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Sicily - Leontini


Ian
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A coin that is not exactly `museum quality' but it was `affordable'

 

A silver litra from the city state of Leontini circa 455 - 433 BC. Obverse a lions head, reverse shows Apollo in the left /centre field, and an ear of wheat in the right.

 

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A silver litra from the city state of Leontini circa 455 - 433 BC. ...

 

You see the big tetradrachms offered regularly enough, but I never saw one of these little coins. According to Sear Greek Coins and Their Values:

#837 - AR Litra. (0.87 grams) LEON Lion's head with open jaws. Rx Naked river god Lissos? standing facing left before an altar, holding a patera and a laurel branch; behind him, a corn grain. (Same as British Museum Catalog 2.46). Priced at £150 back in 1978.

 

(Let's see... so, £150 back in 1978 would be like £1500 today if petrol, but £15 if an ancient coin? :D )

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You see the big tetradrachms offered regularly enough, but I never saw one of these little coins. According to Sear Greek Coins and Their Values:

#837 - AR Litra. (0.87 grams) LEON Lion's head with open jaws. Rx Naked river god Lissos? standing facing left before an altar, holding a patera and a laurel branch; behind him, a corn grain. (Same as British Museum Catalog 2.46). Priced at £150 back in 1978.

 

(Let's see... so, £150 back in 1978 would be like £1500 today if petrol, but £15 if an ancient coin? :D )

 

That little sliver of siller cost me a bit more than £15, but as you correctly surmise, the value of ancient coins hasn't quite kept pace with the spiraling costs of petrol.

 

I took my data on this coin from the page for Leontini that appears on `Wildwinds'. Was way too lazy to look it up in Sear at the time. However looks like Sear agrees with Barclay Head's `Historia Numorum' in terms of the standing figure possibly being the river god Lissus. Strange, and I am left wondering where the concept of the figure being the `river god' comes from given that Apollo is prominent on other coinage of Leontini of that era. Which deity / deities would any `sacrifice' be made to if the person making the sacrifice was one of the gods(?)

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Sear agrees with Barclay Head's `Historia Numorum'... the river god Lissus. ... given that Apollo is prominent on other coinage ...

 

Those old Oxbridge guys read more than Caesar's Gallic Wars and Plutarch's Lives. So, maybe they knew some fragment from some Pseudo-Strabo that said "the people there worship Lissus" or whatever. But, basically, I am being kind there. None of these catalogs is supported with direct citation. We are supposed to take their word for it. Head, Gardner, Seltman, ... Of course Sear "agrees" with Head. What alternative does he have? Being "conservative" means more than voting for Tories. (I love wild theories. The night, I told my wife that I believe that there was a lost civilization 35,000 years ago between Ice Ages. She did not even bother to reply.) If Sear attempted to re-write the BMC, it would have spoken poorly for his own work.

 

We have this vocabulary of images: Young head, no beard = Apollo; beard = Zeus; hat on head = Hermes/Mercury; Grain of Wheat = Demeter; Bow & Arrows = Artemis/Diana; Lionskin = Herakles. Then what?? We have tons of maids and youths, women and men. What town is not on a named river? I do not have much confidence in all of that, certainly not without attribution to documents, epigraphic evidence.

 

You know the coins of Corinth with the helmeted woman? We call her "Athena" of course, goddess of war, etc. But it has been suggested that we have written evidence that Aphrodite was the primary goddess of Corinth and this is Aphrodite in a helmet. Just a suggestion...

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Aphroditi in a tin can. Now there's a thought.

 

I heard she had her fingers tattooed with LOVE on the right hand and HATE on the left to remind her that she had to maintain a balanced perspective of the Corinthians.

 

The belief that the Gods experienced their own emotive states is clear from literature, so there's no way that we could claim that Athena was just Aphroditi's `hormonal / bad hair day' alter ego.....besides which I wonder if that thought would be politically incorrect even back in the days of Gelon the tyrant.

 

As to the standing figure brandishing various bits and bobs at an alter, it is unlikely that the figure would have been modeled on `Bob next door'.....or is it? In a polytheistic culture where inadvertantly passing wind would be attributed to some truculent deity or another in need of appeasement, it is unlikely that an engraver would miss out on the opportunity to keep on the good side of the most prominent `on hand' deity. So, by my logic it is most likely the local river god depicted.....or maybe even Apollo :)

 

Sooooo many gods...not enough dies!

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