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CA501

Greek silver coin, Sicily, Syracuse, ca. 215-214 B.C.

Greek silver coin, Sicily, Syracuse, ca. 215-214 B.C. AR 10 litrai. The obverse diademed head of King Hieronymos facing left; the reverse features the winged thunderbolt of Zeus, a symbol of vigor and power. The Greek inscription BAΣIΛEΩΣ IEPΩNYMOY, KI above --KING HIERONYMOS in the possessive case.

Reference: SNG ANS 1027, Holloway 994

Condition: Mint

HIERONYMOS--or Hieronymus--succeeded his grandfather Hiero as king of Syracuse in 215 BC when he was about 15 years old. When Hieronymos ascended the throne Rome and Carthage were in the midst of the Second Punic War and Rome was losing badly following Hannibals invasion of Italy (218 BC). Hieronymos consequently courted Hannibal and received two of Hannibals generals, Hippokrates and Epikydes, as ambassadors to negotiate the terms of a treaty between Syracuse and Carthage. Meanwhile the pro-Roman faction in Syracuse was plotting the elimination of Hieronymos, undoubtedly with the assistance of Rome.

While on a visit to the neighboring Greek city of Leontini, the plotters assassinated him in 214 BC, just thirteen months after he had assumed power. The coinage during Hieronymos thirteen-month reign mirrors the change in allegiance of Syracuse from Rome to Carthage. The coinage at the beginning of his reign, the "coronation" coinage, is in the classic Greek style: refined and idealized. However, toward the end of his reign the "war" coinage is very much in the Carthaginian style: rough and realistic. Hieronymoss hair style also is transformed from the Greek to the Carthaginian styles of his day.

Provenance: Private Chicago Collection, ex Harlan Berk.

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