Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 106 Part I   |   9 - 10 May 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 215

Estimate: 15'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 12'000 CHF Price realized: 18'000 CHF
Thessalia, Pherae. Stater circa 302-286, AR 11.31 g. Head of nymph Hipereia r., wearing wreath of reeds, triple-pendant earring and pearl necklace; behind, lion spout with water pouring from its jaws. Rev. Ennodia, draped and holding torch in both hands, seated facing, head r., on horse galloping r.; in upper l. field, ΑΣΤ / ΟΜΕ / ΔΟΝ within wreath and, in exergue, ΦΕΡΑΙΟΥΝ. Traité IV, 606 and pl. CCXCIV (this reverse die). BCD Thessaly I 1320 (this coin). BCD Thessaly part II 712 (these dies).
Of the highest rarity, only five specimens known. A lovely portrait of fine
Hellenistic style, lovely light iridescent tone and good very fine

Ex Nomos sale 4, 2011, BCD Thessaly, 1320.

Pherai was one of the oldest cities of Thessaly situated in the region of Pelasgiotis. It’s fame stretched back to the age of myth, when Herakles aided Admetos, the king of Pherai in rescuing his wife Alcestis from Hades. In a selfless act of love, Alcestis had volunteered to take the place of Admetos in death in order that her husband might live forever. Herakles, seeing what a grievous blow the loss of his wife was to Admetos and desirous of repaying the past hospitality of the king of Pherai undertook the dangerous journey to return Alcestis from the Underworld. In the fifth century B.C. Pherai was often allied with Athens, but as the Peloponnesian War (441-404 B.C.) drew to a close the government of the city was seized by a certain Lykophron, who established himself as tyrant (ca. 406-390 B.C.) and embarked on a series of struggles with Larissa for dominance in Thessaly. His successor, Jason of Pherai (390-370 B.C.), was powerful enough to influence the peace settlement between Thebes and Sparta following the Battle of Leuktra (371 B.C.) and his mercenary army was poised to exert Thessalian hegemony over all of mainland Greece when Jason was assassinated. The tyrants of who followed lacked the gifts and vision of Jason, and Pherai, with the rest of Thessaly, ultimately fell under the domination of Philip II of Macedon. Although this stater was struck after the end of the great tyrants of Pherai and Thessalian independence, its types represent traditional deities of the city. The obverse depicts the local Pheraian fountain nymph, Hyperaia, clearly identified by the lion’s head spout pouring water behind her head. Also local in flavor is the reverse type, which features Ennodia, a specifically Pheraian deity. Ennodia, whose name literally means ”by the roadside” was a terrifying goddess of the roadside and the dead, whose power was regularly invoked by witches and necromancers. The cult of Ennodia spread throughout Thessaly under Jason of Pherai until she was recognized as a national Thessalian deity as much as a local Pheraian one.

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