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HOME : Greek Coins : Archive : Silver Tetradrachm Minted Under King Agathocles
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Silver Tetradrachm Minted Under King Agathocles - C.2047
Origin: City of Syracuse
Circa: 310 BC to 305 BC

Collection: Numismatics
Medium: Silver


Additional Information: SOLD

Location: United States
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Description
Obverse: Quadriga Racing Left

Reverse: Wreathed Head of Arethusa Surrounded by Three Dolphins

Agathocles moved from his native town, Thermae Himerenses (now Termini Imerese), Sicily, to Syracuse about 343 and served with distinction in the army. Twice banished for attempting to overthrow the oligarchy, he returned in 317 with an army and set himself up as ruler. Agathocles then embarked on a long series of wars. His first campaigns (316-c. 313), against the other Sicilian Greeks, brought a number of cities, including Messana, under his control. Carthage, however, fearing for its own possessions in Sicily, sent a large force to secure the island. Thus the struggle that had gone on between the Sicilian Greeks and Carthage intermittently since the 6th century was renewed. In 311, Agathocles, defeated and besieged in Syracuse, saved himself by breaking through the blockade and attacking his enemy's homelands in Africa. With considerable success, he threatened the city of Carthage itself in 310 BC but was defeated in 307. The peace he concluded in 306 was not unfavorable, for it restricted Carthaginian power in Sicily to the area west of the Halycus (Platani) River. Agathocles continued to strengthen his rule over the Greek cities of Sicily. By 304, he felt secure enough to assume the title king of Sicily, and he extended his influence into southern Italy and the Adriatic. Later he formed an alliance with Ptolemy I of Egypt. He raided Italy and in 299 BC conquered the Greek island of Corcyra (now Kérkira) in the Adriatic Sea. Overall, Agathocles' reign as king was peaceful, allowing him to enrich Syracuse with many public buildings. Dissension among his family about the succession, however, caused him in his will to restore liberty to the Syracusans, and his death was followed by a recrudescence of Carthaginian power in Sicily.

How many hands have touched a coin in your pocket or purse? What eras and lands have the coin traversed on its journey into our possession? As we reach into our pockets to pull out some change, we rarely hesitate to think of who might have touched the coin before us, or where the coin will venture to after it leaves our hands. More than money, coins are a symbol of the state that struck them, of a specific time and location, whether contemporary currencies or artifacts of a long forgotten empire. The obverse depicts a Quadriga, or four-horse chariot, driven by a charioteer who holds a kentron in his outstretched right hand. The quadriga originally may have referred to the favorite pastime of the Syracusan aristocracy, the Gamoroi, who bred horses and sent chariots to compete in the Olympic games. The representation of Arethusa on the reverse refers to her legendary connection with Syracuse. A nymph of Elis in the Peloponnese, she was pursued by the river god Alpheios. To escape him, she withdrew under the sea, finally emerging at Syracuse. She was transformed into the fresh water nymph of the island of Ortygia, the earliest settled portion of Syracuse. The dolphins encircling her on the coin perhaps refer to the location of her spring on Ortygia, surrounded by the sea. This magnificent coin is a memorial to an ancient king passed down from the hands of civilization to civilization, from generation to generation. How many hands have touched a coin in your pocket or purse? What eras and lands have the coin traversed on its journey into our possession? As we reach into our pockets to pull out some change, we rarely hesitate to think of who might have touched the coin before us, or where the coin will venture to after it leaves our hands. More than money, coins are a symbol of the state that struck them, of a specific time and location, whether contemporary currencies or artifacts of a long forgotten empires. The obverse depicts a Quadriga, or four-horse chariot, driven by a charioteer who holds a kentron in his outstretched right hand. The quadriga originally may have referred to the favorite pastime of the Syracusan aristocracy, the Gamoroi, who bred horses and sent chariots to compete in the Olympic games. The representation of Arethusa on the reverse refers to her legendary connection with Syracuse. A nymph of Elis in the Peloponnese, she was pursued by the river god Alpheios. To escape him, she withdrew under the sea, finally emerging at Syracuse. She was transformed into the fresh water nymph of the island of Ortygia, the earliest settled portion of Syracuse. The dolphins encircling her on the coin perhaps refer to the location of her spring on Ortygia, surrounded by the sea. This magnificent coin is a memorial to an ancient king passed down from the hands of civilization to civilization, from generation to generation.
- (C.2047)

 

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