Italy. Sicily, Syracuse.
Tetradrachm, c. 405 BC, by Euth [ydamos] and Eumenes. (Silver, 17.28g., 24.8mm). Quadriga galloping to right, driven by a winged male figure holding the reins with both hands; above, Nike flying left to crown the driver; in exergue, Skylla swimming right, holding trident over her left shoulder and pointing, with her right hand, at a fish swimming right before her; above her arm to right, ΕΥΘ / ΣΥΡΑΚΟ-Σ-ΙΩΝ Head of Demeter or Kore to left, wearing wreath of grain ears, poppies and oak leaves, double curved earring and plain necklace with a lion’s head pendant; below neck, ΕΥΜ; around, four dolphins swimming to left. Basel 460 (this coin). Gulbenkian 279 (same dies). Kraay & Hirmer 103 (same dies). SNG ANS 273 (same dies). Tudeer 46 w (this coin).
Syracuse, the greatest of the Greek cities of Sicily (IACP 47) was founded c. 733/2 (or a decade or so earlier) by Archias of Corinth. At the height of its power in the early 4th century it ruled over all of central and eastern Sicily, as well as much of Bruttium and Calabria in Magna Graecia. Much of its history was blighted by stasis, with resulting strife and exiles. Both the powerful tyrants who ruled the city (including later kings) and the various democracies constantly added to the city’s population through the enfranchising of the relocated citizens of subject areas, as well as groups of mercenaries who had served the city. At present this coin has been dated to the very beginning of the reign of Dionysios I who was tyrant from 405 to 367 (though it could have been struck slightly earlier, during the last years of the Democracy). The driver of the victorious chariot on the obverse is possibly Agon; in the exergue is Skylla, the guardian of the Straits, who is chasing a fish (perhaps an allusion to the Athenian defeat of 413). On the reverse, instead of the head of Arethusa usually found on the coinage of Syracuse, we have the head of either Demeter or Kore, as shown by her wreath of grain, poppies and oak. This coin is one of the finest examples of the type known, and formed part of the most beautiful collection of Sicilian coins ever formed, that of Salvatore Pennisi: while some pieces were sold by the family in the 1960s (as this), most ended up being bought by the state in 1988 and are now in a museum in Syracuse.
Grading/Status: A lovely coin of magnificent style, beautifully struck and attractively toned signed by the artist-engravers Euth [ydamos] and Eumenes. Good extremely fine.
Numismatica Ars Classica 48, 21 October 2008, 47.
Collection of A. Moretti, Numismatica Ars Classica 13, 8 October 1998, 460.
Collection of S. Pennisi, Barone di Floristella (sold in Switzerland in the 1960s).