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Lot 57

Estimate: 500 GBP   |   Starting price: 400 GBP Price realized: 400 GBP
Illyria, Korkyra AR Stater. Roman rule, circa 229-48 BC. Head of Dionysos right, wearing ivy wreath / Pegasos flying to right; monogram below. SNG Copenhagen 119; BMC 362; SNG Delepierre 1207 (same dies). 4.22g, 22mm, 1h.

Extremely Fine; attractive dark cabinet tone. An exceptional example of this late issue from Korkyra, engraved in very fine style.

Ex Bernard Poindessault (1935-2014) legacy; ticket included. Rare.

In the Hellenistic period Korkyra changed hands several times. In 303 BC, after a vain siege by Kassander of Macedon, the island was occupied for a short time by Kleonymos of Sparta, then regained its independence. Three years on Kassander besieged it again, but his fleet was destroyed by an intervention of Agathokles of Syracuse. The tyrant of Syracuse added the island to his own domains and in 295 BC he offered it as dowry to his daughter Lanassa on her marriage to Pyrrhos, King of Epeiros. When Lanassa left Pyrrhos in 291 BC she tried to take her dowry with her to her next husband, king Demetrios Poliorketes of Macedon, but in 274 BC Pyrrhos' son Ptolemy recovered Korkyra for his father.

Korkyra remained a member of the Epeirote League until 255 BC when it regained independence after the death of Alexander II, last King of Epeiros. In 229 BC, following a defeat in the naval battle of Paxos, the city suffered a short-lived occupation by Illyrians under the command of Demetrius of Pharos. Polybius wrote the background of this incident: "When the season for sailing had come, [Queen] Teuta sent out a larger fleet of [piratical] galleys than ever against the Greek shores, some of which sailed straight for Korkyra." Another part of the fleet which had sailed for Epidamnos being repulsed went also "there, to the terror of the inhabitants, they disembarked and set about besieging the town...the Korkyreans...sent off envoys to the Achaean and Aitolian leagues, begging for instant help...ten decked ships of war belonging to the Achaeans were manned...fitted out in a few days, set sail for Korkyra in hopes of raising the siege." However, "the Illyrians obtained a reinforcement of seven decked ships from the Akarnanians" engaging off the island of Paxi. Besting the Achaeans, capturing four and sinking one, the remaining five ran back home. "The Illyrians, on the other hand, filled with self-confidence by their success, continued their siege of [Korkyra] in high spirits...while the Korkyreans, reduced to the despair of their safety by what had happened, after sustaining the siege for a short time longer, made terms with the Illyrians, consenting to receive a garrison, and with it Demetrius of Pharos."

The Roman Republic intervened almost immediately, sending the consul Gnaeus Fulvius Centumalus along with an army and 200 ships to relieve the island. At the end of the First Illyrian War Korkyra was declared a free city and transformed into a Roman protectorate. Around 189 BC it was governed by a Roman prefect, and in 148 BC it was attached to the province of Macedonia.

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