Jump to content

The Nike of Syracuse


kapphnwn
 Share

Recommended Posts

Over the last few years I have been collecting the Ar Tetradrachms from the mint of Syracuse. However of late there has been an anomaly that is somewhat puzzling. What that is ; is that the usual position of Nike is seen flying above the quadriga crowning the horses. However on rare occasions Nike can be found crowning the driver. One can witness this phenomenon on some of the earliest coins minted at Syracuse, during the period of the Democracy as well as the "signed" period  some of which can be ascribed to the reign of Dionysios I.

Here we see an example of the Nike crowning the horse

Syracuse Ar Tetradrachm 450-440 BC Obv Charioteer driving four horses right Nike flying above crowning the horses Rv Head of Arethusa right surrounded by 4 dolphins  Boehringer 571 17.39 grms 25 mm Photo by W Hansen

syracusetd18.jpg.48f2fc6af82ecdf278d2d1454014123e.jpg

 

Here we can see an example of the Nike crowning the driver

Syracuse Ar Tetradrachm 466-460 BC Obv Charioteer driving four horses right being crowned by Nike above Rv Head of Arethusa right surrounded by four dolphins Boehringer 438 17.40 grms 25 mm Photo by W. Hansen

syracusetd17.jpg.1267257a93972a1c3ad7ffa5c091fb15.jpg

 

 Perhaps in order to understand this phenomenon a little better one needs to understand something of the nature of Greek equestrian events. In most modern races it is the rider that wins the accolades, however with the Greeks it was the owner. During the 416 BC  Olympic Games the Athenian Statesman Alcibiades placed something like three teams in one of the most prestigious Olympic events the  quadriga  and came in First Second and Fourth in that race. Thus Nike crowning the horse now would make sense. The Nike is in effect crowning the absent owner. However what of the more unusual variant. Again I have no proof but in my mind it would seem that in this particular race the victorious quadriga is in fact being driven by the owner. Now I cannot say that this is true as we know very little of the chariot races held by the Greek. Thus it is unknown if they had the same demolition derby aspect that Roman chariot races appear to have, However it is very likely that these races were more dangerous than many Olympic contests. 

  • Like 26
  • Cookie 1
  • Gasp 1
  • Heart Eyes 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Beautiful! Here's a favorite of mine. It's in the early-ish transitional period between "stern style" and later classical Arethusas.

I like both of these dies, but the reverse (Arethusa) die especially. This pair (V274/R378) is not in Boehringer and I've never found another example. (Nor any provenance for this one prior to its Goldberg 2015 appearance, though the very dark toning suggests it's been above ground for at least a century or two.)

It's one of the only coins I've left it in a slab (for a few reasons), but I don't really mind it. I'm sure I'd love to hold it in hand though, especially given the broad flan. NGC described it as "edge altered"; I'm guessing because it was shaved down to fit a bezel maybe in the 19th or early 20th century, resulting in a bit of low weight (16.19g, though I'd really like to double-check it).

1943635668_SyracuseTetradrachmNGCExGoldb

Greek (Classical). Sicily, Syracuse, AR Tetradrachm (16.19g, 28mm, 12h), Second Democracy (466-405 BCE), struck 450 – 440.
Obverse: Charioteer, wearing long chiton, holding kentron and reins, driving slow quadriga right; above, Nike flying right, crowning with wreath a horse to outside left, rearing up to receive it; in exergue, Pistrix (Sea serpent or ketos) right; all within pearl border, except the charioteer, whose head breaks the dotted circle.
Reverse: ΣVRAKOΣ-IO-N. Head of Arethusa facing right, wavy hair rolled up in back under a thin band (or diadem), wearing beaded necklace with a jewel, and loop-and-pendant earrings; four dolphins around, facing clockwise.
References/Notes: Boehringer series XV, unlisted die pair (V274/R378); cf. SNG ANS 177; du Chastel 28-29 type. (Böhringer types 535-544, 546 share one die with this example, but the combination is otherwise unknown; V274 had been in long service by this time, an example known as early as R367 [CNR XXII 1, 1997, 19 & Triton XIII (14 Jan 2020), 120]). Further ref (quoting CNG 112, 89) for comparanda: HGC 2, 1311; BMC 85; SNG München 1018-9; McClean 2663 (all from the same dies).
Provenance: Ex-Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc. Auction #84, lot 3010 (27 January 2015) Unsold; eBay purchase after the auction. NGC #3763070-001 (XF; Strike: 4/5, Surface: 2/5, Edge altered).
http://images.goldbergauctions.com/php/lot_auc.php?site=1&sale=84&lot=3010;
https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=2333607;
Gallery of my photos: https://imgur.com/a/Jpur0EM

387058639_CONSERVATORI-SyracuseTetradrac

Edited by Curtis JJ
  • Like 22
  • Cookie 1
  • Heart Eyes 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, kapphnwn said:

Over the last few years I have been collecting the Ar Tetradrachms from the mint of Syracuse. However of late there has been an anomaly that is somewhat puzzling. What that is ; is that the usual position of Nike is seen flying above the quadriga crowning the horses. However on rare occasions Nike can be found crowning the driver. One can witness this phenomenon on some of the earliest coins minted at Syracuse, during the period of the Democracy as well as the "signed" period  some of which can be ascribed to the reign of Dionysios I.

Here we see an example of the Nike crowning the horse

Syracuse Ar Tetradrachm 450-440 BC Obv Charioteer driving four horses right Nike flying above crowning the horses Rv Head of Arethusa right surrounded by 4 dolphins  Boehringer 571 17.39 grms 25 mm Photo by W Hansen

syracusetd18.jpg.48f2fc6af82ecdf278d2d1454014123e.jpg

 

Here we can see an example of the Nike crowning the driver

Syracuse Ar Tetradrachm 466-460 BC Obv Charioteer driving four horses right being crowned by Nike above Rv Head of Arethusa right surrounded by four dolphins Boehringer 438 17.40 grms 25 mm Photo by W. Hansen

syracusetd17.jpg.1267257a93972a1c3ad7ffa5c091fb15.jpg

 

 Perhaps in order to understand this phenomenon a little better one needs to understand something of the nature of Greek equestrian events. In most modern races it is the rider that wins the accolades, however with the Greeks it was the owner. During the 416 BC  Olympic Games the Athenian Statesman Alcibiades placed something like three teams in one of the most prestigious Olympic events the  quadriga  and came in First Second and Fourth in that race. Thus Nike crowning the horse now would make sense. The Nike is in effect crowning the absent owner. However what of the more unusual variant. Again I have no proof but in my mind it would seem that in this particular race the victorious quadriga is in fact being driven by the owner. Now I cannot say that this is true as we know very little of the chariot races held by the Greek. Thus it is unknown if they had the same demolition derby aspect that Roman chariot races appear to have, However it is very likely that these races were more dangerous than many Olympic contests. 

Absolutely fantastic coins, I always admire your Greek Tetradrachms!

how long have you been collecting Greeks?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

14 hours ago, kapphnwn said:

" Perhaps in order to understand this phenomenon a little better one needs to understand something of the nature of Greek equestrian events. In most modern races it is the rider that wins the accolades, however with the Greeks it was the owner. During the 416 BC  Olympic Games the Athenian Statesman Alcibiades placed something like three teams in one of the most prestigious Olympic events the  quadriga  and came in First Second and Fourth in that race. Thus Nike crowning the horse now would make sense. The Nike is in effect crowning the absent owner. However what of the more unusual variant. Again I have no proof but in my mind it would seem that in this particular race the victorious quadriga is in fact being driven by the owner. Now I cannot say that this is true as we know very little of the chariot races held by the Greek. Thus it is unknown if they had the same demolition derby aspect that Roman chariot races appear to have, However it is very likely that these races were more dangerous than many Olympic contests. "

This is an interesting  theory with some  beautiful coins. With the caveat that we will never  know for sure, one argument against this is that are some other Sicilian  cities which are not thought to  have  had relevant Olympic success also  had the Nike crowning the charioteer. A random well-known example is the signed MAI tet of Himera. The Emmenids and  Deinomenids were amazingly  dominant at least 490-468 (and Anaxilas of Rhegion in his mule race!)

Additionally Pindar, who is  the main source in his praise  poetry for  much of what we  know  (aside from  monumental remains - which themselves  showed  Nike  on  top of  victory monuments) of the Syracusean  link to the various  major  games, seems  fairly clear that Hieron at least was not actually in the action. His work can be read many ways,  but it  isn't  hard to get  the impression the charioteer was low to irrelevant and the praise goes somewhat to the horses  but nearly all to his patron.

In my view the most convincing argument I have though is we do surprisingly have direct evidence of what the Sicilian elite at the Olymypics (specifically that festival) did and  how, through Lysias. This is at a period when a large percentage of the tets issued over the prior decade or two were by now  with Nike crowning the charioteer.  I don't have the Fischer Tudeer bible with me, but my  own  paltry collection of Tudeers are ALL Nike  crowning the charioteer (or Eros as the charioteer.) What Lysias  describes is  (reduced to the absurd) a  bunch of  filthy rich Syracusean aristos showing  of  extraordinary wealth but with Dionysios not there. (His brother was.) The key being the head of state was not the rider. This can't conclusively prove anything as  it is only a snapshot but it again suggests the tyrant was not the charioteer..

This is from  the Loeb intro  to Lysias 33 - Dionysius of Syracuse sent his brother Thearides with a splendid deputation to perform a sacrifice on his behalf: they had gold-embroidered tents to house them in the sacred precinct, a four-horse chariot to compete in the races, and professional reciters to deliver poems composed by the despot himself. Intended to impress the assembled Greeks with his wealth and power, this brilliant demonstration was met by a direct and forcible appeal from Lysias for united action against the two great oppressors of Greece,—Dionysius, “tyrant” of Syracuse, and Artaxerxes, king of Persia. In the latter part of his speech, which has not survived, he seems to have called upon the assembly, now wrought up to a high pitch of indignation, to strip the prince’s tent of its golden and other ornaments. This sacrilegious violence was prevented, and indeed it does not appear that Lysias’s eloquence resulted in any practical union of the Greek cities: but it did help to create a general feeling of aversion for Sparta’s policy...." etc.

(The speech is well-worth a read - I don't think I can put  it here as copyright,  and my  own understanding  of Greek is so poor I wouldn't want to  inflict my version it on you!)

I have more - especially on  Diodorus's  comments but it's pretty dry stuff!

There is  one exception I know of to all this - Arcesilas of Cyrene, who  not only won at the Pythian  Games, but  was a close relation of the NAMED charioteer, Carrhotus.

"Among the Muses, he has had wings since he was a child in his dear mother's lap, and he has proved himself a skillful charioteer. He has boldly tried every local opportunity for fine deeds, and now a god gladly brings his power to perfection; and in the future, blessed sons of Cronus, grant him the same, both in deeds and in counsels,  lest some fruit-destroying blast of winter wind quell his life. The great mind of Zeus steers the fortune of men that he loves. I pray to him  to grant another prize of honor  at  Olympia"...

By the way Pindar says that 40 other drivers in that event "crashed" - maybe the  extreme  danger was one reason the tyrants themselves  did not take part!

"Son of Alexibias, the lovely-haired Graces make you radiant. You are blessed, you who have, even after great hardship, a memorial of the best words. For among forty  drivers who fell, having brought your chariot through unscathed with a fearless mind, you have come now from the splendid games to the plain of Libya and your ancestral city."

For what it is worth, according to Nicholson "At least 28 memorials for chariot victories survive from the period in sufficient detail, but only four name a
charioteer (one of whom is the victor), and few of the other memorials, including sculptural groups, even recognize their presence in the event."

Sorry if this was long-winded but I think a combination of the great danger and possibly low social status of the driver nearly always kept the elite off the back  of the chariot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Deinomenid
  • Like 8
Link to comment
Share on other sites

To answer @El Cazador I started collecting Greek Coins in the summer of 1987. However my collection began to change about 10 years ago. My collection was a lot bigger back then, and when I sold some coins I used the money to purchase fewer but usually more expensive ones. Now rather than buy a coin from a large number of mints I tend to concentrate on a few mints that have a long and extensive coinage. I have mentioned this before . I sometimes give seminars on ancient coinage to students at some of the regional universities and thus by showing the students coins struck over a couple of centuries from a mint like Syracuse they can see how the coinage has changed over time. Also I am a sucker for Syracuse

  I probably should have mentioned that both coins that I have featured above are from the period of the Second Democracy at Syracuse. In fact the Boehringer 438 was a unplanned purchase. I had originally planned to purchase a coin from the time of Gelon I however I thought that the 438 was so much nicer and ...it sort of looks like one minted by Gelon that .....oh lets try to get it. Of course about 8 months later this coin showed up 

Syracuse Ar Tetradrachm Time of Gelon I 480-475 BC Obv Charioteer driving quadriga right Nike flying above crowning horses, Rv Head of Arethusa right surrounded by four dolphins Boehringer 85 17.36 grms 25 mm Photo by W. Hansen

syracusetd19.jpg.2c4d5de65e92c73eab3a6ac6e7a3392b.jpg

Lets see some more coins of Syracuse

  • Like 15
  • Heart Eyes 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Benefactor

Great OP-coin, kapphnwn ... oh, and super additions from the other coin-gang (sweet coins)

=> I had a super hot Nike on my ol' sweetie

 

Sicily, Syracuse. Hieron I AR Tetradrachm

(240 Onkia)

478-466 BC

Struck circa 478-475 BC

Diameter: 24 mm

Weight: 16.90 grams

Obverse: Charioteer driving quadriga right; above, Nike flying right, crowning horses

Reverse: Diademed head of Arethusa right; four dolphins around

Reference: Boehringer series IXa, 190 (V86/R130); SNG ANS –; Randazzo 356 (same dies)

Other: 2h, Near VF, toned, test cut on reverse

Ex-stevex6 … From the Robert and Julius Diez Collection, Ex Gustav Philipsen Collection (Part I, J. Hirsch XV, 28 May 1906), lot 1132

Syracuse Hieron I.jpg

Edited by Steve
  • Like 11
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is my only Syracuse Tetradrachm so far, but it's one of my favorite coins:

 

Tetradrachm circa 474-470, AR 17.40 g. Slow quadriga driven r. by charioteer holding kentron and reins; above, Nike flying r. to crown the horses. Rev. ΣV – RA – KOΣ – ION (partially retrograde) Head of the nymph Arethusa r., wearing pearl diadem, single pendant earring and pearl necklace; around, four dolphins swimming clockwise. de Nanteuil 322 (these dies). Randazzo 487 (these dies). Boehringer 320. Wonderful iridescent tone and about extremely fine Ex Ira & Larry Goldberg sale 72, 2013, Hunter, 4014.

image00267.jpg.01b8aa68b4301e4e3c7f2d5aed79c7b2.jpg

20201025_200606.png.bcf3816275659de235d9f6e31e2fbccc.png

 

Edited by Kazuma78
  • Like 13
  • Mind blown 1
  • Heart Eyes 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

That is a stunning coin! It shows  how far they had come from the earlier designs  like this -

 

510-500BC Tetradrachm, The Gamoroi. , AR 17.12 g. ΣVRA Slow quadriga driven r. by charioteer, wearing a long chiton and holding reins in each hand. Rev. Head of the nymph Arethusa l., hair curving back from forehead with dotted parallel lines and falling over neck, positioned in a circle sunken at the centre of a swastika developed from the quartering of an incuse square. Rizzo pl. XXXIV, 1-2. SNG ANS 5. SNG Lloyd 1277 (these dies). Boehringer 28.

 

 

 

 

dddda_orig.jpg

  • Like 13
  • Heart Eyes 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've got a few motley examples and this is what I see - I stuck down the dates I have recorded as well.

485-466 BC - horses

450-440 BC - charioteer (2x - same type)

440-430 BC - horses

439-435 BC - horses

415-405 BC - charioteer

405-400 BC - charioteer

 

425-400 BC - charioteer (hemidrachm)

413-400 BC - ? (hemidrachm)

 

Boehringer 604/SNG ANS 199, ca. 450-440 BC - Charioteer.

spacer.png

Boehringer 727, ca. 439-435 BC - Horses.

spacer.png

cf. SNG Cop. 668 (hemidrachm), ca. 425-400 BC - charioteer.

spacer.png

Boehringer 642/SNG ANS 207, ca. 440-430 BC - horses.

spacer.png

Tudeer 31/SNG ANS 262, ca. 415-405 BC - charioteer.

spacer.png

Boehringer XI, 245/cf. SNG ANS 78ff, ca. 485-466 BC - horses.

spacer.png

Boehringer 604/SNG ANS 199, ca. 450-440 BC - charioteer (a duplicate of the first one above).

spacer.png

BMC 166 (hemidrachm), ca. 413-400 BC - not sure - need to look at it again!

spacer.png

Tudeer 82/SNG ANS 290, ca. 405-400 BC - charioteer (my favourite coin).

Syracuse_tet_Tudeer82_Obv.JPG.d813a6d0c1f57f6ac46153d1b6aeddd5.JPG

Lovely coins!

Aidan.

  • Like 10
  • Heart Eyes 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Of course, Syracuse was also responsible for a fascinating array of bronze coinage (as was the rest of Sicily). Mine are mostly in average circulated condition, but here are three of the more presentable ones:

The first is from the period under Pyrrhos, who was invited to Sicily to drive out the Carthaginians but overstayed his welcome. He was soon ejected and moved on to new wars. A relative of Alexander "The Great" of Macedon, he lived in his shadow (as did his father's cousin, Alexander I "The Mollosian," King of Epirus, who was uncle AND brother-in-law of Alex III).

In my opinion, Pyrrhos' coinage reflected his self-consciousness about Alexander III's comparative fame. Below, the obverse is reminiscent of the famous Tetradrachm's Herakles head (but facing Westward rather than Eastward as Alexander had done); the reverse Athena Promachos is also found on various coins of Alexander's successors. (Other similarities are apparent on Pyrrhos' Epirote coinage.)

AE Litra (23mm, 11.8g), temp. Pyrrhos, c. 278-276 BCE. Herakles / Athena. Calciati CNS 177; HGC 2, 1450.
Ex El Medina Collection; CNG XXXI (Boston, 9 Sep 1994), Lot 90; Superior Galleries August Rare Coin Sale (8 August 1983), Lot 26.

image.jpeg.2d98ebe95bd02cca13181ff48d5f640b.jpeg

 

These two below are from the Clain-Stefanelli Collection (Elvira & Vladimir, the famous numismatists & Smithsonian curators).

Pyrrhos' successor in Syracuse was his former general, Hieron II, who was tyrant for an astonishing 60 years!

During the First Punic War he sided with Carthage, but later acceded to Rome, to which Syracuse remained an ally throughout his reign. This period was an apogee in Syracusan history.

AE Hemilitron? (17mm, 3.98 g, 8h), temp. Hieron II, c. 275-215 BCE. Kore / Bull butting. Calciati CNS 199; HGC 2, 1497
image.jpeg.70b31d6d9beabf7bc067b07a80793fb1.jpeg

Unfortunately for the fate of Syracuse, the peace with Rome did not survive Hieron's successor, Hieronymous (no coins to show at the moment, but maybe I'll take one and edit it in). If I understand correctly, the new 15-year-old Tyrant chose to side with Carthage in the Second Punic War. That turned out to be a poor decision.

Apparently most of the following period was spent under the Roman Siege of Syracuse. (Spoiler: Rome won.) The last independent Syracusan coins would've been struck c. 212 BCE:

Fifth Democracy, AE Tetras? (22mm., 9.32g), c. 214-212 BCE. Laureate head of Apollo l. / Dioscuri on horseback. Calciati CNS 205; SNG Cop 889.

image.jpeg.bc03810e6201dc668c29515ea7c4812c.jpeg

 

AND... 

Since Gelon has come up, I'll add mine to the mix...
Time of Gelon (485-479 BC). 16.43g, 23mm, Boehringer 88:

image.jpeg.86612a4f4489f988bd56421a2201635b.jpeg

 

Edited by Curtis JJ
  • Like 11
Link to comment
Share on other sites

By chance in that final terrible siege, one of Greek Syracuse’s very last coins featured….Nike!

Driving the chariot itself!

Apologies both for the coin quality (they are exceptionally rare and intact ones are shockingly expensive) and that I haven’t yet taken photos of my own.

 

Fifth Republic Octolitrai c. 212 AC. Sicily, Syracuse R3. (Last known decent one sold was  NAC 2003)
Obv. Head of Persephone l., wreathed with grain. Bee to r. Rev. Nike driving slow quadriga l. Monograms to l. and above. Magistrate name EY above. 
 

 

34A8A470-6D70-4E32-93C2-B6C8E8706FEE.jpeg

  • Like 10
  • Clap 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 hours ago, Deinomenid said:

dddda_orig.jpg

 

10 hours ago, Brennos said:

 

berto.jpg.db535b8973e0173946e5910a92194b3b.jpg

 

I love the archaic Syracuse tetradrachms. Both examples above are fantastic.

Mine is Boehringer 23, so slightly different dies, but very similar of course. It's not quite as nice as the above examples, but I'm still very pleased to have one in my collection.

990204583_SyracuseTetradrachm.png.dc7825b1c10472d6aa774300335ae6d6.png

  • Like 12
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...