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Magistrate ΚΡΙΤΟΚΛΗΣ on my new Rhodian drachm: is it Kritokles or Kritiokles?


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I already posted a photo of the post-plinthophoric AR drachm from Rhodes that I purchased last week from Nomos AG's FPL in connection with the 2023 NYINC, together with Nomos's own description. But I have since substantially revised the description, adding several footnotes (of course!), based on my email correspondence with Dr. Weiss of Nomos AG, and on a review of "the" article on this type of drachm in the 1997 Numismatic Chronicle , which Dr. Weiss co-authored with Richard Ashton and was kind enough to send me.  As for the issue raised in the thread title concerning the proper phonetic transcription of the magistrate's name ΚΡΙΤΟΚΛΗΣ that appears on my specimen, see the relevant portion of my second footnote, which I have boldfaced for purposes of this thread.  I welcome input on the issue from our several scholars of Ancient Greek!

Islands off Caria, Rhodos, Rhodes, AR Drachm (Attic weight standard, ca. 88/42 BCE – AD 14).* Obv. Radiate head of Helios facing, turned slightly to the right / Rev. Rose of six petals seen from above; corn- ear beneath rose to left; Ρ – O [= “RO”] flanking rose; above, magistrate’s name ΚΡΙΤΟΚΛΗΣ [Kritiokles/Kritokles**]; all within circle of large dots. Ashton & Weiss No. 142a-c at p. 8 (die catalog A36/P140) (ill. Pl. 6) [Ashton, Richard & Arnold-Peter Weiss, "The Post-Plinthophoric Silver Drachms of Rhodes" in Numismatic Chronicle 1997 pp. 1-39 & Pls. 1-16]; BMC 18 Caria 337-338 (same obverse die; ΚΡΙΤΟΚΛΗΣ on reverse) [Head, Barclay V., A Catalog of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, Caria, Cos, Rhodes, etc. (London 1897)]; SNG Keckman 742 (same obverse die) [Westermark U. and Ashton R., Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Finland, The Erkki Keckman Collection in the Skopbank, Helsinki, Part 1: Karia (Helsinki, 1994); SNG Lockett 2971 (same dies, ΚΡΙΤΟΚΛΗΣ on reverse) [Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Great Britain III, R.C. Lockett Collection Part III (Macedonia - Aegina) (London 1942)] [see description & ill. of specimen at http://www.s391106508.websitehome.co.uk/PHP/SNG_PHP/04_03_Reply.php?Series=SNGuk&AccessionNo=0300_2971 ]; Sear Greek Coins II 5069 (ΚΡΙΤΟΚΛΗΣ on reverse; see p. 460) [Sear, David, Greek Coins and their Values, Vol. 2: Asia & Africa (Seaby 1979)].  19 mm, 4.13 g, 6 h. Purchased from Nomos AG, Zürich, Switzerland, Fixed Price List 15, 12 Jan. 2023, Lot 69 [picked up at NYINC 2023]; ex Nomos Obolos Auction 15, 24 May 2020, Lot 398; from Collection of Dr. Arnold-Peter Weiss (partner in Nomos AG).***


*See the Ashton & Weiss article cited above (which Dr. Weiss has kindly provided to me) at p. 21, concluding, after an analysis of the weights of all known examples of this series of Rhodian drachms, that the series conformed to the Attic weight standard (which, in practice, was approximately 4.2 g. for the drachm during the “New Style” period; see John Melville Jones, A Dictionary of Ancient Greek Coins [London, Seaby, 1986], entry for “Attic weight standard” at p. 35). Ashton & Weiss state:

 “Although there is considerable variation in the the above table, there is now a rough but definable peak at about 4.1 – 4.2 g., which seems by and large to be consistent throughout the series. This is of course too high for a denarius, but too low for a cistophoric trihemidrachm, whatever cistophoric weight standard is used. On the greatly expanded weight table which the new material now makes possible, the coins weighing above 4.3 g. look more like exceptional outliers than a separate group, and it seems to us unnecessary to suppose that there was more than one standard in use. We thus come full circle and conclude that our coins were intended as full Attic weight drachms.”

In terms of the absolute chronology of the series, which previously was “conventionally dated to the period 88-43 BC, immediately after the end of the plinthophoroi” (Ashton & Weiss 1997 p. 32), the authors reach a different conclusion, for the reasons stated at length in their article:

 “We thus suggest tentatively that the Attic weight drachms ended some time during the reign of Augustus, when they were succeeded by the large bronze 'drachms' with the same types. The date when the Attic weight silver commences is, on present evidence, unclear. If a specific occasion is sought for some of the issues, not necessarily early ones, one might speculatively suggest the need for money to rebuild the city of Rhodes and the fleet after the destruction wrought by Cassius and by Cassius Parmensis in 43 and 42 BC. BC. It is true that Cassius is said to have exacted inter alia 8500 talents of public and private money from Rhodes, but Herod the Great is known to have sent money to Rhodes for reconstruction work after his visit to the island in 40 BC.  If at least part of the Attic weight drachms are thus to be brought down to the 40s BC and later, the gap in coining plinthophoroi which this might imply could, if necessary, be explained by the activities of the pirates or a dislocation in silver supplies caused by the Sullan indemnity. It is worth noting that the the Lycian League apparently ceased to mint silver by the late 80s BC and resumed only in the 40s BC.”

 (Id. pp. 35-36.)

In short, although Ashton & Weiss believe that there is a somewhat certain end-date to the series (the reign of Augustus), the beginning-date could be anywhere during a period of more than 40 years. I have not seen anything to indicate that the beginning-date of the series has been more firmly established since the 1997 publication of this article.

 **There are 351 different die-combinations listed for this series of Rhodian drachms in the 1997 Ashton & Weiss Numismatic Chronicle article. 110 of those combinations are unsigned (the earliest examples of the issue), and 241 bear one of 43 different magistrates’ names. 21 of those 241 signed die combinations (nos. 138-158, including my specimen’s die combination no. 142) -- comprising only four different obverse dies together with 21 different reverse dies -- bear the name of magistrate ΚΡΙΤΟΚΛΗΣ on the reverse above the rose. The ΚΡΙΤΟΚΛΗΣ drachms are always accompanied by a corn ear beneath the rose. (See id. pp. 7-9, 19, 21). In their relative chronology, Ashton & Weiss place the group of issues with a corn ear symbol beneath the rose, including four other magistrates’ names besides ΚΡΙΤΟΚΛΗΣ, as the second earliest main group of these drachms, directly following the unsigned issues. Within that group of five magistrates, they place the coins of ΚΡΙΤΟΚΛΗΣ and one other magistrate, with Helios oriented towards the right, after the coins of the three other magistrates, which depict Helios oriented towards the left. (See id. pp. 19-20, 28-29.)

In eight examples recorded on acsearch, including the previous 2020 auction of my specimen, Nomos AG's descriptions of Rhodian drachms bearing the name of magistrate ΚΡΙΤΟΚΛΗΣ  have transcribed the name as "Kritiokles," as did one example auctioned by Davissons -- as well as the Nomos FPL listing from which I purchased my specimen in connection with the 2023 NYINC. In one 2021 auction description by Nomos, and in the descriptions of all other auction houses (in the 21 examples found on acsearch), the name has been rendered instead as "Kritokles." Indeed, the Ashton & Weiss article itself also transcribes the name as “Kritokles”; see Ashton & Weiss, op. cit. at pp. 20, 22-23, 27-29. However, in response to my email inquiry about the reason for Nomos’s “Kritiokles” transcription, given the absence of a vowel between the “T” and the “O,” Dr. Weiss stated in an email dated Jan. 16, 2023 that “We believe that our ‘translation’ of the ancient Greek is correct but there is some variability as these names don't translate one-to-one often.”

 ***Confirmed by email correspondence dated Jan. 16, 2023.

In addition to weighing in on the Kritiokles vs. Kritokles issue if you have any knowledge on the subject, please post anything you think is relevant, including your own Rhodian AR drachms (or didrachms) from any period, depicting Helios on the obverse and a rose on the reverse. I have two other silver coins from Rhodes, one of them a plinthophoric drachm from a period preceding the series discussed above, and the other a much earlier didrachm:

Islands off Caria, Rhodos, Rhodes, AR Didrachm, ca. 340-316 BCE. Obv. Head of Helios facing slightly right, hair parted in center and swept to either side / Rev. Rose with bud to right and grape bunch to left [stem connecting bud to rose on right is off flan, as is “E” beneath grape bunch on left], POΔION [RODION] above, all within incuse square. Ashton 98 [Ashton, R., "The Coinage of Rhodes 408-c.190 BC" in Money and its Uses in the Ancient Greek World (Oxford, 2001), pp. 79 - 115, pls. 6.1 - 6.6.], HGC 6, 1433 [Hoover, Oliver D.,  Handbook of Coins of the Islands: Adriatic, Ionian, Thracian, Aegean, and Carpathian Seas (Excluding Crete and Cyprus), 6th to 1st Centuries BC, Vol 6 (Lancaster/London, 2010)]; HNO [Historia Numorum Online] 813 (temp.) (see http://hno.huma-num.fr/browse?idType=813). 16 mm., 6.55 g., 12 h. Purchased from London Ancient Coins, 26 June, 2020.


Islands off Caria, Rhodes, AR Plinthophoric Drachm (ca. 188-170 BCE), Artemon, magistrate. Obv. Radiate head of Helios right / Rev. Incuse square containing rose with bud right, Isis crown in left field, APTEMΩΝ above, P - O across fields. Jenkins, Rhodian, Group A [ca.188-170 BCE], No. 20 [Jenkins, G. "Rhodian Plinthophoroi - a Sketch" in Kraay-Mørkholm Essays (1989), pp. 101-119, pls. XXIX-XXXIV); HNO [Historia Numorum Online] 1999 (temp.) (see http://hno.huma-num.fr/browse?idType=1999); BMC Caria 253 at p. 253 [Head, Barclay V.,  A Catalog of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, Caria, Cos, Rhodes, etc. (London 1897)]; SNG Keckman 640 [Westermark U. and Ashton R., Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Finland, The Erkki Keckman Collection in the Skopbank, Helsinki, Part 1: Karia (Helsinki, 1994)]; SNG Copenhagen 813 var. (symbol of shield on rev.) [Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Copenhagen, The Royal Collection of Coins and Medals, Danish National Museum, Volume 5: Ionia, Caria & Lydia (Parts 22 - 28) (West Milford, NJ, 1982).)]; HGC 6, 1457 [Hoover, Oliver D., Handbook of Coins of the Islands: Adriatic, Ionian, Thracian, Aegean, and Carpathian Seas (Excluding Crete and Cyprus), 6th to 1st Centuries BC, Vol 6 (Lancaster/London, 2010)]. 16x17 mm., 3.04 g. Purchased from Silbury Coins, Ltd., UK, 30 Nov. 2020.


Edited by DonnaML
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That's a beautiful drachm, @DonnaML!!  I have no opinion on the linguistic question, but I do have a nice didrachm with Helios and a rose! 🙂 


^ c. 250-230 BCE, Slg. Karl 479; HGC 6, 1438; SNG Keckman 530

Some brief historical notes about the coin: 

This coin was issued while Rhodes had naval supremacy in the Eastern Mediterranean.  Rhodes was democratic, and played off the great powers (Ptolemaic, Seleukid, and Antigonid) against one another to maintain its independence.

The face on the coins of Rhodes are assumed to resemble the face of that most famous of Helios representations, the Colossus of Rhodes.  This coin comes from the end of the 108 foot statue's lifetime.  It was erected in 280 BC from the proceeds of the sale of Demetrios Poliorcetes' siege engines (from the failed siege in 304 BCE), but fell 54 years later in 226 BCE due to an earthquake.  The Delphic oracle convinced the Rhodians not to re-erect it because they had offended against the gods.

According to @dougsmit, in medieval times they held the bizarre belief that this coin was used to pay Judas his 30 pieces of silver, and Helios actually depicted Christ.

I also have this tetradrachm from c. 200, with a rose and "PO" on the reverse.  It's possible that the Herakles is meant to resemble the face of the colossus:


Edited by Severus Alexander
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Islands off Caria. Rhodos. Rhodes , circa 205-190 BC. AR Didrachm (20mm, 6.70g, 12h). Onasandros, magistrate. Obv: Radiate head of Helios facing slightly right. Rev: Rose with bud to right; ONAΣANΔPOΣ above; to left, eagle standing right on thunderbolt. Ref: Ashton 280; HGC 6, 1441; BMC 148. Good Very Fine, beautiful toning. Ex Nilus Coins.


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7 hours ago, Prieure de Sion said:

If it is not a spelling mistake of the engraver, a letter was forgotten or something else - so if it is only "ΚΡΙΤΟΚΛΗΣ" - says my Greek friend - it is translated "KRITOKLES". 

Thank you. Given that there are 21 different reverse dies bearing the name of magistrate ΚΡΙΤΟΚΛΗΣ, all spelled the same way, I don't think that could have been an engraver's error! So it remains a mystery to me why Nomos AG transcribes the name as Kritiokles rather than Kritokles. Dr. Weiss's email to me didn't really explain the reason; he just states that he believes Nomos is correct. 

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8 hours ago, DonnaML said:

I guess nobody speaks Ancient Greek around here! But I'd still love to see other people's coins from Rhodes. There's something about those roses that has always very much appealed to me.

I checked with a dreaming spires source to be sure, and he concurs with Prieure.


58 minutes ago, DonnaML said:


He was bemused as to why it would be otherwise, for what is worth. 

Edited by Deinomenid
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I'm no expert, but it seems pretty apparent it would transliterate as Kritokles. There's no 'I' between the 'T' & 'O'.

However, I have the utmost respect for Nomos and their staff, so maybe they know something about this individual and how his name is pronounced. 

Either way, it's a magnificent specimen, one of the best of that type I've seen. You should be a proud owner. 

I've shown my Rhodes tetradrachm before, but here it is again. Struck just after the founding of the city of Rhodes, c. 408 - 404 BC.



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Could someone please explain what this protrusion is beneath the corn-ear and circle of dots on the reverse of my new Rhodes drachm? I've marked it with a red dot:


I find it difficult to believe that it's intended to be part of the corn-ear, the stem of which lies to the ear's right. It also appears to be present in the one decent illustration I have of another specimen with the same reverse die (see Plate 6, no. 142a in the 1997 Ashton & Weiss article), but does not appear to be present on any of the other reverse dies of this series illustrated in the plates. So is it simply some kind of die flaw?


Edited by DonnaML
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  • 3 weeks later...

@DonnaML - thank you for your usual thorough notes. Mine is a slightly left facing example

Rhodes, Rhodos AR Drachm.




Rhodos, Rhodes AR Drachm. Circa 88/42 BC - AD 14. Basileides, magistrate.

 Radiate head of Helios facing slightly right

 P-O, rose seen from above; ΒΑΣΙΛΕΙΔΗΣ above, corn-ear below.

 Ashton & Weiss 116 (A114/P114); Karl 644. HGC 6  1456

4.08g, 19mm, 6h.

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