Islands off Troas, Tenedos. c. 100-70 BC

Islands off Troas, Tenedos. c. 100-70 BC


AR Tetradrachm, 16.20g (28mm, 12h). Janiform head of a laureate male and diademed female / Labrys; below, monogram and bunch of grapes – Athena Promachos standing facing. All within a laurel wreath.

Pedigree: Ex M&M FPL 297, 1969, 10 and NFA mail bid sale 12 October 1988, 299. From the Harald Salvesen collection.

References: SNG Lewis 871 (these dies). De Callataÿ, Studies Price, 60 (this coin).

Grade: Cabinet toning with lovely imagery. Some marks on the obverse right and softly struck. Well centered and pleasant. Good VF/aEF (gk1308)

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The coinage of Tenedos (modern day Bozcaada in Turkey) is extremely rare and fascinating. The story of how Tenedos came into existence is one of mythology going back to Homer’s Iliad. The story goes that King Cycnos, a son of Apollo, had two children, a boy, Tenes and a daughter, Hemithea with his first wife. After the wife died, Cycnos married his second wife, Philonome, who made advances on Tenes, but was rebuked. Out of anger and to punish Tenes, Philonome told Cycnos that Tenes had raped her. She also got the flutist Eumolpus to substantiate her lie. Cycnos reacted savagely and attempting to kill his son and daughter, put them in a chest, which was set in the sea. The chest eventually sailed ashore to an island, Leucophrye, with the two still living, and the island was renamed Tenedos, in Tenes name. When Cycnos found out his children had survived and what had actually happened, he killed Eumolpus, buried Philonome alive and attempted to sail to Tenedos to his children. The earlier rejection of his father was too great however for Tenes and once Cycnos arrived at the island on ship and attempted to secure his vessel, Tenes drew his axe and cut the moorings. 

It has been suggested that the male and female on the obverse of this coin would be Tenes and Hemithea, which certainly lends itself to the mythological history of the island. The reverse depicting the axe that Tenes used to sever the moorings.