SICILY. Syracuse. Dionysios I, 405-367 BC. 100 Litrai or Double Dekadrachm (Gold, 14 mm, 5.82 g, 12 h), in the style of Euainetos. Circa 405-400 or somewhat later. ΣYPAKOΣIO Female head (of Arethusa?) to left, her hair bound up in a sphendone ornamented with two stars, wearing triple-pendant earring and pearl necklace; behind her neck, star. Rev. Youthful Herakles, nude, kneeling right on rocky ground line, wrestling the Nemean lion. Bérend 38.8 ( this coin, D22/R19). Dewing 926 ( same dies ). Gulbenkian 325 ( same dies ). Rizzo pl. LIII, 11 ( same dies ). SNG ANS 336 ( same dies ). SNG Lockett 984 ( same dies ). An exceptional example of this important issue and undoubtedly among the finest known. Boldly struck in incredibly high relief from arguably the finest die pair in the series. Good extremely fine.
From the Kleinkunst Collection, ex Sotheby's, 8 July 1996, 26 ('Highly important Greek and Roman coins'), Münzen & Medaillen 64, 1984, 42, and from the collection of C. Gillet ('Kunstfreund'), photofile no. 701.
The magnificent Syracusan 100 litrai or double dekadrachms are among the finest Greek gold coins ever produced. They are associated with the city's wonderful dekadrachms by Kimon and Euainetos, whose signature also appears on the earliest dies of the gold series. Bérend connects the issue with the Greek struggle for independence against the advancing Carthaginians in 406/5-404 BC (see above, lot 60), but hoard evidence suggests that it was in fact struck over a longer period of time, perhaps by minting the treasures provided to Dionysios' father-in-law Hermokrates by the Persian Satrap Pharnabazos in 409 (Diod. XIII, 63.1) and/or the 300 talents in ransom levied from the Carthaginian general Himilko after his failed siege of Syracuse in 397/6 BC (see lot 79 below). Our example was struck from what might be the finest die pair in the series: the delicate female head struck in exceptionally high relief on the obverse is a truly sculptural work of art, whereas the reverse shows a magnificent rendering of Herakles' first and most famous Labor, the slaying of the Nemean lion. The latter is clearly a reference to the wars Syracuse was waging against its archenemy Carthage: Herakles, the great Doric hero and ancestor of the Doric city of Syracuse, defends the independence of the western Greeks by defeating the lion, the symbol of Africa.
|Price realized||65'000 CHF|
|Starting price||28'000 CHF|