Islands off Ionia, Samos. Hegesianax, Magistrate. c. 408/4-380/66 BC

Islands off Ionia, Samos. Hegesianax, Magistrate. c. 408/4-380/66 BC


AR Tetradrachm, 14.60g (24.5mm, 12h). Facing lion scalp / Forepart of bull right; HΓHΣIANAΞ above, olive branch to left, monogram and ΣA below; all within shallow incuse square.

Ex CNG 105, 10 May 2017, lot 356

References:  Barron Class X, 129 var. (A58/P– [unlisted rev. die]); HGC 6, 1218; BMC 134 (same obv. die); McClean 8407 (same obv. die).

Grade: Beautiful iridescent toning and nice surfaces. Minimal wear. aEF   (gk1195)

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The island of Samos is most famously known as the birthplace of the mathematician Pythagoras. He was born on Samos sometime around 570 BC. In 532 BC, Pythagoras emigrated to Italy to escape the tyrannical rule of Polycrates, who himself was murdered by the Persians in 522 BC. Due to its strategic position off the coast of Asia Minor, Samos, was a strong power in the 6th century BC. It alternated its allegiance between Athens and Persia and also had a strong relationship with the Egyptians. The strong Egyptian relationship was one of the reasons that they were able to grow in power despite being a small island. The mighty Egyptian naval forces helped to elevate the small island. The influence that Egypt had on Samos can be seen in a kouros that is located in their local museum. It is the largest kouros in Greece in existence. The kouros has an Egyptian headdress which is typical for early examples. 

Samos was also known for its vineyards and to this day still produces muscat wine. At the time this coin was produced, Samos was independent and this coin was struck under a magistrate, Hegesianx (as referenced by the legend on the reverse of the coin). The Peloponnesian War had just finished and Samos had sided with Athens and hosted the Athenians on their island for support. After the war, Samos became independent until the Spartans under the general Lysander took control of the island.