Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 106 Part I   |   9 - 10 May 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 162

Estimate: 7'500 CHF   |   Starting price: 6'000 CHF Price realized: 10'000 CHF
Croton. Nomos circa 420, AR 7.72 g. OIKIM[TAM] Young Heracles seated l. on rocks, holding filleted branch and club; behind, bow and quiver. In l. field, altar, and in exergue, two fishes (only one visible). Rev. Tripod ornamented with fillets; to l., Apollo shooting arrow at writhing Python behind the tripod. In exergue, KPOTON. de Luynes 725. Jameson 429 (these dies). SNG Lloyd 610 (this obverse die). Kraay-Hirmer 267 (these dies). Historia Numorum Italy 2140 (these dies).
Extremely rare and a very interesting issue of fine classical style. Light iridescent
tone, minor areas of porosity, otherwise good very fine

Ex LHS 100, 2007, 139 and NAC 46, 2008, 173 sales.
In circa 710 B.C., Achaean Greeks from the northern Peloponnesos founded Kroton on the Bruttian peninsula of southern Italy at an injunction from the Delphic Oracle. Together with neighbouring Sybaris, Kroton grew to be the wealthiest and most important cities of Magna Graecia in the sixth century, in part thanks to its subsidiary colonies at Terina and Kaulonia. In circa 510 B.C., however, war broke out between Kroton and Sybaris, resulting in the total destruction of Sybaris. The Krotoniates reportedly went so far as to divert the course of the Crathis River in order to submerge the site of the enemy city. Thus Kroton was left as the single greatest Greek city in Bruttium. The city served as the capital of the Italiote League of Greek cities and was renowned for both its Olympic victors and for its physicians. After a devastating defeat by Locris and Rhegium at the Battle of the Sagra River (ca. 480 B.C.?), however, Kroton lost much of its former glory and began a slow decline. The treatment of Herakles on the obverse of this stater is comparable to the high Classical style of the Lapith and Centaur reliefs on the metopes of the Parthenon. The hero appears here in reference to the pre-foundation myth-history of the city. Diodorus Siculus (4.24.7) reports that during his wanderings in Italy, Herakles was welcomed and treated with hospitality by a man called Kroton. Unfortunately, as was often the case with friends and lovers of the great hero, Herakles accidentally killed this Kroton. In his remorse, Herakles buried Kroton with the honours of a hero and erected a monumental tomb for his worship. He further foretold that one day the site of his tomb would become the centre of a great and flourishing city that would be named after Kroton. The type illustrates Herakles taking a rest from his wanderings and labours, leaning on his club with his lion’s skin and weapons set aside. He holds a filleted branch above a lighted altar in an attitude of sacrificial worship. Presumably the scene represents Herakles’ institution of the hero cult of Kroton and the associated prophecy regarding the foundation of the city since an epichoric Doric Greek legend in the right field identifies him as oikistas (”founder”). The fish in the exergue serve to indicate the geographical location of the hero shrine of Kroton and the city on the bank of the Aesarus River. The reverse features the large tripod typical of Krotoniate coins going back to the city’s incuse staters of the late sixth century BC. The tripod type refers to the crucial role of the Delphic oracle in establishing the colony of Kroton. On this coin, however, the die engraver has added a dramatic scene played out on either side of the tripod to emphasize the connection with Delphi. On the left, Apollo draws his bow to shoot a great, coiled serpent lurking to the right of the tripod. According to Greek mythical tradition, a terrible serpent named Pytho was sent by Hera to pursue Leto in a vain attempt to prevent her from giving birth to Apollo and Artemis. Apollo later avenged his mother by hunting down Pytho. The serpent took refuge in an oracular sanctuary of Gaia at Delphi, but Apollo followed it inside and killed it with his deadly arrows. In order to expiate the sacrilege of slaying a suppliant (even a monstrous one) in a temple, Apollo adopted the shrine for himself and instituted the quadrennial Pythian Games.

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