Numismatica Ars Classica > Auction 133Auction date: 21 November 2022
Lot number: 55

Price realized: 28,000 CHF   (Approx. 29,430 USD / 28,406 EUR)   Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
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Lot description:


Greek Coins. Larissa.
Drachm circa 420-400, AR 6.11 g. Head of the nymph Larissa r., wearing sakkos. Rev. ΛΑΡΙ – ΣΑΙ – Thessalos, wearing petasus and chlamys, standing r., restraining a bridled horse running r.; all within shallow incuse square. BMC 52. Herrmann pl. IV, 4. Lorber 2008, pl. 43, 61. Traité IV, 692 and pl. CCXCVIII, 1. BCD Thessaly 1, 1130 (this coin).
A very elegant portrait of masterly style, probably the finest of the series, struck
on fresh metal and with a lovely old cabinet tone. About extremely fine

Ex Nomos sale 4, 2011, BCD, 1130.
Larissa became the most prominent city of Thessaly in the sixth century BC under the leadership of the powerful Aleuad family. The Aleuadae claimed descent from the half mythical figure, Aleuas the Red, who was believed to have divided Thessaly into its four tetrads, or districts, and created the Thessalian League. The Aleuadae of Larissa frequently led the other cities of Thessaly in the Thessalian League, but their desire to control the neighbouring regions of Phocis and Locris brought them to a bad end at the conclusion of the failed Persian invasion of Greece (480-479 BC). The Aleuadae had supported the Persians in the conflict and therefore brought Spartan punishment down on themselves and Larissa. The Aleuadae were expelled, Larissa was given a new oligarchic constitution, and ceased to be the leading city of the Thessalian League. League leadership was instead handed over to Pharsalos and its Echekratid family. Nevertheless, Larissa and the Aleuadae were not willing to give up their power to Pharsalos so easily and therefore developed a friendly relationship with Sparta's rival, Athens, in the fifth century BC. Larissa supplied cavalry to the Athenians during the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC) and probably assisted in an Athenian invasion of Thessaly that deposed the Pharsalian archon of the Thessalian League. The present drachm was struck in the late period of Larissan support for Athens or possibly following the final defeat of Athens in 404 BC, when Larissa led other cities of Thessaly to oppose the tyrant of Pherae, Lycophron I, who desired to overthrow all the old noble houses and rule all of Thessaly himself. The types follow traditional iconography at Larissa and advertise the pan-Thessalian ambitions of the city and the Aleuadae. The obverse depicts a beautiful head of the nymph Larissa, indicating the city responsible for the issue, while the reverse features Thessalos, the heroic ancestor of all Thessalians. He is usually described as restraining a horse-an animal that was also emblematic of Thessaly-but the horse actually seems to be at a gallop, making it seem more likely that Thessalos here is actually about to leap onto its back and ride it.


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Estimate: 15000 CHF