The Smyrnaean dream of Alexander III 'the Great'
Los 1310
IONIA. Smyrna. Marcus Aurelius, as Caesar, 139-161. Hexassarion (Bronze, 35 mm, 21.82 g, 12 h), Theudianos, strategos, circa 147-161. ΑYΡΗΛΙΟϹ ΚΑΙϹΑΡ Bare head of Marcus Aurelius to left. Rev. ΘЄYΔΙΑΝΟϹ ϹΤΡΑΤ ΑΝЄΘΗΚЄ ϹΜYΡΝΑΙΟΙϹ Alexander the Great reclining to left, sleeping, under a plane-tree, leaning his back against shield and supporting his head with his right hand; behind, the two Nemeses of Smyrna standing vis-à-vis, each holding out fold of drapery; the left also holding a bridle, the right a rule. BMC 346. Klose XLIX, Serie A, 1-12. RPC IV.2 online 239. Very rare and of great historical interest. Minor flan crack and the obverse somewhat smoothed, otherwise, very fine.

The reverse of this fascinating issue alludes to the alleged refoundation of Smyrna by Alexander 'the Great', a popular local legend that emergend in imperial times. Pausanias, the great travel writer of the 2nd century, reports the following version of the story: 'Alexander was hunting on Mount Pagos, and that after the hunt was over he came to a sanctuary of the Nemeses, and found there a spring and a plane-tree in front of the sanctuary, growing over the water. While he slept under the plane-tree it is said that the Nemeses appeared and bade him found a city there and remove into it the Smyrnaians from the old city . . . So they migrated of their own free will, and believe in two Nemeses instead of one, saying their mother is Nyx…'. This very scene is depicted on our coin: we can see Alexander reclining to left on his arms under a plane-tree; the two Nemeses are shown behind him, appearing in his dream and commanding him to (re)build the city.
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