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Syracuse, Sicily

South-east_Sicily_Citites_of_V_century.jpg  Geography_of_Syracuse.jpg 

Ancient Coins from Sicily in the Forum Ancient Coins shop

Bahrfeldt, M.F. von. Die römisch-sicilischen Münzen aus der Zeit der Republik, etc. (Geneva, 1904).
Boehringer, E. Die Münzen von Syrakus. (Berlin and Leipzig, 1929).
Calciati, R. Corpus Nummorum Siculorum. The Bronze Coinage. (Milan, 1983 - 1987).
Carroccio, B. Dal basileus Agatocle a Roma: le monetazioni siciliane d’età ellenistica (cronologia - iconografia - metrologia). Pelorias 10. Messenia. 2004. 
Evans, A.J. "Contributions to Sicilian Numismatics" in Numismatic Chronicle XVI, 1896., pp. 101 - 143.
Evans, A.J. Syracusan Medallions and their Engravers. (London, 1892).
Gardner, P. The Types of Greek Coins. (Cambridge, 1882).
Head, B.V. History of the Coinage of Syracuse. (London, 1874).
Hill, G.F. Coins of Ancient Sicily. (Westminster, 1905).
Holm, A. Geschichte des sicilischen Münzwesens (in vol. iii. of his Geschichte Alterthum, 1870-1902).
Poole, R.S. ed. A Catalog of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, Sicily. (London, 1876).
Reinach, T. Sur la valeur relative des métaux monétaires dans la Sicile greque (L'Histoire par les monnaies). (Paris, 1902).
Sear, D. Greek Coins and Their Values, Volume 1: Europe. (London, 1978).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Denmark, The Royal Collection of Coins and Medals, Danish National Museum, Volume 1: Italy - Sicily. (West Milford, NJ, 1981).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Deutschland, München Staatlische Münzsammlung, Part 5: Sikelia. (Berlin, 1977).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Deutschland, München Staatlische Münzsammlung, Part 6: Sikelia. Punier in Sizilien. Lipara. Sardinia. Punier in Sardinien. Nachträge. (Berlin, 1980).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Great Britain, Volume X, John Morcom Collection. (Oxford, 1995).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, USA, The Collection of the American Numismatic Society, Part 5: Sicily 3 (Syracuse - Siceliotes). (New York, 1988).
Tudeer, L.O. Die Tetradrachmenprägung von Syrakus in der Periode der Signierenden Künstler. (Berlin, 1913).
Weil, R. Die Künstlerinschriften der sicilischen Münzen (Winckelmannsfest-Progr. 44), 1884.

The earliest coins of Syracuse probably belong to the time of the landed oligarchy of the Geomori or Gamori. We cannot assign these coins to an earlier date than the latter part of the sixth century, before which time Syracuse must have had recourse, on special occasions when current coins were required, to imported coins, probably Athenian tetradrachms.

Before circ. B.C. 485.
coin image
FIG. 90.

SVΡΑQΟSΙΟΝ Slow quadriga. Incuse square divided into four parts. [Babelon, Traité, ii. No. 2247.]
SVΡΑQΟSΙΟΝ or SVRΑ. Similar (Fig. 90). Incuse square divided into four parts; in center, archaic head of nymph or goddess.
SVRΑ Horseman leading a second horse. Similar.


These are early examples of coin-types referring to agonistic contests. That they do not, however, allude to any particular victory in the games is evident from the way in which the types are from the first made subservient to the denominations of the coin; thus the quadriga is made use of to indicate a Tetradrachm, while two horses stand for a Didrachm, just as, in the next period, a man riding a single horse is the distinctive type of the Drachm.

The head in the center of the reverse may be assumed to be that of the presiding goddess of the island of Ortygia, Artemis, who is identified with the water-nymph Arethusa, although on these early specimens the head is not accompanied by the dolphins which on later coins symbolize the salt waves of the harbor surrounding the island of Ortygia in which the fountain of Arethusa gushed forth.

Circ. B.C. 485-478.

To the reign of Gelon may be attributed the following:—

coin image
FIG. 91.
Quadriga with Nike above (Fig. 91). ΣΥRΑQΟΣΙΟΝ or ΣΥRΑΚΟΣΙΟΝ Female head (sometimes in faint linear circle) surrounded by dolphins.
Horseman leading a second horse. „ Id. [Gardner, Types, Pl. II. 7, 11.]
Horseman. „ Id. (no dolphins).
AR Drachm.
Female head. ΣΥRΑ (sometimes on obv.). Sepia
AR Litra.
Id. Wheel.
AR Obol, ½ obol.
Id. :·:
AR Pentonkion.
Id. ••
AR Hexas.

The addition of the Nike over the chariot group may possibly have been suggested by Gelon’s success in the Olympian games in B.C. 488. This obverse type is also found in Gelon’s coinage for Gela and Leontini (Num. Chron., 1908, p. 10). In the year B.C. 480 Gelon gained his famous victory over the Carthaginians at Himera, and, by the intervention of his wife Demarete, concluded a peace with his vanquished foes, the conditions of which were so much more favorable than they had been led to expect, that in gratitude they presented Demarete with a hundred talents of gold. From the proceeds of these were struck, circ. B.C. 479, the celebrated Syracusan medallions, or properly speaking Pentekontalitra (or Dekadrachms), surnamed Demareteia (Diod. xi. 26). On these coins see especially Evans, Num. Chron., 1894, pp. 189 ff.

coin image
FIG. 92.
Slow quadriga, the horses crowned by flying Nike. In ex. a lion. (Fig. 92.) ΣΥRΑΚΟΣΙΟΝ Female head (City-goddess as Nike ?) crowned with laurel, in fine linear circle; around, dolphins.

It is not unreasonable to suppose that the issue of these magnificent coins immediately after a great victory, which for the Sicilian Greeks was an event fully as momentous as the contemporary victories over the Persians at Salamis and Plataca were for the people of Greece proper, may have been in some way commemorative of the occasion, and it has consequently been suggested that the lion on the reverse may be a symbol of Libya, as it certainly is on some later Carthaginian coins. The type was copied at Leontini (above, p. 148, Fig. 77), where the lion beneath the chariot is to be distinguished from the lion which, as the badge of the city and symbol of Apollo, occurs beneath the head of that god.

Besides the dekadrachm there are a tetradrachm and an obol of this coinage. (Head, Coinage of Syracuse, Pl. I, 11, 12.)

Circ. B.C. 478-413.
coin image
FIG. 93.

The earlier tetradrachms of this period, belonging (op. cit., p. 10) to the reign of Hieron, differ from the coinage of Gelon’s time not only in their more advanced style, but also in the substitution of a sea-monster or pistrix for the lion in the exergue of the obverse: a symbol which may possibly have alluded originally to Hieron’s victory over the Etruscans at sea in B.C. 474. This is however very doubtful, for the symbol was r etained for some time after the fall of the tyranny in B.C. 466 (Fig. 93). The tetradrachms with the pistrix are of a somewhat hard style, which is characteristic of the early transitional period. The hair of the goddess

on the obverse is variously arranged on different specimens, but is usually bound with a plain cord or fillet.
coin image
FIG. 94.

During the Democracy which succeeded the expulsion of the Gelonian dynasty in B.C. 466, the tetradrachms of Syracuse exhibit a greater freedom of style and variety of treatment than had been previously usual. The form R is replaced early in this period by Ρ. The head of the goddess assumes larger proportions, and the surrounding dolphins are less formally arranged and less conspicuous. The hair of the female head is sometimes confined in a sphendone, sometimes in a bag (Fig. 94), and sometimes gathered up and bound by a cord passing four times round it (Fig. 95). The olive-branch symbol which occurs in the exergue here and at Gela may be connected with the congress of Gela in B.C. 424. (Headlam, Num. Chron., 1908, pp. 1 ff.)

coin image
FIG. 95.

The later coins of this transitional period, beginning about B.C. 430-420, show that the art of the Sicilian die-engravers was beginning to attract a wide interest. The designers and engravers, by now for the first time signing their productions, reveal themselves as artists conscious of the merits of their works, and perhaps as competitors for public recognition. The novel and surprising charm of the new coins of Syracuse soon obtained for the artists orders from, or employment at, the mints of rival cities. Doubtless many coin-types designed by the master but executed by his pupils are unsigned. The artists’ names which occur on the Syracusan coins of this and the following period are :—

coin image
FIG. 96.


Eumēnos or Eumĕnes (ΕΥΜΗΝΟΥ, ΕΥΜΕΝΟΥ) (see Fig. 96) introduces high action in the chariot-group; in ex. sometimes opposed dolphins, dolphin and fish, scallop shell, or signature. Heads of Arethusa and Kora? Also drachms, rev. ΛΕΥΚΑΣΠΙΣ, Naked hero, armed with helmet, shield, and sword, charging r.

Sosion (ΣΩΣΙΩΝ) : style closely resembling that of Eumenos.

Euaenetos (ΕΥΑΙΝΕΤΟ or abbrev.) introduces new motives, such as broken rein in the chariot-group, Nike carrying tablet with artist’s name, chariot-wheel in exergue. (This occurs also on a half-drachm.)

Enth(ymos ?) (ΕΥΘ..) : chariot driven by winged male figure; in ex. Skylla chasing fish.

Dies by Euaenetos and Euth... are found combined with dies by Eumenos. On the other hand, the group by Euth... is combined with a head by

Phrygillos (ΦΡΥΓΙΛΛ..): head of Persephone crowned with corn. This artist is possibly identical with the gem-engraver Phrygillos.

Eukleidas (ΕΥΚΛΕΙΔΑ). Signature on diptych in front of head (combined with obv. by Eumenos, Holm, Pl. V. 4, with ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΟΣ). Phrygillos and Eukleidas also worked in the next period.

It is in this period that the coinage of bronze begins at Syracuse.

ΣΥΡΑ Head of nymph. Sepia, sometimes with :.
Trias Æ .6-.4

Circ. B.C. 413-357.

In the period following the defeat of the Athenians great changes are seen in the Sicilian coinage. Gold had perhaps been issued for the first time during the war. The reverse type and incuse square of the earliest gold is a reminiscence of the earliest silver coinage. Before B.C. 400 the form ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΟΝ has entirely given place to ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ (but see p. 179).

ΣΥΡ Head of young Herakles in lions kin. [Brit. Mus. Guide, Pl. 17. 39.] ΣΥΡΑ Quadripartite incuse square with female head in center.
(= 1 AR Tetradrachm.) AV 18 grs.
ΣΥΡΑ Head of Athena.
[Holm, Pl. V. 16.]
Aegis with gorgoneion.
(= 2½ AR drachms). AV 11 grs.
ΣΥΡ Id. [Head, Syracuse, III. 11.] ΣΥΡΑ Wheel in center of incuse square
(= 1 AR didrachm). AV 9 grs.

This first issue of gold was quickly followed by another, the designs for which were (at least partly) by the artists Kimon and Euaenetos.

coin image
FIG. 97.

ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΟΝ Female head. Signed ΚΙ, ΕΥΑΙ or ΕΥΑΙΝΕΤΟ. [Evans Syracusian, v. 1-3.] ΣΥΡΑ Herakles strangling lion (Fig. 97).
(= 2 AR dekadrachms) AV 90 grs.
ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ Head of young river-god (Anapos ?); sometimes signed Ε. [Evans Syracusian, op. cit., v. 1-4.] ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ Free horse.
(= 1 AR dekadrachm). AV 45 grs.
ΣΥΡΑ Female head.
[Imhoof MG, Pl. B. 14.]
Trident and two dolphins.
(= 25 AR litrae?) AV 20.5 grs.

Throughout these issues, the relation of gold to silver seems to have been 15:1. (On this question, as well as on the later relation of the metals, see Head, Syr., p. 17, &c.; Th. Reinach, L'Hist. par les monn., p. 75 f.; Holm, p. 619, &c.)

ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ Head of Arethusa with hair in net (inspired by tetradrachm by Euaenetos); around, dolphins. Signed ΚΙΜΩΝ (or abbreviations). (Fig. 98.) Victorious quadriga; in ex. helmet, thorax, greaves, and shield, ranged on steps; below, ΑΘΛΑ. Signature sometimes repeated.
AR Dekadrachm. 667.5 grs.

coin image
FIG. 98.

Head of Persephone (?), crowned with leaves; around, dolphins. [Evans Syracusian; Hill Sicily, Front. 7.] Similar, but ΑΘΛΑ above the shield.
Similar, but head less idealized. Sometimes signed ΕΥΑΙΝΕΤΟΥ (or abbrev.) (Fig. 99). Similar to rev. of Kimon’s dekadrachm.

coin image
FIG. 99.

These magnificent dekadrachms were issued after the Athenian defeat, like the Demareteia after the battle of Himera. The arms in the exergue


may be arms taken from the Athenians and offered as prizes (αθλα) in the Assinarian games which were established to commemorate the event. Euaenetos was possibly absent from Syracuse at the time (see under Camarina and Catana), so that Kimon was employed to make the first dies. The unsigned dekadrachms are thought to have come next, but as only two specimens (from the same dies) are known, these cannot have been issued for any length of time; and it is possible that they may be the latest of all the series. The dekadrachm of Euaenetos seems to have been more generally admired than any other coin in antiquity (as in modern times), except perhaps the tetradrachm by Kimon with the facing head of Arethusa; both obverses were often copied in other mints. Dekadrachms in the style of Euaenetos continued to be issued during the reign of Dionysius I. The issue of tetradrachms during this period was, on the other hand, somewhat restricted. In addition to the tetradrachms reproducing exactly the obverse types of the dekadrachms of Kimon and Euaenetos, there were issued the following of which the first is Kimon's masterpiece, and admittedly the finest representation of the facing human head on any coin.

coin image
FIG. 100.

ΑΡΕΘΟΣΑ Head of Arethusa facing, dolphins swimming among her loose locks; on the frontlet, ΚΙΜΩΝ. ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ Victorious quadriga; in ex. ear of corn (Fig. 100).
ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ Head of Athena facing, in richly adorned helmet with triple crest, inscribed ΕΥΚΑΕΙΔΑ; around, dolphins. Persephone with torch, driving victorious quadriga; in exergue, ear of corn (Fig. 101).
ΣΥΡΑΚΟ-SΙΩΝ Head of nymph l., hair in sling; signed ΦΡΥ. [Evans Syracusian, p. 190, Pl. X. 7.] Similar to preceding; signed. ΕΥΑΡΧΙΔΑ.

coin image
FIG. 101.

Other tetradrachms are signed by ΙΜ (Weil Künstlerinschriften Pl. III. 12) and ΠΑΡΜΕ (Holm, Pl. V. 15); and among the unsigned tetradrachms are many fine coins, especially one representing Persephone with flowing hair (Holm,

Pl. V. 14; Hill Sicily, Pl. VII. 12). Signatures are also found on some of the smaller coins.

Hill Sicily,

Head of Athena facing (style of Eukleidas). ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ Hero (Leukaspis) with helmet, shield, and spear, fighting; before him, altar and dead ram.
AR Drachm.

The half-drachms (one signed by ΙΜ) for the most part repeat the types of the tetradrachm. On the smaller coins the sepia still distinguishes the litra (one signed by ΦΡΥ), and the wheel the obol.

ΣΥΡΑ (sometimes with ΦΡΥ) Head of nymph. Star in quadripartite incuse square
Æ .7
Head of nymph; sometimes signed ΦΡΥ. [Maddalena Cat., 1903, Nos. 658 f.] ΣΥΡΑ and two dolphins between spokes of wheel.
Æ .75
Similar head. Sepia.
Æ .6
ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙ Head of young Pan.
[Num. Chron., 1908, p. 14.]
Syrinx in wreath.
Æ .55
ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙ. Id. Trident.
Æ .45
ΣΥΡΑ Head of Athena in Corinthian helmet bound with olive.
[Holm, Pl. VII. 9.]
Sea-star between two dolphins; sometimes a pellet.
AR Litra 1.15
Id. Hippocamp.
Æ Trias .85
Id. Sepia.
Æ .6
Female head. ΣΥΡΑ and pellet; dolphin and scallop.
Æ Uncia .7

On the date of these last coins see Holm, p. 621. The litra and trias were extensively used, chiefly by Sikel towns, as blanks on which to strike their own types in the time of Timoleon and later.

Circ. B.C. 357-317.

To the time of Dion (B.C. 357-353) the following coins of electrum and silver are probably to be assigned :—

coin image
FIG. 102.
ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ Head of Apollo. ΣΩΤΕΙΡΑ Head of Artemis (Fig. 102).
EL. 112.5 grs. = 100 Litra
Head of Apollo.
[B. M. Guide, Pl. 26. 34.]
EL. 56.2 grs. = 50 Litra
Id. [Reinach, Pl. I. 9.] Lyre.
EL. 28.12 grs. = 25 Litra
Female head (Arethusa).
[Reinach, Pl. I, 10.]
EL. 11.25 grs. = 10 Litra


If these values are correct, electrum was to gold as 12:15; but according to Reinach these coins represent 80, 40, 20, and 8 litra respectively.

ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΟΝ Head of Athena in crestless Corinthian helmet. Pegasos.
AR Stater 130.8 grs.
[BMC Corinth, Pl. XXV. 2.]

This is the latest coin with the form ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΟΝ, and corresponds to a similar issue at Leontini (Evans Syracusian, p. 158). For other coins of Dion see Zacynthus.

The liberator Timoleon, who landed in Sicily in B.C. 345, replaced the electrum coinage by gold, and definitely established the silver stater of Corinthian weight (which was also an Attic didrachm) as the chief silver coin instead of the Attic tetradrachm.

[B. M. Guide, Pl. 26. 35.]
ΣΥΡΑΚ Pegasos :.
AV 33.7 grs. = 30 Litra

SILVER COINAGE. Inscr. ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΟΝ. [Head, Syr. VI. 7-16.]

coin image
FIG. 103.

[Holm, Pl. VI. 11.]
AR Stater 132 grs. = 10 litra.
Head of Athena in crestless Corinthian helmet. Pegasos (Fig. 103) Stater 135 grs. = 10 Litra
Female wreathed head (Arethusa) with dolphins. Pegasos. [Head Syracuse VI. 8]
AR 40.5 grs. = 3 litra.
ΕΥ Female head (Kyane ?); symbol, lion’s head mouth of fountain. Pegasos. [Head Syracuse VI. 10]
AR 40.5 grs. = 3 litra.
Head of Arethusa with dolphins. Half Pegasos with star. [Head Syracuse VI. 9].
AR 20.25 grs.= 1½ litra.
ΕΥ Head of Kyane (?) with lion’s head symbol. Half Pegasos. [Head Syracuse VI. 11].
AR 20.25 grs. = 1½ litra.
Id. Sepia. [Head Syracuse VI. 12]
AR 13.5 grs. = 1 litra.
Head of Athena facing, with dolphins. Horseman. [Head Syracuse VI. 13, 14]
AR 33.75 grs. = 2½ litra.
Janiform female head, laureate. Free horse. [Head Syracuse VI. 15]
AR 27.0 grs. = 2 litra.
Id. Id. with star. [Head Syracuse VI. 16]
AR 17.0 grs.= 1¼ litra.

The prevalence of the Pegasos as a Syracusan type is of course owing to the influence of Corinth. The head of Zeus Eleutherios and the free horse speak for themselves as emblems of freedom and democracy. The issue of bronze coins of substantial weight (and of some intrinsic value, although doubtless representing a value somewhat greater than

their weight) was continued in this period, probably to meet a demand for money in the Sikel districts of Sicily which, by Timoleon’s means, were brought into direct and frequent intercourse with Syracuse.

[Head Syracuse VII. 4-12; Imhoof MG Pl. B. 17-22.]
Bearded helmeted head (Archias ? or Hadranos ?). Pegasos and dolphin.
Æ 1.05
Head of Kora. Pegasos Σ.
Æ .85
Female head (Aphrodite ?). Half Pegasos Σ.
Æ .65
Head of young river-god facing (Anapos ?). „ corn-ear.
Æ .65
Head of ΖΕΥΣ ΕΛΕΥΘΕΡΙΟΣ. Free horse.
Æ 1.0
Id. Half Pegasos.
Æ .95
Id. Thunderbolt; usually small eagle in field (as on coins of Alexander of Epirus).
Æ 1.0-.65
Id. Sepia.
Æ .65
Id. Shell; around, three dolphins.
Æ .7
Id. Triskeles.
Æ .85
Id. with thunderbolt. Swastika.
Æ .9
Head of Kyane (?) facing. Sepia.
Æ .55.
Head of Apollo. Pegasos.
Æ .8
Head of [ΖΕΥΣ ΕΛ]ΛΑΝΙΟ[Σ]. Barking dog.
Æ .7
Head of Apollo. Dog lying.
Æ .6

The head of Archias (oekist of Syracuse) would be appropriate at the time of Timoleon’s recolonization. For Anapos and Kyane see Aelian, Var. Hist. 33. The coins resembling those of Alexander of Epirus were probably struck when he was in Italy (B.C. 332).

Reign of Agathocles, B.C. 317-289.

The coins struck while Agathocles was ruler of Syracuse do not all bear his name. They fall into three periods, as follows :—

I. B.C. 317-310. Gold. Attic drachms, tetrobols, and diobols. Silver. Tetradrachms, staters (Corinthian), and drachms. Bronze. All reading ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ and without the name of Agathocles.

II. B.C. 310-304. Gold. Stater reading ΑΓΑΘΟΚΛΕΟΣ. Silver. Tetradrachm „ ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ —ΑΓΑΘΟΚΛΕΙΟΣ. „ ΚΟΡΑΣ—ΑΓΑΘΟΚΑΕΙΟΣ. „ ΚΟΡΑΣ—ΑΓΑΘΟΚΛΕΟΣ. Bronze coins „ ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ.

III. B.C. 304-289. Gold. Staters (wt. 90 grs.) reading— ΑΓΑΘΟΚΛΕΟΣ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΟΣ.

Bronze coins with same inscr. Silver. Corinthian staters of reduced weight.


Period I. Circ. B.C. 317-310.

coin image
FIG. 104.

Head of young Apollo or Ares (?) laureate. [B. M. Guide, Pl. 35. 27.] ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ Biga. Symbol: Triskeles.
AR Drachm and Tetrobol.
Head of Persephone. [Reinach, Pl. I. 15.] „ Bull.
AV Diobol.
Head of Persephone (Fig. 104). Quadriga. Symbol; Triskeles.
ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ Head of young Apollo or Ares (?) laureate [Imhoof MG, Pl. B. 23.] Triskeles.
AR Drachm.
Head of Athena in crested Corinthian helmet. [Head, Syr., VIII. 5, 6.] ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ Pegasos. Symbol: Triskeles.
AR Corinthian Stater.

Head of Persephone. Bull rushing. Symbols and letters various.
Æ .95-.75
Young male head (Apollo or Ares) laureate. Triskeles.
Æ .75
Head of Apollo l. Dog lying; Χ.
Æ .5

The triskeles may have been adopted by Agathocles in virtue of his claim to sovereignty over all Sicily. The types of the larger gold coins above described were borrowed from the gold staters of Philip of Macedon.

Period II. Circ. B.C. 310-304.
Young head in elephant’s skin. ΑΓΑΘΟΚΛΕΟΣ Winged Athena armed, standing; at her feet, owl.
AV Stater.

This coin was probably struck soon after the victory of Agathocles over the Carthaginians in Africa (Diod. xxii. 11), B.C. 310, before which he let fly a number of owls, the favorite birds of Athena, which, perching upon the shields and helmets of the soldiers, revived their fainting spirits. The absence of the royal title proves that it was struck before B.C. 304.

coin image
FIG. 105.

Agathocles. Tetradrachm similar to Fig. 105, but with ΑΓΑΘΟΚΛΕΙΟΣ before the head of Persephone on the obv. instead of ΚΟΡΑΣ behind it: no inscr. on rev. (Imhoof, Zur gr. u. röm. Münzk., p. 250).
ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ Head of Persephone with flowing hair. [Head, Syr., IX. 1.] ΑΓΑΘΟΚΛΕΙΟΣ Nike erecting trophy. Symbol: Triskeles.
ΚΟΡΑΣ Similar (Fig. 105). ΑΓΑΘΟΚΑΕΙΟΣ or ΑΓΑΘΟΚΛΕΟΣ Similar.

Little by little Agathocles seems to have taken into his own hands the right of coinage, for the inscription ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ is first dropped on the gold, next on the silver, and finally, as will be seen, on the bronze. The adjective ΑΓΑΘΟΚΛΕΙΟΣ probably agrees with some such word as χαρακτηρ understood. The monogram AV which occurs on the silver possibly represents Antandros, the tyrant’s brother. Some of these silver coins are of rude style, and were probably made in Africa.

ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ Young male head (Herakles ?) diademed. Lion. Symbol: club.
Æ .9
ΣΩΤΕΙΡΑ Head of Artemis. ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ Fulmen.
Æ .9-.65
ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ Head of Athena in crested Corinthian helmet. Pegasos.
Æ .9
Head of Athena as above. ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ Horseman.
Æ .8-.65
Id. Fulmen.
Æ .55

Period III. B.C. 304-289.

In B.C. 304 Agathocles assumed the title βασιλευς, following the example set by Antigonus, who had adopted the title,'king,’ in B.C. 306.

Head of Athena in crested Corinthian helmet. [B. M. Guide, Pl. 35. 30.] ΑΓΑΘΟΚΛΕΟΣ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΟΣ Winged fulmen.
AV 90 grs.
Head of Athena. [Reinach, Pl. II. 16.] Id.
AV 65 grs.
Similar (helmet without crest). [B. M. Guide, Pl. 35. 31.] Pegasos. Symbol : Triskeles or star.
AR 108 grs.
Æ .85

The gold staters of this time follow the old Syracusan gold standard. But as gold in the time of Agathocles was worth only about twelve times as much as silver, whereas in the earlier period it had stood at 15:1, the stater of 90 grs. would be equivalent to only 80 silver litrae instead of to 100, as of old. In consequence perhaps of the altered relations of gold and silver, the weight of the Corinthian stater, as issued at Syracuse, was proportionately reduced from 10 to 8 litrae.

Democracy, B.C. 289-288.

On the death of Agathocles democratic rule was restored for the space of about a year, during which the name of Zeus Eleutherios again becomes prominent on the coinage.

ΣΩΤΕΙΡΑ Head of Artemis. ΔΙΟΣ ΕΛΕΥΘΕΡΙΟΥ Fulmen.
Æ .85
Æ .85

Of these two coins, the former differs from the last of Agathocles only in the inscription.



Hicetas, B.C. 288-279.

Next follows the tyranny of Hicetas, whose name appears on the gold money only. The silver and bronze (which however are attributed by Holm to the time of Agathocles) are without the name of Hicetas.

coin image
FIG. 106.
ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ Head of Persephone. [B. M. Guide, Pl. 35. 32.] ΕΠΙ ΙΚΕΤΑ Biga. Symbols: moon, star, [sun], etc.
AV 67.5 grs.
Head of Persephone with long hair. Symbols: bee, bucranium, etc. (Fig. 106). ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ Quadriga. Symbol: star, etc.
AR 202.5 grs.

Of the above coins the gold drachm was worth 60, and the silver coin 15 litrae. The tetradrachm was never struck at Syracuse after the reign of Agathocles.

ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ Head of Persephone with long hair. Biga. Symbol: star.
Æ 1.-.8
ΔΙΟΣ ΕΛΛΑΝΙΟΥ Young laureate head of Zeus Hellanios. [Gardner Types, Pl. XI. 25.] ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ Eagle on fulmen; in field, sometimes star.
Æ 1.-.8

The types of this last coin were adopted by the Mamertines after their seizure of Messana, B.C. 288; the head on the obverse of the Mamertine coin is, however, there called Ares.

Time of Pyrrhus in Sicily, B.C. 278-275.

The following Syracusan coins probably belong to the time of Pyrrhus' expedition into Sicily (Head, Coinage of Syracuse, p. 58):—

Head of Persephone, hair long. ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ Nike in biga.
AV 67.5 grs.
ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ Similar. Torch in oak-wreath.
Æ 1.05
Head of young Herakles. Athena in fighting attitude.
Æ 1.-.8

This Athena Promachos is the Macedonian Athena Alkis, a type which first occurs on coins struck by Ptolemy Soter in Egypt for Alexander the son of Roxana, next on silver coins of Pyrrhus struck during his Italian and Sicilian campaigns, and on these bronze Syracusan coins, and again on the coins of Antigonus Gonatas, B.C. 277-239, and on those of Philip V, B.C. 220-179. For the coins with the name of Pyrrhus, see under Epirus.

Hieron II, B.C. 274-216.

After the departure of Pyrrhus, one of his young officers named Hieron was elected general of the army. He soon rose to great power in the councils of the republic, and after his victory over the Mamertines, assumed the title βασιλευς (B.C. 269).

ΙΕΡΩΝΟΣ Male laureate head.
[Munich; Reinach, No. 16.]
Biga; below, trident.
AV 131 grs. = 120 Litra
Head of Persephone (various symbols).
[B. M. Guide, Pl. 46. 30.]
AV 67.5 grs. = 60 Litra

The silver coins which belong to the reign of Hieron may be divided into five classes as follows:—

CLASS A. With inscr. ΙΕΡΩΝΟΣ.
Head of Athena.
[B. M. Guide, Pl. 46. 32.]
AR Octobol 90 grs.

The weight of this coin is due to the influence of the silver coinage of Pyrrhus. (See also Tauromenium.) The standards of the following classes, on the other hand, seem to be connected with the Ptolemaic system. See Holm, p. 693 f.

CLASS B. With inscr. ΒΑΣΙΛΕΟΣ ΙΕΡΩΝΟΣ and portrait of Hieron.
coin image
FIG. 107.

Head of Hieron diademed. Quadriga driven by Nike (Fig. 107).
AR 432 grs. = 32 Litra

CLASS C. With inscr. ΣΥΡΑΚΟ ΙΟΙ, ΓΕΛΩΝΟΣ and portrait of Gelon.
Head of Gelon, son of Hieron, diademed. Biga driven by Nike; in field ΒΑ.
AR 108 grs. = 8 Litra
Id. Eagle on fulmen; in field ΒΑ.
AR 54 grs. = 4 Litra
Head of Hieron or Gelon. ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΟΙ, XII.
AR 13.5 grs. = 1 Litra
AR 13.5 grs.= 1 Litra

CLASS D. With inscr. ΒΑΣΙΛΙΣΣΑΣ ΦΙΛΙΣΤΙΔΟΣ and portrait of Philistis.
coin image
FIG. 108.

Head of Philistis veiled. Quadriga as above.
AR 243 grs. = 20 Litra (?).
Id. Id. (Fig. 108).
AR 216 grs. = 16 Litra
Id. Biga as above.
AR 67.5 grs. = 5 c

The head of Queen Philistis, the wife of Hieron, on these coins should be compared with that of Arsinoë on the contemporary Egyptian coinage. The use of Roman numerals at Syracuse before the capture of the city by the Romans is proved by the litrae reading ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΟΙ, ΓΕΛΩΝΟΣ, XII. Cf. bronze coins of Rhegium and the Mamertini of the same date, also with Roman numerals. The silver litra marked XII must have been valued at 12 copper litrae, or litrae of account (Head Syracuse, p. 74).

CLASS E. Gold and silver, with inscr. ΣΙΚΕΛΙΩΤΑΝ.
Head of Philistis as Demeter, veiled. Biga driven by Nike.
AV 67.5 grs. = 60 litra.
Id. [B. M. Guide, Pl. 46. 34.] Quadriga driven by Nike.
AR 108, 54, and 27 grs. = 8, 4, and 2 litrae.

On all the coins of this class there is an unexplained monogram HS. On the conclusion of the First Punic War, B.C. 241, when Sicily was divided between the Romans and Hieron, the coins with this inscription were probably struck for circulation throughout the dominions of the latter.

Bronze coins, reading ΙΕΡΩΝΟΣ; various symbols and letters.
Head of Hieron, diademed. Biga.
Æ 1.4
Id. (or laureate). Armed horseman.
Æ 1.2
Head of Poseidon. Trident with dolphins.
Æ .9
Head of Persephone. Pegasos.
Æ .95
Head of nymph. Id.
Æ .6
Head of Apollo. Free horse.
Æ .65
ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ Head of Persephone. ΙΕ Bull; above, club.
Æ .8-.6

Hieronymus, B.C. 216-215.
coin image
FIG. 109.

Hieron was succeeded by his grandson Hieronymus in B.C. 216. The following are the coins which were struck during his short reign:—

Head of Persephone.
[Paris; Reinach, No. 19.]
AV 65 grs. = 60 Litra
Id. „ „ Fulmen.
AV 33.75 grs. = 30 Litra
Head of Hieronymus diademed (Fig. 109). „ „ Fulmen.
AR 324 grs.
135 grs., 81 grs. [Holm, Pl. VI. 18] & 67.5 grs. = 24, 10, 6, & 5 Litra
Similar. Similar.
Æ .9

Democracy, B.C. 215-212.
coin image
FIG. 110.

After the assassination of Hieronymus, a Democracy was once more proclaimed. The following coins belong to this latest period of Syracusan autonomy, which ended with the fall of the city before the Roman arms:—

Female head l. wearing stephanos adorned with floral ornaments.
[Paris; Holm, Pl. VII. 5.]
ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ Quadriga (double struck).
AV 67.5 grs. = 60 litrae.
Head of Athena. ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ Artemis huntress with dog.
AR 162 grs. = 12 litra.
Id. Fulmen.
AR 108 grs. = 8 litra.
Head of Zeus (Fig. 110). Quadriga driven by Nike
AR 216 grs. = 16 litra.
Head of Persephone.
[B. M. Guide, Pl. 47. 39.]
„ Id.
AR 108 grs. = 8 litra.
Head of bearded Herakles.
[B. M. Guide, Pl. 47. 38.]
Biga driven by Nike.
AR 81 grs. = 6 litra.
Head of Apollo. Nike carrying trophy
AR 54 grs. = 4 litra.
Head of Persephone. „ Zeus resting on spear.
AR 135 grs. = 10 litra.
Head of Apollo. Tyche(?) with inflated veil, scroll and branch
AR 33.75 grs. = 2½ litra.
Head of Artemis. ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΟΙ Owl facing.
AR 16.87 grs.= 1¼ litra.
Head of Athena. ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΟΙ :· ΧΙΙΙ.
AR 13.5 grs. = 1 litra.
Head of Herakles.
[Imhoof MG, p. 33.]
AR 7.4 grs. = ½ litra (?).

The figure of Zeus resting on a spear has been shown by G. Abeken (Annali dell’ Inst., 1839, p. 62) to represent the statue of Zeus Strategos


(Ουριος) or Jupiter Imperator mentioned by Cicero (II Verr. iv. 58). On forgeries of gold with the figure of Artemis, see Imhoof, Corolla Num., p. 160.

The Roman numerals :· XIII are to be understood as 13¼ (? 13 1/3) copper litrae. This indicates a further depreciation in the nominal value of the unit of account (Mommsen-Blacas, i. p. 116; Head, l. c. But see also Imhoof MG, p. 33). The bronze issues between the death of Hieronymus and the capture of the city were the following :—

Head of Poseidon. ΣΥΡΑΚΟSΙΩΝ Trident between dolphins.
Æ .8-.45
Head of Apollo. „ The Dioskuri.
Æ .9
Id. „ Tripod.
Æ .9-.6
Female head diademed. „ „
Æ .5

Syracuse under Roman Dominion, after B.C. 212.

Syracuse, in common with most other Sicilian towns, was allowed by the Romans to strike bronze money for a long time after her capture. Many of the following coin-types are very late, especially those which are derived from the worship of Isis.

Head of Zeus. Simulacrum of Isis in quadriga; she holds torch.
Æ 1.0
Id. City, wearing mural crown, standing; holds rudder and sceptre.
Æ .85
Id. Nike in biga.
Æ .95-.75
Id. Eagle on fulmen.
Æ .85
Head of Artemis. Nike carrying palm.
Æ .9
Head of Athena. Nike sacrificing bull.
Æ .85
Head of Sarapis. Isis standing, with sistrum.
Æ .85
Head of Isis. Head-dress of Isis.
Æ .75
Head of Persephone. Demeter standing, with torch and sceptre.
Æ .8
Id. Wreath of corn.
Æ .6
Head of Demeter, veiled. Crossed torches.
Æ .65
Head of Apollo. Torch.
Æ .6
Head of Zeus (?). Tripod.
Æ .4
Head of Apollo. Q and priest’s cap (galerus).
Æ .6
Head of Demeter veiled. Quiver, bow, and arrow, crossed.
Æ .6
Head of Helios. Naked Egyptian deity wearing kalathos.
Æ .75
Head of Janus. Quiver (?).
Æ .65
Head of Asklepios. Serpent-staff.
Æ .65

For other coins which may have been struck in Syracuse for Sicily under the Romans, see Bahrfeldt, Die römisch-sicilischen Münzen aus der Zeit der Republik (Geneva, 1904).


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