CALABRIA, Tarentum

AR Didrachm. 7.55g, 22.5mm
MINTED: CALABRIA, Tarentum, circa 400-390 BC
REF: Vlasto 341; HN Italy 850
OBVERSE: Nude youth, holding whip, on horseback right.

REVERSE: Phalanthos riding dolphin right, right arm raised.


Almost Very Fine. Minor surface crystallization, but nevertheless still with plenty of eye appeal and light toning.  Importantly, very well-centered for an issue that is notoriously struck off-center with parts of the dolphin or rider missing. A scarcer variety, affordably priced, and nicer in hand.


Historical Notes:

Tarentum, in Calabria, was the only colony the Spartans ever established. Its legendary founder was Taras, a son of Poseidon, who was carried to shore by a friendly dolphin when his ship was wrecked in a storm. By the 4th century BC, Tarentum had grown in prosperity to become the greatest city in all of Magna Graecia. Unlike the Spartans, who famously spurned the idea of coinage at the time of its invention, the Tarentines were quick to adopt its use, their iconic 'Dolphin-Rider' didrachmae becoming a symbol of the city's growing power and wealth.


The 'Dolphin-Rider' series, spanning almost three centuries, is one of great numismatic interest, and within it are to be found some of the most beautiful of all Greek coins. While maintaining its traditional motifs of the dolphin-rider and the horse-rider, the series also displayed dynamism in design, nuance and purpose. On the obverse, the horse-rider can be found in a great number of different poses, ages and attitudes, the composition of the scene occasionally changing to include secondary figures. The device of city's legendary oekist (founder) riding upon the back of a dolphin was not a stagnant one either. The dolphin-rider is sometimes seen as an adult man, sometimes a cherubic child, sometimes lean and muscled, and at other times almost corpulent. Interesting accompanying control symbols and secondary devices also add to the variety to be found amongst these coins.

CALABRIA, Tarentum . 400-390 BC . AR Didrachm . Dolphin-rider

SKU: 2910

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