Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich

Auction 114 - Part I

Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich, Auction 114 - Part I

Greek, Roman and Byzantine Coins

Tu, 07.05.2019, from 11:00 AM CEST
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Segesta. Tetradrachm circa 405-400, AR 17.16 g. EΓE STAIΩN Aegestes, the city's founder, as hunter, standing r. with l. foot upon rock, r. hand resting on hip, l. elbow on knee; he wears a pilos suspended behind the neck, sword hanging from strap around l. shoulder, ankle-booths (cothurni) and chlamys over l. arm; two javelins in l. hand. At his feet, two hounds r. and in r. field, ithyphallic herme l., wearing petasus. Rev. [ΣΕΛΕ – ΣΤ]ΑZΙΒ Head of the nymph Segesta r., wearing earring and necklace, hair caught in amphyx and sphendone. Behind head, ear of barley. Rizzo pl. LXII, 13 (these dies). Kraay-Himer 203 (this obverse die) and 204 (this reverse die). Mildenberg, Kimon in the manner of Segesta in Proceedings of the 8th International Congress of Numismatics, Paris, 1973, pl. 11, 20. Lederer 5. Hunter, Segesta, T7a and p. 137, fig. 15 (this coin).
Extremely rare and among the finest specimens known. A very important and prestigious
issue of fine style with a very interesting and well accomplished obverse
composition. Struck on a very broad flan with a lovely tone

Ex Leu sale 71, 1997, 62.

The coinage of Segesta started in about 475/70 B.C. with silver didrachms that depict a standing hound on the obverse and the head of the local nymph on the reverse. That series lasted seventy years or more, during which time the hound was shown in a variety of poses and there was a significant development in the style of the nymph's head. Tetradrachms were not struck at Segesta until about 415 B.C., overlapping didrachm production by only about fifteen years. The hound and nymph both spoke to the foundation mythology of the city. The hound represented the river-god Crimisus, who in the poem Alexandra, attributed to the 3rd Century Greek poet Lycophron, is said to have seduced a fugitive Trojan woman, Aegista (Segesta). Their child, Aegestes, is credited with the foundation of Segesta and the lesser communities of Eryx and Entella. In the historical tradition, Segesta was founded by Elymians, a people who in comparison with Greeks and Carthaginians qualified as indigenous Sicilians. The Elymian homeland is unknown: they may have migrated from Liguria, though most often they are described as having arrived from Asia Minor. Their distinctive language, written with the Greek alphabet, is still un-deciphered. By the time Segesta began to issue tetradrachms near the end of the 5th Century, that denomination had become the preferred silver coin of Sicily. The earliest tetradrachms, dated by Hurter to c.415/12-c.410 B.C., have on their obverse a quadriga scene with some variety. The reverse has a truly remarkable type showing a young man holding a spear; he has one foot set upon a rock as he peers into the distance as if from an elevated lookout. At his side one or two hounds either are scenting or are looking forward alertly. After the initial issue, this scene alternates from the obverse to the reverse, and on many tetradrachms the ethic is rendered in both Greek and Elymian. Though no inscription provides his name, the young man must be Aegestes, the founder of Segesta, or the river-god Crimisus, portrayed as a hunter. Aegestes seems a likely candidate, yet Aelian (Var. Hist. ii.33) notes that Crimisus was worshipped in human form at Segesta. On one die from the initial group a herm (boundary marker) appears before him – a design feature that would recur on all but one die that followed. The next issues pair the hunter design with two unique types – a facing head modelled after the work of Kimon at Syracuse, and the nymph Segesta sacrificing at an altar in a scene reminiscent of that on tetradrachms of Himera. Thereafter, the accompanying type is either a quadriga or the head of the nymph Segesta, shown in profile, as on the present coin. A perennial concern of Segesta was its frontier territory, which bordered on that of Selinus to the South. This wholly original scene probably reflects the vigilance of the men of Segesta along their border with Selinus. Starting in the late 5th Century the local dispute of Segesta and Selinus grew out of proportion and drew the involvement of distant powers. In 416 B.C. it led to Syracusan and Athenian interventions that three years later culminated in the destruction of an Athenian armada. In 410/9 B.C. it gave pretext for a Carthaginian invasion which resulted in the destruction of Selinus and Himera. A few years later, new hostilities in the region of Selinus triggered an even more severe Carthaginian invasion which, in 406/5 B.C., resulted in the sacking of Acragas, Gela and Camarina, and left the Carthaginians in control of much of the island.

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Price realized 70'000 CHF
Starting price 40'000 CHF
Estimate 50'000 CHF
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