Troas, Alexandreia Troas - The Mouse God

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Assuming that the era in use began in 301 as Bellinger suggests (p. 94, note 18), the date of this issue, year 174, probably equates to c.128/7 BC. For an up to date commentary on the dating of this coinage cf. A. Meadows, ‘The earliest coinage of Alexandria Troas’ in NC 2004, pp. 47-70, especially p. 70. Recent excavations have revealed that the Hellenistic incarnation of the temple of Apollo Smintheos was constructed circa 150-125 BC, therefore around the supposed time of the striking of this coin.

For a very informative discussion on the statue of Apollo Smintheos at the shrine of Hamaxitos near Alexandria Troas attributed to Skopas, who is said to have a mouse at the foot of the god, cf. L. Lacroix, Les reproduction de statues sur les monnaies grecques, pp. 76-86, especially pp. 83-6.

In the opening of Homer’s Iliad the shrine of Apollo Smintheos (Smitheos on the coin) is mentioned as the temple where the daughter of the Trojan priest Chryses, (possibly named after the town next to the temple which was sometimes called Chryse), who was called as Chryseis, 'the girl from Chryse', was taken captive by Agamemnon. This provoked Chryses to appeal to the god in the vocative as Σμινθε? (Smintheu, 'O, Sminthian') when imploring him to send a plague against the Greeks, presumably by mice. The epithet Smintheos was attributed by the later Greeks to a Pelasgian or Mysian origin and was taken to mean 'destroyer of mice'. The consonantal string -nth- (e.g. Corinth) is considered by modern philologists to be non-Greek and possibly Luwian in origin. The passage of Homer gives no indication as to its meaning, and so myths about Apollo Smintheos primarily arose from attempts to aetiologise the epithet.

Troas, Alexandreia Troas AR Tetradrachm. Year 174 = 128/7 BC. Anaxikratos, magistrate. Laureate head of Apollo left, with flying wreath ties and two spiral locks falling over back of neck / Apollo Smintheos (the Mouse God), laureate and draped, standing to right holding bow and unstrung arrow in left hand, patera in right, quiver over shoulder; ΑΠΟΛΛΩNΟΣ and date POΔ to right, monogram and ΖΜΙΘΕΩΣ to left, ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΕΩΝ in exergue, ANAΞIKPATOΣ below. BMC -; Bellinger -; Leschorn Lexicon I & II -; for general type cf. Bellinger A133-7. 16.88g, 31mm, 12h.

Good Extremely Fine. A historically and artistically important coin. Apparently unique and unpublished, and very possibly the finest known example of the series, which is otherwise only found in heavily circulated condition.