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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Greek Coins| ▸ |Geographic - All Periods| ▸ |Sicily||View Options:  |  |  |   

Ancient Greek Coins of Sicily

The coins of Ancient Greek Sicily are considered among the finest numismatic works of art ever produced. Superb examples may cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Forum's selections include some more affordable examples.


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

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SH86312. Silver tetradrachm, Boehringer Series XIVb, 489 (V258/R351); SNG ANS 156 (same dies); Weber 1583 (same obv. die); BMC Sicily, p. 156, 80; Jameson 762; HGC 2 1312, EF, mint luster in recesses, light tone, obverse die wear, uneven strike, reverse off center, weight 17.391 g, maximum diameter 27.5 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, 466 - 460 B.C.; obverse charioteer driving slow quadriga right, holding reins in both hands, goad in right hand, Nike above flying left crowning driver with wreath, Ketos (sea serpent) right in exergue; reverse ΣYPAKOΣON, head of Arethusa right, wearing pearl or bead necklace and earring with loop and finial pendant, thin band wound once around her head and tying back hair in queue, four dolphins around swimming clockwise; ex CNG auction 102 (18 May 2016), lot 135; ex Colin E. Pitchfork Collection; ex Dr. Neil Geddes (20 Nov 2002); ex Noble auction 54 (22 July 1997), lot 1640; ex Stack’s sale, 6 Dec 1995, lot 65; $1900.00 (€1672.00)


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)


Naxos, Sicily, c. 461 - 430 B.C.

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Naxos was an ancient Greek city of Sicily on the east coast of the island between Catana (modern Catania) and Messana (modern Messina). It was at the mouth of the river Acesines (modern Alcantara) and at the foot of the hill on which was afterwards built the city of Tauromenium (modern Taormina). In 403 B.C., Dionysius of Syracuse, having made himself master of Naxos by the treachery of their general Procles, sold all the inhabitants as slaves and destroyed the walls and buildings of the city. The site of Naxos was never again inhabited in antiquity; but in 358 B.C., the Naxian exiles from all parts of the island joined together and founded Tauromenium on top of the nearby hill.
GI91051. Silver litra, Cahn 74.8 (V54/R62); Rizzo pl. XXVIII, 15; SNG ANS 521; SNG Mün 758; SNG Cop 491; BMC Italy 17; de Luynes 1067, HGC 2 970 (R2) (all same dies), VF, well centered, light marks, etched surfaces, weight 0.653 g, maximum diameter 11.6 mm, die axis 0o, Naxos mint, c. 461 - 430 B.C.; obverse NAXI (clockwise on right), head of Dionysos right, wearing ivy wreath; reverse bunch of grapes on vine with leaves and tendrils around; ex Roma Numismatics e-sale 39 (27 Aug 2017), lot 68; ex Mark Christenson Collection; rare; $360.00 (€316.80)


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

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References disagree on the date of this type. Dates range from the rule of Hieron II beginning in 275 B.C. to the end of the 5th Republic in 212 B.C.
GS86619. Silver 2 1/2 litrae, SNG Cop 882, SNG ANS 903, SNG München 1439, HGC 2 420 (R2) corr., BMC Sicily -, VF, well centered, toned, light bumps and marks, ethnic weakly struck, weight 2.229 g, maximum diameter 15.2 mm, die axis 180o, Syracuse mint, 216 - 215 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo left; reverse ΣYPAKOΣIOI, Isis standing facing, looking up to heaven, veil billowing out behind around head, scroll in right hand, filleted palm frond in left hand, A upper right; very rare; $290.00 (€255.20)


Kephaloidion, Sicily, c. 307 - 289 B.C.

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Kephaloidoion, on Cape Cefalu, was under the influence of nearby Himera until c. 405 B.C. In 396 B.C., the town allied with General Himilco of Carthage against Dionysos of Syracuse but was defeated. Agathocles besieged and conquered the city in 307 B.C. Kephaloidion was again allied with Carthage at the beginning of the First Punic War but the citizens opened the gates when the Roman fleet appeared off the shore in 254 B.C. The city faded but survived at least into the second century A.D.
GI76952. Bronze AE 17, Calciati I, p. 371, 1; HGC 2 649 (R2); SNG ANS -; SNG Morcom -; SNG München -; SNG Tüb -, VF, green patina, light marks, reverse off center, weight 4.367 g, maximum diameter 16.8 mm, die axis 135o, Kephaloidion (Cefalu, Sicily) mint, c. 344 - 336 B.C. (references vary greatly); obverse KEΦAΛOI∆I, Herakles head right, wearing Nemean lion scalp headdress; reverse bull butting right, club above, linear border; very rare; $280.00 (€246.40)


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.
GI83514. 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, green patina, edges earthen encrusted, cleaning marks, reverse double struck, weight 15.872 g, maximum diameter 24.4 mm, die axis 90o, 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; $280.00 (€246.40)


Abakainon, Sicily, 339 - 317 B.C.

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Abakainon was a native Sicel city that adopted Greek culture, but allied with Carthage. In the 5th century B.C., it was powerful and important. In 396, Dionysios I of Syracuse seized part of its territory and founded the city Tyndaris. The Carthaginian general Mago came to their aid but was defeated outside the city walls. Abakainon fell under the hegemony of Syracuse and as Tyndaris grew and prospered, Abakainon diminished to insignificance. It suffered a major earthquake in the 1st century A.D. but survived at least until the 2nd century. Tommaso Fazello (1498 - 1570) described the ruins as indicating a large city which had been destroyed to its foundations. The village of Tripi was founded on the ruins in 1061.
GB86300. Bronze tetras, Calciati I 5; SNG ANS 901; HGC 2 34 (S); SNG Cop -, SNG München -; SNG Tübingen -; SNG Morcom -; SNG Lloyd -, gVF, well centered, dark green patina, bumps and scratches, tiny spots of slight corrosion, obverse center struck a little flat, weight 2.404 g, maximum diameter 13.7 mm, die axis 225o, Abakainon (Tripi, Sicily) mint, 339 - 317 B.C.; obverse head of a nymph left, hair in ampyx and sphendone, wearing drop earring; reverse ABAKAINI-NΩN, forepart of bull charging left, head turned facing; very rare; $270.00 (€237.60)


Syracuse, Sicily, Dionysios I, c. 405 - 367 B.C.

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Dionysius I was tyrant of Syracuse. He conquered several cities in Sicily and southern Italy, opposed Carthage's influence in Sicily and made Syracuse the most powerful of the Western Greek colonies. He was regarded by the ancients as an example of the worst kind of despot - cruel, suspicious and vindictive.
GS86597. Silver hemilitron, SNG ANS 301; SNG Cop 669; SNG Lloyd 1379; BMC Sicily p. 182, 237; Boehringer Münzprägungen pl. II, 19; HGC 2 1392 (R2) , VF, dark toning, light marks and corrosion, tiny edge cracks, weight 0.434 g, maximum diameter 10.1 mm, die axis 0o, Syracuse mint, c. 405 - 395 B.C.; obverse head of nymph Arethusa left, wearing drop earring, hair bound in ampyx and sphendone, no control symbol or signature; reverse four-spoked wheel, SY-PA in upper quarters, two dolphins heads downward nose to nose in lower quarters; very rare; $270.00 (€237.60)


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)


Agyrion, Sicily, 355 - 344 B.C.

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Agyrion (modern Agira) was a Sikel city ruled by tyrants, one of whom, Agyris, was the most powerful ruler in the center of Sicily. In 392 B.C., he and Dionysius the Elder, together successfully resisted the Carthaginians under Magno. Agira was not colonized by the Greeks until the Corinthian general Timoleon drove out the last Sikel tyrant in 339 B.C. and settled 10,000 Greeks.

According to Caltabiano, Palagkaios was probably the Sikel name for the larger of the two local rivers (Salso Cimarosa today). Molinari and Sisci propose a Semitic origin, from the Akkadian palag-āsú, 'the gushing river.'
GB91174. Bronze tetras, Calciati III p. 125, 10; Potamikon 14; SNG ANS -; SNG Cop -; SNG Morcom -, VF, dark green patina, undersize flan, weight 2.685 g, maximum diameter 13.4 mm, die axis 270o, Agyrion (Agira, Sicily, Italy) mint, 355 - 344 B.C.; obverse AΓYPINAI counterclockwise before, young Herakles' head left, clad in Nemean lion scalp headdress; reverse forepart of a man-faced bull (river-god Acheloios Palagkaios) left, ΠAΛAΓKAIOΣ horizontal above, dot border; rare; $190.00 (€167.20)




  






REFERENCES|

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Catalog current as of Saturday, December 7, 2019.
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Sicily