Sicily, Syracuse - Timoleon's Aphrodite

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Timoleon was dispatched from Corinth at the head of an army to answer a call for aid from Syracuse. When he arrived in Sicily there was no local currency sufficient to pay his mercenary troops. No Greek coinage had been minted for several decades in Sicily and the older coins that remained in circulation were worn and of mixed origin. Timoleon undoubtedly brought with him a war-chest consisting primarily of staters (Pegasi) from his native Corinth and her allies and colonies in northwest Greece which quickly became the dominant currency in Greek Sicily. When bullion became available, it is not surprising that Timoleon struck his own staters, based on the weight and bearing the types of his native Corinth, but with the Syracusan ethnik.

The present drachm bears a wonderful portrait of the goddess Aphrodite, whose cult flourished in Corinth more so than in any other city of mainland Greece. The goddess had her temple atop the monolithic rock known as the Acrocorinth, widely regarded as the most impressive acropolis in all of Greece. This mountain peak which towered over the city was assigned to Helios by Briareos when he acted as adjudicator between that god and Poseidon in their contest for the city, and was handed over, the Corinthians said, by Helios to Aphrodite. The temple of Aphrodite here was particularly wealthy, and according to Strabo it at one time possessed over a thousand temple slaves. It is fitting therefore that upon this drachm of Timoleon we find a beautifully engraved image of the goddess Aphrodite.

Sicily, Syracuse AR Hemidrachm. Timoleon and the Third Democracy, circa 344-339/8 BC. Corinthian standard. Head of Aphrodite to left, wearing earring and necklace, hair tied with ribbon and bound at top, falling loose behind / Pegasos flying left, ΣVPAKOΣION around. Giesecke pl. 18, 7; Lederer, Berl. Mzb. 1912 p. 339; Imhoof-Blumer, NymphenChariten, p. 53. 1.76g, 13mm, 12h.

Good Very Fine. Of the highest rarity, apparently only the fourth known specimen.