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546907

Iconic Greek Coin

546907.

ATTICA, Athens. Circa 454-404 BC. AR Tetradrachm. Helmeted head of Athena right, with frontal eye / Owl standing right, head facing, closed tail feathers; olive sprig and crescent to left; all within incuse square. Kroll 8; HGC 4, 1597. Lustrous. EF. Well centered and struck on a full flan. Special offer – you will receive one (1) example of our choice.


The tetradrachms with the “frontal” eye can be attributed to the mid to late fifth century BC, circa 454-404 BC, a time when Athens expanded its political and cultural influence throughout the Greek world and fought a decades-long war with Sparta. Following its rise to power in the previous half century, the decades of the late 440s and 430s are known to modern audiences as the ‘Age of Pericles’, named for the Athenian general, politician and orator, who fostered and oversaw the city’s splendor. At the same time, Athens saw the construction of some of its iconic feats of architecture – most notably the Parthenon, a temple located on the Acropolis, and dedicated to Athens’ patron deity, Athena Parthenos. It was a period of some of the greatest poets, playwrights, and other writers – Aeschylus, Sophocles, Herodotos, and Thucydides – whose works still resonate with modern audiences. Toward the end of this period, Athens pursued a policy of hegemony in the Aegean that resulted in the creation of the Delian League – ostensibly a defensive organization against a possible renewed Persian invasion – but which served to create a wealthy and powerful empire. This brought it into conflict with the Spartans and their allies, resulting in the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC). By the end of the war, the power of Athens and her democratic achievement were curtailed under a pro-Spartan tyranny. While Athens did later regain some of her former glory, it was never as splendid as the Classical period when these tetradrachms were struck and circulated.