Project Description

This coin, featuring Persephone on the obverse and Nike on the reverse, was minted in Syracuse, Sicily. Syracuse started as a Greek colony and served as an important outpost of Greek culture in the central Mediterranean. For some time, it was even the most powerful Greek city in the Mediterranean. This power, however, meant that Syracuse was constantly fighting for control in the region with Carthaginians, Etruscans, Romans, and other Greek cities. This coin was minted during the reign of Agathokles, who came into power by a military coup. His rule overthrew an oligarchy that had been in charge of Syracuse and replaced it with a more Greek, democratic constitution. The region of Sicily in which Syracuse is located is known for its rich soil, explaining why an agricultural goddess like Persephone is placed on the “front” of a coin. Nike, the goddess of Victory, makes her home on the reverse of the coin to solidify Agathokles’s military might.

-Constantine Botimer, Class of 2019

Object Details

Hellenic Sicily
c. 317-289 BCE
2.5 cm
Gift of Joe Bush, 1989