Tetradrachm

Features

Country Akanthos (Macedonia)
(Macedon)
Type Standard circulation coin
Years 470 BC - 430 BC
Value Tetradrachm = 4 Drachm (4)
Currency Drachm
Composition Silver
Weight 17.18 g
Diameter 18 mm
Shape Round
Demonetized Yes

Obverse

Lion to right, leaping upon and attacking bull with head up to left; in exergue, fish to left.

Reverse

AKANΘION in shallow incuse around quadripartite square, the quarters raised and granulated.

Lettering: AKANΘION

Comments

The coin in the main image (5.77g, 21mm, 1h, Good Very Fine):
◦ Auctioned by Roma Numismatics Ltd, Auction XVII, 28 March 2019, Lot 385. Sold for 16,000 GBP;

The lion-bull combat motif originates in the figurative art of the third millennium BC in the Near East, where the geometrical motifs were replaced by narrative symbolic representations. The earliest known depiction occurs on a ewer found at Uruk dated to the latter part of the Protoliterate period, circa 3300 BC. The scene became widely distributed by 500 BC, featuring prominently in the Achaemenid Empire, and in particular at the palace of Darios in Persepolis, where it occurs 27 times, including on the main staircase leading to the imperial complex. Its frequent appearance in key locations suggests an important symbolic significance, but the precise meaning is unknown. Possible explanations include an expression of royal power; an astronomical allusion; an apotropaic symbol (serving to ward off evil, like the gorgoneionor); or the struggle between civilisation (the domesticated bull) and nature (the untameable lion). This latter argument stems from the grim view of the world of the Mesopotamians of Uruk,  who saw it as a constant battleground of opposing powers.

G. E. Markoe (The Lion Attack in Archaic Greek Art, Classical Antiquity Vol. 8, 1, 1989) suggests that the explanation may be found in Homeric literature, wherein a lion attacking cattle or sheep is a simile for the courage of combatant heroes in 25 distinct passages. Notably, Agamemnon's victorious advance against the Trojans in the Iliad (11.113ff and 129) and Hektor's successful pursuit of the Achaeans (15.630ff) are both likened to a lion triumphing over its hapless prey. The prey is likened to boars, sheep, goats, bulls or deer.

See also

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Date VG F VF XF AU UNC
ND (470 BC - 430 BC) 

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