(8) Akragas, Sicily (Italy) - AR tetradrachm, 413-406 B.C., 17.42
g. (inv. 93.010).
Obverse: Racing quadriga l., driven by Nike; tablet above inscribed : of the Akragantines; club in exergue.
Reverse: Two eagles devouring hare r.
Provenance: Harlan Berk, 1989.
Bibliography: C.T. Seltman, "The engravers of the Akragantine decadrachms," Numismatic Chronicle 1948, 1-10.
Akragas, modern Agrigento, was founded c. 580 B.C. by settlers from the Rhodian colony of Gela. It was one of the wealthiest cities of Sicily, prospering from its agricultural exports to Carthage. It reached its period of greatest influence under the tyrant Theron, 488-472 B.C., whose building program included a colossal Temple of Olympian Zeus. The city was destroyed by Carthage in 406 B.C.
The eagle, attribute of Zeus, was the most frequent Akragantine coin type. It appeared as a simple standing bird on the obverse of the city's coins until the late fifth century, when under the influence of the coins of Syracuse it was displaced by a victorious quadriga (see nos. 16, 17, 18, 19). On the reverses of these coins the tame standing bird of earlier issues was replaced by two mighty eagles devouring a hare. Both eagles stand on their prey, one with spread wings about to pick at the animal, the other raising its head to swallow or scream.
The quadriga on the obverse may originally have referred to an Olympic victory, but it was used for several years. Like its Syracusan model, it is a fast-moving quadriga with spirited horses throwing their heads into the air; one die shows a broken rein trailing on the ground.
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