(18) Syracuse, Sicily (Italy) - AR dekadrachm, c. 405-400 B.C., 43.15 g. (inv. 91.033).
Obverse: Victorious quadriga l.; cuirass, helmet, shield, and greaves in exergue; below, : prizes.
Reverse: Head of Arethusa l., with band and net holding hair, surrounded by four dolphins; : of the Syracusans.
Provenance: Ex Pennisi collection; Bank Leu, 1973.
Bibliography: G.E. Rizzo, Monete greche della Sicilia (Rome 1946), 50.6; J.H. Jongkees, The Kimonian Decadrachms (Utrecht 1941) 11.

This coin is attributed to the master engraver Kimon, whose works, like those of the other great Syracusan engraver, Euainetos, were imitated by the mints of other cities. The obverse, as in the reverse of his dekadrachm with the facing Arethusa (see no. 17), depicts a racing quadriga. The charioteer and the front horse cross the beaded outline of the coin and seem to break free of the framing constraints. The composition has smooth modeling and intricate details.

The military equipment along with the word "prizes" in the exergue had long led numismatists to associate them with the booty awarded as prizes in games celebrating the Syracusan victory over Athens in 413 B.C. There is, however, no evidence for the games, and it is now generally believed that the coins are later, possibly issued by Dionysios I to celebrate the failed Carthaginian attack on Syracuse in 405 B.C.

On the reverse is the Syracusan nymph Arethusa, for whom the fresh water spring on the Syracusan island of Ortygia was named. The dolphins encircling her head probably refer to the location of the spring on the island. On this coin Arethusa wears an ampyx or hairband, on which Kimon frequently signed his name, and has the rest of her hair caught up in an intricate net.


[LU Home] | [Bearers of Meaning] | [Contents] | [Catalogue] | [Essays] | [Glossary]

All contents copyright (c) 1996.
Lawrence University
All rights reserved.