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Classical Numismatic Group > Triton XXIVAuction date: 19 January 2021
Lot number: 386

Lot description:

SICILY, Selinos. Circa 455-409 BC. AR Tetradrachm (27.5mm, 17.48 g, 9h). Artemis, holding reins in both hands, driving quadriga left; beside her, Apollo standing left, drawing bow; retrograde ΣEΛINO-N-TI-OΣ around / River god Selinos, nude, standing left, holding in right hand a phiale over altar to left, cradling in left arm a palm branch; before altar, cock standing left; to right, selinon leaf above bull standing left on basis; Σ-EΛI-N-O-Σ around above. Schwabacher 3b (Q1/S3) = Rizzo pls. XXXI, 9 and XXXII, 2-3 = Gillet 494 = Kunstfreund 101 (this coin); HGC 2, 1220; SNG Lloyd 1221 = AGC 377 (same dies); Hirsch 467 = Kraay & Hirmer 186 (same obv. die). Attractive light toning. EF. A masterpiece of classical style.

Ex Baron Lorne Thyssen-Bornemisza & Dr. Thomas S. Kaplan Joint Collection (Numismatica Genevensis SA IX, 14 December 2015), lot 14; Star Collection (Numismatica Ars Classica 48, 21 October 2008), lot 39; Leu 76 [Exceptional Private Collection] (27 October 1999), lot 49; Charles Gillet [as Kunstfruend] Collection (Leu & Münzen und Medaillen AG, 28 May 1974), lot 101.

Situated on the southwest coast of Sicily at the mouth of the Selinunte River, Selinos was founded by colonists from Megara Hyblaia, a town on the eastern coast of the island. The coinage of Selinos regularly featured a wild parsley leaf, since the ancient Greek name for this, selinos, provided an allusive pun on the town's name. The reverse design of the fifth-century BC tetradrachms struck by Selinos, however, are more challenging to interpret. Head argued that the design represented the discovery of a cure for a local plague by the philosopher Empedokles, an event related by the third-century AD philosopher Diogenes Laertius (8.2.70). The iconography does appear to confirm this interpretation: the local river-god, now no longer in his traditional form as a man-headed bull (necessitating perhaps the inclusion of a bull into the scene), is seen holding a lustral branch and sacrificing at an altar (of Apollo?), which is attended by a cock, a bird sacred to Asklepios, the god of healing (cf. Plato, Phaedo 117a-118). The association of Apollo with Asklepios is more than coincidental: Apollo was the father of Asklepios, and in his role as ἀλεξίκακος, Apollo was able to relieve the destruction which he (as well as his sister Artemis, seen together with him on the obverse) could also create in his role as σμίνθευς, the bringer of plague.

Estimate: 50000 USD