A very rare gold hemidrachm of the Brettii
Lot 15
BRUTTIUM. The Brettii. Circa 216-214 BC. Hemidrachm (Gold, 14 mm, 2.10 g, 5 h), Second Punic War issue. Third coinage, Attic standard. Bearded head of Herakles to left, wearing lion skin headdress; behind, club; below, small Γ. Rev. BPETTIΩN Nike driving fast biga to right, holding kentron and reins in her left hand; below, small serpent coiling to right. Arslan 5/8. HN Italy 1953. Jameson 404 (same dies). Scheu G.8 (same dies). SNG Copenhagen 1613 (same dies). SNG Lloyd 540 (same dies). Very rare. A lovely example of this interesting late Italic gold issue struck on an exceptionally broad flan. Light die wear, otherwise, extremely fine.

Ex Lanz 145, 5 January 2009, 7.

The Brettii (or Bruttii), an Italian tribe of Lucanian descent, settled at the southern tip of Italy, in present-day southern Calabria. Strabo reports that their name in the Lucanian language meant 'rebels' or 'slaves', and that it was given to them by the Lucanians when they rebelled and stole their herds (Strab. 6.1.4). However, it is possible that we are dealing here with one of the typical tropes regarding wild mountain tribes, and that the name has in fact pre-Lucanian origins. Subdued by the Romans in the 270s BC, the Brettii staged a rebellion in 216, forging an alliance with Hannibal to restore their autonomy. It was during this time that coinage of the Brettii in gold, silver, and bronze was issued.

The rugged terrain of Bruttium served as an impregnable refuge for the increasingly isolated Hannibal in his final years in Italy. After the withdrawal of the Carthaginian army in 204, the League of the Brettii was subjugated and dissolved by the Romans, with punitive measures including the establishment of various Roman colonies that permanently brought the rebellious south under control.
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