Lucania, Thurium. c. 350-300 BC

Lucania, Thurium. c. 350-300 BC


AR Distater, 15.97g (23mm, 9h). Head of Athena to right, wearing helmet adorned with Skylla / ΘΟΥΡΙΩΝ Bull butting to right; above, Ξ; in exergue, two fish.

Pedigree: From the Stoecklin Collection, bought W. M. Stoecklin for his father W.F. Stoecklin from Bank Leu in Zürich on 31 May 1970.

References:  HN III 1811; Noe H 20; SNG ANS 973

Grade:  Smaller flan but with nice details and cabinet toning. Minor porosity on the obverse and reverse. about EF  (gk1178)

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Thurium has the distinguished honor of having the great historian Herodotus as one its founders. It was one of the last of the Greek colonies to form in c. 443 BC. Some 70 years after the  destruction of Sybaris, the survivors established the city with the help of the Athenians (their first cry for help was to the Spartans which was unsuccessful). Thurium was therefore considered to be an Athenian colony and not surprisingly they forced the Sybarites out shortly after its foundation. The Thurii suffered a blowing defeat from the Lucanians in c. 390 BC but it did not influence its beautiful coinage until the just after the period in which this coin was struck. At that point, Bruttium power rose in the area and the style and execution of the pieces started to diminish.

It is believed that the head of Athena on the coins of Thurium is likely that of Athena Skyletria, a sea-goddess. Of course the Skylla on the helmet of Athena’s helmet is another illusion to the city of which there is no coinage. The image of the rushing bull could be a symbol of Dionysus or of the fountain Thuria from which the city took its name. Another possible alternative of course is that the bull is a reference to the early settlers of Thurium, the Sybarites, of which a bull is omnipresent on their coinage.