Tetradrachmon aus Syrakus

Staatliche Münzsammlung München


Obverse: three-quarter portrait of the nymph Arethusa, in the field four dolphins.

Reverse: quadriga with charioteer galloping towards the left, above a flying Nike who is crowning the charioteer.

Syracuse kept her design for coinage over two centuries but always adapted it to the current artistic style. This tetradrachmon of ca. 413-399 BC presents the peak of the artistic designs of such images. The die was created by the artist Kimon who signed his work. The image of the nymph Arethusa with her wild loose hair distinguishes itself by its great vitality as can also be observed in the sculptures of Greek antiquity. On the reverse, Kimon managed extraordinarily well to catch the liveliness and movement of the chariot at full speed.

According to mythology, the river god Alpheios persecuted the nymph Arethusa, the city goddess of Syracuse, in the Peloponnese. She fled under the sea and emerged as a fresh-water spring on the island of Ortygia that forms the nucleus of Syracuse. The quadriga reminds of the powerful aristocrats, who played a leading part during the colonial period (eighth to sixth centuries BC) in Syracuse. They practised the expensive and prestigious sport of chariot races.