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Tetradrachm (Coin) Depicting Arethusa

A work made of silver.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of silver.

Date:

474/450 BCE

Artist:

Greek, minted in Syracuse, Sicily

About this artwork

The front (obverse) of this coin depicts the head of Arethusa facing to the head, her head circled by dolphins. On the back (reverse) is a charioteer with a winged Nike flying above to crown horses with a wreath.

To escape the unwanted attentions of the river god Alpheus, the nymph Arethusa swam under the sea to the island of Sicily, where she found sanctuary. Arethusa’s path was said to explain the freshwater spring that miraculously bubbled into the nymph’s pool and that still exists in Syracuse. When this coin was issued, Syracuse was one of the most powerful cities in the Mediterranean basin. Local civic pride was emboldened by a series of ambitious tyrants, who enlarged the city’s territory and also encouraged the arts.

On View

Ancient and Byzantine Art, Gallery 151

Culture

Ancient Greek

Title

Tetradrachm (Coin) Depicting Arethusa

Origin

Ancient Greece

Date

474 BCE–450 BCE

Medium

Silver

Dimensions

Diam. 2.6 cm; 16.95 g

Credit Line

Gift of William F. Dunham

Reference Number

1920.723

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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