Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 106 Part I   |   9 - 10 May 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 225

Estimate: 25'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 20'000 CHF Price realized: 40'000 CHF
Aetolia, Aetolian League. Stater 275-245, AV 8.53 g. Head of Athena r., wearing crested Corinthian helmet; bowl decorated with coiled snake. Rev. ΑΙΤΩΛΩΝ Aetolia seated r. on pile of shields, holding spear and Nike, sword at her l. side; in r. field, monogram and, in exergue, ANA. Scholten 548. Chart II/13. Tsangari 573a (this coin). BCD Acarnania-Aetolia 426 (this coin).
Extremely rare and in exceptional condition for the issue. Struck in high
relief and with a lovely reddish tone. Extremely fine

Ex Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge 28 May 1900, Late Collector 270; Hess-Leu 31, 1966, 295; Hess-Leu 45, 1970, 167 and M&M GmbH 23, 2007, BCD Akarnanien une Aetolien, 426 sales.

This attractive gold stater of the Aetolian League was struck to finance the long struggle between the federal state and Philip V of Macedon expressed through the violence of the Social War (220-217 B.C.) and the First Macedonian War (215-205 B.C.). These wars were very expensive for the Aetolian League, especially considering that it was forced to accept humiliating peace treaties at the end of each, and gold was required to maintain the federal and mercenary forces that it fielded against Philip. The coin types are particularly interesting as they simultaneously look to the past and presage the future. The Athena obverse type is drawn directly from the staters of Alexander the Great, which had become internationally recognized and almost universally accepted throughout the Mediterranean world in the third century B.C. The reverse type depicts the personification of Aetolia seated on a pile of Gallic shields and holding Nike, advertising the past glory of the League. This type represents a statute erected by the Aetolian League at Delphi following its famous repulse of Gallic invaders in 279/8 B.C. The victory not only saved the great panhellenic shrine from plunder by the barbarian, but also prevented the Celts from making inroads further south into mainland Greece. As such, the League was catapulted to stardom as the savior of Greece. Building on this fame, the Aetolian League expanded beyond the borders of Aetolia proper. By the late third century B.C. the League had become a Greek superpower capable of opposing Macedonian kings and was poised to absorb the entirety of mainland Greece within its borders. The depiction of Aetolia as a bare-breasted Amazonian warrior seated on a pile of shields influenced the development of representations of Roma. The League was allied against Philip V during the First Macedonian War and the subsequent Second Macedonian War (200-197 B.C.) and Roman forces operating in Greece almost certainly would have been exposed to Aetolian coinage. The Aetolia type of this stater seems to have appealed to Roman tastes and spawned very similar depictions of Roma on Republican denarii of the second and first centuries B.C. (e.g., Crawford 287/1, 335/1, 421/1). This is a grand irony because the Aetolian League became disenchanted with its Roman allies and took up arms against them in 191-189 B.C. This disastrous Aetolian War resulted in Roman victory and the dissolution of the League outside of Aetolia.

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