Numismatica Ars Classica > Auction 133Auction date: 21 November 2022
Lot number: 98

Price realized: 120,000 CHF   (Approx. 126,130 USD / 121,741 EUR)   Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
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Lot description:


Greek Coins. Crete, Gortyna.
Stater circa 330-270, AR 11.22 g. Europa, nude to the waist, seated facing in tree, raising her veil with r. hand and holding in l. arm an eagle with spread wings; below her, bull's head l. Rev. Bull standing l., head turned r.; below, fly. BMC 27 and pl. 10, 7 and 8. Traité III, 1601 and pl. 254, 5. Gillet 1015 (this coin). Svoronos –, for obverse, cf. 84 and for reverse, cf. 74. Le Rider 65 and pl. XIX, 2.
Very rare and undoubtedly among the finest specimens known. A very interesting and
appealing obverse die struck on a very broad flan with unusually fresh metal.
A superb old cabinet tone and good very fine

Ex Leu-M&M 28 May 1974, Kunstfreund, 206 and LHS 100, 2007, 276 sales.From the R. Maly collection.
The types of this stater advertise a local version of the myth of Europa that served as propaganda for the claims of Gortyna to be the preeminent city of Crete. At the time of production, the city vied with neighbouring Knossos for supremacy on the island. The reverse type features a bull, the animal form taken by Zeus to abduct Europa from her home in Phoenician Tyre. As a bull, he carried her across the sea to Crete, where he revealed himself to Europa as the king of the gods and his desire for her. The reverse type symbolically represents the consummation of the relationship between Europa and Zeus-now in the form of an eagle, with his former taurine form discarded below-beneath a plane tree, which is still exhibited to tourists on the site of ancient Gortyna. From the union of Zeus and Europa, three children were conceived, Minos, Sarpedon, and Phaestos, the mythical kings of Knossos, Malia, and Phaistos, respectively. Thus, from the mythological perspective at least, Gortyna could claim superiority to Knossos, Malia, and Phaistos as their mother city. However, it is not clear how old this myth actually was at the time the stater was struck. It may very well reflect contemporary Gortynian political ambition much more than established mythological tradition. Despite this numismatic attempt to lord it over the other cities of Crete, Gortyna fell on hard times not many years after this coin was struck. During the Lyttian War (220-216 BC), the population of Gortyna was so deeply divided over the question of supporting the city of Lyttos that civil war broke out. This conflict brought the forces of both Cnossus and Phaestos into the city and made it very clear that Gortyna could hardly control its own factions let alone dominate its great rivals.


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Estimate: 50000 CHF