Enodia > Magna Graecia - Taras

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Vlasto_1698.jpg
Taras, Calabria16 views380-228 BC.
AR Tritemorion (9mm, 0.45g)
O: Head of horse left.
R: Head of horse right.
Vlasto 1698, McGill II, 215v (letter); HN Italy 981v; Cote ---
Scarce
ex Savoca Coins
Enodia
V_1300.JPG
Taras, Calabria23 views380-344 BC.
Diobol AR (11mm, 0.77g.)
O: Head of Athena left, wearing crested Attic helmet decorated with Skylla.
R: Herakles kneeling right, wrestling the Nemean lion; owl standing left above lion, club to left.
cf Vlasto 1300; HN Italy 976
ex Savoca Coins
2 commentsEnodia
Taras_Shell_obol.JPG
Taras, Calabria59 views520-473 BC
AR Litra (8mm, 0.84g)
O: Scallop shell with seven teeth, within dotted border.
R: Four spoked wheel.
Vlasto 1108; Cote 7-9; McGill II, 140; SNG ANS 1328; Sear 228; BMC 1 56
ex Alex Malloy

Founded by Spartan refugees in 706 BC, Taras quickly became the major port on the Tarentine Gulf.
Renowned for its purple cloth made from the superior local wool and dye from the abundant murex shell, Taras thrived during the fifth and fourth centuries BC, establishing a democratic government in 473.
Enodia
Taras_diobol~0.JPG
Taras, Calabria67 views380-345 BC
AR Diobol (11mm, 0.95g)
O: Horse right, running free.
R: Taras astride dolphin right, left hand extended.
Vlasto 1225; Cote 177; SNG Fitzwilliam 348
Very Scarce
ex Davissons Ltd

As the first port-of-call in southern Italy from Greece, Taras’ fine natural harbor soon established the city as a major center of Greek influence.
Founded in 706 BC by the Spartan Phalanthos, Taras derived its name from the son of Poseidon, who was carried ashore by a dolphin. Legend has it that Phalanthos too, after being shipwrecked, was rescued by a dolphin, and this explains the artistic device so common throughout this prolific coinage.
1 commentsEnodia
Taras_obol.JPG
Taras, Calabria61 views281-228 BC
AR Obol (9mm, 0.31g)
O: Kantharos; three pellets around.
R: Kantharos; tripod to right.
Vlasto 1642v; SNG ANS 1549v; SNG Cop 1075; HN Italy 1076; Sear 356v (K to left)
ex ECIN

The 3rd century was one of great change for Taras, who saw their democracy shatter and their influence evaporate. After repeated conflicts with Rome, Taras finally submitted to a Roman garrison in 272 BC.
Enodia
Vlasto_1821.JPG
Taras, Calabria81 views281-209 BC
Æ13 (13.5mm, 1.64g),
O: Kantharos; star on each side.
R: Kantharos; TA to left, filleted bucranium to right.
Vlasto 1821-23; Hands Type IV; McClean 796; Cote 427; HN Italy 1086; SNG Cop 1601; Sear 609
Scarce
From the E.E. Clain-Stefanelli Collection. ex Naville Numismatics

“Receive the god into your kingdom, 
pour libations, cover your head with ivy, join the dance!” 
~ Euripides (The Bacchae)
1 commentsEnodia
Taras_AE_2.JPG
Taras, Calabria97 views281-209 BC
AE11 (10.72mm, 0.96g)
O: Scallop shell with nine teeth.
R: Two dolphins swimming right; TA below.
Vlasto 1842-46; Cote 441-42; Hands Type VII; SNG Cop 1088; HN Italy 1088
ex Ancient Imports

Taras became the dominant Greek city in Magna Graecia, and the marine symbols on this coin showcase the source of Tarentine wealth and power.
Enodia
Taras_Drachm_2.JPG
Taras, Calabria74 views281-272 BC (Period VII)
AR Drachm (16mm, 2.85g)
O: Head of Athena left, wearing crested Attic helmet decorated with Skylla.
R: Owl with open wings standing right on thunderbolt; TAPANTINΩ[N] to left, ΣΩ upward to right.
Vlasto 1077ff; Cote 432; cf McGill II, 139; Hands Period VII, Type VI; SNG ANS 1320; HN Italy 1018; Sear 373 var.
Struck from worn or corroded dies.
ex Holger Siee Munzhandlung

The Owl drachms of Taras began about the same time as the Herakles & Lion diobols (circa 334 BC), and like the diobols were intended as a federal issue. From the beginning these drachms were minted to the lower weight standard which would not be applied to the didrachms of Taras until 281, the time of the Pyrrhic wars.
It is my opinion that all of the 'open wing' type owls are post-Pyrrhic.

1 commentsEnodia
Taras_horse_obol.JPG
Taras, Calabria95 views334-302 BC
AR Tritemorion (3/4 Obol) (8.4mm, 0.50g)
O: Bust of horse right; Θ to right.
R: Bust of horse left.
Vlasto 1695v; Cote ---; SNG Cop 1052ff;
Scarce
ex Munzhandlung Ritter

Enodia
Vlasto_1758_.JPG
Taras, Calabria65 views302-228 BC
AR 3/8 Obol (6mm, 0.16g)
O: Two cresents back to back; two pellets above and below.
R: Two cresents back to back; two pellets above and below.
Vlasto 1758; McGill II, 216; HN Italy 1077; Sear 361v
Scarce
ex Roma Numismatics
2 commentsEnodia
Taras_AE.JPG
Taras, Calabria82 views281-209 BC
AE15 (15.48mm, 3.03g)
O: Scallop shell with eleven teeth.
R: Taras riding dolphin left, holding kantharos in right hand and cornucopia in left; [TAPAN] to right.
Vlasto 1824-41; Cote 309-11; Hands Type VI; cf McGill III, 12; SNG Cop 1085; Sear 608; BMC 1, 479
From an old German collection. ex Ancient Imports

Taras only minted about 17 bronze types, and all at a relatively late date. Pinpointing those dates is problematic however, as even the experts don't agree.
It seems certain that Arthur Sambon was correct in stating the first bronze coins of Taras were minted no earlier than 334 BC, as these types are consistent with the style of the city’s gold issues of that time (in turn copied from the types of Alexander the Mollosian and, later, Alexander of Epirus). Barclay Head on the other hand places the beginning of the series around the time of the tyrant Kleonymus of Sparta, circa 302 BC.
Claudius Cote in his catalog 'Monnaies de Tarente' assigns this particular type (above) to the period of 334-302, while Alfred Hands gives us the dates 281-228, starting at the time of Pyrrhus of Epirus. This agrees with Michael Vlasto, although Vlasto extends the duration to the final fall of Taras to the Romans in 209 BC.
So where do all these contradictory opinions leave us? I am going with Vlasto here, and putting this coin in the 281-209 time period.

It does seem likely though that the Tarentines themselves placed little importance on the series, as most of the types were simply reproduced from earlier dies, with no original artistic input. The effect of these bronzes on the other colonies of Apulia-Calabria however was profound, as nearly every coin producing city within the region struck their own version of this coin.
Enodia
Taras_hemilitra.JPG
Taras, Calabria50 views281-228 BC
AR Hemiobol (7mm, 0.24g)
O: Scallop shell with nine teeth.
R: Dolphin right; Π (tripod?) below.
Vlasto 1531v; SNG ANS 785v; HN Italy 979v; Sear 359v
Scarce
ex Jencek Historical Enterprise

"New moons swell the slippery shell-fish, but it is not
every sea that yields the choicest kind. The Lucrine
mussel is better than the Baian cockle. Oysters come
from Circeii, sea-urchins from Misenum, luxurious
Tarentum plumes herself on her broad scallops."
~ Horace
1 commentsEnodia
Taras_Drachm.JPG
Taras, Calabria116 views281-272 BC
AR Drachm (15mm, 2.98g)
O: Head of Athena right, wearing crested helmet decorated with Skylla hurling rock; I on neckflap.
R: Owl with closed wings standing left on olive branch; TAPA[N] to right, AΠ monogram to left.
Vlasto 1065; Cote 431; Evans VII, V; SNG France 1947
Rare
ex Auctiones GmbH; ex Rutten & Wieland

This type is described by Sir Arthur Evans in ‘The Horsemen of Tarentum’, the same coin which M.P Vlasto later acquired for his own famous collection. This coin isn’t as nice as the Evans/Vlasto specimen, but I was very happy to find it. Left-facing owls are very rare on Tarentine drachms. I have only found one other type with the left facing owl, but that with Athena also facing left (Vlasto 1101, Cote 489).
3 commentsEnodia
Vlasto_713~0.JPG
Taras, Calabria122 views281-272 BC (Period VII - The Pyrrhic Hegemony)
AR Didrachm (19mm, 6.34g)
Sostratos magistrate.
O: Warrior on horseback right, holding shield and spears in left hand and thrusting spear downward with right; [E]Y behind, ΣΩΣTP - ATOΣ (magistrate) in two lines below.
R: Taras riding dolphin left, holding cornucopia in left hand and Nike with laurel wreath in right; ΠOΛY to left, thunderbolt to right, T-APA[Σ] below.
Vlasto 713; Evans VII, A2; Cote 371-72; SNG ANS 1084; SNG Cop 874; HN Italy 1001
ex CNG

As the leading Greek city in Magna Graecia Taras was foremost in resisting Roman influence during the third century, forming an alliance with Metapontum and later supporting Pyrrhus of Epirus in his war against Rome from 281-275 BC, the period of this coin.

It was during this time that the standard was reduced to c. 6.5g, and with its distinctly Epirote thunderbolt symbol this specimen represents one of the earliest 'light' didrachms.
3 commentsEnodia
Vlasto_789.jpg
Taras, Calabria90 views281-272 BC (Period VII - The Pyrrhic Hegemony)
AR Didrachm (20mm, 6.44g)
Apollo(...) magistrate.
O: Helmeted warrior on horse cantering left, carrying two javelins and a large round shield decorated with eight-rayed star; ΞΩ behind, [AΠOΛΛΩ] (magistrate) below.
R: Taras (of the plump Dionysiac type) astride dolphin left, holding bunch of grapes in extended right hand, distaff over left shoulder; ANΘ to right, TAPAΣ below.
Vlasto 789-91; Evans VII, F2 or F6; Cote 413; McGill II, 84; SNG ANS 1131-1133; HN Italy 1013
ex Numisantique

The helmeted warrior shown here behind a large shield is a definite departure from the typical image found on this coinage. The earlier naked skirmishers have been replaced by the fully armored cavalryman presented here. This was of course a gradual process, but the evolution becomes more apparent on later issues where the rider is clearly depicted wearing a cuirass.
This plump rendition of Taras also differs greatly from previous images and is actually meant to represent a young Iacchus, the son of Dionysus and Persephone. Similar images can be found on kraters and terracotta votives found in the region. The attributes of Dionysus which he carries show the foreign influence of the chthonic cult of Dionysus upon the city of Taras. This relatively new mystery cult was introduced along side the earlier ouranic cults of Poseidon and Apollo, and the inclusion of Iacchus here represents a distinct link to the Mysteries of Eleusis.
The distaff, in this context, is probably a reference to Ariadne, a wife of Dionysus, but its’ phallic nature also symbolizes the god of ecstasy Himself.

- The Tarantinians Carouse -
The theaters are full, music everywhere,
here debauchery and lewdness, and there
athletic and sophistical contests.
An unwithering wreath adorns the statue
of Dionysus. Not an earthly nook remains
unsprinkled by libations...
~ Kavafy (1933)
2 commentsEnodia
V_703.JPG
Taras, Calabria161 views302-281 BC (Period VI)
AR Didrachm (20mm, 7.68g)
Nikon magistrate.
O: Naked ephebe vaulting from horse galloping left, holding javelin and small shield in left hand; EY above, [NI]KΩN (magistrate) below.
R: Phalanthos astride dolphin left, holding ear of grain; API to left, TAPAΣ to right, spearhead below.
Vlasto 703; Evans VI, E2; Cote 342; HN Italy 969
ex John Jencek

The Tarentine horsemen were renowned throughout the ancient world, serving as mercenary cavalry for many Mediterranean kings including Antigonos I, Demetrios I and Alexander of Epirus. They were so efficient that the term ‘Tarentine Horse’ came to mean any such skirmishing cavalry unit, regardless of their origin.
These were not typical cavalry however, but rather "hippakontistai" (mounted javelinmen), or more specifically "elaphroi", light cavalry which throw javelins and then dismount for close combat.
The scene depicted here is from an equestrian event of the Hyakinthia (the ceremonial games of Hyakinthian Apollo) rather than actual combat, but celebrates those special skills necessary in war. The armed rider would dismount at full gallop, run along side his horse, and then remount in stride.

The didrachm was reduced from c. 7.5g to c. 6.5g after 281 to help pay for Pyrrhus' campaigns against the Romans. However the spearhead on the reverse is an Epirote symbol, making this one of the last coins struck on the old standard.
3 commentsEnodia
Taras_Obol_Grapes.JPG
Taras, Calabria126 views302-228 BC
AR Obol (10mm, 0.53g)
O: Kantharos; three pellets around.
R: Kantharos with bunch of grapes to right; pellets around.
Vlasto 1661 (this coin); Cote ---; HN Italy 1076; Sear 356v
Scarce
From the M.P Vlasto collection. ex Den of Antiquity

Vlasto plate coin, #1661.
The kantharos device on this series of coins, and the bunch of grapes on this particular specimen, probably refer to the influence upon the Tarentines of the local cult of Chthonic Dionysus, and a festival to Him was held annually within the city.
1 commentsEnodia
Taras_V836.JPG
Taras, Calabria117 views272-235 BC (Period VIII - The Roman Alliance I)
AR Didrachm (18mm, 6.50g)
Lykinos magistrate.
O: Naked boy on horse pacing left, placing wreath on horse's head; ΣY above, ΛYKI - NOΣ (magistrate) in two lines below.
R: Taras astride dolphin left, hurling trident with right hand, chlamys wrapped around left arm; owl behind, TA-PA[Σ] below.
Vlasto 836; Evans VIII, A8; Cote 473; cf McGill II, 92; SNG ANS 1165; SNG Cop 916; SNG France 1999; HN Italy 1025; Sear 374v
ex Olympvs Coins

Following Pyrrhus’ withdrawal Taras was forced to submit to a Roman garrison in 272 BC, although the relationship did not remain entirely antagonistic. Taras remained a free port, the city’s walls were rebuilt by the time of the First Punic War, and they even provided Rome with ships during that struggle.
This would change drastically however when Taras threw in with Hannibal during the Second Punic War.
1 commentsEnodia
Taras_Diobol_2.JPG
Taras, Calabria50 views325-280 BC
AR Diobol (12mm, 1.02g)
O: Head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet decorated with Skylla.
R: Herakles kneeling right, strangling the Nemean lion; club behind.
cf Vlasto 1308-9; HN Italy 976; Sear 351v
ex Jencek Historical Enterprise



Enodia
Taras_x.JPG
Taras, Calabria126 views520-473 BC
AR 1/4 Litra (8mm, 0.22g)
O: Scallop shell with nine teeth.
R: Four spoked wheel.
cf Vlasto 1116; Cote ---
Scarce
From the Colin E. Pitchfork Collection. ex CNG; ex Roman Lode

The 'wheel type' reverse motif was common on all early Tarentine coinage until 473 BC, after which it is unknown.
1 commentsEnodia
Vlasto_1744.JPG
Taras, Calabria38 views450-380 BC 
AR Hemiobol  (7.5mm, 0.20g). 
O: Skyphos with single handle to left.
R: Olive wreath, Π within.
cf Vlasto 1744; Cote 448; SNG France 2224; HN Italy 867; Sear 360v
Very Scarce
ex Savoca Coins

A peculiar little coin with obscure symbolism.
Even the vessel type is uncertain. It is often called a ‘skyphos’, although those are typically two-handled. I have also seen it referred to as a ‘kyathos’, but that type usually has its single handle molded extremely long, making it more useful as a dipper.
This scarce coin is more commonly seen with the cup handle to the right. The reverse can also depict a ‘K’ within the wreath, or even a race torch. An empty wreath is also recorded.
3 commentsEnodia
Vlasto_594.JPG
Taras, Calabria159 views330-302 BC (Period V)
AR Didrachm (20mm, 7.98g)
O: Naked warrior in crested helmet on horse prancing right, spearing downward with right hand, shield and two extra spears in left; ΔΑΙ below.
R: Taras riding dolphin left, holding trident over shoulder with right hand and shield decorated with hippocamp in left; ΦΙ to left, ΤΑΡΑΣ to right, murex shell below.
Vlasto 594; Cote 239; Evans V, B5; Fischer-Bossert 1022a; McGill II, 52; HN Italy 935; SNG ANS 991
ex Heidelberger Munzhandlung

Vlasto dates this coin to the time of Alexander the Molossian, but I believe it may be safely placed after the King’s death in 331, as the typical Epirote symbols are no longer seen (especially, as Evans points out, the eagle’s head). Alexander, uncle to Alexander the Great, arrived at Taras in 334 as defender, the leader of a mercenary army from Epirus hired to help defend Taras from the indigenous Italian tribes. However he was quickly seen to have something more in the way of conquest in mind. Having ignored the warning of the Oracle at the Temple of Zeus Dodona, Alexander pushed west and fulfilled prophecy, being killed while fighting the Lucanians at Pandosia, near the River Acheron.

The murex shell played a very large part in the Tarentine economy, producing a rich purple dye. In fact the early reference books simply describe it as “a purple shell”. Purple cloth from Taras was considered a great luxury throughout the Mediterranean.
5 commentsEnodia
Vlasto_1404.JPG
Taras, Calabria66 views302-228 BC
AR Diobol (13mm, 0.93g)
O: Head of Athena right wearing plain crested Attic helmet.
R: Herakles standing right, strangling the Nemean lion; club behind, ΦΙ between legs, [T]APANTIN to right.
Vlasto 1404; McGill II, 178; HN Italy 912
ex Aegean Numismatics

1 commentsEnodia
Taras_1166.JPG
Taras, Calabria66 views500-430 BC (Period I)
AR Litra (10mm, 0.68g)
O: Scallop shell with nine teeth.
R: Head of Taras left.
Vlasto 1166; Cote 53; McGill II, 145
Very Scarce
From the Lewis Egnew collection. ex Superior Galleries; ex Harlan J. Berk

A wonderful example of late archaic style, these early litrae are all fairly scarce and quite desirable.
The reverse of this type is often referred to as ‘Female head left’, or ‘Head of nymph Satyra left’. George Brauer Jr. confirms this in his book 'Taras; It's History and Coinage' (1986), but cites no source. Satyra was the mother of Taras. The style differs slightly from die to die, but in none of them do I really see a female head. Effeminate perhaps, but Apollo and Dionysus have both taught us that lesson.
So once again I find myself agreeing with Vlasto and I believe this to be the head of Taras, which was also common to some of the larger coins of the period.
Both left and right facing busts are known.

Με βαθύτατη ευγνωμοσύνη αγαπητέ μου αγαπητέ φίλε Σηαννον
3 commentsEnodia
Vlasto_958.JPG
Taras, Calabria53 views235-212 BC (Period IX - The Roman Alliance II)
AR Didrachm (20mm, 6.21g)
Xenokrathes magistrate.
O: Bearded strategos on horse parading left, wearing short tunic and chlamys, raising right hand, short sword in scabbard under left arm; monogram and pileus above, Ξ ENO - KP ATHC in two lines below.
R: Taras wearing leafy crown, astride dolphin left, naked but for chlamys raised in left hand and draping over right thigh, trident over right shoulder; waves and cuttlefish below, [Τ]ΑΡΑΣ to left, monogram to right.
Vlasto 958; Evans IX, G1; Cote 579; HN Italy 1058
ex Roma Numismatics

An interesting piece from the last days of Tarentine independence.
Evans divides the Horsemen of the post-Pyrrhic era into Period VIII (272-235 BC) and Period IX, which he terminates at 228 BC with the alleged closing of the mint, but which hoard evidence suggests should be extended to the Punic occupation of 212.
The coins of the former category are of a decidedly inferior style compared to those of the previous century, but Period IX reveals something of a renaissance, and many of these coins are of fine style. Surely this is befitting the final truly Tarentine issues.

The Vlasto catalog describes the obverse figure as “Single Dioskuros…”. likely due to the pileus in the field above (almost off-flan here). However this mounted nobleman must certainly be the model for the less impressive Punic issues of Period X.
The obverse die is peculiar for its use of the ‘lunar E’ in the magistrate’s name, which was not typical at Taras.
4 commentsEnodia
Vlasto_1415_2.JPG
Taras, Calabria87 views302-228 BC
AR Diobol (12-14mm, 1.08g)
O: Head of Athena left, wearing Corinthian helmet decorated with griffin.
R: Herakles standing left, strangling the Nemean lion; club above Ionic capital to right, TAP above.
Vlasto 1415; Cote 423; HN Italy 1064
Rare
From the Colin E. Pitchfork collection. ex CNG; ex Quadriga Ancients

Left-facing Athena’s are slightly less common on Tarentine coinage, and Corinthian helmets a bit moreso. But a left-facing Herakles is quite scarce and I am very happy to add this one to my collection.
5 commentsEnodia
V1236.JPG
Taras, Calabria36 views334-302 BC
AR Diobol (12mm, 1.06g)
O: Head of Athena left, wearing crested Attic helmet decorated with Skylla.
R: Herakles standing right, strangling the Nemean lion.
Vlasto 1236; Cote 248; SNG Cop 994; McGill II, 148; SNG ANS 1359; HN Italy 914
From the Colin E. Pitchfork collection. ex CNG

The image of Herakles wrestling the Nemean lion on this series was inspired by the coinage of Herakleia, a Tarentine colony in Lucania and the headquarters of the Italiote League during the first half of the 4th century BC.
After the conquest of Herakleia by the Massapians in 356 leadership of the League was transferred to Taras, who began minting these diobols as a federal issue. It became almost as ubiquitous as the dolphin rider type, circulating as small change throughout southern Italy.
1 commentsEnodia
cf_V1239v.JPG
Taras, Calabria67 views345-334 BC (Period IV)
AR Diobol (12mm, 0.88g)
O: Head of Athena left, wearing crested Attic helmet decorated with Skylla.
R: Herakles, holding club overhead, kneeling left on the back of the Nemean lion; [N]O above lion’s head, cornucopia to right.
Vlasto 1427; cf Cote 443-44; HN Italy 913
Scarce
ex Jencek Historical Enterprise

A scarce little coin featuring yet another scene from Herakles’ epic battle with the Nemean lion.
5 commentsEnodia
Vlasto_1047.JPG
Taras, Calabria43 views302-281 BC
AR Drachm (15mm, 3.11g)
O: Head of Athena right, wearing Attic helmet decorated with Skylla hurling stone.
R: Owl with closed wings standing right on olive branch; [TAP] behind.
Vlasto 1047-53; cf McGill II, 135; HN Italy 975; Sear 367v

"I lie far from Italy and far from Taras my home.
This is more bitter to me than death."
~ Leonidas of Taras
2 commentsEnodia
Taras_T_fraction.JPG
Taras, Calabria81 views473-430 BC
AR ¼ Litra (7mm, 0.19g)
O: T with three pellets around.
R: T with three pellets around.
Vlasto 1191; Cote 182; McGill II, 147; HN Italy 853
Very scarce
ex Sam Sloat Coins

This tiny coin is part of a group of five or so very unusual fractions minted at Taras.
While not very sexy, it is quite scarce and a vital part of any Tarentine collection, and I'm extremely happy to have found it.
5 commentsEnodia
V_1241.JPG
Taras, Calabria15 views380-325 BC
AR Diobol (11.5mm, 1.12g, 1h)
O: Head of Athena left, wearing crested Attic helmet decorated with Skylla.
R: Herakles standing right, strangling the Nemean lion; bow, quiver, and club to left; K between legs, [|- to lower right].
Vlasto 1241 (this coin); HN Italy 914
From the David Wray Collection. ex Michel P. Vlasto Collection; ex CNG

Vlasto plate coin, #1241


Enodia
Vlasto_1602.JPG
Taras, Calabria89 views281-235 BC
AR Litra (Obol?) (9mm, 0.52g)
O: Scallop shell with nine teeth.
R: Taras astride dolphin left, holding cornucopia in right hand and palm branch in left; AP monogram in field to right.
Very Scarce
Vlasto 1602; Cote 387v

While Pausanias tells us that the eponymous hero of Taras was the son of Poseidon, a new theory has been posited by Anton Boras, based on evidence from excavations north of Athens, which claims that Taras was in fact the son of Leonidas of Sparta and the goddess Gaia.
I am certainly interested in hearing anything further from these digs.
4 commentsEnodia
Vlasto_1527.JPG
Taras, Calabria81 views325-281 BC
AR Litra (10.1mm, 0.57g)
O: Scallop shell with nine teeth.
R: Dolphin right; bunch of grapes and I below.
Vlasto 1527; cf Cote 417; SNG ANS 1512v (letter)
ex Forvm Ancient Coins

"Tarentum is a colony of the Lakedaimonians... They say that Taras the hero was a son of Poseidon by a Nymphe of the country, and that after this hero were named both the city and the river. For the river, just like the city, is called Taras."
~ Pausanias 10.10.8
3 commentsEnodia
Vlasto_1405.JPG
Taras, Calabria47 views302-228 BC
AR Diobol (12mm, 0.85g)
O: Head of Athena right, wearing plain crested Attic helmet.
R: Herakles standing right, strangling the Nemean lion; club behind, owl with spread wings between legs.
Vlasto 1405
ex Gibud & Naumann

2 commentsEnodia
V_255.JPG
Taras, Calabria68 views443-400 BC
AR Didrachm (20mm, 6.91g)
O: Phalanthos seated left on dolphin, extending right hand and holding cuttle fish in left; scallop shell below, all within plain linear border.
R: Naked Taras seated left on diphros, right hand extended, lekythos dangling from left.
Vlasto 255; SNG ANS 860; HN Italy 844; Sear 330v
ex Pegasi Numismatics; ex ECIN

These didrachms, known as the ‘Oekist types‘, immediately pre-date the more famous equestrian types usually associated with Taras.
Early attributions, including that of Sir Arthur Evans, describe the seated figure on the reverse as the Demos of the city, but as no such personification of ‘The People’ was typically used at this time Vlasto (among others) have rejected this theory in favor of a representation of the oekist, or founder of the city, in this case Taras.
However even this theory is ripe for discussion, as the city’s founder was not Taras but rather Phalanthos.
More recently Dionysus has been suggested, and certain varieties show iconography which would seem to support this (although not this particular specimen).
But I will give the last word here to George Brauer who, in his marvelous book ‘Taras: It’s History and Coinage‘ (1986), writes “The consensus today is that the Tarentines would actually have understood him to be Taras, possibly as eponymous founder, more likely as eponymous hero.”
2 commentsEnodia
Vlasto_1707a.JPG
Taras, Calabria112 views325-280 BC
AR Tritemorion (3/4 Obol) (8mm, 0.43g)
O: Bridled horse’s head right; eight-rayed star to right.
R: Bridled horse’s head right.
Vlasto 1707; Cote 261v; McGill II, 212v (no star); HN Italy 981; SNG ANS 1560v (no star); Sear 358v (no star)
ex Forvm Ancient Coins

4 commentsEnodia
Vlasto_1220.JPG
Taras, Calabria62 views380-325 BC
AR 3/8 Obol (7mm, 0.15g, 7h)
O: Head of nymph Satyra right, within dotted border.
R: Kantharos; three pellets around.
Vlasto 1220
Scarce
ex Roma Numismatics
1 commentsEnodia
Vlasto_1323.JPG
Taras, Calabria35 views325-280 BC
AR Diobol (11.5mm, 1.17g)
O: Head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet decorated with Skylla hurling stone.
R: Herakles kneeling right, strangling the Nemean lion; owl standing left above lion.
Vlasto 1323-24; Cote 463; SNG Cop 976; SNG ANS 1413; SNG Lloyd 245; HN Italy 976
From the E.E. Clain-Stefanelli Collection. ex Naville Numismatics


5 commentsEnodia
Vlasto_1489.JPG
Taras, Calabria44 views325-280 BC
AR Litra (11mm, 0.64g, 12h)
O: Scallop shell with nine teeth.
R: Dolphin leaping right; small dolphin left above, |-HP(?) below.
Vlasto 1489 (this coin); McGill II, 182; HN Italy 979
From the M.P Vlasto Collection. ex MNS

Vlasto plate coin, #1489.
“... The part of the small denominations, which owing to their small size, have always been ignored by the collectors, show such a sequence of small works of art, and so complete, that every museum would be pleased to have it in its cabinet. For many numismatists some of these tiny pieces, will be a real revelation.”
~ Oscar E. Ravel (Descriptive Catalogue of the Collection of Tarentine Coins formed by M. P. Vlasto - 1947)

1 commentsEnodia
Vlasto_984-6.JPG
Taras, Calabria79 views212-209 BC (Period X - The Punic Occupation)
AR Half-Shekel (Reduced Nomos) (22mm, 3.94g)
Sokannos magistrate.
O: Warrior on horseback right, holding filleted palm frond in right hand, rein in left; ΣΩKAN-NA below.
R: Phalanthos on dolphin left, holding kantharos in extended right hand, trident in left; eagle with open wings standing left behind, TAPAΣ below.
Vlasto 984-86; Cote 605-06; SNG ANS 1272; HN Italy 1082; SNG Ashmolean 420-1; Sear 383v (drachm)
ex CNG

Popular history suggests that the Romans shut down the Tarentine mint circa 228 BC. No further coins were produced (at least in silver) until Hannibal captured the city in 212, at which time these “reduced nomoi” were struck for the approximately three years of occupation using the Punic standard.
While the earlier horseman/dolphin rider types were renewed at this time, the artistic quality was greatly diminished.
Also, the magistrate names differed greatly from the earlier coins and were likely not even Hellenic. One theory is that the names were those of the local indigenous peoples (Messapians, etc), although I believe they were more likely Carthaginian and probably those of Hannibal’s own administrators.
What a shame that the last emissions from this once great city should be so debased.
5 commentsEnodia
Vlasto_352a.JPG
Taras, Calabria48 views385-380 BC (Period III - The Age of Archytas)
AR Didrachm (20mm, 7.37g, 11h)
O: Naked youth crowning horse standing right; kerykeion before, Λ below, all within linear border.
R: Taras seated sideways on dolphin left, resting his left hand on its tail; H (signature) on body of dolphin, P below, TAPAΣ to left, all within linear border.
Vlasto 352; Evans III, A2; Cote 121v; Fischer-Bossert 442d; Sear 341v
Rare
From the Frank James Collection. ex Forvm Ancient Coins; ex Roma Numismatics

A noted general, inventor, mathematician and philosopher, Archytas was a Pythagorean and friend of Plato, and likely responsible for saving the latter from death at the hands of Dionysius II of Syracuse.

While not one of the more exciting designs from the Taras mint, this coin, signed by ’H', or 'HP’, is still nicely rendered and actually quite rare. Fischer-Bossert sites only 7 known examples. I do not know if this specimen is one of those.
2 commentsEnodia
Taras_Facing_Athena.JPG
Taras, Calabria68 views302-228 BC
AR Diobol (12mm, 1.05g, 10h)
O: Head of Athena facing slightly right, wearing triple crested helmet decorated with Skylla.
R: Herakles standing right, strangling the Nemean lion; club above amphora to left, ΕΥP between legs.
Vlasto 1438; Cote 597; SNG Cop 1004; HN Italy 1062
Very Scarce
From the Frank James collection. ex Spinks; ex Walter Holt; ex Roma Numismatics

Facing heads do not occur often on Tarentine coinage, and the Athena with triple-crested helmet motif has always captivated me, so i am very happy to add this scarce type to my collection.
2 commentsEnodia
V_1296.JPG
Taras, Calabria59 views380-325 BC
AR Diobol (12mm, 1.22g, 11h)
O: Head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet decorated with hippocamp; Ξ behind neck-flap.
R: Herakles kneeling right, strangling the Nemean lion; [club] to left, TA above.
Vlasto 1296 (this coin); HN Italy 912
From the M.P Vlasto Collection. ex Pegasi Numismatics; ex MNS

Vlasto plate coin, #1296.
"Mr. Vlasto's collection of Tarentine coins is certainly the most complete that exists; practically all known varieties are represented; its catalog can therefore be considered a real corpus of the coinage of Tarentum. Numerous are the rare or unique specimens; but what makes this collection an outstanding one is its large number of exceptionally well preserved coins. Mr. Vlasto was never content with his specimens; if he could get a better one, he never missed the opportunity. He used to tell me that in some cases he had changed six specimens of the same coin and that he would even change the sixth if he could find a better one. The results is that many of his coins are really wonderful gems of priceless value. Any collector would be proud to have just one of them in his collection."
~ Oscar E. Ravel (Descriptive Catalogue of the Collection of Tarentine Coins formed by M. P. Vlasto - 1947)
4 commentsEnodia
Vlasto_1184.JPG
Taras, Calabria29 views470-450 BC
AR Hemilitra (7.5mm, 0.34g)
O: Scallop shell within linear border.
R: Head of nymph Satyra right.
Vlasto 1178; HN Italy 841
ex Naville Numismatics

Enodia
V_630.JPG
Taras, Calabria46 views315-302 BC (Period V)
AR Didrachm (22mm, 7.63g, 4h)
O: Warrior, preparing to throw spear and holding shield and two more spears, on horse rearing right; ΣA below.
R: Phalanthos, holding arrow and bow, astride dolphin right; |-HP and HP monogram below, TAPAΣ to left.
Vlasto 630; Fischer-Bossert Group 68, 818; Evans V, B18; SNG ANS 1011; HN Italy 938
From Group SGF. ex CNG

Sir Arthur Evans places this coin at the end of Period V, during the time of Kleonymus, and the martial themes on both sides of this coin, unusual on Tarentine coinage, may support this theory.
Kleonymus, the unworthy heir to the Spartan throne, was yet another in a line of self-serving mercenary generals to come to the aid of Taras (circa 302 BC), but he was no more successful than his predecessors.

This is the first right-facing dolphin in my collection. While not rare, these occur less often than the typical left-facing types.
3 commentsEnodia
Vlasto_1099.JPG
Taras, Calabria60 views302 - 281 BC (Period VI)
AR Drachm (16mm, 3.09g, 3h)
Nikokrates magistrate.
O: Head of Athena right, wearing Attic helmet decorated with Skylla throwing stone.
R: Owl with closed wings standing right on Ionic capital, head facing; [NIKO]KPAT[HΣ] to left, TA to right.
Vlasto 1099 (this coin); HN Italy 1052
From the M.P. Vlasto Collection. ex CNG

Vlasto plate coin, #1099.
“Michel P. Vlasto was born in Athens on the 1st February 1874 and studied in Marseilles.
… He was a born artist and very good at drawing. His artistic feeling made him a real worshipper of Greek art; everything beautiful charmed him; if he could have done so a museum would have been his home. The real pleasure he felt in admiring a beautiful work of Greek art was so intense that he used to say he could not imagine life without Art and that Beauty and Happiness went together. As a result he could not feel happy unless he was surrounded by Beauty. The room where he used to spend most of his leisure was a kind of temple in which a few perfect specimens of Greek art were the idols he worshipped in a real religious way.
… But all these splendid surroundings were only the frame of the world famous collection of Tarentine coins which represented his chief interest in life and really his sole hobby. But he did not limit himself to collecting coins as most collectors do; he was a real self-made scholar; his knowledge of Tarentine numismatic was complete; there was not a single coin in a public or private cabinet which he did not know, and nothing was said or written about Tarentum, its history and its art which escaped him. He published several contributions to numismatics and many of his books are famous.”
~ Oscar E. Ravel (Descriptive Catalogue of the Collection of Tarentine Coins formed by M. P. Vlasto - 1947)
4 commentsEnodia
Vl_1799.JPG
Taras, Calabria36 views281-209 BC
Æ21 (21mm, 8.04g)
O: Laureate head of Zeus right.
R: Nike standing right, holding thunderbolt; [TA]PANTIN[ΩN] to right.
Vlasto 1799; Cote 220; Laffaille 35; Sear 607
Rare
ex Praefectus Coins

Apart from Athena on its prolific series of diobols Taras was not particularly known for portrait coins. Here we find Zeus, or more appropriately Zeus Kataibates, ‘The Descender‘ or ‘He Who Comes Down’. This epithet refers to His ability to send thunder and lightning down from the sky, apparent here in the thunderbolt Nike holds in Her hands.
While not generally represented on their coins, the cult of Zeus must have been strong at Taras. A 66 foot bronze colossus of the Father of the Gods, attributed to the sculptor Lysippus, stood in the city, and most residents of Taras had a small column-shrine to Zeus Kataibates in front of their homes as a protection against lightning strikes.
1 commentsEnodia
CampanoTarentine.JPG
Taras, Calabria30 views281-228 BC
AR Didrachm (20mm, 6.95g)
O: Diademed head of nymph Satyra left, wearing triple-pendant earring.
R: Nude youth on horseback right crowning horse and holding reins; star of eight rays above, dolphin below, TA beneath raised foreleg.
Vlasto 1036-37, Cote 548; McGill II, 131; SNG ANS 1301; HN Italy 1098; Sear 366v
ex Praefectus Coins

These so-called Campano-Tarentine (or sometimes Bruttio-Tarentine) types are a numismatic enigma.
The idea of an alliance was originally put forth in the 19th century due to the apparent similarity of the obverse portraits of this series with the coins of Neapolis and other Campanian cities. However the nymph depicted here is more likely to be the local Satyra rather than Campanian Parthenope, and there is no direct historical evidence of any alliance between Taras and the Campanians during this period.
The heavier standard may mean that this series was intended to circulate outside of Taras as a federal issue, or possibly as a trade unit. Further, no coins of this type have been found within the city itself.
It has also been suggested that these coins were struck as tribute to Rome, and the apparent timeframe is in line with such a theory.
2 commentsEnodia
Vlasto_1474.JPG
Taras, Calabria36 views280-228 BC
AR Litra (9.5mm, 0.72g)
O: Scallop shell.
R: Dolphin swimming left; E below.
SNG ANS 1529v; Vlasto ----; HN Italy 979
Scarce
ex Ancient Imports

Scarce left-facing dolphin.
1 commentsEnodia
V_1302.JPG
Taras, Calabria32 views325-280 BC
AR Diobol (12mm, 1.14g)
O: Head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet decorated with a hippocamp.
R: Herakles kneeling right, strangling the Nemean lion; EY above.
Vlasto 1302 (this coin); HN Italy 976
From the M.P Vlasto collection. ex MNS

Vlasto plate coin, #1302.
2 commentsEnodia
Vlasto_1464.JPG
Taras, Calabria20 views325-280 BC
AR Diobol (11mm, 0.77g)
O: Head of Athena facing slightly left, wearing triple-crested helmet decorated with Skylla; club to left, [TAPAΣ] above.
R: Herakles standing right, strangling the Nemean lion; club to left, AP monogram between Herakles legs.
Vlasto 1464; Cote 558; SNG ANS 1476; cf HN Italy 1062
Scarce
ex Marcantica Ancient Coins

There are many stories in Greek mythology regarding the goddess Athena; Her involvement in the War of the Giants, the contest with Poseidon to determine the patron of Athens, Her weaving contest with Arachne, the Judgment of Paris, and the blinding of Teiresias for viewing Her while bathing are among the most commonly known.
But it is Her assistance to Herakles during his Twelve Labors which concerns us here, the first of which, the slaying of the Nemean lion, is depicted on the reverse of this coin.
Enodia
Vlasto_107v.JPG
Taras, Calabria33 views470-450 BC
AR Didrachm (17mm., 7.82g)
O: Taras riding dolphin right, holding cuttlefish in right hand, left hand extended.
R: Hippocamp right; TAPA beneath, scallop shell below.
Vlasto 107(?); cf McGill II, 3; HN Italy 827; SNG ANS 837; SNG Cop 772-773
Scarce
ex ACR Auctions; ex Praefectus Coins

The hippocamp reverse type was undoubtedly one of the first non-incuse didrachms minted at Taras, occuring at the very beginning of the fifth century. However these small module coins were minted slightly later than the spread-flans, probably 470-450 BC.

"He [Poseidon] towers on high above the peaceful waves, urging his team of Hippokampoi with his three-pronged spear: frontwise they run at furious speed amid showers of foam, behind they swim and blot out their footprints with their tails."
~ Statius, Achilleid 1. 25 ff
1 commentsEnodia
Vlasto_545.JPG
Taras, Calabria32 views344-334 BC (Period IV)
AR Didrachm (20mm, 7.54g)
Signed by the Kal... engraver. 
O: Nude horseman right, wearing shield on left arm and holding two spears in left hand, preparing to thrust third spear held in right hand; |- behind, Δ before, ΚΑΛ and Δ below.
R: Phalanthos astride dolphin right, holding crested helmet; stars flanking, ΤΑΡΑΣ to left, ΚΑΛ below.
Vlasto 545; Cote 215; McGill II, 41; Evans IV, H3; HN Italy 896; SNG ANS 971; Sear 345
ex Monarch Beach

Archidamos III reigned as King of Sparta from 360 BC until his death in 338. Summoned by the Tarentines to assist them in the first Lucanian war, he lead a mercenary army to Manduria in Calabria, where he fell in battle against the combined forces of the Messapians and Lucanians.
The historian Diodorus suggests that the death of Archidamos and the massacre of his army was divine vengeance for his plundering of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.

The 4th century artist known to us only as the KAL engraver was arguably the finest die engraver in Magna Graecia. Specializing in common everyday scenes and eschewing the more aristocratic themes, his work had a certain elegance and sensitivity rarely seen in numismatic art.
The dolphin rider on this coin is bowing his head slightly and looking very pensively at the helmet in his hands. Is Phalanthos mourning for King Archidamos here? Sir Arthur Evans thought so, and the two stars on this reverse (one off flan), representing the Dioskouri and therefore Sparta the Mother City, lends credence to this idea. If so, then no other engraver could have captured this moment and this emotion quite like KAL…
1 commentsEnodia
Herakles_left.JPG
Taras, Calabria22 views380-334 BC
AR Diobol (12mm, 1.03g)
O: Head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet decorated with Skylla.
R: Herakles kneeling left, strangling the Nemean lion; club behind.
cf Vlasto 1325; Cote ---; McGill ---; SNG ANS 1412v
Very Scarce
ex Spartan Numismatics

A very uncommon left-facing Herakles.
Enodia
Taras_obol_zz.JPG
Taras, Calabria26 views302-228 BC
AR Obol (11mm, 0.42g)
O: Kantharos; Φ and two pellets around.
R: Kantharos; two pellets and crown around.
Vlasto ---; Cote---; McClean ---; McGill ---; HN Italy 1076; Sear 357v
Very scarce
ex Pop Numismatik

"To the must-drinking Satyrs and to Bacchus, planter of the vine, Heronax consecrated the first handfuls of his plantation, these three casks from three vineyards, filled with the first flow of the wine; from which we, having poured such libation as is meet to crimson Bacchus and the Satyrs, will drink deeper than they."
~ 'The Vintage Revel', Leonidas of Tarentum
1 commentsEnodia
Vlasto_1615.JPG
Taras, Calabria16 views302-228 BC
AR Obol (11mm, 0.35g)
O: Kantharos, 5 pellets around, within dotted border.
R: Bucranium.
Vlasto 1615-17; SNG France 2201; HN Italy 918
Scarce
From the E.E. Clain-Stefanelli Collection. ex Naville Numismatics

1 commentsEnodia
V_1235.JPG
Taras, Calabria45 views380-325 BC
AR Diobol (11.5mm, 1.15g, 2h)
O: Head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet decorated with hippocamp.
R: Naked Herakles seated half-left on dead lion right, holding cup in right hand and club in left.
Vlasto 1235 (this coin); HN Italy 910
Extremely Rare
From the AG Collection. ex Michel Pandely Vlasto Collection; ex Vecchi 17; ex CNG

Vlasto plate coin, #1235.
Yet another reverse featuring Herakles‘ first labor. Here we see the final scene with our Hero, having slain the Nemean lion, now resting on the dead carcass and raising his cup. One can easily imagine him wondering how he is going to skin this impenetrable beast.
This coin is extremely rare, and Vlasto cites only this single die combination. While I am pretty sure it isn’t unique I could find no other specimen of this type listed anywhere.
2 commentsEnodia
Vlasto_1413.JPG
Taras, Calabria32 views272-235 BC
AR Diobol (11mm, 0.97g)
O: Head of Athena left, wearing Corinthian helmet (T behind?).
R: Herakles standing right, fighting Nemean lion with club in right hand; T to left.
Vlasto 1413
Very Scarce
ex Spartan Numismatics

Herakles Battle With the Nemean Lion
“… so the terrible lion arched himself and sprang from far upon me, raging to taste my flesh. I held in one hand my darts and the cloak from my shoulders, folded; with the other I swung my seasoned club about my ears and smashed it down on his head, but split the wild olive, rugged as it was, asunder on the invincible brute's maned skull. Before he could come at me, he fell, dropping down on the ground and stood on trembling feet swaying his head, for darkness swam about his eyes swaying his head, for darkness swam about his eyes at the stunning shock to the brain's core.”
~ Theocritus, Idylls 25. 132 ff
2 commentsEnodia
Vlasto_308.JPG
Taras, Calabria38 views400-390 BC (Period II)
AR Nomos (22mm, 7.74g, 2h).
O: Phalanthos riding dolphin left, holding akrostolion in extended right hand; Λ below, all within linear border.
R: Naked ephebe holding small shield in left hand, dismounting from horse cantering left; ΤΑΡΑΣ below, all within linear border.
Vlasto 309; Fischer-Bossert Group 26, 339 (V154/R263); Evans II, type C; Cote 108; McGill II, 13; HN Italy 849
ex CNG
2 commentsEnodia
Vlasto_1680.JPG
Taras, Calabria35 views280-228
AR Diobol (11mm, 1.04g)
O: Two horse heads, joined at truncation; four ):( symbols around.
R: Two horse heads back-to-back; four ):( symbols around.
Vlasto 1688 (trihemiobol); McGill II, 210v (trihemiobol); HN Italy 1072 (diobol); Sear 353v (diobol)
Rare
From the E.E. Clain Stefanelli collection. ex Naville Numismatics

Vlasto defines this series as ‘trihemiobols’, claiming the ):( symbol to be a mark of value. Whether this is true, and if so why this symbol relates to a trihemiobol, which suggests an approximate weight of .75g, I cannot say. However based on an obol of .50g I would have to agree with Rutter et al and declare this type to be a diobol.
5 commentsEnodia
Vlasto_1260.JPG
Taras, Calabria15 views380-334BC
AR Diobol (13mm, 0.88)
O: Head of Athena left, wearing crested Attic helmet decorated with hippocamp.
R: Herakles kneeling right with club in right hand, wrestling the Nemean lion; quiver below.
Vlasto 1260; HN Italy 911; Sear 351v
ex Robert Ball Nchf, Berlin (1917-1934); ex Aegean Numismatics

2 commentsEnodia
Vlasto_1139v.JPG
Taras, Calabria18 views520-473 BC.
AR Obol (9.5mm., 0.48g).
O: Head of nymph Satyra right.
R: Three crescents facing outward around central pellet.
Vlasto 1139v (head left); HN Italy 924v (head left)
Very Rare
ex Savoca Coins

A rare and unpublished variety with the nymph facing right. Vlasto knew of only the left-facing type, and his specimen may have been unique.
I’ve gone with Vlasto’s dating on this one, although based on style I believe this should probably be revised to a slightly later date.
3 commentsEnodia
Vlasto_1668v.JPG
Taras, Calabria8 views280-228 BC
AR Obol (10mm, 0.57g).
O: Kantharos; pellet above and to right, flying Nike with wreath to left.
R: Kantharos; pellet above and to left, E to right.  
Vlasto 1668v (Nike to right); HN Italy 1076
Scarce
ex London Ancient Coins

Another unpublished variety, this one a mirror image of Vlasto 1445, with Nike flying left instead of right.
3 commentsEnodia
 
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