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Sicily Syracuse Dionysios I Æ Litra 405-367 BC Athena hippocamp ΣYPA


thenickelguy
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Obv. head of Athena left, wearing Corinthian helmet decorated with wreath.
Rev. Hippocamp left, reins trailing. About 18.5 mm diameter.

This was a relatively inexpensive coin that I like looking at. It looks a bit more glossy in my picture than in hand for sure. I think that ΣYPA is for Syracuse Mint?

1764000430_04SicilySyracuseDionysiosILitra405-367Athenahippocamp.jpg.cdec0e89876ddae1194882cc0508ce58.jpg

I wanted a Hippocamp and for now this will do just fine. A month ago I didn't even know what one was.

1641575696_SicilySyracuseDionysiosILitra405-367AthenahippocampArt.jpg.c27fc1a61811fb91182daf999e69883f.jpg

Struck during the reign of Dionysius I or Dionysius the Elder c. 432 – 367 BC, he was a Greek tyrant of Syracuse. I read more on the meaning of Tyrant too.

The original Greek term meant an absolute sovereign who came to power without constitutional right. Greek philosopher Plato saw tyrannos as a negative word. I figured that much.

The philosophers Plato and Aristotle defined a tyrant as a person who rules without law, using extreme and cruel methods against both his own people and others.

This was some information that accompanied the coin in the sale.

The Athena / Hippocamp litrae come in several varieties - with and without legend, with and without olive wreath on helmet, with and without a symbol on the obverse, reins trailing and no reins. Calciati notes that this particular variety, with obverse legend and wreath, no symbol and trailing reins, is by far the most common, and also mentions that it is found throughout Sicily, not just in the environs of Syracuse.

This wide distribution is anomalous (different from what is usual for a bronze coin. Fiduciary in nature and of minimal value, bronze coins in ancient economies did not normally circulate far from their place of minting.

Perhaps the reason for the distribution can be found in Dionysios' expansionist policies and nearly perpetual state of warfare with the Carthaginians. Like most armies of the period, Dionysios employed mercenaries, and although mercenary armies were paid in silver, when they were not on campaign they would certainly need small change.

Edited by thenickelguy
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57 minutes ago, thenickelguy said:

ΣYPA

Yes that means or is short for Syracuse or “of the Syracusans” in some mostly earlier cases…not  necessarily the mint there, but likely.

Dionysius was a complex fascinating character, with a lot of bad press, such as Lysias’ attack on his character at the Olympics but it is worth remembering that - according to Polybius -  when Publius Scipio was asked whom he thought were the greatest statesmen combining courage and wisdom he replied - 
 

"Agathocles and Dionysius the Sicilians.”

Edited by Deinomenid
Lysias was autocorrected to Lydia….
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2 hours ago, thenickelguy said:

Obv. head of Athena left, wearing Corinthian helmet decorated with wreath.
Rev. Hippocamp left, reins trailing. About 18.5 mm diameter.

This was a relatively inexpensive coin that I like looking at. It looks a bit more glossy in my picture than in hand for sure. I think that ΣYPA is for Syracuse Mint?

1764000430_04SicilySyracuseDionysiosILitra405-367Athenahippocamp.jpg.cdec0e89876ddae1194882cc0508ce58.jpg

I wanted a Hippocamp and for now this will do just fine. A month ago I didn't even know what one was.

1641575696_SicilySyracuseDionysiosILitra405-367AthenahippocampArt.jpg.c27fc1a61811fb91182daf999e69883f.jpg

Struck during the reign of Dionysius I or Dionysius the Elder c. 432 – 367 BC, he was a Greek tyrant of Syracuse. I read more on the meaning of Tyrant too.

The original Greek term meant an absolute sovereign who came to power without constitutional right. Greek philosopher Plato saw tyrannos as a negative word. I figured that much.

The philosophers Plato and Aristotle defined a tyrant as a person who rules without law, using extreme and cruel methods against both his own people and others.

This was some information that accompanied the coin in the sale.

The Athena / Hippocamp litrae come in several varieties - with and without legend, with and without olive wreath on helmet, with and without a symbol on the obverse, reins trailing and no reins. Calciati notes that this particular variety, with obverse legend and wreath, no symbol and trailing reins, is by far the most common, and also mentions that it is found throughout Sicily, not just in the environs of Syracuse.

This wide distribution is anomalous (different from what is usual for a bronze coin. Fiduciary in nature and of minimal value, bronze coins in ancient economies did not normally circulate far from their place of minting.

Perhaps the reason for the distribution can be found in Dionysios' expansionist policies and nearly perpetual state of warfare with the Carthaginians. Like most armies of the period, Dionysios employed mercenaries, and although mercenary armies were paid in silver, when they were not on campaign they would certainly need small change.

Nice coin!  The green patina looks nice.  It looks as if the coin was cleaned, resulting in the bare metal, which will darken with time.

The hippocampus is a mythological creature that shows up on ancient coins with some frequency.

Here's my example from Syracuse:

Syracuse, AE Litra, circa 390BC

SNG ANS 435

7.12 grams

2051836680_D-CameraSyracuseAELitrac.390BCSNGANS4357.12g3-8-22.jpg.305b03d7124f85634428b65224fe72b6.jpg

 

And here is a Phoenician with the hippocampus on the obverse under the galley with three hoplites.  The reverse features a vulture, facing left and a incuse sitting ram, looking right, an interesting combination. 

Phoenicia, Bybos, shekel,  435-425 BC.  ex CNG

1817439097_D-CameraPhoeniciaBybosShekel435-425BCjpegCNG5-14-20.jpg.3a0c16e98098d6f742004401d34dbed4.jpg

 

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