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Sicily, Syracuse AR Tetradrachm. Time of Agathokles, circa 310-306/5 BC. Head of Kore right, wearing earring, necklace and wreath of grain ears; KOPAΣ to left / Nike standing right, wearing drapery that falls to waist, erecting trophy to right; triskeles to right, AΓAΘOKΛEOΣ in exergue. Ierardi 129; Gulbenkian 336; SNG ANS 668; SNG Lloyd 1491. 16.35g, 27mm, 8h.

Extremely Fine; very pleasing original 'find' patina.

Ex Numismatica Ars Classica 106, 9 May 2018, lot 1178.

With the usurpation of Agathokles in 317 BC, Syracuse once more monopolised the right of coinage for the whole of Sicily, even more distinctly than in the time of Dionysios. Yet the reign of Agathokles, as noted by Malcolm Bell (Morgantine Studies I, 1981) "was a watershed for the arts in Sicily, just as it was for politics. The change from a conservative late-classical style to the new modes of the early-Hellenistic period came very quickly, within the space of a decade, and it coincided with the replacement of democratic government by the new monarchy. It is clearly perceptible in the coins that... document the full acceptance of early-Hellenistic style."

Depicted often as a cruel and unscrupulous adventurer and tyrant, Agathokles achieved little of lasting historical importance; indeed after his death anarchy erupted both in Syracuse, where a damnatio memoriae was decreed, and in other places that had been under his rule (Diod. Sic. 21. 18). Nonetheless, his patronage of the arts left a legacy of beauty as embodied by a small number of surviving works of art from his reign, and smaller but no less wonderful objects such as this stunning coin.

Sicily, Syracuse AR Tetradrachm. (rxvi154)

Price: £7,692.00

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  • (Rates for 17/10/2018)
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