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    Alexander The Molossian

    CALABRIA. Tarentum. Under Alexander the Molossian, King of Epirus (350-330 BC). AV hemilitron or 12th stater (8mm, 0.63 gm, 12h). NGC AU 4/5 - 5/5. Struck ca. 333-331/0 BC. Radiate head of Helios facing slightly left / AΛ - EΞ flanking thunderbolt. HN Italy 906. Vlasto, Alexander, Type 6A, pl.ix, 10 (same dies). Vlasto 1864-5. A remarkably lovely little piece, well struck up and displaying gemlike luster.

    The Epirote King Alexander I "the Molossian" was the brother of Olympias and uncle to both Alexander III "the Great" and Pyrrhus, later king of Epirus. Like his cousins, he was anxious for military glory and raised a considerable army in search of new lands to conquer. In 334 BC, while Alexander the Great was attacking the Persian Empire, Alexander the Molossian turned his attentions westward in response to entreaties from Tarentum in Italy to help them fight off several aggressive Italic tribes. He won a key victory over the Samnites and Lucanians in 332 BC, after which he signed a peace treaty with nascent Rome; however, as with Pyrrhus a few decades later, his victories proved both costly and ephemeral. In 331 BC, a battle at Pandosia went against him and he was killed while trying to escape. His presence in Tarentum saw the striking of a limited gold coinage, including this rare and lovely fractional type, intended to pay the Epirote and Greco-Italian soldiers in his service. 


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