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Syracuse, Sicily

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.
GI20798. Bronze litra, Calciati II p. 277, 142; SNG ANS 708 ff.; SNG Cop 779; BMC Sicily p. 199; 422 ff.; SGCV I 1200; HGC 2 1537 (S), gVF, well centered and struck, tight flan cutting off part of reverse inscription, light encrustations, small pit on reverse, weight 8.689 g, maximum diameter 22.0 mm, die axis 135o, Syracuse mint, 304 - 289 B.C.; obverse ΣΩTEIPA, head of Artemis Soteira right, wearing necklace and pendant earring, hair bound with a ribbon, quiver over shoulder; reverse winged fulmen (thunderbolt), AΓAΘOKΛEOΣ (Agathokles) above, BAΣIΛEΩΣ (king) below; ex Forum 2017, ex Mediterranean Coins; $200.00 (€176.00)
 


Syracuse, Sicily, Second Democracy, 466 - 405 B.C.

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Calciati notes that coins of this issue included dies signed by the masters Kimon, Phrygillos, Eukleidas, and possibly Eumenes. Other examples, many of which were struck with fine style dies, are unsigned. Some examples with a dolphin behind Arethusa are signed by Phrygillos. Other coins of this type that are not signed, but with his style and the same dolphin are also believed to be his work.
GI93076. Bronze hemilitron, Calciati II p. 48, 20; SNG ANS 411; BMC Sicily p. 182, 243; SNG Cop 696 (obv. symbol off flan); SGCV I 1186; HGC 2 1479 (S), VF, rough, weight 2.735 g, maximum diameter 14.2 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, c. 415 - 405 B.C.; obverse head of nymph Arethusa left, hair in ampyx and sphendone, dolphin downward with head turned back up (control symbol) behind; reverse four-spoked wheel, ΣY-PA divided by spoke across upper two quarters, dolphin head down and inward in each of the lower quarters; ex Triskeles auction 28 (21 Jun 2019), lot 8; $40.00 (€35.20)
 


Syracuse, Sicily, Timoleon, 344 - 336 B.C.

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Threatened by Carthage and dominated by Hiketas, the tyrant of Leontini, Syracusans sent an appeal for help to their mother city, Corinth. By a unanimous vote Corinth selected Timoleon to set sail for Sicily with a few leading citizens of Corinth and a small troop of Greek mercenaries. After defeating Hiketas, Timoleon put order to Syracuse' affairs and established a democratic government. He repelled Carthage in several wars, ending with a treaty which divided the island. Timoleon then retired without any title or office, though he remained practically supreme. He became blind before his death, but when important issues were under discussion he was carried to the assembly to give his opinion, which was usually accepted. When he died the citizens of Syracuse erected a monument to his memory, afterward surrounded with porticoes, and a gymnasium called Timoleonteum.
GI92014. Bronze hemidrachm, Calciati II p. 167, 72; SNG ANS 477; SNG Cop 727; SNG München 1151; BMC Sicily p. 189, 313; Laffaille 220; HGC 2 1440 (S), VF, dark green patina, thick flan with rounded edge and pre-strike casting sprues (as expected for the type), weight 15.676 g, maximum diameter 24.5 mm, die axis 0o, Syracuse mint, c. 342 - 338 B.C.; obverse ZEYΣ EΛEYΘEPIOΣ (clockwise starting upper right), laureate head of Zeus Eleutherios right; reverse ΣYPAKOΣIΩN (clockwise starting upper right), vertical thunderbolt, eagle on right standing right with wings closed; ex Frascatius Ancient Coins; $150.00 (€132.00)
 


Syracuse, Sicily, Second Democracy, 466 - 405 B.C.

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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.
SH89722. Silver tetradrachm, Boehringer Series XX, 698 (V344/R476); SNG ANS 233 (same dies); BMC Sicily p. 161, 115 (same); Weber 1592 (same); HGC 2 1322 (S), VF, elegant nymph well centered on a tight flan, obverse strike weak and crowded by tight flan, weight 16.854 g, maximum diameter 24.4 mm, die axis 270o, Syracuse mint, c. 425 - 420 B.C.; obverse male charioteer driving a walking quadriga to right, wearing a long chiton, goad in his right hand, reins in both hands, Nike above flying left to crown the charioteer; reverse ΣYPAKOΣION upward on right, Head of Arethusa right, her hair in a sakkos and an ampyx, bound with olive-wreath and a double decorated fillet, wearing earring and a necklace with a lion's head, four dolphins swimming around; scarce; $1260.00 (€1108.80)
 


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

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Hieron II was tyrant and then king of Syracuse, c. 270 - 215 B.C. His rule brought 50 years of peace and prosperity. 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.
GB88194. Bronze hemilitron, Calciati II p. 405, 199 R1 10/3 (same obv. die); BMC Sicily p. 220, 632; SNG Cop 871; SNG ANS 598 (Agathokles); HGC 2 1497 (R1); SNG München -, F, dark brown patina, light scratches, weight 4.436 g, maximum diameter 17.8 mm, die axis 45o, Syracuse mint, c. 275 - 269/265 B.C.; obverse ΣYPAKOΣIΩN, head of Kore-Persephone left; reverse bull butting left, club over Σ (magistrate initial) above, IE (magistrate initials) in exergue; ex Moneta Numismatic Services; $36.00 (€31.68)
 


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.
GI87390. Bronze dilitron, Calciati II p. 185, 80; SNG ANS 533; SNG COP 725; SNG München 1159; SNG Morcom 717; SNG Lloyd 1456; BMC Sicily p. 189, 311; HGC 2 1439 (S), F, nice style, brown tone, legends mostly unstruck or off flan, bumps, scratches, light corrosion, weight 17.765 g, maximum diameter 26.9 mm, die axis 90o, Syracuse mint, 344 - 336 B.C.; obverse ZEYΣ EΛEYΘEPIOΣ, laureate head of Zeus Eleutherios left; reverse ΣYPAKOΣION, free horse prancing left; scarce; $150.00 (€132.00)
 


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.
GI87391. Bronze hemilitron, Calciati II p. 361, 193 Ds 40; HGC 2 1547 (S); SNG ANS 909 ff. var. (controls); SNG Cop 843 var. (same); BMC Sicily p. 215, 565 ff. var. (same), F, dark patina, tight flan, bumps and marks, corrosion, weight 20.012 g, maximum diameter 26.4 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, c. 230 - 215 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Hieron left, beardless, conch shell (control symbol) behind; reverse IEPΩNOΣ, cavalryman prancing right, holding couched spear, no control symbols; scarce; $90.00 (€79.20)
 


Syracuse, Sicily, Hiketas, 287 - 278 B.C.

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This combination of obverse and reverse control symbols (thunderbolt / star) is not published in the many references examined by Forum, however, we know of about a half dozen examples. The thunderbolt obverse control is most often combined with A over a star reverse left. The star reverse control is paired with a variety of obverse controls most commonly a trophy or bucranium.
GI87381. Bronze litra, cf. Calciati II p. 303, 157 Ds 59 Rs 14; SNG Mün 1308; SNG ANS 810; SNG Morcom 783; BMC Sicily p. 204, 473, VF, dark patina, tight flan, some bumps, scratch, and mild corrosion, weight 10.719 g, maximum diameter 22.2 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, 287 - 278 B.C.; obverse ∆IOΣ EΛΛANIOY, beardless and laureate head of Zeus Hellanios left, thunderbolt (control symbol) behind; reverse ΣYPAKOΣIΩN (upward on left, undivided), eagle with wings open standing left atop fulmen, star (control symbol) lower left, linear border; apparently unpublished; rare variant; $150.00 (€132.00)
 


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

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Although Agathocles was brutal in pursuit of power, afterward he was a mild and popular "tyrant." His grandest goal was to establish democracy as the dominant form of government for the world. He did not want his sons to succeed him as king and restored the Syracusan democracy on his death bed.
GB87476. Bronze trias, Calciati II p. 247, 118; SNG München 1255 ff.; SNG ANS 752; SNG Cop 776; BMC Sicily p. 198, 414; SGCV I 1204; HGC 2 1509 (S), VF, encrustation, off center, a little rough, weight 1.651 g, maximum diameter 14.4 mm, die axis 0o, Syracuse mint, c. 308 - 307 B.C.; obverse helmeted head of Athena left, wearing ornamented Corinthian helmet; reverse thunderbolt, ΣYPAK/OΣIΩN above and below in two lines; scarce; $55.00 (€48.40)
 


Syracuse, Sicily, Timoleon, 344 - 336 B.C.

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Threatened by Carthage and dominated by Hiketas, the tyrant of Leontini, Syracusans sent an appeal for help to their mother city, Corinth. By a unanimous vote Corinth selected Timoleon to set sail for Sicily with a few leading citizens of Corinth and a small troop of Greek mercenaries. After defeating Hiketas, Timoleon put order to Syracuse' affairs and established a democratic government. He repelled Carthage in several wars, ending with a treaty which divided the island. Timoleon then retired without any title or office, though he remained practically supreme. He became blind before his death, but when important issues were under discussion he was carried to the assembly to give his opinion, which was usually accepted. When he died the citizens of Syracuse erected a monument to his memory, afterward surrounded with porticoes, and a gymnasium called Timoleonteum.
GI87379. Bronze hemidrachm, Calciati II p. 167, 72; SNG ANS 477; SNG Cop 727; SNG München 1151; BMC Sicily p. 189, 313; Laffaille 220; HGC 2 1440 (S), VF, nice style, brown tone, porosity/light corrosion, weight 16.601 g, maximum diameter 24.6 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, c. 342 - 338 B.C.; obverse ZEYΣ EΛEYΘEPIOΣ, laureate head of Zeus Eleutherios right; reverse ΣYPAKOΣIΩN (clockwise starting upper right), thunderbolt, eagle on right standing right with wings closed; $125.00 (€110.00)
 




  






REFERENCES|

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Tudeer, L. Die Tetradrachmenprägung von Syrakus in der Periode der Signierenden Künstler. (Berlin, 1913).
von Bahrfeldt, M. Die römisch-sicilischen Münzen aus der Zeit der Republik, etc. (Geneva, 1904).
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Catalog current as of Friday, November 22, 2019.
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Syracuse