Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich

Auction 114 - Part I

Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich, Auction 114 - Part I

Greek, Roman and Byzantine Coins

Tu, 07.05.2019, from 11:00 AM CEST
The auction is closed.


Corinthia, Corinth. Stater circa 460-450, AR 8.52 g. Pegasus flying r.; below, []. Rev. Head of Athena l., wearing Corinthian helmet. All within partially incuse square. Traité III, pl. CCVIII, 11 (these dies). Ravel 304. Calciati –. BCD Korinth –. Kray-Hirmer pl. 153, 483.
A portrait of enchanting beauty, undoubtedly the finest of the entire
Corinthian series, work of an exceptionally talented maser engraver.
Old cabinet tone and extremely fine

Privately purchased from M&M on 29th April 1992. From the Harald Salvesen collection.

Corinth, a city traditionally settled by Phoenician traders but probably not founded as a Greek polis until c. 900 BC, was strategically located to control the isthmus connecting central Greece to the Peloponnesos. Although the surrounding territory was not especially good for agriculture, the city grew rich in the Archaic period through domination of maritime trade along the western coast of mainland Greece and with the Greek cities of Sicily. Indeed, in order to maintain a firm control of this western trading empire, the Corinthians established colonies at Syracuse and Corcyra. They were also said to have been the first Greeks to build a standing fleet of triremes. In the late seventh and early sixth centuries BC, Corinth was notorious for its Kypselid dynasty of tyrants, some of whom lived up to the modern understanding of the tyrant as an evil despotic ruler. The Greek term tyrannos did not always have such negative connotations attached to it, but merely denoted an extra-constitutional ruler. Although Corinth continued to prosper under the tyrants and established new colonies at Apollonia and Empidamnos, the last Kypselid was overthrown in c. 584 BC and replaced by an oligarchic government with the assistance of Sparta. Corinth seems to have been on friendly terms with Athens in the sixth century BC and was respected as one of the greatest contributors of men and ships to the allied Greek cause during Xerxes’ failed invasion of Greece (480–479 BC). After the war the relationship between Corinth and Athens quickly soured. The development of the Athenian fleet necessitated by the conflict and Athens’ leadership role in the Delian League became competition for the Corinthian fleet and the city’s maritime trading empire. The situation came to a head when Megara, a city traditionally dominated by Corinth, joined the Delian League. In 457 BC, the Corinthians challenged the Athenians in battle at Megara. Although the fighting proved indecisive, the Athenians erected a trophy on the battlefield after the Corinthians had returned home. Shamed by this development, the Corinthians returned two weeks later in order to raise their own trophy. Unfortunately, they were attacked by the Athenians while they were raising it and this time there was a clear victor. The Corinthians were routed with many slain by the Athenians while fleeing the battlefield. Thucydides identifies the dispute over Megara as the first major grievance that Corinth had against Athens, fuelling the jealousy and hatred that ultimately led the Corinthians to petition Sparta and the Peloponnesian League to begin the Peloponnesian War in 431 BC. The present Corinthian stater was struck in the pivotal period of the Megarian crisis. It may perhaps have financed this early conflict with Athens, although the wide use of Corinthian silver as a trade coinage in the Peloponnesos,

northwestern Greece and in Sicily makes it difficult to tie the issue to specific needs. The types of Athena and Pegasus were traditional to the city. Indeed, the Pegasus type was such an iconic badge that Corinthian coins were regularly referred to in common parlance simply as pegasoi, or even as ”Corinthian colts.” Pegasus was associated with Corinth through the myth of Bellerophon, a Corinthian hero who tamed the winged horse while he drank at a well on the Acrocorinth. Mounted on Pegasus, Bellerophon undertook a quest to slay the three-bodied Chimera, a terrible monster that terrorized Lycia. Alas, having successfully killed the beast, Bellerophon thought himself an equal to the gods and tried to fly to the top of Mount Olympus on the back of Pegasus. Angered by his hubris, Zeus sent a gadfly to bite the winged horse and cause him to throw Bellerophon to his death.

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Price realized 120'000 CHF
Starting price 24'000 CHF
Estimate 30'000 CHF
The auction is closed.
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