The AMICA Library
AMICA Library Year:
Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
European; Southern European; Mediterranean
Ancient Greece Early Western World,Ancient Mediterranean,Ancient
Coin Showing Persephone ('Kore')
Hellenistic Period, 310/07 B.C.
Creation Start Date:
Creation End Date:
Materials and Techniques:
The obverse of this coin has political overtones. The older coinage of Syracuse had as its obverse type the local spring nymph Arethusa. By the end of the fourth century B.C., she had become somewhat identified with another maiden goddess, Persephone (Kore). With this coin, the merging of these elements is complete: whereas seaweed once wreathed the nymph's hair, here Kore is crowned with grain in homage to Sicily's fame as the breadbasket of the Mediterranean (Kore's mother/double is Demeter, goddess ofgrain and all the fruits of the earth). To ensure that the metamorphosis is recognized, Kore's name is spelled out on the coin.On the reverse a winged Victory crowns a trophy of armor advertising Agathokles' military success.
Diam.: 2.7 cm (1 in.)
The Art Institute of Chicago
Chicago, Illinois, USA
The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Martin A. Ryerson
Obverse [in Greek]: 'Koras'; '[coin of} Kore'Reverse: around, 'Agathokleios' [in Greek]; '[coin of] Agathocles'
Greek, minted in Syracuse, Sicily;issued by Agathokles, tyrant of Syracuse, reigned 317-289 B.C. This exquisite coin owes its design to political violence and ambition. It was minted to commemorate the victory of the would-be king Agathokles over his political rivals in Syracuse and their dangerous Carthaginian allies in 317 B.C. Sicily was wealthy, powerful, and sophisticated; the cosmopolitan city of Syracuse had long prided itself on the high quality of its artists-including its cooin engravers-and Agathokles continued that tradition. It has been suggested that Agathokles, while not wanting to tamper too much with the successful and recognizable coinage of Syracuse, still preferred to abandon the local nymph Arethusa in favor of a pan-Sicilian grain goddess who would advertise the fact that he now ruled nearly the entire, wheat-wealthy island.
Related Image Identifier Link: