MYSIA, Kyzikos. 5th-4th century BC. Hekte (Electrum, 10mm, 2.64 g). Kekrops to left, his body ending in a coiled serpent’s tail, leaning on an olive branch held in his right hand, his left at his side; below, tunny fish to left. Rev. Quadripartite incuse square. Cf. BMFA 1499 (stater). SNG France 306. Von Fritze I, 158. A fine example of this unusual and rare type. Nearly extremely fine.
From a European collection.
Kekrops was the mythological first king of Attica; he was born from the Earth and his body ended in a serpent’s tail rather than legs. He appears on Athenian Red Figure pottery and his statue was in the West Pediment of the Parthenon. On this coin he is holding the olive tree that Athena gave to Athens during her contest with Poseidon for the city’s allegiance. As the story goes, Poseidon offered a salt-water spring on the Acropolis and Athena presented the olive: Kekrops chose Athena’s gift and, thus, Athena became the city’s patroness and was named after her. The fact that this distinctly Athenian myth should appear on the coinage of Kyzikos can be explained by the close ties between the two cities.