An article by Russell A. Augustin published May 7, 2015 on CoinWeek discusses the Sikyon Stater. Gorgeous coin! -Editor
Sikyon was located in the northern Peloponnesus and was known in antiquity for its industries, including sculpture, bronze work, and
pottery. Its central location meant it was frequently involved in the wars of its neighbors: Thebes, Corinth, Athens, and Sparta. It was
the main mint for the anti-Athenian states in the Peloponnesian War and issued a substantial number of coins, most of which were melted
down to finance further conquests.
Sikyon was the cradle of western art, credited with originating tragedy in theater, the modern art of painting as it still stands today,
and the invention of using multiple instruments arranged orchestrally. The great sculptors Polykleitos and Lysippos both studied at the
famous schools in Sikyon.
This coin comes from an issue of staters produced at Sikyon after Alexander the Great’s request for mercenaries from the Peloponnese in
334 BCE. They seemed to have been paid out as a signing bonus and then buried for safe-keeping. Unfortunately, many of these mercenaries
never came back, explaining why many coins of this type still exist today and were never melted down.
The coin depicts a chimera, a mythical, fire-breathing monster composed of parts of three animals: a lion with the head of a goat
arising from its back and a tail that ends in a snake’s head, walking proudly to the left in an almost heraldic manner. According to Greek
mythology, the chimera was slain by Bellerophon with Apollo’s help, and appeared on most of the major coinage of Sikyon.
A dove is shown on the reverse, representing the main emblem of the city and a symbol of spirit. In antiquity, it was well known that
doves were kind, peaceful, and honorable animals, mating for life and working together to build nests and raise their young. Greeks and
Romans felt that they represented love and devotion, and it was the sacred animal for multiple goddesses, so it would follow that the
iconography on this coin was a depiction of “war and peace”.
To read the complete article, see:
Ancient Coins: War and Peace – The Sikyon
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