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525515
525515. SOLD $19500

SICILY, Messana. 420-413 BC. AR Tetradrachm (27mm, 17.27 g, 3h). The nymph Messana, holding kentron in left hand and reins in both, driving slow biga of mules right; ŘÅs-sEµ counterclockwise from right, two dolphins confronted in exergue / Hare springing right; µEs-sÅ-˜-5-o˜ around; below, dolphin right. Caltabiano Series XIV, 533 (D210/R227); HGC 2, 792; SNG ANS 362; Pozzi 490 (same dies). Light golden tone over satin surfaces displaying residual luster around devices, minor die wear. Superb EF. Well struck from detailed dies on a broad flan.


Messana, located on the northwest corner of Sicily, chose as its civic badges a chariot pulled by a pair of mules (biga) and a leaping hare. The symbolism of the mule biga is obvious: In 484 or 480 BC, a mule team from Messana won the Olympic Games in the event known as the anape. Here, the biga is driven by the female personification of the city itself. The two dolphins nose-to-nose below the chariot likely refer to Messana’s military alliance with Syracuse. As for the leaping hare, this animal was sacred to the god Pan, who had a temple in Messana. The dolphin below the hare harks back to the original name of Messana, Zankle ("sickle"), so named for its crescent harbor, recalling the leaping dolphin's arched shape.