Bruttium, Kroton c. 400-325 BC

Bruttium, Kroton c. 400-325 BC

27,500.00

AR Stater, 7.73g (23mm, 3h). Head of Hera Lacinia facing slightly right, wearing necklace and polos decorated with palmettes; B to right / Young Herakles, nude, holding cup in extended right hand and club in left, reclining left on lion skin draped over rock; KPOTΩNIATAΣ around, bow below.

Pedigree: Ex Giessener Münzhandlung 69, 18 November 1994, lot 85 (and coverpiece)

References: Attianese 138; HN Italy 2169; SNG ANS 375 (same dies); SNG Lloyd –; Gulbenkian 131 (same dies); Kraay & Hirmer 270 = de Luynes 728 (same dies)

Grade: aEF. Rare in this grade (gk1209)

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The Greek city state of Kroton was located on the far southern end of Italy, essentially at the bottom of the “boot”. The city was founded in c. 710 BC by Myscellus from the Peloponnesus.  The people of Kroton were known for their physical strength and their uncomplicated and straightforward existence. The reverse of this coin shows a strong, young Herakles reclining with a club in his hand and a bow below. This certainly mirrors the men that lived there. Kroton was home to many famous olympian athletes and physicians. One of the more famous of the olympians was the 6th century Greek wrestler Milo of Kroton. Many athletes from that time were also involved in military affairs. The distinct lines society places on a person’s role, whether it be soldier, philosopher or athlete were blurred. Pythagoras was also a temporary citizen of Kroton in c. 530 BC.

This coin shows a beautiful, peaceful rendition of the goddess Hera on the obverse. Just some 40-80 years earlier a grand temple was built to honor the sister/wife of Zeus. It was said to be one of the most beautiful structures in southern Italy. During the invasion by Carthage in 206 BC, Hannibal apparently saw a pillar of gold in the temple and wondered if it was pure. Upon determining it was, he ordered the pillar to be moved from the temple and returned with him to Carthage. That evening Hera visited him in his dream and threatened to take one of his eyes if he proceeded with his plan. He decided to erect a golden heifer that sat above the pillar as his apology to the goddess.

The structure stood throughout the centuries with little to no damage but was finally destroyed in 1600 for the construction of an episcopal palace.