Italy. Sicily, Syracuse.
Dekadrachm, c. 317 - 310 BC, under Agathokles. (Gold, 4.28g., 16.3mm). Laureate head of Apollo to left; behind head, Σ / ΣΥΡΑ–Κ-ΟΣΙΩΝ Charioteer driving a biga rushing to right; below horses, triskeles running to right. Dewing 934 (triskeles to left). Gulbenkian 327 (triskeles to left). SNG ANS 552 var. (triskeles to left).
Agathokles (361-289/8) was first tyrant (in 317) and then (in 305) king of Syracuse. He was the son of Karkinos, a wealthy pottery owner, who was originally from Rhegium and was given Syracusan citizenship under Timoleon in 343/2. Agathokles was drawn to military affairs and was seen as a threat by the 600, the oligarchs of Syracuse. He was repeatedly banished but finally was able to mount a coup in 316, resulting in the destruction of the 600. He went to war to expand his power but overall, while increasing the areas under his rule, he was basically unsuccessful against his main enemy, Carthage. He was assassinated in 289/8 after which his ‘empire’ crumbled. This coin was struck during the early part of his reign when he was fighting the Carthaginians in Sicily, prior to his invasion of Africa in an initially successful attempt to draw off the Carthaginians from Sicily. It was clearly inspired by the earlier gold staters of Philip II of Macedon, whose exploits Agathokles attempted to equal.
Grading/Status: A beautiful and rare piece, very well struck on a broad flan. Good Extremely fine.
Private collection in Cincinnati, Ohio, Gemini V, 6 January 2009, 42.
Displayed at the Cincinnati Museum of Art (1994-2008).
Acquired from H. J. Berk in 1989.