LUCANIA. Metapontion. Time of Kleonymos (?), circa 302 BC.
Tetrobol or Third Stater (Gold, 14 mm, 2.61 g, 6 h), Achaian standard. Head of Nike facing slightly to right, her hair bound in ampyx, wearing single pendant earring and pearl necklace. Rev.
[ΜΕ]ΤΑΠΟΝ Barley ear with six grains and leaf to right; in field to right, krater. Gillet 204 (same dies
). HN Italy 1629. Johnston G4 (same dies
). SNG ANS 396. SNG Lockett 405. Very rare and very likely the finest known example. A lustrous and absolutely magnificent piece, with a spectacularly beautiful rendering of Nike struck in exceptionally high relief. Small edge split, otherwise,
virtually as struck.
From a Swiss collection, formed before 2005.
The dating of this magnificent coin is somewhat debated, with suggestions ranging from 290-280 BC to a more specific date of 302 BC. The latter connects the issue with the Italian campaigns of the Spartan general Kleonymos, a member of the Agiad dynasty whose tyrannical character became so unbearable to his fellow citizens that they precluded him from succeeding his father Kleomenes II (370-309 BC) on the throne. In 303/2 BC, the frustrated Kleonymos sailed to Italy to help the Spartan colony of Tarentum in its fight against the native Lucanians. Capturing the rivalling Greek city of Metapontion in 302 BC in the process, he may very well have issued this exceptionally beautiful victory issue to commemorate his short-lived success. Kleonymos would continue to live the life of a thuggish condottiere
for the following three decades, until disappearing - presumably being missed by no one - from all sources after his failed attempt to conquer Sparta in 272 BC.