(11) Himera, Sicily (Italy) - AR tetradrachm, c. 410 B.C., 16.65
g. (inv. 91.024).
Obverse: Fast quadriga r.; Nike above bearing wreath and tablet inscribed ; hippocamp in exergue.
Reverse: Nymph Himera standing r., holding phiale over altar in r.; to r., satyr bathing under lion-head spout; retrograde: of the Himerans.
Provenance: Bank Leu, 1985.
Bibliography: C.M. Kraay, Archaic and Classical Greek Coins (Berkeley and Los Angeles 1976); G. Rizzo, Monete greche della Sicilia (Rome 1946), pl. 21.23.
The colony of Himera on the northern coast of Sicily was founded about 650 B.C. by settlers from Zankle, another colony further to the east. It was occupied by Theron, tyrant of Akragas, from c. 482 until 470 B.C., when it came under Syracusan influence. A series of tetradrachms followed, which ended with the Carthaginian destruction of Himera in 409 B.C.
The influence of Syracusan coinage is immediately evident in the obverse of this tetradrachm, which depicts the racing quadriga, its charioteer crowned by Nike, that had by this time become a standard type on Syracusan coins. In particular, the quadriga imitates the exuberant types of the artist Kimon, in the way that the wheels of the quadriga are foreshortened and in the horses' heads tossed in different directions (see no. 17). The three letters on the tablet in Nike's left hand are probably an abbreviated artist's signature; the artist Euainetos put his signature in the same place on tetradrachms of Syracuse in this period. The hippocamp in the exergue, which also appears on Syracusan coins, probably refers to the importance of Himera's sea trade.
The reverse portrays a local subject, the nymph Himera standing at an altar and making a sacrifice, while a satyr bathing under a lion-head spout probably refers to the warm springs near Himera. Himera, in the clinging drapery typical of late fifth-century sculpture, holds a phiale or offering bowl in her right hand and makes a gesture of prayer or sacrifice with the left.
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