SICILY. Syracuse. Dionysios I, 405-367 BC. Dekadrachm (Silver, 34 mm, 41.09 g, 11 h), signed on both sides by Kimon, c. 405-400. Quadriga racing to left, driven by charioteer holding the reins in his left hand and goad with his right; above, Nike flying right to crown the driver; below ground line [inscribed KIMΩN], panoply of arms arranged on two steps, the lower inscribed, [ΑΘΛΑ] (here off the flan). Rev. [ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ] Head of Arethusa to left, wearing a single pendant earring and a pearl necklace, her hair bound in a net and with the hair band over her forehead inscribed Κ; swimming around her head, four dolphins: two opposed before her face, one, inscribed KIMΩN below the neck truncation, and one behind her head. BMFA 432, de Luynes 1243, Gulbenkian 303, Jameson 819, (all same dies). Jongkees 3 (dies A/γ). With a noble head of Arethusa and a dark grey patina as found. Obverse struck from slightly worn dies and with the typical hairline die crack on the reverse, otherwise, nearly extremely fine.
From a European collection, ex Künker 280, 26 September 2016, 115, Argenor, 25 April 2002, 13 and Künker 67, 9 October 2001, 183.
The dekadrachms of Kimon are among the most beautiful and powerful of all Greek coins. Kimon first portrayed Arethusa as a young and rather innocent looking girl (as Kraay/Hirmer 117) but he almost immediately altered his vision of Arethusa for one, as here, who has a fully adult, imperious beauty of great power. This change must have been made on the orders of Dionysios I, and it must reflect his own personal taste. Dionysios I had two wives, Doris and Andromache, whom he married on the same day, and it has been suggested that the two different heads on Kimon's dekadrachms are actually portraits of those two wives (the fact the youthful head was only used once, while the usual type, as the present example, was the standard issue, implies that one of the two was more powerful than the other).
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