LUCANIA. Poseidonia. Circa 420-410 BC.
Stater (Silver, 20 mm, 7.72 g, 6 h). ΠΟΣEIΔA Poseidon striding to right, his left arm outstretched, brandishing trident with his right hand and with chlamys draped over his shoulders; in field to left, Θ. Rev. [Π]ΟΜΕΣΔΑΝ
Bull standing left. De Luynes 531 (same dies
). Gillet 212 (this coin
). HN Italy 1127. Jameson 335 (same dies
). Noe 23d (this coin
). SNG ANS 679 (same dies
). Weber 817 (this coin
). A magnificent example, beautifully toned, sharply struck from dies of fine style, and with an exceptional pedigree. Struck on an oval flan, otherwise,
From an old British collection, privately acquired from Leu in 1983, from the collections of C. Gillet ('Kunstfreund', 1879-1972), photofile no. 212 and G. Locker Lampson (1875-1946), ex Naville XVI, 3 July 1932, 216 (acquired by L. Forrer for 430 CHF), and from the collections of Sir H. Weber (1823-1918) and Charles Sackville Bale (1791-1880), Christie's, 25-26 and 30-31 May 1881, 1862.
Audet facundo qui carmina mittere Nervae,
pallida donabit glaucina, Cosme, tibi,
Paestano violas et cana ligustra colono,
Hyblaeis apibus Corsica mella dabit.
'He who ventures to send verses to the eloquent Nerva,
will present common perfumes to Cosmus,
violets and privet to the inhabitant of Paestum,
and Corsican honey to the bees of Hybla.'
Poseidonia was founded in the late 7th century by Sybaris on the southern shore of the Golfo di Salerno, on an alluvial plain bounded by the Silarus (Sele) river in the North, the Cilento mountains in the East and South, and the Sea in the West. The region was famous for its abundance of flowers, as evidenced by Martial's epigram quoted above, but it also held significant strategic importance, guarding the slopes of the wild and untamed Cilento mountain range (derived from Latin Cis Alentum
= 'on this side of the Alentum [river]'), where Lucanian tribes dwelled. In circa 410/0 BC, Poseidonia apparently fell to these tribal warriors and was renamed to Paistos, before being turned into a Latin colony by the Romans in 273 BC. The silting of the harbor and repeated floods led to the decline of the city in the Roman imperial period, and the plain was eventually abandoned in the early middle ages. Today, Poseidonia is best known by its Latin name Paestum, and famous both for its exceptionally well-preserved Doric temples, which are part of the UNESCO World Heritage, as well as for its magnificent coins such as this wonderful stater, struck shortly before the fall of the city to the Lucanians