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    Discus Thrower

    Caria. Cos. c. 480/70 BC. Triple Siglos, 16.60g. Obv: [ΚΟΣ] Nude male youth in the process of hurling a discus. He is standing facing, weight on his right leg, while the left leg is crossing behind, the upper part of the body bent to its right side for getting into stride. On the left, the prize of the contest: a huge tripod. Dotted border. Rx: Irregular square incuse with diagonal lines. Barron, Essays Robinson p. 79, 10, pl. 9 (late group A, same dies). The cataloguer has been waiting for one of these coins to come up in any quality close to this for forty years. Not only is the condition exceptional but it is artistically superior to the few other examples that have been in the market. This is one of the greatest coin types of the entire Greek series, as well as being a great rarity. EF.

    The Coan triple sigloi are among the most outstanding Greek coinages of the first half of the 5th century. The image refers to the athletic contests organized by the cities of the Dorian pentapolis (Cos, Cnidos, and the three cities of Rhodes: Camiros, Ialysos, and Lindos) in the sanctuary of Apollo Triopios, the Triopion on the Cnidian peninsula. The tripod at the side of the athlete is the prize of the contest mentioned by Herodotus (I 144); the victorious athlete had to donate it to the sanctuary (a custom that can be found elsewhere as well). While the reference of the image is quite clear, it cannot be said that the Coan 'Diskoboloi' were meant to fuel the celebrations at Triopion in the same way that the Elean coinage is often thought to have been minted just on the occasion of the Olympian games. It is true that the 'Diskoboloi' consist of one denomination only - a triple siglos that is almost as heavy as an Athenian tetradrachm - thus not functioning as an ordinary market currency. On the other hand, the smaller denominations were easily at hand: Persian sigloi circulating in Asia Minor, and their fractions. It must also be mentioned that the other cities of the pentapolis did not contribute to the games in the same way, and the existence of only one possible festival coinage casts doubt on whether this was the purpose at all. Along with the economic questions, the dating of the series has long been a matter of debate. Today it is agreed that all three groups were minted before c. 450 BC, although the Athenian coinage decree that has been regarded as an obstacle for a later dating has now been down-dated itself. The specimen allegedly found in the famous Asyut Hoard does not provide a terminus, for several scholars who had seen the hoard before it was published, among them the late Silvia Hurter, attested that the relevant coin (Price and Waggoner, #693) was not originally in the hoard. Anyway the style and habitus of the 'Diskoboloi' corroborates the dating to the first half of the fifth century BC. This is the period when a statue of a diskobol was created that showed almost the same posture: not the famous diskobol of the sculptor Myron which is known from several Roman copies, but the somewhat earlier statue of a diskobol made by the sculptor Pythagoras of Samos who moved to Rhegion and so became known as Pythagoras of Rhegion in the literature. The statue in question is known in just one Roman copy: a severely damaged herm from the Ludovisi Collection, today in the Museo Nazionale Romano in Rome. Although the arms of the statue are lost and the legs are concealed by the herm shaft, it is obvious that the statue showed a diskobol at the same point: building momentum just before starting the turnaround. This was the moment that most fascinated the Greeks, the instant in which the decision was made.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2011
    14th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
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