Syracuse, Dionysius I, 405-367 BC

ac07-0201_f_600x600
ac07-0201_f_600x600ac07-0201_b_600x600


CATALOG INFORMATION
ID Number: AC07-0201
Category: Ancient Coins
Description: Syracuse, Dionysius I, 405-367 BC
Country or State: Syracuse (Sicily)
Year: Struck circa 390 BC
Period:  
Head of State/Ruler: Dionysius I also known as Dionysius the Elder
Reign: 405-367 BC
Currency: Bronze litra
Face Value:  
Subject/Theme:  
Obverse: Head of Athena left in Corinthian helmet adorned with olive wreath, wearing pearl necklace
Obverse Legend:  
Obverse Designer:  
Reverse: Bridled hippocamp left, trailing rein
Reverse Legend:  
Reverse Designer:  
Edge: Irregular
Note:  
Mint Mark:  
Composition: Bronze
Diameter: 20.0 mm (irregular)
Thickness:  
Weight: 8.7 grams
Mintage:  
Krause & Mishler Number:  
Other Catalog Number: CNS 44; SNG ANS 434-449; Calciati I 45
State of Conservation: Extremely Fine (XF), light traces of green patina
Rarity: Rare and of beautiful style
   

CATALOG VALUE
Proof (Prf) € -
Brilliant Uncirculated (BU) € -
Mint State/Mint Condition (MS) € -
Uncirculated (Unc) € -
Extremely Fine (XF) € -
Very Fine (VF) € -
Fine (F) € -
Very Good (VG) € -
Good (G) € -
   

HISTORICAL NOTES
Dionysius I, also called Dionysius the Elder   (born c. 430 bc—died 367), tyrant of Syracuse from 405 who, by his conquests in Sicily and southern Italy, made Syracuse the most powerful Greek city west of mainland Greece. Although he saved Greek Sicily from conquest by Carthage, his brutal military despotism harmed the cause of Hellenism.

After working as a clerk in a public office, Dionysius distinguished himself fighting in the war with Carthage that broke out in Sicily in 409. He took advantage of a crisis in the war to make himself tyrant in 405. Over the next eight years he ruthlessly consolidated and expanded his power. He built a wall around Syracuse and fortified Epipolae. The Greek citizens of Naxos, Catana, and Leontini were removed from their cities; many of them were enslaved and their homes were given to Sicilian and Italian mercenaries.

Dionysius was then ready to lead his vast army against Carthage, which had occupied western and southern Sicily. His first war with Carthage (397–396), during which the Greeks besieged Motya and the Carthaginians Syracuse, ended with a notable victory for Dionysius, who confined his enemy’s power to an area of northwest Sicily. A second conflict ended in 392 with a treaty advantageous to Dionysius. After 390 he led an expedition against Rhegium and other Greek cities of southern Italy, and with the aid of the Lucanians he devastated the territories of Thurii, Croton, and Locri. By the time Rhegium fell (386), Dionysius had become the chief power in Greek Italy. He sent colonists to Illyria and possibly to northeast Italy. Although the Athenian writer Isocrates hailed him as a champion of Hellenism, the brutality of Dionysius’ conquests made him unpopular in Greece, and his literary pretensions were deplored. When he sent a splendid embassy to the Olympic festival of 388, a crowd pillaged the tents of his envoys.

Dionysius’ third war with Carthage (383–c. 375) proved disastrous; he suffered a crushing defeat at Cronium and was forced to pay an indemnity of 1,000 talents and cede the territory west of the Halycus River. Nevertheless, he was engaged in yet another conflict with the Carthaginians at the time of his death.