Arkadia. Stymphalos. Circa 350 BC. Stater (Silver, 24 mm, 11.67 g, 3 h), So..... Head of Artemis right, her hair tied in a bun at the top of her head, wearing laurel wreath, an earring with rosette, crescent, and five pendants, and a pearl necklace. Rev. ΣTYMΦAΛIΩN Herakles, nude, stiding left, his lion skin wrapped around his left arm, holding a bow in left hand, and preparing to strike with a club held aloft in his right; between his legs, magistrate's initials ΣO. ACGC 320. BCD Peloponnesos 1204–5. Boston MFA 1269. Gulbenkian 560. Jameson 1267. Kraay & Hirmer 514 (same obverse die). Very rare. An elegant, toned example of superb style. Slight traces of double-striking on the obverse and slight roughness, otherwise, very fine.
From the Molard Collection, Switzerland, ex Triton XV, 3 January 2012, 1183.
The exploit of Herakles destroying the Stymphalian Birds was one of his Twelve Labors, and people have assumed that this reverse commemorates that event. However, all actual representations of that labor show him attacking flying birds with arrows or slingbolts, while we have him here striding along with an upraised club, as if chasing running birds! Thus, we need to look for something else. Almost certainly, what we have here is a symbolic representation of the freeing of much of the Peloponnesos from Spartan domination after the battle of Leuctra in 362. The close parallel with the figure of the Athenian tyrant-slayer Harmodios is, thus, by no means coincidental.