Dionysios I - II, circa 375-344 BC
AE Hemilitron. 4.27g, 18.6mm
MINTED: SICILY, Syracuse, circa 375-344 BC
REF: HGC 2, 1456; Calciati 34; SNG ANS 426-433
OBVERSE: Head of Athena wearing Corinthian helmet; [SVRA to left].
REVERSE: Hippocamp with curled wing swimming left.
Ex Joseph J. Copeland Collection
Fine. Dark brown patina. Small area of flat striking.
Dionysios I was a clerical worker whose ambitions led him on a path that would ultimately see him rule Syracuse. His long rule as tyrant allowed him to turn Syracuse into a powerful city whose influence extended beyond the island Sicily and into southern Italy and parts of mainland Greece. Dionysios was also a great patron of the arts, and fancied himself something of a playwright, though in the latter pursuit his achievements were more mixed. A historical anecdote tells of Dionysios sending the poet Philoxenus of Cythera to the work in the quarries for criticising his poetry. After a day, Dionysios had Philoxenus brought before him and read him some further verses. When he asked Philoxenus again for his opinion, the poet was said to have turned to the guards and said "take me back to the quarries."
In 367 BC, Dionysios died, possibly poisoned by physicians in the pay of his son and successor, Dionysios II. Despite the moderating influence of his uncle Dion and the great philosopher Plato, the younger Dionysios woud prove to be a cruel and decadent ruler. He was overthrown in 357 BC, but returned to Syracuse to rule again briefly from 346 to 344 BC.
SICILY, Syracuse . Dionysios I-II, circa 375-344 BC . AE Hemilitron . Hippocamp
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